Shifting Light

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Time isn’t on our side. Ask any blogger: One of the greatest difficulties is finding the time to dream up, photograph, write and edit a post. (So guilty!) But while I was out on this particular photo shoot, I discovered another race against the clock — and the sun.

Lighting is important in photography, and so much emphasis falls on getting the timing right. The golden hour comes and goes. If you’ve spent too long waiting for people to exit the frame, or you run into people you know, suddenly that perfect sunlight shifts and the bright, pure light is replaced with an orange glow or even a gloomy dusk.

It makes the “flawless blogger” aesthetic difficult to keep up with. (Last week I shared shots from before the light got crazy on us, read it here!) But for the sake of transparency and to see the progression of diminishing light, I thought I’d share a few more images.

Happy Hump Day!

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Top: Free People (sold out😦 similar crop here and here) | Jeans: Express (love these by Topshop) | Clutch: DSW (similar here) | Shoes: Sam & Libby via Target (similar on sale and here) | Rings: Aldo

Photos by Michael Ciuni

Cropped

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The crop top trend is still going strong, but even back in the ’90s when Britney Spears was my fashion inspiration, I never felt comfortable baring my belly.

Fortunately, there are tons of ways to style the rising shirt hems. If you’re feeling slightly — but not totally — bold, show a sliver of skin with a pencil skirt (like I did here).

For the most part, I like to pair my shorter tops with high-waisted jeans. This one from Free People shows a lot of back, so it already feels a little bare. Wearing it with high-waisted jeans hides the stomach and elongates the appearance of my legs. (Sky-high heels help with that, too!)

The beadwork dresses up this top for a night out, but swap the heels for sandals and it gives off a flowy, bohemian vibe. It would also look great with a casual pair of white or denim shorts.

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Top: Free People (sold out😦 similar crop here and here) | Jeans: Express (love these by Topshop) | Clutch: DSW (similar here) | Shoes: Sam & Libby via Target (similar on sale and here) | Rings: Aldo

Photos by Michael Ciuni

Imitation Game

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After the craziness of the RNC in Cleveland and then hitting the road for work last week, I wanted my weekend to be as chill as possible. I ended up having a little too much fun laying around and playing with a new app.

Prisma takes photo filters to the next level. Forget the glow of Amara or the vintage look of Nashville, these filters imitate works of art. Think mosaic, Picasso, Lichtenstein and Hokusai’s “The Great Wave.” Some look like a watercolor version of your favorite image, others like colored pencil. And others are morphed into a (slightly) abstract look or cartoonish work of art.

I wanted to test out the dozens of filters on every picture I own. Hint: it makes faces look like the Joker — not in a cool way — so I stuck to skylines and landscapes. (How amazing does the corn look?!) Here are some of my favorites, which I’m starting to think would make amazing coasters. Hmm, DIY project coming soon?

Happy Monday! I encourage you to avoid your to-do list and get busy filtering your favorite photos, too.

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All photos by me, edited using Prisma

The Elephant in the Room

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The week we’ve been prepping for is finally here: the Republican National Convention has officially kicked off in Cleveland.

A lot of people decided to leave their downtown apartments for the week and even work from home to avoid protests and traffic. I decided to stick it out. Sure, the road closures might be a nightmare, but I couldn’t be more excited to see so many visitors hitting the streets of my beloved hometown.

Looking for some ideas? Sit on a patio riverside at one of the Flats East Bank locations; grab brunch (here’s a round up and more favorites); soak in the arts at University Circle (don’t miss the free, world-renowned Cleveland Museum of Art); explore the city’s architecture; grab a bite and groceries under a stained-glass dome at Heinen’s (seen here); and catch the sunset at Voinovich Park (pictured below and here). The list could go on!

Cleveland is sparkling in its own little way. I can’t wait to walk around, swing by our newly renovated Public Square and look at my city like a tourist. Of course, in light of such sad things happening all around the world, I’m hoping Cleveland shines peacefully all week long.

