A Year to Remember


, , ,

Another year down! As I was looking back at the last 12 months trying to recall key moments, it hit me. This wasn’t just a good year for Cleveland and, by association, me — 2016 was the year of the 216.

I traveled to two new states (hey Georgia and Texas!), connected with old and new friends, chased after countless sunsets, dined (brunched) my way through Cleveland’s fantastic food scene and got promoted.

I sat in the stands as the Lake Erie Monsters brought home the Calder Cup. I celebrated with my entire city when the Cavaliers broke our 52-year championship drought. Visitors from across the country chimed in about what a gem this city really is (thank you, RNC). And the Indians won the pennant, taking us back to the World Series for the first time since 1997.

As for Midwest Perspective, I got artsy at the Cleveland Museum of Art, prayed in Maria’s Field of Hope, explored Cuyahoga Valley National Park and tested out some fun style trends (Crop tops! Faux fur!).

Here’s looking at you, 2017. I hope it’s everything and more!



National Treasure


, , , , , , , , ,

From sprawling fields of corn to the foothills of Appalachia to the Lake Erie shore, Ohio boasts a magnificent range of terrain. It’s also home to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and since our country is currently celebrating 100 years of the National Park Service, I made it a point to finally make a visit. I was long past due.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is criss-crossed with trails, roads and even the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. The 33,000-acre treasure also features farmland and marshes, waterfalls and dense, boulder-strewn forests. That’s where I went: to the Ledges at Virginia Kendall Park, where I hiked beneath a thick canopy of just-changing foliage to explore the caves and Ledges Overlook.

The forest is a magical place. I fell in love with the whimsy of the oversize rocks and the green glow of light passing through leaves. Right now (three weeks since I’ve gone), the park is most certainly an autumn wonderland — so it’s not too late for you to lace up and hit the trails, too!


Photos by Michael Ciuni

Rally Together


, ,


2016 is proving more and more to be the year of the 216 — from the Cavaliers ending the championship drought to hosting a successful Republican National Convention to the Lake Erie Monsters winning the Calder Cup. And now, the Indians are making their run.

The Cubs are long overdue (longer even than the Indians, who last won the World Series in 1948), but as the “Cleveland till I die” fan that I am, I can’t help but think this is our year. Baseball is the great American pastime, and it holds a special place in my heart, too. I’ll always remember my grandparent’s season tickets, the foul balls we’ve caught (or didn’t), ringing a cowbell for Albert Belle and watching as the sky faded from one color to the next during the long summer evenings. Some traditions change, players come and go, parties move to Napoli’s — but John Adams continues beating the drum. (A local legend!)

There’s been so much excitement in the City of Champions all summer long, and I can’t even wait to kick off the World Series right here in my favorite city in the whole world. And let’s not forget, just next door to the stadium, the Cavaliers will be getting their championship rings and defending the title.

I couldn’t be happier to call Cleveland home. Roll Tribe!

Photos by Michael Ciuni

Savannah Stumble


, , , , , , , ,

Some vacations are relaxing. But the kind that reunites five amazing friends that you’ve known for more than half your life, well… relaxing isn’t a word I’d use. I’m still recuperating from a long weekend in Savannah packed with great food, lots of champagne and so much laughter my abs were sore for days.

I loved exploring the all the little squares Savannah is known for: our Airbnb was right near Telfair Square, and the fountain at Johnson Square (pictured) made a shady place to sit. Of course, we took full advantage of the open-container laws!

We learned a ton about the city and its history on the Savannah Slow Ride “Boos Cruise” ghost tour, like the namesake of Telfair Square, why moss supposedly doesn’t grow on the old hanging trees (yikes), and other Civil War-era facts. Did you know Savannah is the second-largest port on the East Coast?

City Market is an 18th-century open-air marketplace that’s packed for shopping and dining during the day and bar hopping at night. (It has a much better purpose today than back during slavery times. Again, yikes!) Along the river, the treacherous-but-adorable cobblestone River Street is home to pubs, restaurants, Savannah Smiles Dueling Pianos and Saddle Bags, a country-music hotspot.

The highlight of our trip was the Dolphin Magic Tour. Dolphin sighting is guaranteed (I think we saw an entire pod, um, mating) and it’s a great chance to bring a mimosa on a boat and let the wind whip through your hair. Plus, we learned some Savannah facts and history along the way.

On the food front, there’s a huge range offered in Savannah. Here are some of the places we ate, and I give a shining recommendation to them all:

  • Green Truck Pub: I opted to eat the delicious grass-fed beef burger open-face because the toppings were overflowing (pictured). This place is known for great vegetarian options, and my friends enjoyed the giant salads and the option to swap out beef for humane-certified chicken breast or a homemade veggie patty.
  • Sweet Melissa’s: When late night cravings hit, we grabbed a pizza almost too big to fit through the door with slices big enough to be a bib… seriously.
  • Jazz’d Tapas Bar: We just wanted a quick and easy dinner, and we found it here by selecting a range of tapas and splitting them between us. Live music is a plus!
  • Clary’s Cafe: Finding biscuits was possibly the most important point of our trip, and we finally found them here with good ol’ diner food. Every egg-meat-potato-carb combo you could imagine is available.
  • Cotton & Rye: All I can say is when in the South, go ahead and order that shrimp and grits with a side of mac and cheese. Great restaurant on the upscale-yet-cozy side.
  • Goose Feathers Cafe: The line fluctuates at this express cafe and bakery (we were out the door waiting!) and you order at a counter, then they deliver to your table. Hello, bagel sandwiches and chocolate croissants to go!
  • The Collins Quarter: We just stopped here for a drink, but it quickly became a favorite spot. I ordered a Spiced Lavender Mocha, but the cocktails were just as tempting. The brunch menu looks killer, and judging by the group next to us, the avocado toast is next-level.

