The Blogmopolitan Quiz, Part 3

It’s time for the third installment of Two Thirds Hazel’s Blogmopolitan Quiz! You can see my post with parts 1 and 2 here. If you want to join in on the fun, click here!

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If you’re a long time reader, you may remember my original blog name: Jess{ly} in Cleveland. I cringe now just thinking about it, but now Mike insists on calling me Jessly just for funzies. Haha.

What else do you want to know about me? Comment below and maybe I’ll put together a Q&A post or something :)

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SC4K’s Luau on the Lake Recap (Guest Post)

**I was invited to attend SC4K’s Luau on the Lake 2014 event with a guest in exchange for writing a recap post. However, I was unable to attend so I asked my friend Lyndsay from The Balanced Brunette to go in my place, since she would be back home for vacation. Check out her event recap below!**

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During my trip to Cleveland, I had the amazing opportunity of attending the 9th Annual Luau on the Lake, which benefitted Shoes and Clothes 4 Kids. It took place at Wendy Park in Cleveland, OH, and it was a gorgeous day!

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I arrived at the luau, picked up my VIP bag, and was ready to party! With my VIP bag, I was able to arrive a half hour early. I also received a lei, Luau on the Lake cup (pink, my favorite color), and 3 drink tickets. They had bars throughout the event with different types of alcohol. Whether you wanted wine, beer, or cocktails, they had it! You had to be 21 or older to attend, so there was no confusion with who was of age.

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I can’t believe I lived in Cleveland almost all my life (I currently reside in Los Angeles, CA), and had never been to Wendy Park before. It’s right on the water, and the luau was filled with beautiful people wearing beautiful outfits. It was everything you’d expect at a luau! They had limbo, jenga, a raffle, sand volleyball, music, and delicious food. It was a big party, all dedicated to helping out kids in need.

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Shoes and Clothes 4 Kids (SC4K) is the “only non-profit organization in Greater Cleveland providing new shoes and clothes to thousands of children in need at no charge throughout the year. Through a network of 35 distribution partners, SC4K positively impacts the lives of area children by giving them the self-esteem and confidence that comes from having brand new shoes and clothes” (borrowed from the SC4K website). They host events throughout the year to raise funds for kids in the Greater Cleveland area. Check out their website here for more information and an event schedule!

Allan Fee from Q104’s Fee’s Company was in attendance, as well. I felt like I was meeting a celebrity! I listened to Allan Fee every morning on my drive to Cleveland State University. It was awesome listening to him and his support for such a great organization and cause.

I had such an amazing time at the Luau on the Lake, and I definitely plan on going back next year! It’s a really great thing when so many people can come together, raise money for a wonderful cause, and have a good time doing so. I want to thank Jessica for giving me her ticket to the event while she was on vacation, and also my best friend, (a different) Jessica, for attending the event with me and allowing me to use her camera!

You can follow SC4K on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, and also join their mailing list to be kept in the loop about events and the organization!

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Disclosure: I received a free VIP ticket to Luau on the Lake in hopes that I would mention the event on my blog. I only review products and services that I would use myself and believe would be beneficial for my readers. Therefore, all opinions are 100% my own. Thank you Jessica and SC4K for the opportunity!

About Lyndsay (The Balanced Brunette): Lyndsay is a health and lifestyle blogger and holistic health coach based in Los Angeles, CA. She is originally from Cleveland, OH. Lyndsay loves yoga and dark chocolate, and is slightly obsessed with coconut water. www.thebalancedbrunette.com

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Thank you so much for the wonderful recap post, Lyndsay! I LOVED attending this event last year & was sad I couldn’t make it this year, but I feel like I was there, especially with all of your great photos! :)

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Photo Diary: Scenes from the Shore

Vacation has come and gone & we are now on our way back to good ol’ O-H-I-O. We beached, we dined, we crabbed, and so much more. This vacation has been planned for quite some time, and due to recent events we weren’t sure if we’d still be able to go, but in the end I’m glad we came. Life doesn’t stop when bad things happen, so it really is important to enjoy the good times while you can. I was recently reminded of this & of how short life can be and it’s a humble reminder to not take anything for granted. Plus, since Mike’s parents live 6 hours away, it is nice for Mike to be able to visit his parents when he gets the chance.

Here’s my photo diary of our Jersey Shore vacation:

Attempted a wet top knot & accessorized with my new Bandin’ headband!

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 Mike & I on Lavallette Beach.

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Reading a book (Eating Mindfully by Dr. Susan Albers) on the beach!

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Mike & I looking fresh before going out to dinner! Loving my hair when it’s straight :)

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 We ate at this restaurant called Theresa’s South and it was SO YUMMY!