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Photo by Michael Ciuni

Weekend Highlights: Sunset Season

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During the winter, a good weekend is defined by the fun things you pack in. But in the summer, especially here in the Midwest, sometimes a weekend filled with blue skies and sunsets really is all you need to feel accomplished.

It’s funny how I can still be so amazed by a sunny day. With summer in full swing, sunset viewing is at its peak, and I’ve been known to lace up my shoes and run out the door just to catch a glimpse. (That counts as a workout, right?)

Besides enjoying the sun setting over our beautiful Lake Erie, I cheered on the Indians as they crushed the Yankees Friday night (Roll Tribe!) and spent most of Saturday at a family cookout. Saturday morning I had to work, but I finally took the time to walk through the new Public Square — I’m definitely loving this new downtown greenspace!

Here are some highlights from the weekend. I hope yours was relaxing, too!

Weekend Highlights: Red, White and Blue

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Friends and family, food and brews, stars and stripes. These are a few of my favorite things, and thank goodness for a long weekend bringing them all together. I might not have had the most elaborate Fourth of July weekend, but I got to see a bunch of the people I love. And I ate — a lot.

After the New York Times shared “36 Hours in Cleveland,” a quick list of what to do, see and eat in anticipation of the upcoming Republican National Convention, my friend living in New York immediately sent me a text: “What is spice kitchen and bar???”

I’ve already professed my admiration for Spice Kitchen + Bar here and here, so heading back to the Gordon Square spot once she got into town was a no-brainer. On Sunday, I scarfed down hummus and other Lebanese delights at Taza in the Warehouse District.

Monday, my family was invited to a party at Nuevo, a modern Mexican restaurant opening at the end of July next to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The guacamole was creamy and the hibiscus margarita was a taste of the tropics. The weather, not so much.

I can’t wait to return to Nuevo (the start of Cleveland’s plans to develop the lakefront, finally!!) on a perfect, blue day. I’m certain it’ll be one of the best sunset-viewing spots in town.

How did you spend the holiday weekend? And of course I have to ask, what did you wear?!

Pictured top row: Terminal Tower; cheese plate at Spice
Middle: Heinen’s grocery store downtown
Bottom: North Coast Harbor; margaritas at Nuevo; Rock Hall

Photos by Hallie Rybka

Cleveland: Best Month Ever

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As if I could love my beautiful hometown any more, Cleveland just wrapped up what I’ve been calling its “Best Month Ever.” Our little renaissance started earlier and will go much later, of course. But with the Cavaliers winning the NBA Championship on June 19 — and thus ending a 52-year drought in the city — it became clear that 2016 is the year of the 216 area code.

June brought the warmth of summer, the bluest skies, long days and magical sunsets. Last weekend, I finally attended the Cleveland Museum of Art’s signature Solstice party, a must-see event made even bigger this year in honor of the museum’s bicentennial.

On the sports front, the Cavs made a historic and record-breaking comeback. Each game, home or away, brought packs of fans to downtown. The championship parade welcomed an estimated 1.3 million people. Haters will say that’s a stretch, but the photos don’t lie — and the parade inched along for hours as the vehicles tried parting a sea of wine and gold. (And I’ve been taking screen shots of everyone’s Instagrams, sorry not sorry!)

Just before the Cavs took home the trophy, I witnessed the Lake Erie Monsters hockey team win the Calder Cup. And the Indians have won 13 straight ball games, tying a franchise record. Roll Tribe!

Our renovated Public Square is officially open, and the revitalized Flats East Bank is in full summer swing. The Kimpton Schofield Hotel opened in the beautiful, historic Schofield Building; the new Hilton is luring guests with the greatest views and coolest artwork in each room (see below!); and the marble-clad Drury Hotel calls a 1930s-era former Board of Education building home. Can I get a stay-cation?

Looking ahead, this month will bring a flood of people to town — plus a hefty dose of national media attention — for the Republican National Convention. And according to the New York Times article “A Revitalized Cleveland is Ready for its Close-Up,” 29 projects with more than $3.5 billion in investment have opened or are scheduled to open in the city center from 2016 to 2018.

