Free Family Event: A Harp Quartet, Coloring and Cocktails

I live for finding free family events for my family. And when the event includes an opportunity for a musical exposure – the better!


The group Les Delices, directed by Debra Nagy performed at the Cleveland Bop Stop to an audience of children aged 5 to 12. Monthly, the Cleveland Bop Stop offers several musical events for children during the day. By night they are a full fledged jazz club where every cocktail purchased goes towards funding their musical education department.

Angelic harp coloring sheets


The setting for the event included several small round tables outlining the stage. On each table were unique coloring sheets that included a few pictures of the Harp’s past history: The Pharaoh, and angelic angles. While we colored Les Delices (a quartet of piccolo, violin, cello and harp) played several delightful songs including a silly story of the mouse and the frog led by vocalist Debra Nagy.

Les Delices performing at the Bop Stop


Should you find yourselves thirsty or hungry during these events, the Bop Stop offers a small appetizer menu such as ranch popcorn and flatbread pizza to name a few. Parents can sip on wine, beer, and other cocktail favorites.

To our surprise, we were pleased to find out Les Delices gives free family musical events and paid performances throughout the year! If you would like to go to one of Les Delices events, or visit The Bop Stop for a family/adult jazz event, check out the links below for more information:

View Les Delices live performance here:

Les Delices:

The Bop Stop Calendar:

Outside the Bop Stop

Caterpillar Fruit Snack Kabobs

Parents – you know at least a few times a year we are given the lovely opportunity to bring in a treat for our child’s class. It could be for a birthday, Halloween party, or an after school snack just to name a few.

Nevertheless, you know you have some choices to make. Do you resort immediately to the sugar rush of cupcakes and icing? Or, will you be a little more creative and healthier this time around?

Many parents are choosing the latter decision for good reason. Last I checked, white refined sugar is not the best ingredient to put in our bodies. Let alone our children’s bodies!

In place of the new normal, parents are coming up with are some pretty creative ideas with fruit. Fruit is versatile and can be made into several shapes and designs. The sky is the limit!

In my search for a healthier snack alternative for my daughter’s class, I came across the recipe for a cool caterpillar looking fruit idea on Pinterest by

The possibilities are endless with what you can put on a kabob. So let your imagination run wild!

Below is the recipe for what I used. And don’t forget to have some little helpers help you…

2 cartons of organic strawberries

1 bunch of organic red seedless grapes

1 bunch of organic green seedless grapes

Cake pop sticks

Round black sprinkles (for eyes)

Wash all fruit thoroughly and pat dry. Prep strawberries by cutting off the green stem. Take one grape color at a time and place on kabob switching alternative colors. At the tip of kabob put strawberry on as the head and place two black sprinkles on strawberry as eyes.









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!
















Local Guide: Top 5 Events to Visit in Cleveland with Kids this Holiday Season

Kid tested…mother approved!

1. Crocker Park Christmas Tree Lighting- Westlake, Ohio


Enjoy decked out holiday shopping in this open air shopping center. Each year Crocker Park comes alive with their annual Christmas tree and lighting countdown. Eat at popular restaurants such as Cheesecake Factory and the Yard House. You can walk the plaza while the kids drink warm hot cocoa cooled with vanilla ice-cream from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

Invite family and friends to experience their new outdoor ice-skating rink that opens on November 18th. Top the tiresome evening off with a movie and a stay at the beautiful Hyatt Regency within the center.


2. Snow Tubing – Boston Mills Brandywine, Boston Heights, Ohio


This wintertime activity is safe and enjoyable for family members 3 and up! For only $25 per person, grab a snow-tube (no worries, you get a nice lift up the hill) and slide down the best hills ever! If your family is feeling extra adventurous, enjoy sliding down the hills at night too. Afterwards, enjoy a small snack bar which does carry hot cocoa.

3. Coventry Village Holiday Festival – Cleveland Heights, Ohio


This eclectic, hippie, earthy street is known for its love of nostalgia. A trip to Coventry Village is great anytime of year, and the Christmas theme just adds to the fun. Among shopping at the cool unique shops such as Big Fun, and City Buddha, Coventry sets out a money machine (fake money can be used at stores on Coventry only)!

The B-Side Liquor Lounge turns into a kids only club for the afternoon. Kids can dance with a DJ and sing to Frozen (among other kid favorites) on the Karaoke machine. Other activities include photos with Santa at Piccadilly Vegan Ice Cream, and a throwback movie. Grab a selfie with Rudolph, The Grinch, and Frosty!

Enjoy great eating at Tommy’s Restaurant who is know for their great handmade milkshakes, handmade french fries, and huge vegetarian selections.

