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If you’ve watched the news in the past twenty-four hours, you know Steven Slater. If not, let me introduce you to him:

c/o San Fran Chronicle online

This man is going down in history for one of the best “I Quit” stories EVER. I’ll let the San Francisco Chronicle tell the tale:

Steve Slater got into an argument with a passenger over an overhead bag that fell out of the bin hit him on the head. After the passenger called him names, he fired back with some of his own, then got on the PA system and said he had enough, went into the galley and got a beer, then activated the emergency chute, slid down it, went home…

My rockin’ mom has been a flight attendant for over six years. While she loves many parts of her job, there are some days that make her want to take similar actions as Mr. Slater.  I asked her to share a typical day in her career so each and every Poise in Parma reader can really appreciate what the lovely men and women of the skies put up with on a regular basis. That said, I present to you:

A REAL DAY IN THE LIFE OF A FLIGHT ATTENDANT

3:45AM: Alarm goes off to start the day in Cleveland. Stumble out of the hotel bed and try to remember where I am and where in the room that bathroom ended up. I’ve overslept so that means no coffee for me this morning. Since I knew the early wake up was on the agenda, I was in bed before 9PM  – no Top Chef for me. Luckily, after this one early morning flight, I have the entire day to sightsee and enjoy the city of Boston.

5:00AM: Meet the van shuttle to get a ride to the airport. It’s a quick ride since no one is on the road.

5:25AM: Arrive at airport for my “show” time. I meet the pilot and first officer in the crew room. They spent the night at the nice Hyatt in downtown. Much swankier than my Holiday Inn accommodations next to the airport, where there is absolutely nothing to do. By the way, I’m not on the clock yet.

5:35AM: Safety checks complete, boarding begins. Fifty groggy travelers can barely open their eyes let alone smile or say hello as I greet them.

5:45AM: I have to inform about 20 customers that their carry-on baggage need to be gate check, which does not go over well. Last customer to board has a carry on bag the size of a Great Dane. After he tried to cram the bag up in the bin, they concede.

5:50AM: Finish my last minute checks and try to get the pilots a cup of coffee, which they haven’t had yet either.

6:00AM: Door finally closes. I’m finally on the clock.

6:05AM: I start my announcements. As the travelers don’t pay attention to the important safety regulations, I mentally take bets with myself on which business men would be the first to cry in a real emergency.

6:10AM: I do my final walk down the aisle before we take off. I only manage to bang my legs twice, but they will still leave some bruises at the end of the day.

6:15AM: Flight takes off and more FAA required announcements are made.

6:25AM: We reach a safe altitude, so I start brewing coffee and preparing the breakfast beverage service. Most travelers sleep through my first pass through the cabin and only ask for coffee when service is completed.

7:25AM: Captain makes announcement in preparation for landing. Five people get up to use the one lavatory in the back of the plane.

7:45AM: Rest of the flight goes without much hassle and the flight lands in Boston on schedule. The seat bell sign goes off and all fifty guests are already out of their seats grabbing their belongings without anywhere to go. Instead of patiently waiting in their seats, they pack themselves like sardines in my galley. Where are they going – the jet bridge hasn’t even moved yet!

7:50AM: Plane door opens. I’m off the clock. With plenty of work to still do.

8:00AM: Plane is empty. I complete more required safety checks and clean the cabin. It’s my responsibility to prepare the plane for its next leg.  Considering they were asleep for most of the flight, this was one messy group. It takes longer than normal to pick up the trash, cross the seatbelts and gather the leftover newspapers for recycling – without any help from anyone.

8:15AM: I walk down the jet bridge, ready to start my excursion in Beantown, when the gate agent tells the captain our schedule has changed. We’re now taking this plane to Newark, then continuing on for three more legs that include a three hour sit between each flight. Our final destination: the exciting metropolis of Wilks Barre/Scranton, PA. I won’t see my hotel room until at least dinnertime.

It’s just another day in the life of a flight attendant.