Things are looking up for Cleveland, a city that has long suffered a bad rep. I’ve felt such an outpouring of love and pride and hope and excitement lately. The people who live here can already list a thousand reasons Cleveland rocks. I can’t wait for a whole new wave of visitors to fall in love, too.

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Photos by Hallie Rybka unless noted

Stocked Up

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Stashing your Smirnoff on a dresser might have been acceptable in college, but post-grad living often comes with the desire for a little more sophistication — in both taste and storage.

Thanks to Pinterest, I’ve been having serious bar cart envy for years. I’ve scoured the Cleveland Flea looking for a vintage cart trimmed in gold, snooped around my grandma’s house and even resorted to online shopping. My taste, apparently, is picky and my options limited.

Pinning down which liquors I want to keep on stock is a little easier (I admit, I do have still Smirnoff next to my Maker’s Mark). More importantly, I’m all about how to decorate a bar cart. Adding a crystal decanter (great Christmas gift!) is both stylish and practical. Pellegrino comes in handy, but the green-glass bottles are also trendy and add a splash of color. Fresh flowers are always welcome, and pretty glassware is essential.

Adding art is also a fine touch. A bold painting on the wall, or even a simple gallery arrangement, helps turn a “table topped with booze” into a classy focal point.

With my own collection of glassware on point (I even have two Moscow mule tins!) and the main feature just a liquor-store visit away, the only thing missing in my life is the cart itself. The hunt continues, and in the meantime, I’ll keep adding enviable bar carts to Pinterest for inspiration. Here are some of my favorites!

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Photos via:
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Boardwalk Empire

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The Flats are back! I’m a bit too young to remember how the riverside entertainment district in downtown Cleveland used to be, but I do remember afternoons dining at Shooters or evenings cracking crab legs at Joe’s Crab Shack. And then it just… died.

Now, the area is home to some gorgeous new apartments, bars and restaurants. Tuesday trivia at Beerhead, Saturday nights boozing (and darts!) at Punch Bowl, and Sunday brunch at Alley Cat Oyster Bar (I wrote about their brunch here) are becoming regulars in my weekly routine.

But possibly my favorite part is simply strolling along the boardwalk. You can enjoy the view of the Cleveland skyline, then turn to soak in sunsets silhouetting lift bridges and remnants of our industrial past. And since the patio scene is on point, it’s clear I’ll be spending a lot of time this summer at the East Bank.

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I’m wearing a chambray button up (similar here and here), H&M top (love this option), Target shoes (they were my go-to traveling shoes in France), Joe’s Jeans via Avalon Exchange, and a vintage Coach bag.

Photos by Michael Ciuni

Weekend Highlights: Spring has Sprung

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Spring has been very, umm, “Cleveland” this year. But this weekend we turned a corner — I hope. And I took full advantage.

Before heading to a friend’s housewarming party, I swung by Lilly Handmade Chocolates to pick up some of the prettiest chocolates I’ve ever seen. The Tremont shop carries truffles in wild flavors, which makes it the perfect place to host wine and chocolate pairings (yes, you can expect to find me at the next tasting).

On Sunday, I returned to Alley Cat Oyster Bar at the Flats East Bank to try another one of Zack Bruell’s amazing brunch specials. The chili beef hash with sweet potatoes is definitely a winner, but the crab Benedict is still my favorite. (I heard the lobster omelet was also delish!) If you’re looking for the best seafood in the city, this is the place to be.

And then there’s the bloody mary bar stocked with jerky, bacon, havarti, Gouda and Muenster cubes, pickled peppers, horseradish sauce, spices and more. The build-your-own might be a bit stressful, but it’s totally worth it in the end.

Just a few hours later, I met my grandma for dinner (poor planning), so by the time I made it home I was almost too stuffed to move. But I convinced myself to lace up my jogging shoes, and of course I don’t regret it. Along the way, I stopped to watch the sun setting over Lake Erie. Sunset season has arrived!

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