A Cure for Christmas Day Cabin Fever: Plenty of Food and Tasty Drinks

Hosting a Christmas Party? Easy! Hosting your kids and spouse for the ENTIRE day… take a breath and take some notes.


The magic of Christmas comes and goes in the blink of an eye, so when the big day comes and all the gifts have been opened what’s next? The last thing anyone wants to do is venture outdoors into the cold. This day is all about being snuggly and feeling bubbly. Here are my fun drink and food ideas to get you and your family through your Christmas Day cabin fever.

Drinks & Finger Food for Gift Opening 

Adults: Pop Champagne Mimosa – Kids: Orange Juice Spritzer

Why not serve yourself and the kids a refreshing fun twist on orange juice for the special day while opening presents? You deserve to sit back and relax first thing in the morning after the weeks of decorating, wrapping and shopping.

Adult Recipe: In a festive fluke serve Prosecco Champagne with a splash of orange juice or grapefruit juice. Garnish with a thin orange slice.

Kids Recipe: Serve sparkling juice and a splash of orange juice. Garnish with an orange slice.

Mini Breakfast Snack Finger Food: Cinnamon & Brown Sugar French Toast Bagel Sticks

Do a quick prep the day before and pop these yummy sticks in the toaster oven for a few minutes while the family excitedly open their gifts. Serve on a decorative Christmas platter to tie everyone over until breakfast.

Recipe: Slice package of mini plain bagels in half then cut down the center (each bagel should make four pieces. Prepare a bowl of almond milk (or your milk preference) with cinnamon. Prepare a bowl of brown sugar and cinnamon.

In a skillet melt butter. Dunk a bagel piece in the milk with cinnamon and brown both sides in the skillet. Let each piece cool then sprinkle both side with brown sugar and cinnamon. Place into freezer overnight for a quick warm up in the morning.

Award Winning Christmas Breakfast

Okay you relaxed on the couch. Now it’s your time to shine! Show off your creative style for this special day by adding small quality touches to all your favorite breakfast items.

Eggs: Why not toss in some mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes? Prepare your eggs your favorite style and add plenty of veggies and cheeses.

Waffles or Pancakes: Throw in chocolate chips or strawberries to your batter. Top with powdered sugar, whip cream or hot fruit topping and you have a delicious twist on plain waffles and pancakes!

Potatoes: Cut some red skin potatoes into chunks. Add in green peppers, onions and broccoli. Mix in some ranch dressing and sprinkle with shredded cheese. (go ahead and splurge it’s Christmas Day once a year!)

Meats/or Not: Fry up some turkey bacon, turkey sausage, or vegan seitan bacon or sausage to accompany your delicious sides.

Mid Afternoon Drinks & Food

Once all the morning excitements have died down (and maybe a nap or two has everyone refreshed) it is time to move on to the next half of your Christmas morning. Gather the family around the fireplace (or watch the t.v. fireplace on Netflix) for a family game, or television for an oldie but goodie Christmas movie. And wait….. don’t forget about the next round of food and drinks!!

Adults: Hot Coffee with a shot/Kids: Hot Cocoa Chocolate Bar!

Adult Recipe: Brew a cup of your favorite Joe. Add in a shot such as Patron XO Café and any other of your favorite condiments.

Kids Recipe: Select your favorite cup of cocoa mix and adorn your table with toppings. Have the kids squirt on the whip cream and top with sprinkles, chocolate chips, and cherries. If you’re really feeling fancy cool off the hot chocolate with some vanilla bean ice cream at the bottom of the mug.

Mid-Afternoon Snack – Holiday Popcorn Medley

Pop a bag of your favorite popcorn. Be creative by adding dried fruit like cranberries, marshmallows, and chocolate chips to the bowl of popcorn once it has cooled.

It’s Dinnertime Drinks & Food!

Some of you may be venturing off to parties or over to a relatives for dinner. Lucky you! However, if you will be finishing off your day at home, everyone will soon be asking for dinner. It’s time for another creative meal and beverage to accompany the evening plans. Make a fancy and inexpensive place setting at the table – Hopefully you were able to get the kiddos out to play in the snow for a breather. If not, now would be the time!