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The Barnegat Lighthouse

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Mike & I in front of the Barnegat Lighthouse.

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Loving this tea fortune:

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Mike & I reppin’ our CLE teams – Indians, Cavaliers, and Browns!

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We ate at this amazing place called Chef Mike’s Atlantic Bar & Grill – I had some of the best lobster I’ve ever had! Also, how pretty is the steak with the rosemary garnish? We ate al fresco on the patio, which was right on the beach with a view of the ocean. Amazing!

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We indulged on dessert, too. Mike, his mom, and I split this cheesecake canoli and it was DIVINE. #noregrets

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We took a bunch of photos by the water of Mike & I, him and his parents, and my outfit for a future blog post ;)

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We also went to this gazebo right on the bay which had this amazing view of one of the most beautiful sunsets any of us had ever seen. This photo doesn’t even do it justice.

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Being safe in the sun with my SPF! Learn more about why sunscreen is so important in this previous post.

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We ate lunch on our last beach day at Surf Taco, and boy was it good! I wish we had gone there sooner so we would’ve had time to go back a second time. Or that they had these in Ohio.

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After lunch, Mike, his dad, and I went to the bay to go crabbing! It was just for fun, so we put all the crabs back, but it was interesting! We used a trap with a bunker fish, and also a hand line with a piece of fish attached. I even caught one myself off the hand trap using this net!

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Our last dinner out was at Ohana Grill, where I had the Spring Risotto (with spinach & asparagus) and I added some grilled shrimp. Yum!

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Saturday morning, we made the trek back to Mike’s parents’ house for our last night in the Jers. We took Mike’s mom’s puppy (Sandy) up to the local dog park twice! It was a lot of fun, I got to meet some cute new fuzzy friends, and we let Sandy run around and let off some steam. She’s such a silly pup! Also, I’m kind of obsessed with my outfit. I may need to do an outfit post on this haha…

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We had one final splurge on our last night – Cliff’s Homemade Ice Cream – which for the record, was just rated the best ice cream in New Jersey. How could we pass that up? (Life is all about balance!)

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I, of course, had to try the best flavor (according to the article linked above), which was Double Dark Chocolate Fudge Crunch. It was chocolatey but awesome!

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The final splurge! (Note: I definitely did not eat this entire cup! haha) Starting today, we’re back to our healthy routine (which is MUCH needed).

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We’re sad that vacation is over (Mike especially since he’s leaving his parents), but at the same time we’re glad to be back home with our kitties & to get back into our routine! We’re getting back into our clean eating, our fitness routines, etc. I’ve also got some exciting things on the horizon & a crazy busy August to look forward to. Life is good!

Do you like photo diary posts?

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How Melanoma Changed My Life (Guest Post)

Being that today is our last beach day, I thought it would be fitting to feature something a little more serious today about the dangers of the sun/tanning.

I’m honored to have Alexandria here to tell her story.

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I must admit, I feel empowered and nervous about writing this blog post. I’m nervous because I don’t want this to, in any way, come across as though I’m telling you what to do. A year ago, I never thought I would be affected by this. I was an occasional tanner at the tanning salon. Most of the time I did two weeks before a vacation, because I thought that would be healthier than having to worry about a burn at the beach. I knew the warning signs. I knew I burned occasionally, but I still went ahead and did it.

Last summer was the best summer ever in a long time. I published my first novel and had two amazing beach vacations planned: Key West, FL and Fort Myers Beach for a week, and Tybee Island (twenty minutes from Savannah, GA) at a beach house for another week. All with family, and all with a type of excitement leading up to them that I can’t explain. I burned badly all over my body during my first two days in Fort Myers. I treated it like any other burn: cold shower, lots of aloe, and carefully putting my clothes on because it hurt. A month later, we went to Savannah and I was ready to experience the entire city. My book is set in Savannah, GA so I took full advantage of just being outside all day long. My first day, I burned again. Not as bad as in Florida, but still, it set me back. 

Fast forward three months. I noticed a change on my shoulder. I am covered in freckles/“beauty marks” as my mom taught me to call them. One freckle had changed. It was red around it, and it looked like someone had smeared it with their fingertip. I knew something was up. 

I made an appointment at my dermatologist’s office. The doctor came in, checked my skin out and when he got to my shoulder, he paused. He pulled his bigger glasses on and started examining. It felt like he was looking at it for at least a full minute, and the unknown was killing me. Then he said, “I don’t like how this looks. Let’s get rid of it. It’s probably nothing, but I don’t take chances.” A numbing shot and biopsy procedure later, and I was left with a dime sized hole on my shoulder. One week of waiting for results, he said. It took two and I received the phone call at 8:00AM before work. My mom came in and sat with me as he told me the results. It was skin cancer. And not the kind that you remove the cancer and it’s done. But melanoma. The kind that has the potential to kill you. Over the next month, I had a few consultations that led up to my surgery. I tried to be strong and not concentrate on the what-if’s and as hard as it was, I started each day positive. 