There are certain things that you expect to inherit from your folks:

  • your height
  • your eye color
  • your ridiculous amounts of hair from the neck up (I have a confession: In the perfect world, I would have a budget line for a weekly eyebrow waxing obsession. I know – TMI. Moving on…)

However, you don’t expect the inability to spell to be one of these things. My mom is an average speller, but my dad is horrible. When my previously mentioned friend Erin used to call the house, the notes he’d leave would say “Aaron called at 6PM”. Unfortunately, both my brother and I succumbed to the LaVecchia curse and could never make it out of the first round of a spelling bee.

On top of it, I sabotaged myself at the ripe age eight. I was far too busy to be bothered with actually doing my Phonics homework – there were episodes of Full House to watch, for God’s sake! I knew my Phonics teacher would review the answers before asking her students to hand in their homework to be graded.  So what did I do? I just filled in the answers as she told them to the class.  Sure, I struggled to get through my weekly spelling tests, but I had an A on every workbook assignment!

To my third grade teacher Mrs. Ward – I apologize for my sneaky behavior.

So as it turns out, my own sabotage combined with my inheritance has led me to today’s edition of:

TEN THINGS THIS TUESDAY: TEN WORDS I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO SPELL CORRECTLY

I have provided the dictionary.com link for each word for your additional knowledge. Let’s get spelling…

1. Bulletin: This should be an easy one, but I can’t seem to remember to just separate the word in to “bullet” and “in”. I end up with far too many I’s & E’s and not enough event flyers being posted on the community board in your local Panera Bread.

2. Caesar: And I thought I stopped ordering them because of their calorie content: the name sake of the popular Americanized salad is another one that trips me up. The “s” always is in the wrong place.

3. Lorain: For those of your outside of the Northeast Ohio area, Lorain County is the county just West of Cuyahoga County, where Cleveland is located. My upcoming event is in Lorain County, so my batting average on this word is climbing slowly. Now if I just can remember “Elyria”…

4. Bandana: In commenting on Morgan’s BlogHer recap post at Life After Bagels today, I realized I couldn’t spell this word.  My new trick to remembering: think of a banana with a headband. Ridiculous, I know.

5. Retriever: As much as I post pictures of Grady, you think I could remember the old “I before E” rule. Imagine a post about him coming home from the groomers: I’d have to mentioned retrievers AND bandanas! It would be a spelling disaster!

6. Appetizer: I’m an event planner. I specifically plan events where small samples of food are served. Isn’t that the definition of an appetizer?! You think by now I would know this one! And of course this goes without saying, I also cannot spell its counterpart, “hors d’oeuvre”. But really, who can?

7. Maintenance: This should be another simple one to remember when you break it down: main – ten – ance. Let’s see if that helps me remember…

8. Pronunciation: Forget spelling it – I can’t even pronounce “pronunciation” correctly. Damn you phonics class.

9. Jewelry: Considering my fourth wedding anniversary is coming up next month, I better learn how to spell this word if I plan to give the hubby any hints on a present for his lovely wife!

10. Convenience: No matter what day, time, place – I am convinced that I will NEVER EVER be able to spell this word. Far too many I’s, E’s and N’s. I give up.

Any tips you can share with me to improve this skill? What word always gets your spell checker underlining your documents in red?

Vintage Ohio 2010

The Vintage Ohio Wine Festival is one of my favorite Cleveland summer time traditions – and it’s also the favorite of many other people. My friend Erin plans her August work schedule specifically so she can come home to enjoy this array of the region’s finest wineries. I was lucky enough to be the recipient of some complimentary passes to the 2010 event, which makes it even better!