Adults: Holiday Moscow Mule – Kids: Holiday Ginger Juice

Moscow Mules have become one of my favorite drinks for its delicious blend of vodka, lime and ginger bite at the finish. Add a splash of cranberry juice, mint sprig and a few cranberries to make a holiday rendition.

Adult Recipe: Choose your favorite Vodka. Add ginger beer (go for a strong brand like Goslings), squeezed lime juice, cranberry juice, and pour over ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and toss in a few cranberries.

Kid Recipe: Ginger beer (non-alcoholic), squeezed lime juice, cranberry juice poured over ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and add some cranberries.

The Final Event: Dinner!

So you made it to the end of your Christmas Day. You’re exhausted I am sure, but that Holiday Moscow Mule will help you get through the last stretch. Make it a dinner they will remember!

Veggies: Kale Greens with Cabbage – Start with a base of broth (chicken or vegetable), butter, garlic and salt and pepper (add more or less to your liking). Make one layer kale, one layer cabbage. Add more butter, garlic salt and pepper. Keep layering and repeating. Once pot is full let this deliciousness simmer for 30 to 40 minutes depending on the texture you prefer.

Starches: Brown Rice Noodle Mac & Cheese – Boil brown rice pasta and drain. Stir in butter, salt and pepper, pinch of garlic, cheddar cheese, jack cheese, and your favorite milk. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar and bread crumbs. Put in the oven on 425 for approx. 40 mins.

Pineapple Sweet, Sweet Potatoes – cut sweet potatoes into medallions. Boil in hot water. Prepare a skillet of brown sugar, honey and butter (add more or less to your liking). Place sweet potatoes into skillet and add frozen pineapple chunks. Let simmer on low heat for 10 mins.

Meats: Barbeque Turkey Ribs & Salmon – Marinate turkey ribs (or cut turkey cutlet sliced) and salmon in Italian dressing overnight with salt and pepper. Place in broiler and turn midway when ready to cook. For last 10 minutes in oven pour barbeque sauce over the meat. The turkey ribs should take approx. 45 minutes on 425. The salmon approx. 10 – 15 minutes and serve.

Breads: Butter some pumpernickel bread and place in the oven for 7 minutes. Serve warm and make this last so it stays warm and soft at the table.

Place setting: Find inexpensive holiday table placemats at stores like Dollar Tree or Wal-Mart. Spice up the decorum of any table with candles and holiday colored napkins. Goblets go well and can also be found at Dollar Tree and Wal-Mart for under $5.

Enjoy your memorable Christmas Day!
















NYC with Kids

Kids. From the moment they come into our lives they bring new situations and adventures.

I can honestly say that I have delightfully experienced many things and met many new people in my life thanks to my girls.

This past weekend’s trip to New York City was no different.

My oldest daughter, who is 15, was invited to play string bass at the world famous Lincoln Center in NYC with her schools Chamber Orchestra.

What an honor and what an opportunity for all of us to finally take a bite out of the Big Apple…..with KIDS!

As a mom, the thought of traveling to NYC with little ones (4 and 7) makes me a little uneasy. We have only traveled through Manhattan by car a few times a year to drop off my step-children who live in Queens. I was overwhelmed just watching the hustle and bustle from the car.

I would stare out the window thankful that my kids were safely strapped into their car seats – peering their eyes above the brim of the window. And my husband taking on the honking and numerous fender benders that we nearly missed inch by inch as we made our way through the city.

However, we survived New York City! Not only did my daughter’s school place in the competition, but we all grew from the experience.

Here are some cool pics and tricks to help you out if you are considering heading out to the city that truly never sleeps.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn in Newark, New Jersey to save money before heading into the big city for the weekend. You can save big and it’s only a 20 minute drive away. Great cocktails, ambiance, and kids eat free!

The food trucks making their way through traffic in true New York fashion.


We choose The Watson Hotel on 57th St. so we wouldn’t have to walk too far with the little ones. It was about an 8 minute walk to our event at Lincoln Center. It had some of the least expensive parking at $37 a day, and the rooms were clean and decent. The prices for rooms were fairly inexpensive as compared to other hotels in the city.


The premise of our trip! My daughter playing string bass (far left standing) at Lincoln Center. Her schools Chamber Orchestra placed second runner up (third in the nation) and received the honorable Forte Award for most distinguished group. Good news parents: there is an upscale snack bar in the lobby that serves sandwiches, chips, fruits, and cocktails. Perfect breather that your kids will definitely need in between performances.


