A VISIT TO: Happy Dog in Cleveland

A visit to Happy Dog in Cleveland, Ohio
Don’t you love traveling to new cities, falling in love with new restaurants, shops, and people, but then get kinda sad when it’s time to go back to your boring ol’ town? I used to feel like that in my early twenties, before I began branching out and meeting new people and places where I live in Northeast Ohio. Now I’m quite content traipsing about from Canton, to Akron, to Cleveland, and back. There are so many amazing places if you know where to look, and if your city’s like Cleveland, you have to know where to look— and often, that’s not downtown.

If you head west from downtown Cleveland and over the bridge, you’ll find yourself in a thriving part of the city, known as Ohio City, where there are a lot of great shops and restaurants. If you go a bit further, you’ll end up in the heart of a newly thriving corner of Cleveland known as the Gordon Square Arts District. In the summertime particularly, this neighborhood comes alive with an artful colliding of cultures, artists, music, and FOOD. And one place in particular manages to mash it all together so nicely. That place, my friends, is Happy Dog.

Happy Dog in Cleveland, Ohio

Happy Dog is about as simple as it gets. Its menu is all dogs, made locally from their own recipe, and even including a nice vegan sausage if you’re not into the whole meat thing. Dogs, tots, and fries are all you’ll find, but you may just be blown away by the long list of toppings and sauces you can pile on top. From silly toppings such as breakfast cereal and peanut butter to complex sauces like oaxacon red chili and chocolate mole, the beginning of the fun at Happy Dog is deciding what adventure your taste buds will experience this time. You just sit down, fill out your checklist of toppings, and order a drink while you wait for your dogs.

A visit to Happy Dog in Cleveland, Ohio

The truly great thing about Happy Dog isn’t the delicious dogs, though. This restaurant truly captures the Cleveland vibe I’ve come to know and love since discovering more of the city. At first it comes across as just an old fashioned corner bar, but once you settle in, Happy Dog oozes a totally contemporary vibe with its casual atmosphere, craft beer, surprisingly diverse live music, and bustling atmosphere filled with locals of all ages and backgrounds.

Happy Dog in Cleveland, Ohio

A visit to Happy Dog in Cleveland, Ohio

Happy Dog in Cleveland, Ohio

Fun is number one at Happy Dog, so be sure to bring a roll of quarters for the vintage arcade games, juke box, or for the game room/bar below, called Underdog. Yes, that’s right- they have a game room and even more bar space below! If you’re into old arcade games, Happy Dog will be an extra special treat. And their craft beer selection is pretty good too. Perfect place for a Friday night!

If you’re in the Cleveland area, be sure to head out to the Gordon Square neighborhood and enjoy a casual meal at Happy Dog!

Happy Dog in Cleveland, Ohio

Happy Dog in Cleveland, Ohio

A visit to Happy Dog in Cleveland, Ohio

Happy Dog in Cleveland, Ohiocleveland hot dog restaurant

 
 

Come to My Style Workshop Next Week!

clothing yourself with confidence

Ever find yourself admiring someone’s style and thinking, “I could never pull that off!” I used to say that quite a bit, before I started really exploring my own personal style and developing confidence along the way. My gals at First Friends in Canton, Ohio asked me to host a workshop at their 2014 Spring Women’s Conference to encourage other women with practical tips for developing their personal style and confidence. I’m so excited! Encouraging other women while talking about how fashion fits into our real lives? It’s an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

I attended my first women’s conference at my church two years ago, and had always thought those events were geared towards older, super Christian women. But the ladies at First Friends just want to put together a refreshing time to connect with other gals over good food and clean fun, with lots of inspirational moments mixed in. If you’re not into the whole church thing, I think you’ll still enjoy the event- it’s jam packed with practical encouragement and fun for all kinds of women! There are a few workshops to choose from- even one that includes a couple of my Italian friends teaching how to make pasta from scratch! Seriously- something for everyone.