We had quite the busy Saturday already: we ran a 5K, Hans snuck in a round of golf while I ran to Marc’s, and we caught up with my great-aunts at my grandpa’s house in the afternoon. By the early evening, we were ready for Vintage Ohio, which takes place out at the Lake Metroparks Farmpark in Kirtland. It’s a bit of a journey from our part of town, so we were incredibly happy to arrive and see all the signage for the event:

We picked up our tools of the trade and got to work:

It was quite busy when we arrived around 5:45PM. We started by getting in line for a few wine tastings:

After our long day, I got hungry pretty early. One stand in particilar caught  my eye:

I decided to try the bison stuffed banana peppers with onions and some spicy mustard on the side:

YUM. Then we got back to the wines. We ended up visiting 13 wineries total, including:

Breitenbach Wine Cellars from Dover:

Candlelight Winery from Garrettsville:

Grand River Cellars from Madison:

Old Firehouse Winery from Geneva-on-the-Lake:

…and The Winery at Spring Hill from Geneva:

Vintage Ohio also features a variety of artists and food vendors. You could pick up anything from hand made pottery & jewelery, to candles that look like wine:

…and you can’t forget your favorite sorts of fair food, including gyros and kettle corn:

One vendor in particular grabbed our attention: one of Cleveland’s finest summer traditions, Euclid Beach Custard:

Ice cream on a warm summer evening? Count me in! We decided to split a small cone:

Another YUM. I even ran into the CEO/President of my company at the custard stand!

At the end of the evening, we swung by the Wine Store and purchased a few bottles from two wineries:

Marietta Wine Cellars from Marietta:

…and It’s Your Winery from Akron:

We may or may not have gotten in line three times at this location. Hans was loving on all of their options:

See that last one: ice wine infused with chocolate?! How do you go wrong?

We spent about three hours at the festival that evening. Between sampling all the wines, eating the food, watching some cooking demonstrations, checking out the vendors and enjoying the summer weather, we were seriously tuckered out by the time 9PM rolled around. I do have to admit: I was happy that we were comped our admission this year. Why does it seem as all the samples get smaller and smaller every year? Or maybe it’s just that I’m drinking more wine these days?!

Overall, we had another nice experience at Vintage Ohio.  One thing I LOVE about Cleveland in August: there is NEVER a lack of summer festivals to attend. In the next week alone, I’m looking forward to the Cuyahoga County Fair and the Feast of the Assumption down in Little Italy. Along with some fun networking events and the upcoming John Mayer concert (EEK!), I’m going to be one busy Northeast Ohioan!

What summer festivals are you looking forward to?

You might remember I signed up for the 16th Annual Independence 5K Run/Walk to A Healthier You as a part of my list of The Big 2-7 To Dos. While I wanted to commit to a training plan, life started to get in the way. When the same thing happened in the spring, I talked myself out of running the 5K I signed up for in April. However, this time – training program or not – I was committed to running this morning.

It’s confession time friends. I’m in a serious workout rut, so the training runs trailed off as August 7 grew closer. Realizing I was expecting myself to make it through 3.1 miles, I promised myself to include some sort of movement each day during the week before the race.  For the most part, this meant a 30 minute pup walk around the neighborhood. I felt I was moving my legs and getting my muscles ready for the big day, at least in some way.

Since I’ve been stalking such bloggers as Meghann, Heather, Allison and Caitlin for a long time, I knew to lay out all my stuff the night before and to not do anything different on the race morning.  I woke up at 7AM, made a pot of coffee and ate a banana on the way to the race. Luckily, the site was less than a ten minute drive from my house.

Registration began at 7:30am with the 5K run/walk starting at 8:30am. Luckily, I talked a very special guy into signing up for the race that morning:

My awesome husband agreed to be my running buddy! I had more moral support: my dad joined us to cheer us on (and watch our stuff!):

Inspired by this past week, I decided I needed to wear this sign to help motivate everyone along the way:

It became my mantra for the morning!

We stretched it out, walked around, then lined up toward the middle of the pack since there were a bunch of walkers participating. Hans was cool with jogging at my speed and was there to be my motivator throughout the race. My original goal was to jog the entire length. However, after my lack of training, I decided to listen to my body and to take walk breaks when I needed them.  Luckily, my walk breaks are done at quite the clip (think power walking speed), so I managed to keep a good time.