I had to first go to the radiology department of the hospital and have radioactive dye injected around the cancer to see which lymph nodes were affected. That would determine which lymph nodes they took out: the ones in my neck, under my armpit, or closer to my breasts which they were worried about. I have never felt pain like that before; the injections were five bubbles of dye surrounding the cancer. 

After that procedure, I was prepped for what would be an almost three hour surgery. I wasn’t scared, somehow, of the surgery. I wish I could go back and thank the nurses that rubbed my arm and held my hand as the oxygen mask went on. The comfort it brought eased my nerves. I woke up three hours later, groggy and anxious. My entire left shoulder, neck and chest were numb. I found out that I didn’t just have one long incision, but three. One was 5 inches, from the cancer, and two 3-inch incisions where they took my lymph nodes out.

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Recovery was terrible and long. Laying down was impossible for weeks and I couldn’t move my left arm. Christmas Eve we got the phone call: negative. All of the cancer was gone, but it had been caught just in time because it had shown signs of regression which meant it was larger before and my body had fought it all on its own. The best Christmas present ever, my family and I said. 

Eight months later and I still have pain. But in a way, that melanoma saved me. It made me look at things a little differently and it made me appreciate my body a million times more than I had. My body fought for me when I didn’t even know it. I promised myself after I could move my arm freely again, I would get healthy as a thank you to my body. I started my health journey in April. I worked out four times a week, an hour a night and made it a part of my lifestyle. I watched more closely what I ate and put into my body because it deserved the best.

That’s how melanoma changed my life.

I’m down about twenty pounds since last year and you had better believe I am just getting started. I now have to wear a minimum of SPF 30 when I’m outside and I always have sunscreen on my face. I will forever not be allowed to tan intentionally and will have to be careful the rest of my life. And the scars I have, they have faded but they are there in my face every day as a reminder. People stare, and that’s okay, but I would give everything to have a scar-free neck and shoulder.

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Tanning is not worth the pain, worry, and risk. It’s just not. I have a few friends who tan for the reason I used to and I have to bite my tongue to not say anything. I get their reasoning, but they don’t understand the consequences. I swore it would never happen to me, but it did.

Do yourselves a favor, ladies and gentleman and put some sunscreen on. Don’t go tanning in a tanning bed and just be smart. Life is too short and we need to treat our bodies better. They just might save our lives.

Thank you, Jessica, for allowing me to share my story on your blog. I hope readers find this a revelation and will take it as a starting point in being healthy.

You can find me on twitter, facebook and instagram.

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Wow, I am speechless. Thank you again Alexandria for sharing this with me & my readers – I know they will find it inspiring. You are such a brave lady! I cannot stress the importance of this topic enough.

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Beach Bag Essentials for Summer (Guest Post)

Happy Hump Day! It’s been a rainy start to our vacation, but the weather is supposed to clear up the rest of the week so we’ll finally be back at the beach today! Perfect timing for this guest post from fellow Clevelander Kassey Sikora.

Check out her beach bag essentials this summer:

Since Jessica is currently on vacation at the Jersey Shore and I’m about to go on vacation to Miami Beach, I thought it only fitting to guest post about what’s in my beach bag. 

Depending on how you see it, I’m either a minimalist or an over packer, but this is literally EVERYTHING in my beach bag. And it’s the EXACT products I have for the most part (you’ll notice a Target theme…)

The one thing you won’t find in there is my iPhone! Mostly because I tend to leave my things on the beach while I go swimming and I worry about it getting stolen but also because the last time I went to the ocean with my #1 I didn’t take my phone and it was a magically liberating experience. I wasn’t able to take sunset pics for Instagram or document the sea turtle sand castle we made… but that’s okay. The beach is meant for relaxation and spending time with those you love… cut off from the outside world. Don’t worry about what time it is. Just enjoy the sun, the sand, and not having to work. 

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Gerolsteiner water / hair ties / chapstick / sandals / sunscreen / face wipes / beach tote / book / wet bag / sun glasses / bikini / towels / clif bars / cover up dress (some are affiliate links)

The first weekend in August I’m heading to Miami Beach and a few more items might slip into my bag. If so, I’ll post an updated list of my beach bag essentials over on my blog: www.kasseysikora.com

What are your beach bag essentials?
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Thanks so much for the guest post, Kassey! I hope you enjoy your vacation coming up as well :)

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