We made reservations at The Colesium Bar and Grill. We choose this restaurant based on location (an 8 minute walk from Lincoln Center), a diverse menu that both adults and children could find something they would like, and they were okay with kids eating there. The prices were a little high for bar priced food, but the food was very good.

Next, we headed underground in a glass elevator which was located in the middle of a sidewalk. The elevator took us to an underground mall and food eatery called TurnStyle. The kids went to the well know Dillon’s Candy Store full of a candy emporium!


We were anxious to hit up Times Square, but getting there was a 20 minute walk. Not good for the little one’s unless you have a stroller. It was also freezing so Uber and Lyft was a MUST! The cost was inexpensive $8 to $12 for a 7 seater vehicle to fit my entire family. We waited less than 10 minutes going and coming back.

Stepping out into Times Square was like stepping into a fish bowl. Wall to wall people. Hang on to your kids and enjoy the lights, sights and people watching.


The Statue of Liberty and other characters were dressed to take photos with eager tourists, but BE AWARE! They want your money. $20 to be exact for snapping a photo with you.



Hold on tight to your children! My daughter and I got caught in the middle of another NY traffic jam!


Inside the NYC subway near Times Square.


I had no idea that it was similar to an airport. There were places to eat, small shops and loads of people hanging out. There was live music to watch and people dancing. You buy your tickets ($2 to $4 range) and wait to hear what gate you need to to be at to jump on the train.

If you enjoy a nice beer/cider you are in luck! They have beer/cider on tap in the subway. A small to large costs $6 to $8. You get a cup to go and are free to walk around with it.

I felt more comfortable than I thought I would be waiting at the Subway Station with kids in tow.




Call it cliche but we wanted to experience all the “New York” like things. On a short walk from our hotel we found Morningstar Restaurant for breakfast. They served lunch and dinner . A cute typical neighborhood New York diner. The food was great, the staff was super nice, fast and accomadating.

A Yummy New York bagel sandwich with turkey bacon, scrambled egg and cheese. This won my kids heart. I enjoyed a coffee with many selections of Brandy to go inside! Morningstar Restaurant.




Key points to consider when traveling with kids:

1) Google the address and area of your stomping grounds. I always investigate the area with Google Earth when planning where we will stay and where we will go. It helps to familiarize yourself with the area. Many things look better on a website than they do in person.

2) Map the distance between certain attractions you plan to visit. Everything can seem appealing to visit, but may be further away from where you thought. Mapping out the distance between each location will save you so much frustration!

3) Visit the websites of each city, attraction and hotel. Websites are a wealth of information. You can find reviews from recent visitors and events that are going on during your visit. That gives you a step up on visiting as a well informed tourist.

Enjoy your Family Time!


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Gin, Cider and Soul Food; Lakewood, Ohio

As a native Clevelander who has carried the travel bug for a long time, I love when I come across hidden treasures in my own town. It kind of ties me over until my family and I can go on our next out of state adventure. I believe every state and city have their own hidden jewels. You just have to get out and find them and on occasion sometimes they find you!

As we are slowly getting our dates night back, my husband and I have been venturing into other neighboring cities in Cleveland. One evening, we decided to set our sights on Lakewood, Ohio. Or, I should say, he surprised me by finally driving us to a few spots we had our hearts set on visiting.

The city of Lakewood like other nearby Cleveland cities has been revitalizing it’s streets with friendly enticing nightlife that not only lures the locals, but their neighboring city friends as well. You can find many favorites such as Melt Bar and Grilled (delicious colossal grilled cheese sandwiches), or if you are looking for something new I highly recommend giving Griffin Cider House and Southern Café a try.

 Griffin Cider House in Lakewood, Ohio



Griffin Cider House, a Lakewood favorite since 2015, has five star ratings for good reason! Not only is the ambiance and vibe cool inside, but it has the largest selection of gin in the state of Ohio, 10 cider taps, 3 craft beer taps and home to one of the most expensive gin’s I have ever come across called Nolet’s Dry Gin “The Reserve. If you love this particular type of gin they can make you a $100 drink called “The Gold Reserve.” It comes with Nolet’s “The Reserve”, Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth, Saffron and little gold nuggets to garnish.

