You deserve an Instant Miracle

Imagine leaving your life behind for 3 days. No rushing off to work, no reading texts, no posting on social media, no children crying for your attention. These next 3 days are all about you. Yes, you! Hi, you! Did you forget about you? What you like, what your hopes and dreams are. Do you still dare to dream? Or was that only when you were a child “growing up.”

Most adults can say they have an extremely busy life. Whether you work full-time, are a stay-at-home parent, or in your retirement taking care of your parents. Maybe you just suffered a terrible lost in your life or a major set back. Daily life can be stressful to us all. Many choose to decompress by exercising their body, drinking, reading (just to name a few). But, have you ever considered exercising your mind?

That is exactly what having an Instant Miracle Experience is all about. Exercising your mind is similar to the same way you exercise your body. Think of lifting weights. As you use your muscle in your arm you begin to strengthen or tighten the area that you are focusing on. Translate that into working the mind muscle – you could meditate focusing on positive outcomes that you want to achieve, or reading positive books to manifest your desires. In both scenarios, over time, the particular area you are focused on is exercised, either physically (body) or mentally (brain) and you will produce a positive result.

Where can one find such “zen”?

One warm day in San Diego, I accompanied my husband to attend the 3-day Instant Miracle Experience. I don’t want to say I was skeptical because I have an open mind and love trying new things, however, I thought I was going to another boring self-help seminar that are literally given everywhere. Upon entering the auditorium I was immediately met with hugs, smiles, how are you and love energy. It was as if I left the “real world” full of judgements and frustrations. For those full 3 days my focus became all about myself. Not what my children are doing, not the latest news story.

It is so important to think about yourself in a world where we are always taught to look outwards. We could be helping our employer, helping our spouse, helping our kids. We are exhausting our own mental capacities. What about you? Is tuning into you being selfish? Absolutely not.  It’s time you start reflecting on your past (we all have underlying issues that need to be healed) and where we are now and where we want to go. How are your past issues truly affecting how you are reacting to situations today?

You are deserving of self love and so much more. You deserve a breather from this hectic fast paced life.

Imagine if we all were able to step away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It is possible if you want it to be. Be selfish and make it happen.

You deserve an Instant Miracle.

If you are interested in attending or learning more about an Instant Miracle Experience by Christian Mickelsen you can find out more information about this life changing event here: Instant Miracle Experience

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

 

Taking our Food Back!

The Big Pay Back!

We are an enlightened people who will not just reach for the shelf! We will take back our bodies, our minds, and our planet and furthermore what we consume and use will be conscientiously thought about. We do not need you to necessarily “prepare” our food and products, we just ask that you make available to us access to non-GMO seeds and allow for organic space and living to create our own. For those who cannot grow everything, allow farmers to raise and grow their animals, fruits, and veggies organically. We will slowly start to replace your shelf products with a healthier alternative for our friends, families and ourselves. We will spread the word, create and educate those around us.

Disclaimer: The following article is an informative article about some simple swaps that my family and I have consciously chosen to remove out of our lives for a healthier lifestyle. It may not be necessarily a good choice for you and your family. However, I confidently stand by my choices and would like to offer you the opportunity to seek a better understanding of what you are consuming and using.

For many, unbeknownst to us, we wake up to a routine of: showering with Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate(soap). After we dry off, we wipe moisturizer onto our skin with Panthenol, and brush our teeth with fluorinated toothpaste.

Knowledge is power! The more that you seek to understand and pay attention to what you are using and consuming, the more power you are giving back to yourself. You do not have to take my word for it. Simply read up on it and do your research.

Let’s take a look at some simple “swaps” that my family has made that you might like to consider and research further:

Swap Iodized Salt for Pink Himalayan Salt

bigpay2Pink Himalayan Salt

Pink Himalayan is a non-processed, healthier and more nutritious alternative to salt, containing over 84 minerals and trace elements, including iron, calcium, copper, magnesium, and potassium to season your food. Many of us have come to watch our salt intake due to the offerings of high sodium table salt at restaurants. Pink Himalayan gives you a reason to season! Take your salt back!Pink Himalayan can also be used to detox your colon and heal your adrenal gland! Check out the recipe for this master cleanse here: http://7-min.com/himalayan-salt-water-flush-recipe/ 

Other seasoning swaps to try:

Garlic Salt – use garlic cloves or minced garlic

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Replace garlic salt with minced garlic or garlic cloves for a healthier alternative.

 

 

Black pepper – use peppercorn grinders

Regarding packaged seasonings –just understand this – Say Bye-Bye to seasonings containing dye, TRICALCIUM PHOSPHATE, OLEORESIN (true words off a seasoning label) and all those strange words that none of us truly understand. Most ingredients that will season your food can be grown or purchased from a farmers market. It may require some preparation but once you have an abundance, those seasonings can be stored in the freezer or in jars. Just like they store packaged seasonings on the shelf at the grocery store – but without the other additives. Won’t take my word for it? Next time you go to a commercial grocery store read the labels on packages and watch the scientific experiment wording labels explode!