4. Winter Lights Lantern Holiday Circlefest and GLOW – Cleveland Museum of Art & Botanical Gardens


Known as one of the top art museums in the country, the Cleveland Museum of Art and Botanical Gardens creates a beautiful “Glow” theme on its lawn during the Christmas holiday. Admire beautifully glowing art pieces on the lawn. Throw on those ice skates and don’t fall eating freshly made kettle corn from the local vendors. Come early before the Museum’s annual artsy night parade to enjoy a craft. Watch chefs prepare you an exquisite dish in the cafe, or snack on fresh baked cookies along with a glass of wine or champagne. Of course, there will be plenty of hot chocolate. Best of all – entry into the art museum is FREE!

5. Light Up Lakewood! Lakewood, Ohio


Usually happening on the first weekend in December, this outdoor walk around festival caters to both the very young and old at heart. This annual event is full of plenty of activities for the kids such as Santa pictures and crafts in the library (come early enough to grab a number to meet him!). Eat at the nationally known, Cleveland born restaurant Melt Bar and Grilled for fantastic grilled cheese and beer. Grab glow sticks and free hot cocoa while you pass people dressed as Star Wars and other characters on the street (was that just a black Santa Claus? YEP!). Don’t forget to stay for the night parade and tree lightning. Did I happen to say that a DJ spins the tunes while you’re taking this all in?


Have a Healthy Halloween

Lets face it. Times have changed. What used to be the old age tradition of dressing your kids in costumes and venturing out into the dark night with bags (or pillowcases) for long walks around your city are coming to an end.

Maybe it’s fear, maybe it’s being more conscious of what we are putting into our kids system, or it could be a combination of the two.

These realities do not put a damper on this time of year, but they do allow for some creative, fun, healthy changes for your children and future generations.

As we know, change is always inevitable. Nothing stays the same. When you know better you can’t help but to do better. This new set of parents known, as Generation X and Millennia’s, are raising ourselves and our children healthier and wiser than our parents did.

And for good reason. Candy is filled with even more sugar and artificial dyes. Yellow #5, Blue #1, and Red #40 sound more like a cool dye to color shirts with, but instead it’s dyeing our insides.  Venturing into the darkness with your children is still popular for some, but many view the world a little differently than they used to.

You might be wondering – just how might one Mom or Dad get past Halloween without allowing our children to collect the Hershey, Twix, and M&M bars at costume festivals or household Halloween parties?

For starters, we always prepare the kids for what’s about to happen – the “good” and the “bad”.  For the “bad”- We let them know that when they graciously collect their goodies, they get to pick one, eat it for about a minute and after the minute is up it goes in the trash.  When we get home a few (and I do mean VERY few) go in the freezer and the rest in the trash.

Never feel bad about throwing away candy. Anything that does not serve as nutrition for my families insides has no place in our home.

Call it cruel and unusual, but my children have come to look forward to the small indulgence of unhealthy sugar. And believe it or not they don’t bother to ask about what happened to their other candy.

The “good” – we offset the artificial stuff with some healthy sweets. There is an overabundance of healthy sweet alternatives that you can swap.

As your families ideals change during Halloween, there are still many cool, healthy alternatives that can be created within your own family tradition. And yes, Halloween can be enjoyed with minimal amounts of sugar!

Keep in mind – if you decide not to buy organic or raw it’s okay. You are still making a healthy decision to stay away from the commercial “shelf life” candy choices!

Baked Pumpkin Seeds with Cinnamon and Organic Coconut Sugar

Slice open a pumpkin, take out the seeds. Let the seeds dry overnight. Place pumpkin seeds on a baking dish. Sprinkle cinnamon and organic coconut sugar on top. Place in the oven on 425* for 25 minutes. Let cool or use as a topping over Tofutti Vanilla Ice Cream. Enjoy!

Candied Apples with Organic Raw Honey dipped in nuts

Grab a Green (Tart) or Red (Sweet) Apple. Dip or drizzle Organic Raw Honey then dip into nuts. Place in the freezer for about 15 minutes and Enjoy!

Organic Raw Fruit Fondue w/ Dark Organic Chocolate

Grab your favorite fruits – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, bananas, cherries. Grab your favorite organic dark chocolate bar (most can be found at your favorite non-commercial grocery or health food store – the health benefits of dark chocolate are endless!).

Kids House Party w/ fruit infused water ice cubes

Once again grab your favorite fruits (limes, lemons and ginger go great here too!). Add cubes to fresh water (or parents, add to your favorite mixed drink). After all, they will already by amped up from those healthy candied apples and pumpkin seeds. Balance their nutritional benefits with water. Enjoy!