Can’t decide? Take a “flight.”



If you aren’t necessarily a gin drinker, this bar is called Cider House for a reason. The Cider selection of beer would be appreciated by any Cider beer lover. We were so overwhelmed by the variety of selections that we decided to do a “flight” of ciders to sample.

The four we sampled were called After, Pear, Wake and Cranberry. If you like sweet I suggest the Cranberry and Pear. After and Wake had a soft tasting apple finish. All the samples were a delight on the tongue.

To top it off our bartender (the awesome lady with the cool tattoos) was super cool and was a wealth of information. She schooled us on the different ciders and gin’s and did a great job recommending places to eat nearby.

The owner was also super-friendly and welcoming and made a great House Martini (yes, I have a sweet spot for a good local Martini).

You can sit at the bar and chat it up with the locals, or you can venture to the back room for a comfortable setting of plush couches and small tables to enjoy your drink.


Southern Cafe in Lakewood, Ohio

As hungry as we were, we took the advice of our bartender and ventured a few streets over to Southern Café for some southern comfort soul food. My husband and I had been craving some really good soul food since our trip last summer to Winston Salem’s Sweet Potatoes Soul Food Restaurant near downtown historic Winston Salem, North Carolina.


 Southern Café surely did not disappoint at all! Oh my goodness this food was finger lickin good – and I do not say that often! Good vibes, friendly staff and great music greeted us again when we opened the door. We immediately were given a seat and greeted by a friendly server who offered us water in mason jars (just like my southern grandma would, I love it!).


Fried Green Tomatoes with house hot sauce remoulade.


After wanting to order absolutely EVERYTHING on the menu, we ordered fried green tomatoes with a hot sauce remoulade as an appetizer to start. Talk about DELICIOUS! Hot, crispy, seasoned perfectly!

There was not a long wait at all until our main dishes came. My husband ordered fried perch fingers, nicely sweetened sweet potatoes, and some the creamiest, most delicious grits we had ever tasted.

Fried turkey breast with gravy and onions, Mac and cheese, greens and corn bread muffin.


The mac and cheese lover that I am, I had to order a side of mac and cheese, collard greens with a hint of sweet, and fried turkey smothered in onions and gravy. Mouthwatering!!Everything was seasoned so perfectly. I  truly appreciated our kind waiter mentioning that the turkey was purchased and selected carefully from a local butcher (you could definitely tell!). Each of our meals came accompanied with a cornbread muffin (not too sweet) that was the perfect complement to our perfectly seasoned food.

Without a doubt, Southern Café would be an impressive and affordable choice to bring your family and friends to for an over the top satisfying and tasty meal.

Next time you visit Cleveland or if you are a local neighbor, a visit to Lakewood  to visit these two establishments is definitely a must!









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Veggie Spaghetti

It’s dinnertime again. Your family is probably getting tired of eating the same boring spaghetti! Last night, my family and I sat down to a delicious healthy alternative. We added a powerful punch of fresh veggies, spice and vitamin C! As your family’s food choices change, so will your dinner plans. If you have vegan, vegetarian, or even meat eaters ino your home, this dish will please everyone! I also recommend for anyone attempting to make any small gradual food swaps.


(any items listed below may be substituted or left out depending on your vegetable)

Here is the recipe for my veggie spaghetti:

Sophia’s Vegetarian Spaghetti

1 pkg meatless meat (we purchased our from Trader Joe’s)


1 pkg brown rice gluten free noodles (we purchased our from Trader Joe’s)


1 yellow or purple onion


1 small yellow zucchini


1 small green zucchini


1 half of an eggplant


1 small banana pepper for spice


4 roma tomatoes


1 green pepper


1 red pepper


1 yellow pepper


2 cans organic spaghetti sauce (we purchased our from Trader Joe’s)


2 tablespoons organic brown sugar (optional)


2 cloves of garlic or minced garlic


Himalyan Pink Salt & peper


Olive Oil for sauteing


Begin by boiling noodles, while simultaneously sautéing cut vegetable chunks with olive oil in separate pan. After sautéing approximately 5 minutes (keep crunchy) add meatless meat (if using red or turkey meat sauté in separate pan until brown than add). Add garlic, salt, and pepper. Finally, add spaghetti sauce to meat and veggies. Let simmer a few minutes.