 

Swap Cow Milk for Almond, Rice, or Soy Milk

 

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 Almond Milk

 

A childhood favorite that can’t be wrong. Right? Let’s consider some common sense facts before the criticism. Baby cows consume their mother’s cow milk. It has all the nutrients and vitamins it needs from its mother for it to grow and become a healthier cow (of course!) Same concept as with a human mother producing milk to breastfeed her children. Even at birth we are told not to feed our children cow’s milk until after age 1, however after age 2 through adulthood we should be free and clear to consume this substance. The only difference is that our bodies by age 1 has built up antibodies and are able to consume more than that of a newborn could, but are we really free and clear to consume a milk that was produced by a cow mother for her baby? There are also other additives to milk such as hormones, pus, blood… I can go on. Check out this article by Global Healing Center to get the nitty gritty on cow milk http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/dangers-of-cows-milk/

However, not to worry. There are several fantastic healthier variations of milk that give you that rich, creamy taste that you are seeking on your taste-buds. Almond Milk is my families #1 choice for a non- animal milk replacement. Almond milk is made from almonds which are mixed together with water. The result is a rich creamy milky like substance. As muchas I used to love my cow milk, this was easy to switch to. We have also tried rice milk and soy milk, but found almond to not only have the most protein, but also a great taste to use in our cereals and other favorite dishes that call for milk!

 

Swap Canned Food for Whole Food

Can food has become so popular in most households for the convenience of longevity and simplicity. But, what comes in those cans are ingredients that can be harmful to our bodies. Additives to canned vegetables, soups and meats to prolong the shelf life are digested into our systems. And we wonder why our intestines are blocked and constipated.

A nice start would be to grow or buy  fresh vegetables and fruits and either use them within a few days (yes go back again for more in a few days) or you can freeze them. Homemade soups can be prepared ahead of time such as chicken noodle, and cream of mushroom and can also be stored away in the freezer.

A little preparation ahead of time can go a long way to leading your family away from the “shelf life.”

 

Swap Meat for Local Hormone-Free Grown Meats or Vegetarian Substitutes

At a young age, I eliminated red meat out of my diet completely. Still a work in process, I am slowly eliminating both chicken and turkey. My husband being a vegetarian makes it easy for me to swap certain dishes that call for beef or turkey by using soy or turkey meat. When the kids and I need our poultry fixings, we do our best to buy meat from kosher, amish, organic, or free range labeling local farmers. We rarely purchase deli packaged meats as they are full of sodium and that strange slimy gel that appears just doesn’t seem right. The solution: Try roasting a whole chicken or turkey for the week for sandwiches. Just all around better for the tummies!

 

Swap Fluoridated Toothpaste for Non-Fluoridated Teeth Cleaning Options

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Tom's has become a household favorite for its non-fluoridated choices.

Tom’s has become a household favorite for its non-fluoridated choices.

Pick up your favorite commercial toothpaste and read the label. More than likely it is packed with words that the average consumer won’t be able to pronounce. So why put those chemicals on your teeth to push down into your stomach? Fluoride is also NOT our friend. Fluoride not only blinds your third eye (pineal gland that is responsible for your spiritual connection to Source), but also is toxic to our overall health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, most doctors, dentists and other health establishments make no money from taking these products of the shelf. They like to push the ‘idea”that Fluoride is good for us. Not convinced? Check out this article from Dr. Axe athttps://draxe.com/avoiding-fluoride-and-how-to-detox-it-from-your-body/.

Solution: There are Fluoride free toothpastes such as Tom’s for your family. If you want to take it one step further here are some recommendation’s that my family and I have used for years.

Activated Charcoal  leaves a supreme, oxygenated clean feeling. Prolonged use also whitens the teeth. It can be super messy at times, but worth it once you learn how to do it right!

Virgin Pressed Coconut Oil  can be used as a maintenance in between teeth cleanings and dental office visits. This is often known as oil-pulling. A half a teaspoon a day swish in your mouth for as long as you can stand (15 minute minimum recommended) helps prevent tooth decay and cavities.

Peroxide  an excellent alternative to alcohol driven mouthwash. Swish peroxide mixed with water in your mouth for a bubbly fresh feeling in your mouth.

 

Swap Chemical Cleaning Products for Simple Household Products

Cleaning products are full of toxic chemicals that can get into our skin and cause long-term damage and irritation. Remember this rule of thumb: most things that we clean with should be okay to also consume(ammonia should Not be eaten, but aren’t as toxic as other chemicals). Go back to basics with household products such as Baking soda, vinegar, borax, ammonia, and lemons.