The conference takes place at First Friends in Canton, Ohio (on the corner of 55th and Market Ave.) on March 28th & 29th. Cost is only $40, but registration ends this Sunday (March 23). You can check out more information at their website here, and call the church to register. (Psst! Childcare is even provided!)

I hope to see some of you there! I’d love to meet you in person. If you have any questions, feel free to message me or leave a comment below.

Pop-Up Elopements with Emily Alt Photography

Pop-Up Elopements with Emily Alt Photography

pop-up wedding in an airstream trailer

You’ve heard of food trucks and pop-up shops, but would you ever consider a pop-up wedding? Emily Alt, a seasoned wedding photographer, hit on this fun, low-stress idea for an elopement ceremony, and I think it’s genius! If you’re interested in a stress-free and super cute pop-up elopement, Emily is taking her trailer to a few U.S. spots like beautiful Traverse City, Michigan (June 13 + July 18), Santa Fe (April 4), New Orleans (March 23), and Beaufort, South Carolina (February 14).

Check out more of what Emily has to say about her pop-up weddings below, and visit her photography website to see more of her work.

pop-up wedding in an airstream trailer midwest pop-up wedding in an Airstream trailer

“Guys. Newsflash: Weddings and marriage are supposed to be fun. They aren’t supposed to cause your hair to fall off with the anxiety of ensuring that everyone around you is okay. They are about YOU and your Tru Luv 4 Eva. I talk to a lot of people every day- the couple, vendors, family members, etc- all about planning the wedding, organizing the timeline, getting the cake cutting right, making sure the bridesmaids’ dresses don’t clash with the tablecloths and, honestly, it was getting a little insane.

“I realized that people were really overwhelmed trying to do a Pinterest-worthy wedding in 2014 that the main point of their day (The love! The passion! The marriage!) was getting lost in the shuffle. Pop-up shops are so popular for fashion and beauty projects, I figured, why not do a pop-up wedding? We’ll take on all the stress of your wedding planning–you just show up for a great time.”

pop-up wedding in an airstream trailer

“A pop-up ceremony` is first and foremost LOW stress for you. Again, I really wanted to make sure that couples weren’t freaking out about planning their weddings, so a pop-up makes sure that is the case. Literally, you just have to show up, dressed and ready to say your vows, with your marriage license and we take care of the rest. I’m working with an amazing stylist for all the locations, Amy Baker, whom I met through another wedding I shot last year. She will be doing all of the florals, hand lettering, details and decorations- and she’s absolutely awesome! Everything is taken care of, so it’s sort of like a vacation- a version of the Las Vegas elopement without all the weirdness of Las Vegas, in a really cool city with a better, more healthy vibe.

“Since you can only invite 20 people, you know the folks who are going to be there are the best of the best.  Or, you can make a Pop Up super intimate and just have you as a couple present. There’s something really amazingly beautiful about saying vows to one another with only yourselves as witnesses. I think at the end of the day, the Pop Up allows couples to be themselves–a small, quiet, intimate elopement type ceremony in a cool city with an Airstream trailer as a backdrop?  I wish I had done that!”

pop-up wedding in an airstream trailer

pop-up wedding in an airstream trailer

Pop-Up Elopements in an Airstream Trailer

“Lots of people are up for throwing tradition aside and taking this pop-up route.  Our couples are super diverse, some flying into the city of their choice just the two of them and treating it as an elopement, while others bring the whole 20 person group up to their favorite spot in Northern Michigan. Some couples are embarking on their second marriages, and others are working professionals who just don’t have time to let wedding planning take over their lives. Most of our couples are pretty independent and creative types. You’ve got to be strong to tell your mom that you’re only having eight people at your wedding!”

pop-up wedding in an airstream trailer

“We based the pop-up wedding locations off of a few things- First, our Airstream road trip would take us through these areas. We wanted to stay in the South as much as possible (driving a 31′ trailer over mountain passes in ice and snow is sort of my worst nightmare) so that is why most of the locations are in the South.  We also love these cities–Santa Fe is our spirit animal city, New Orleans is loads of fun, and Traverse City is where we spend our summers, so they were all sort of no-brainers.  If we do expand, we definitely want to go to Charleston, SC and Austin, TX next year. They’re also pretty much the cat’s pajamas. However, we would also love to take suggestions from readers!”