Homemade Pita Pizza Party

Split open a wheat pita. Smooth on the organic tomato sauce or marinara. Choose your favorite toppings such as red, green, and yellow peppers. Sprinkle with fresh mozzarella cheese – or if you are dairy free, Daiya cheese has a wide assortment of delicious dairy-free cheese to choose from. Place in the oven on 425* until brown. Enjoy!

Movie Night with Brown bag popcorn and Pink Himalayan Salt

Grab organic whole kernels and place into a brown bag. Pop in the microwave according to your settings. Sprinkle with Pink Himalayan Salt and Enjoy!


From my Family to yours – Have a Healthy Halloween!





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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7 years without Cable! Here’s what happened.

Yes indeed. We are one of few households that have survived more than five years without the daily media blitz of reality television, sports games, breaking news, and celebrity gossip.

It all started when our “hook-up” finally came to an end and we were met with the decision to join the millions of other households paying high cable premiums.

I protested with my husband (he has never been a fan of television) to fit this bill into our already expanding budget.

I MUST watch my evening and morning news!

I MUST watch reality T.V!

I MUST have my daily dose of channel surfing – where I might stumble upon an intriguing documentary on Ancient Aliens!

My older children protested, as their bedrooms (what was once the place to get away from it all) became lifeless, quiet room caves of boredom. Thank goodness the youngest children were to little to understand that this was a major problem. What in the world were we all supposed to do now?

It forced me to have to be logical with myself for a moment. Let’s just stop going through the motions and actually really think about what is the “problem” here.

“Problem #1″

No morning News

Faithfully for many years started my morning with the latest news. I mean, how could you not? There is so much that might have happened overnight, or that morning. For goodness sake, a major Apocalypse could be happening! Or, a storm brewing. We must have cable so that I can prepare my family for such events before we head out into the world. Right?

My solution

Believe it or not, the days without the  morning news turned from 1 week to 100+ weeks. Without my daily dose of “panic stories,” I found a sense of peace. Yes, I knew that there was a chance that someone was killed overnight, or a major traffic jam should be avoided, but I chose to not allow that to be my experience. I truly believe that no news is good news.

Instead, I engage more with my children by turning on music and dancing in the hallways before school. They get a kick out of choosing a book to read and sharing it. When we do get a media itch, we select positive content for the kids to watch via our phones or tablet. We like to show them our favorite programming. Not what the major channels think our children should see.

Problem #2

Sports or Championship Games

Yes, we have been salty a few times not being able to watch major sport situations that have occurred over the last year.

My solution

On a few occasions it forced us to venture out to spend time with family or at a new restaurant to watch . A majority of the time though we just check the score on our phone and find something better to do. Yes, there are better things we can do with our time than watching sports. But, I get it. Many people love watching sports as a way to relax. But, only you know if that time could be better spent.

Problem #3

Missing New Programming

It can still be a hard pill for me to swallow when I hear of new season of my favorite show coming out (Give me that $150+ cable bill right now damnit, lol). For several years I would have family record the episodes for me so I could catch up when I visited. However, to my surprise as time went on, my demand for those recordings dwindled. I realized that many of those shows were better off being missed anyway.


My Solution

I would often browse the internet and see the people on these programs not “growing” anywhere. I saw them just getting worse with their fighting and accusations. What we watch greatly impacts our minds unconsciously. Rushing over to watch who fought who, or who slept with someone’s man started to feel foolish. How were these people in anyway impacting my life for the better? Now I spend my time reading more. Reading is the key to your ongoing success.

Problem #3

The Kids

Almost everyday at least one of the kids ask if we can get cable. I understand how they feel. Their friends ask if they saw the latest episode of a show, or everyone around them sings the jingle to that commercial that’s played only in cable land. I would have cried if I wouldn’t have had my MTV or Disney Channel to show me the way of the world.

My Solution

We agreed on having Netflix in the living room. Now believe me, this was not met with immediate cheers. For one, it meant sharing the television. Also, Netflix doesn’t necessarily have all our favorite shows and limited programming. But, we have survived with it. The kids are at a point where they are like “just give me some piece of normalcy.”

Although, due to this limitation they are not quick to just plop in front of the T.V. I have noticed an increase of art projects and imagination. I will take that any day over couch potatoes. : )

 So, there you have it. Our family has survived without headlining news and commercials. Another plus that I meant to mention is where that extra cable money can go to: activities, shopping, investments and more. Looking back I see how cable really had control on my perception of how I felt and saw the world. Cable has evolved into something where a vast majority of us feel like it’s a necessity. Don’t believe the hype!

I am beginning to understand that there are many things we all do just “because” it has been the norm for so long. What other things can we change within ourselves and for our households? Take a moment in your day today to ponder that question…