Baking Soda  good for deodorizing, and cleansing. Add some tea tree, peppermint, eucalyptus oil for afresh carpet cleaning deodorizer.

Vinegar  freshens, eliminates odors and cuts through tough stains.

Borax  can be used for cleaning clothes. It also can be used to eliminate fluoride from the body. Make a fresh detergent with Borax using this “chemical-free” recipe atwww.dwellinginhappiness.com

Ammonia  can be used for window cleaning, lifting stains and dirt. Add some fresh squeezed lemons to a squeeze bottle and you are in business!

Lemons  the strong citric acid in lemons is known for cutting through grease and eliminating odors. That’s why most cleaning products purchased on “the shelf” contain lemon scent. You can take raw lemons and wipe off counter tops, toilet seats, and clean the ring around the tub. Squeeze into any mixture above for a lemon fresh scent. Grapefruits work just as good so give those a try!

Cleaning the skin – When it is shower and bath time I highly recommend Bonner Brothers Peppermint soap. It’s one of the most natural soap/cleaners on “the shelf” that can be used to clean the body and the house. The label on this product says it all.

 

Swap Sweetener’s for Raw Organic Honey

My goodness! I could go on and on about how terrible these Aspartame chemical flavored sweeteners are out there. Honestly, there are NO healthy and chemical free sweeteners out there that come in little packets. PERIOD! Just say NO! And white raw Sugar consumption is toxic. Check out this video from sikuvideo for a brief overview of Sugars effect on the body: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yda8RtOcVFU

What do I recommend when you need to get your “sweet on?”

Raw Organic Honey  get as close to the source as possible. It may require some soul searching trying to locate a local farmer that you can purchase honey from, but it’s well worth it. We use honey to replace syrup on pancakes, sugar in oatmeal and so on.

Coconut Sugar  similar taste, but healthier alternative to brown sugar that can be used in baking and other recipes that you would normally put sugar in.

This list is short and to the point because sugar in general is just plain bad man. It is.

 

Swap Plastic Bottled Water for Glass Bottled Water

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Reuse your glass jugs by refilling with fresh water at stores such as Whole Foods.

True: It can be super hard to find pure water that naturally comes from the source. I truly don’t think there is one water company out there today that is 100% pure and not cleaned with some “type” of chemical. But again, there are always better choices!

My family and I recently switched from purchasing plastic jugs and storing our water in glass jars. Plastic bottles are not only bad for the environment (hard to decompose), but plastic also contains harmful chemicals that can interfere with the hormones in our bodies. To make this simple switch, we purchased large glass jugs of organic apple cider from Whole Foods for $3.99. Once those jars were emptied we took the jugs to Whole Foods for a $.33 jug fill up at their filtered, oxygenated water station! Not only is it some of the BEST water I have ever tasted, but you can’t beat the cost for the quantity. Recycle and Repeat!

Wondering how to take water on the go? I recently came across these cool glass bottles at www.faucetface.com

As with introducing anything new into your life, making small gradual changes work best. Are there any daily household products or foods that you or your family have “swapped” out of your lives?  I would love to hear about it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeking Your Ancestry? Give these websites and ideas a try!

Our life experience here, in this moment, is so precious. Who we are now and will become is full of so much history. The wise words and knowledge spoken upon our lips, may have, at some point, been a distance memory spoken from a grandmother, or grandfather – who heard it from their mother – who heard it from their mother, and so forth.

 Have you ever stared into an old black and white photo of a relative imagining what was going on for them? Wondered if their struggles, hopes and desires were similar to the thoughts you have today? How they overcame so much, with so much less than what we have offered to us today? Just what was their story and how did they get there?

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This is you! Your ancestors have spoken and want so much to share with you their past – And how you became uniquely you.

How do you have that amazing drive and courage? How do you cook such delicious award winning dishes? How do you draw the finest of fine art that could be hung and sold for thousands in a gallery? How are you…You?

If you have ever considered wanting to know more about your family history, here are some ideas that you can do now to get started:

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Start recording questions you want answered from your oldest living relative:

They are the closest link to your past that you can get. Go spend an afternoon asking for family names and what times were like for them. Typically, their grandparent’s name will give you a great leap into the past. Jot down as many names as they can give you. This will help in locating your relatives when doing a search.

Take the names gathered and start searching:

The Ancestry DNA kit is great for those serious searchers looking for more precise linkage to what there blood line is.

You can use awesome websites such as ancestry.com (more listed below) and pay a minimal membership fee depending on the level that you want to take it to. Ancestry.com also does DNA testing of your saliva (I am excitedly awaiting my results), for $99. Within 7 to 8 weeks they will pinpoint exactly what country or region your family originated from. Combine that with the information from your older relatives and you have a great start in digging into your past.