Check out Emily’s current travel schedule here.

pop-up wedding in an airstream trailer

pop-up wedding in an airstream trailer

Emily Alt Photography is a sponsor of Making Nice in the Midwest. Click here to learn more about partnership opportunities.

 

Cleveland Indie Fashion Label: 23 SKIDOO

23 Skidoo - Cleveland indie fashion label by Courtney McCrone

Cleveland indie fashion designer Courtney McCroneOnce upon a time, in a crumbling city far, far away, there rose up a generation of spunky, creative Clevelanders who wanted to make something of their town, instead of leaving it. I’m always excited to see local talent doing noteworthy things in Northeast Ohio, but when I first met Courtney McCrone on Twitter a couple of years ago, I became particularly giddy.

Courtney said her dream was to come back to her home of Cleveland, Ohio to start her own fashion label. When I checked out her style, I might have squealed out loud. Sixties-inspired, simple, and totally mod, I couldn’t wait to see what this local gal would do next. I knew it would be fabulous.

Well, I hate to say I told ya so, but I told you. Okay. Actually, I love to say I told you so. But I love Courtney’s new fashion line even more! 23 Skidoo is such a fun name with a cool history and equally funky pieces to suit. I love that her line is locally dreamed up and produced, but regardless of its origins, it would still cause my heart to skip a little beat. Thankfully each item in her newest line is available for purchase at 23 Skidoo’s online shop, and if you’re dying for more, check out Courtney’s blog for behind-the-scenes action, DIYs, and a little glimpse of what a creative life in Cleveland looks like.

23 Skidoo - Cleveland indie fashion label by Courtney McCrone

23 Skidoo - Cleveland indie fashion label by Courtney McCrone

23 Skidoo - Cleveland indie fashion label by Courtney McCrone

Wallpaper backgrounds were added digitally by me but the real deal can be purchased for your home here. 23 Skidoo is a sponsor of Making Nice in the Midwest. Click here to learn more about partnership opportunities.

Through the Eyes of a Babe

Maize Valley Farm

Maybe it just got lost amongst college planning, dates with my boyfriend, and the pursuit of coolness. But somewhere in my late teens, the holidays lost their magic. Sure, I would still get excited about the season of family gatherings, cookie baking, and Christmas music, but it just wasn’t the same. I don’t think I even carved a pumpkin from the years 2004-2008. I think I was just going through a shift that happens with a person becomes independent and tries to navigate adulthood. But when Phil and I decided to start our own family, one of the things I was most looking forward to was having the real chance to get excited again for the holidays. Decorating our home for the seasons could finally bring joy to someone besides myself. Traditions would become important once again, and we could experience the excitement of the holiday season through the sparkling eyes of our children.

This Fall, the Phil and I took Lucy to Maize Valley, a local farm that bustles with family friendly activities this time of year. They have a huge corn maze, a pumpkin patch, hot air balloons, hay rides, animals, games, and even a pumpkin cannon! Lucy was amazed at everything, and we were amazed at her amazement. It occurred to me that I was finally, genuinely enjoying seasonal traditions again, and that maybe this trip to the pumpkin patch was a bit more for me than for it was for Lucy. I mean, she probably won’t remember it, anyway. But it’s my hope that while she might not remember the specific moments when she first experienced the magic of Fall and the joy of Christmas, the lingering feelings of excitement and comfort will leave a deep impression in her tiny heart. These early experiences is how nostalgia is born, and I’m hoping we’re getting her off to a good start with plenty of warm fuzzies for the years to come!

Maize Valley Farm

Maize Valley Farm

Maize Valley Farm

Maize Valley Farm

Making Nice in the Midwest

Maize Valley Farm

 

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