We hit the first mile marker at about the 10:30 mark, which I was AMAZED by. I had never run a mile that quickly (that I’m aware of). I also got a bit nervous as I didn’t want to rush myself and burn myself out later in the race.

We hit the second mile marker. I forget what that time keeper told us, but a bit down the road, another time keeper told us we were at the 23:30 mark. I knew we were somewhere around the 2.25/2.5M distance. Hans did the quick math and said, “let’s get this done under 35 minutes.”

Around this time is when my side stitch started. I remembered Kat writing on her blog to exhale when your left foot strikes if you’re prone to side stitches. This was a big help to get through the rest of the race. Thanks Kat!

Since it was an “in and out” course through a community park, we came back upon the area where we started, so we could see the finish line from a far. Hans kept the positive thoughts flowing and challenged me to sprinting the last tenth of a mile. I also remembered what my brother text messaged me the night before: “just remind yourself… you’ve done harder things than this and killed them“. I love my bro for the inspiration.

We hit the 3 mile marker and we took off. I dug deep and ran like I never ran before!  As we got closer to the finish line, I saw the timer showed the time around the 33:50 mark. I had NEVER run a 5K under 36 minutes before, so I was flabbergasted!  We ended up crossing the line at 34:04 – truly a new PR!

My dad was proudly waiting for us at the finish line and offered water immediately to me. Unfortunately, that last sprint also increased my side stitch. It took me few minutes of walking around, stretching and A LOT of breathing to soothe the pain. But as I said towards the end of the run: pain is temporary!

To celebrate, we had to take some photos of us post-race!

I realized I LOVED LOVED LOVED having a running buddy. Hans might be in for some more running in his future!

I was truly amazed with myself. I have done so much over the years: sang solos at Severance Hall, lost over 110 pounds, graduated from college, thrown events for over 1,000 people. I NEVER thought I could run a 5K. Today I achieved one of my goals. And a new confession for you all: I think I’m addicted to the race day experience!

my Operation Beautiful note of inspiration got me through!

Lululemon’s manifesto encourages us to “do one thing a day that scares you.” What are you going to do today to push your limits? My second test: how many wines I can try at Vintage Ohio this afternoon?!

I’m lucky to have a pretty stellar extended family living in the greater Cleveland area. A favorite of myself and my friends alike is my Crazy Aunt Kathy. I use the word “crazy” as a term of endearment – as in good crazy, not bad crazy. While she blames herself for my fear of boats (it’s a long story), she’s always been my go-to super cool aunt that would take me and the bro on fun adventures growing up.  As I got older, our relationship changed and grew through our meet-ups at downtown lunchtime hot spots.

Since I no longer work downtown, Crazy Aunt Kathy wanted to take me out for a belated birthday dinner (yes, I am still celebrating). She emailed me quite the list of options around the CLE. There was one restaurant that had been on my wish list for awhile, so it was an easy selection: Bắc Asian American Bistro & Bar.

c/o bactremont.com

From their Facebook page: A casual bistro with a full bar and outdoor patio. Featuring authentic Asian and fusion cuisine, along with Asian-inspired drink specials.

We arrived during happy hour on a Wednesday. Other than a private party inside, there was only one other table dining that evening. Like them, we chose to sit on that patio and enjoy the summer heat after sitting inside in the air conditioning all day.  Our server (who was a John Krasinski look-a-like) filled us in on the happy hour specials and took our drink order (Aunt Kat ordered a cocktail; me, a simple unsweetened iced tea). He took a pretty extended amount of time to return with our drinks, so we made him take our order right away.

Happy hour at Bắc was pretty solid on the specials, so we decided to take advantage of the $5 appetizer deals. Aunt Kathy and I split the SUMMER ROLLS: Rice paper rolls filled with sliced shrimp, rice noodles, lettuce, cucumber and basil. Served with dill cabbage, carrot and peanut sauce:

There was no question that the flavors of these rolls were clean and fresh. If you are looking for that, search no further than this appetizer. There were no strong flavors to bowl you over in the rolls by themselves, but the peanut sauce did the trick. The sauce added the flavor kick the rolls needed. I was perfectly content on that hot evening, but I think the average diner might want more.