The old school way:

Another way to search is through the library of records in the city that most of your relatives were born in. Every city keeps a record of live births and deaths. Depending on the city though many slaves were sold off and were only accounted for in their slave masters property records (see below for a website specifically for African Americans). Talking with a Historian once you have a few names to search under will be of great help.

A few website recommendations:

 

Google FREE

Most people love and use Google because it gives you such a large database to search for places, names and can guide you to the perfect family history search engine tools. Google has a variety of other tools that you can utilize to help you such as, Google Maps and Google Earth. Both searches can help you locate ancestral addresses. Google Translate can help you translate text from other languages, and Google Books incorporates an online library of out-of-print resources that may contain local histories and compiled genealogies.

RootsWeb World Connect FREE

How cool would it be to have others (including researchers) share and provide helpful tips and clues to add to your growing family tree? Well that’s exactly what you can do on the RootsWeb website. Information can be updated or removed at any time and although the findings may not be 100% accurate, it truly increases your chances! Don’t know exactly where to start? You can browse their database that is full of over half a billion names with over 400,000 family trees!

AfriGeneas FREE

A phenomenal website providing a unique slave database of research and education for those researching their African-American roots. Most records for slaves were kept by the slave owners and are generally the only clue most African Americans have in tracing their ancestry. AfriGeneas site allows for an ample forum to communicate with other users searching into their African American genealogy.

So what are you waiting for? This weekend go spend an afternoon drinking tea digging through old photos, reminiscing of old times past and learning new things about your family history. After all, in this circle of life, one day you will be the relative the family goes to, to find out more about where they came from. Or, maybe you will be the one in the photo, long gone, standing proud as your loved one stares and admires just who you were and where you came from.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Cleveland Bop Stop Jazz Club, Ohio City

The Cleveland Bop Stop is not new to the Cleveland scene. Although, at times it can seem as if this spot has been only known through word of mouth.Donated and partnered with the Cleveland Music Settlement since 2013, the Bop Stop has been bringing an eclectic, intimate musical setting to the Lake Erie skyline for over 15 years.

My first experience at The Bop Stop 10 years ago was amazing. The light and heat from the cozy fireplace, coupled with a live band was like no other experience I had felt from Cleveland. I truly felt like I was in New York City or some other happening “major city.”

When I went again a few years later to see an electric violin player, I knew The Bop Stop was becoming one of my favorite places to go out to.

 

 

Location, Location

The Bop Stop is located at 2920 Detroit Ave in Cleveland’s Ohio City area within a beautiful view of Lake Erie.

Ohio City has quickly become Cleveland’s oldie but goodie location for sticking with a few popular landmarks throughout the years, such as The West Side Market and giving us new favorites such as Bar Cento.

 

Pom Frittes at friesBar Cento – DELICIOUS!

A visit to the Bop Stop makes for a great drop in to the City’s neighboring bar and restaurant night life that surrounds the area.

Although the parking lot is small, plenty of free parking can be found along Detroit Avenue.

 

Inside

Walking inside the Bop Stop you find small intimate seating of small tables and chairs that surround the stage.

 

Inside the Bop Stop

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 A full service bar with seating and a fire place with chairs make up the first floor. On warm summer nights a small patio overlooking the Lake make for a romantic feel when partnered with your favorite cocktail or wine.

The attire would be dependent upon who is performing that night (anywhere from casual to semi-formal) and tickets can be purchased online atwww.musicsettlement.com or at the door for a higher price. Tickets are very reasonable ranging in price from $10 to $35.

 

Calendar of May Events

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Menu

Small plates and appetizers seem to be the choices at this venue. Snack on ranch popcorn or pulled pork sandwiches. Definitely not a “get your grub on” type of dining. The music is definitely the main event.

Donations & History

The Bop Stop was donated to the City’s beloved Music Settlement with good reason! The Music Settlement was founded on the belief that every child should learn, love and experience music at some point in their life.

Donations and scholarships are awarded annually to potential students who may not otherwise receive private lessons. It also helps to pay for other activities, supplies, and projects within the school.

During the day, The Bop Stop provides young artists with the practice of performing on stage.

At night, the location becomes a full-fledged adult jazz club. Every drink purchased at the location goes towards a student’s scholarship at the School (The Music Settlement)

 

Featured Artists

The variety of performances from the Bop Stop ranges from classical violin to R&B jazz funk. There seems to be something every month that should pique the interests of music enthusiasts from almost all genre of music.

 

The R&B Jazz Group The Xperience

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The Bop Stop also caters to private parties and corporate events! The Bop Stop is a must to visit on the blossoming Cleveland Scene.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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