I would love to return to Savannah someday soon. But there’s a more important question: Where should we visit next?!


All photos mine unless otherwise noted.

Here Comes the Sun


, , , , , ,

With the morning sun slowly rising higher in a cloudless sky, I stood in the middle of a sunflower field, its yellow petals glowing softly in the dim light. I was scared to open my mouth — not for fear of disturbing the peaceful scene, but because I knew with just one word I might burst into tears.

I was weaving my way through Maria’s Field of Hope, 50-acres of sunflowers stretching along I-90 in Avon. Inspired by the memory of 7-year-old Maria, the blooms were planted in 2014 to honor children battling cancer and to remember those we’ve lost. Maria’s parents created Prayers from Maria Children’s Glioma Cancer Foundation, which is dedicated to funding global research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for childhood brain tumors, known as gliomas.

Just an hour after sunrise and already the field was ablaze in light and filled with happy chatter. Couples were strolling the pathways hand in hand, and parents were holding their babies next to giant flowers to capture the perfect photo. Any sadness I had was replaced with hope and inspiration.

In French, the word for sunflower is tournesol, literally to turn toward the sun. Standing there, I was reminded of a metaphor I love about living like a sunflower: If you turn your face to the sun, the shadows will always fall behind you.


Photos by Michael Ciuni

May Your Coffee Be Strong


, , ,


Happy Monday!

I’m not usually the type of person to feel super rough on a Monday (cheers to having a job you love!), but today is a different story. I spent a long weekend in Savannah, Georgia, with some of my best girl friends. Besides being absolutely and wonderfully exhausted, I didn’t even make it home until after midnight! So, this little piece of Monday motivation seems especially fitting.

Best of luck to you all, too!

Fall Forward


, , , , ,

“Autumn… the year’s last, loveliest smile.” 

My favorite season is finally here, and with it comes football Sundays and hot apple cider and colorful leaves. Fall also means cozy knit sweaters, infinity scarves, an excuse to wear leggings and the return of my ever-growing boot collection.

Just to celebrate this most wonderful time of the year (that includes Christmas, too!), I wanted to look back at some of the autumn adventures I’ve showcased here at Midwest Perspective. Happy Fall!


1 & 3 Patterson’s Fruit Farm | 2 & 7 Downtown Gates Mills |  4 & 5 Cleveland Cultural Gardens | 6 Rocky River Reservation | 8 Shaker Lakes

Weekend Highlights: Sun & Sunflowers


, , , , ,

Even if a day off work kicks me in the butt for the rest of the week, having an extra day over Labor Day weekend was just the medicine I needed. I filled the weekend with family time and two brunches (heck yeah!), a little cleaning and even less labor.

The skies were an endless stream of blue (perfect for watching the U.S. Navy Blue Angels in the Cleveland Air Show), and each sunset was a blaze of neon orange and peachy pink. But the highlight of my weekend was a visit to the Prayers From Maria sunflower field in Avon. The flowers are in full bloom, so it’s definitely worth the trip to take some pictures, soak in the cheery blooms and donate to an amazing cause.

Read Maria’s story and find more information at Prayers From Maria, which is dedicated to funding global research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for the deadliest childhood brain tumors known as gliomas.


Best Dressed: MTV VMAs 2016


, , ,

The MTV Video Music Awards are one of the biggest red carpet (or whatever-color carpet) events of the year, and you know how much I love scrolling through the celebrity arrivals to pin down the best — and worst — dressed.

Except that the VMAs are not historically one of my favorites. Unlike the Golden Globes and Oscars, which welcome movie stars channeling old-Hollywood glam, the VMAs tend to get a little … weird. And since my personal style veers more classic, it’s sometimes hard to appreciate a more avant-garde look.

Still, I appreciate someone having a little fun with fashion, and the VMAs are definitely the place to do it. (Say what you want about Beyonce’s bizarre feathered collar, she slays all day. And, as Buzzfeed says, looked like “a beautiful angel muppet.”) So here are a few of my 2016 MTV Video Music Awards best-dressed stars.


Tinashe (Jamie Mccarthy / Getty Images)

2Hailee Steinfeld

Hailee Steinfeld (Jamie Mccarthy / Getty Images)

3Hailey Baldwin

Hailey Baldwin (Jamie Mccarthy / Getty Images)

4Justine Skye

Justine Skye (Jamie Mccarthy / Getty Images)


Future (Jamie Mccarthy / Getty Images)

6Lilliana Vazquez_Jamie Mccarthy : Getty Images

Lilliana Vazquez (Jamie Mccarthy / Getty Images)

7Franchesca Ramsey

Franchesca Ramsey (Jamie Mccarthy / Getty Images)

8Chantelle Winnie

Chantelle Winnie (Jamie Mccarthy / Getty Images)

9Beyonce and Blue_Larry Busacca : Getty Images

Beyonce and Blue Ivy (Larry Busacca / Getty Images)


Shifting Light


, , , , , , , ,

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!


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