For her “main”, Aunt Kathy ordered the COCONUT MILK CREPE: Crispy crepe filled with shrimp, pork, mung beans, bean sprouts and onion. Served with shredded lettuce and sweet garlic vinaigrette:

Aunt Kathy LOVED her crepe, so much so that she had me take a bite of it before she rocked the entire thing. I quickly understood her enjoyment. The crepe was both crispy as promised, but soft as a crepe should be. The fillings added so much flavor to the crepe that was already delicious itself. She emailed me the next day, “I want to go back for another coconut milk crepe or two.  That was tasty.  So were the summer rolls. Come to think of it, I think I could eat about 100 of each.” So there ya go.

Aunt Kathy also ordered the BACON GUACAMOLE: Fresh avocado, sautéed bacon, garlic, red onion, scallions and cilantro. Served with wonton crisps:

I’ve been on a gluten-free kick this week, so I stayed away from the wonton crisps.  I snagged a bite of the bacon guacamole. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from guac at an Asian inspired bistro. I wasn’t surprised either. Of course, adding bacon to anything is going to make it better, but the guacamole could have used some extra season as I got a big bite of smashed avocado. The wonton would have helped add the salt it needed. On a future visit, I would opt for a more authentic appetizer choice.

For my main, I ordered the VIETNAMESE NOODLE SALAD with Shrimp: Thin rice noodles, lettuce, cucumber, bean sprouts, basil and cilantro. Topped with dill carrot and crushed peanuts. Served with sweet garlic vinaigrette:

First, the kitchen got HUGE points from me for presenting the dish with the vinaigrette on the side. I loved I could control the sauce distribution on my dinner. Secondly, I enjoyed what the seasonings on the shrimp, the dill carrot and the peanuts brought to the dish. After enjoying my first couple bites, I realized quickly I should have ordered a different protein as this noodle bowl was very similar to the Summer Rolls I started my meal with. No worries though, as I highly enjoyed my entrée. Next time, I would try the pork (beef, chicken and meat-free were other options available). The portion size was very generous. Even with both Aunt Kathy and I eating some on the patio, I had about half of the bowl to take home. They heated up very well in a skillet with some extra veggies the next night.

One note about the service: While I appreciate a relaxed, non-rushed dining environment, our server “Jim” was fairly absent during our 90 minute visit. He may have been busy with the party inside, but considering there were no more than two tables in the rest of the restaurant and on the patio, I have to take dining points off here. I watched a table that was sat at the end of our meal get very anxious to order their drinks and meals after he disappeared for a long period of time. Another man (whom I believe was the owner) ended up taking our check to process our payment. This establishment might want to look into encouraging their servers to be a bit more timely throughout their diners visits.

LONG STORY SHORT: Bắc Asian American Bistro & Bar is exactly that – a fusion of all sorts of Asian flavors that have been Americanized enough to still make this silly Ohio girl feel at home. Does it stand up to some of the more “authentic” Vietnamese or Thai cuisine in the area? That’s up for debate. However, considering we were overall pleased with everything that was presented, Aunt Kathy and I had a lovely meal at Bắc that Wednesday evening. I might not rush back with all the other places to still try, but I would definitely keep Bắc in mind for a fun Happy Hour alternative to the beer and wings the typical bar might serve.

Bac Asian American Bistro on Urbanspoon

Today is a very important day for a very important movement. For those of you not submerged in the food/healthy living blog world, you may be unfamilar with Operation Beautiful:

c/o amazon.com

From the website: The goal of the Operation Beautiful website is to end negative self-talk or “Fat Talk.”  If this little blog only does one productive thing, I hope it helps readers realize how truly toxic negative self-talk is  — it hurts you emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

c/o operationbeautiful.com

August 2nd through August 7th is Change The Way You See, Not The Way You Look Week. In honor of the release of her book, Caitlin is encouraging bloggers to share their experiences with body image, healthy balance, and self-confidence.

I felt moved to participate in this movement, so in true Tuesday fashion I give you:

TEN THINGS THIS TUESDAY:  WAYS TO SUPPORT OPERATION BEAUTIFUL

1. Post a note. Write an inspiring message on a sticky note, then post it somewhere where everyone and anyone can see it. Mirrors are great places to start, but think outside the box: in a random book, on an interoffice memo, on a lunch bag in the office fridge! If you email Caitlin a picture of your note, she’ll include it on the website!

Here’s the note I posted today in our restroom at work:

(The quote is borrowed from lululemon’s manifesto)

2. Look in the mirror and smile. Did you know that smiling feels like eating 2,000 chocolate bars?! Don’t believe me?

According to The British Dental Health Foundation, a smile gives the same level of stimulation as eating 2,000 chocolate bars. The results were found after researchers measured brain and heart activity in volunteers as they were shown pictures of smiling people and given money and chocolate.

Smiling will save you money and inches compared to all the chocolate you’ll need to buy for the same experience!

3. Send some love to your friends via social media. Whether it’s via Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, MySpace or Yelp, send your best friend a love note today. It can be as simple as “You are beautiful!” or “Thanks for being a great inspiration and friend.”  A short message will brighten their day in more ways than you could know.

4. Take a walk. You’ve probably heard that physical exercise releases of hormones and neurochemicals that boost your mood. But I’ll use the words of Elle Woods to really sum this up: “Exercise releases endorphins, endorphins make you happy, happy people don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t.” At least you have that to look forward to!

5. Reach out to a friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile. Is there a person in your life you’ve been meaning to hang out with, but life keeps getting in the way? Dig out their phone number and call them today. Even a five minute chat will brighten your spirits. It may even lead to a play date at a later time!

6. Pet a dog. You never get tired of seeing this guy, right?!

Another well known fact is that mood elevators in the brain rise when you pet an animal. Don’t have a dog – find one on your walk. Just make sure to ask its owner for permission to pet it before you do!

7. Go easy on yourself. If you are striving for perfect, you are always going to fail. Why be so hard on yourself? Set goals that are specific, but achievable. For example: my original goal to run/jog my entire 5K this weekend.  Unfortunately, life has gotten in the way of my training schedule, so I’m not sure if I’ll reach that goal. But, I know that I can at least finish the race while giving it my all. And as Heather said, it will be a PR either way!

8. Believe in yourself and take a chance. Have you been meaning to go back to school? Quit your job? Start your own business? Stop living in the fear of “what happens if I fail?” Your new mantra: I am not finished with what I have to accomplish on this earth and I will be successful.

9. Read Operation Beautiful. It drops today and you can purchase it at Amazon, Borders or Barnes & Noble. Caitlin shares the stories of some fantastic bloggers, including Heather from Then Heather Said and Katie from Health for the Whole Self.

10. Love yourself TODAY. If you are not going to love yourself, who is?! I highly encourage you to visit Operation Beautiful for some inspiration – because you are wonderful, just as you are, in this exact moment.

What happens when you combine the following ingredients?

c/o Google image search

c/o Google image search

c/o Google image search

c/o Google image search

You get one happy Michael Symon:

c/o kentmeireisphotography.com

Local food blogger Dave Whittaker is cooking his way through Michael Symon’s cookbook and documenting this journey on his blog Live To Cook… At Home.   When I was inspired to make this Tomato Salad with Red Onion, Dill and Feta recipe for a recent cookout, I thought what better time for a CLE food blogger partnership?!

Make sure to stop by Live To Cook… At Home today to see my guest post on the Tomato Salad recipe. It was super easy to put together and is the perfect addition to your summer BBQ menu.

Check out all of Dave’s attempts at Chef Symon recipes as well as his related culinary moments by checking out his blog.  Dave attends a lot of neat culinary events and does a great job sharing tips for the home cook. It’s definitely a great add to your Google Reader!