Tuesday, August 9, 2016

5 Questions Answered by Someone Awesome - Party At Napoli's

What makes someone awesome? 

Lots of things is the simple answer. A person's attitude, accomplishments, the indescribable aura around them are all possible qualities that make a person awesome. 

More often though, it is something small; a gesture or a moment that goes from mundane to amazing because it struck a chord with someone else. Maybe it was calling a long forgotten friend to just say hi, or maybe it was making a sign at a ball game. I'll get to the latter in a moment.

5 Questions with Someone Awesome is my continuing adventure to find people that I think are awesome, telling them that they are awesome and trying to find out why they are so awesome.

You can read my original blog post about the idea here. So far, I have asked questions of Scott Wise - the Scotty in Scotty's Brewhouse, Rik Danburg from your Cleveland Indians, past Browns Kicker, Billy Cundiff , my BFF author, David Collins and Sarah Stilgenbauer, previous co-worker and all around adventurer. 

This time, I sent 5 questions to my friend, Nate, otherwise known as Hipster Tito, otherwise known as the Party at Napoli's guy. If you have been to a Cleveland Indians game recently, you would have seen numerous "Party at Napoli's" shirts in the sea of witty Cleveland t-shirts. 

What makes this shirt different from any other in the crowd is that the proceeds from this one go to Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital. The shirt has raised close to $100,000 and we can all agree, that is pretty awesome. 

If you want one for yourself, you can stop by the Indians Team Shop or online

Nate, his family and the Napoli of the Party.

Nate, is in his words: 

A life-long resident of Northeast Ohio who really is married to the woman of his dreams with three great children.  I enjoy what I do for a living: anything I dislike about it disappears bi-weekly on Fridays and on the weekends.  I may or may not drive a minivan but all that matters to me is how I feel about it.  I’m okay with admitting when I’m wrong because it’s plenty fun that I’m right.

5 Questions with Nate (or Hipster Tito for tweeps)

1. I know you through social media and seeing you and your signs at the ballpark. Some folks may not know that you are the guy behind the funny signs, including "Party at Napoli's" at Indians games. Why do you think that sign caught on and when did Mike Napoli see it?

I think Party at Napoli’s caught on because of two things: timing and being starved for something fun to hang on to.  It was a fun inside joke amongst friends at the start of the season and it would get chuckles from random strangers when I would bring the sign to games.  It would get a few mentions on Twitter and we’d have some talk back and forth on Twitter every time Mike Napoli did something at the plate.  Like a number of great things in our city, it really picked up steam in June with the Tribe playing incredible and the Cavs bring home a title.  It became a lot of fun to hear it from people in passing everywhere I went, always followed by high-fives and laughter.  Everyone was in the best of moods for what seemed to be an eternity in June.  That vibe was something we’ve needed for a long, long time.

According to the players that I’ve since had a chance to talk to, they noticed it in the dugout during the first night in April that I brought the sign.  When I had a chance to meet Mike, a few players came by to say hi: “Hey, that was YOU!?  We laughed about that the whole game.”

2. Speaking of Party at Napoli's, those t-shirts with "Party at Napoli's" across them have raised almost $100,000 for Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospitals. How did the shirts come to be?  

I made a shirt using iron-on letters from Hobby Lobby and an $8 shirt from Target with the original intention of just wearing it to a few games similar to what I’ve done in previous years (I’ve since given the shirt away to an acquaintance/friend as kind of a thankful hat tip).  Figuring in the past these one-off shirts were funny to certain “subject matters”, I made one for Mike and asked the Indians for a favor to drop it off for him.  Mike loved it and we started the conversation about mass-producing with a key contingency being charity as a beneficiary. 

3. I remember early conversations about the t-shirt idea, and the discussion was not about making a buck for yourself, but raising money for charity, which is awesome. What has the response been from the philanthropy side, and is there a "Weekend at Frankie's" shirt next in the series?

It’s pretty amazing to sit back and let it sink in that people rallied around a three-word phrase to raise money for a charity.  Sure, it’s a cool shirt and sure, it’s about one of the best feel-good, party-hard players in the game but… WOW.  I don’t know how better to describe that feeling.  Philanthropy is a such a cool thing.  Compassion, generosity, benevolence.  You can’t deny how powerful that can be.

It doesn’t take much to find all of the negativity and hate in today’s world.  Just scroll through your social media timelines and you are assured to find something hateful, spiteful, vengeful and other characteristics of a world that has lost its mind.  We tend to just accept it without understanding the impact this has on our everyday lives.  It’s etched so deep into our minds that we just accept it and continue that cycle.  Sure: it’s life.  Life will kick you with indifference while you’re down.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve had “enough”, it can be void of “mercy”.

Keeping that in perspective, one of the most “unfair” byproducts of life can be the health and well-being of others including children.  There are diseases and complications that are so relentless and aggressive with an assumed ease that bring so many to their last breath, some even before they’ve had a chance to have their first and second breaths.  That can be such as hopeless and crushing feeling.

When there is a chance to help people in these situations, I have yet to meet someone in my life that will pass up that opportunity.  Maybe I’m a little sheltered in that mindset, but deep down, everyone feels that they are doing the “right” thing: that their pursuits are of the best of intentions.  When you see others pursuing the ability to help others or even seeking help themselves, your mind can naturally tug you in the direction of joining in.

Here we are $100,000 later and still rolling along.  I really hope it makes a difference for someone.

In terms of what's next, I've actually been asked that a lot.  I've been sitting back and enjoying the ride.  I'd like to come up with something again, working with the folks at 108 Stitches has been quite an experience: great folks.  Weekend at Frankie's would be cool!

4. What is the best piece of advice that someone gave you and what piece of advice do you wish someone gave you?

I’m lucky enough to have incredible people in my life.  I can think of an unlimited amount of advice that they’ve given me throughout my life: some I took to immediately, some put on hold for a time I needed it most.  I figure if they took the time to tell me something that mattered to them (even if I didn’t agree with it), that they were investing in me and I needed to return in due time.

I’ll pick one from recent events: I have a mentor that said to me that things in life, work, etc. are all manipulated by momentum.  People and events feed off momentum.  “Success breeds success.”  I can think of millions of times in the past where I could have used that insight and missed the opportunity.

In terms of advice that I wish I received, possibly a reminder to look forward and not back as much as I have a tendency to do in certain situations.

5. Last question, who do you think is awesome and why?

That’s actually a pretty loaded question without a right or wrong answer.  From people close to me to people that I’m not directly acquainted with, there’s so many people I can think of that are awesome in their own way.  How persistent my wife can be, how balanced my friends are, how rewarding my kids can make me feel, how strong my grandparents were, how willing strangers can be to open themselves up and obviously how giving people as a whole can be.

Thursday, June 2, 2016


If Abe Lincoln only spoke the truth. (Pic by the wildly talented, Mike Brenkus).

I'm excited.

I'm scared.

I'm nervous.

I'm a Cleveland fan.

As far as Cleveland fans go, I'm always the optimistic one. At the start of each season, I am *sure* that we will win it all. My dreams of this year, always seem to fade into next year, when the cycle repeats itself.

Cleveland deserves a championship. We don't deserve a championship in the sprinkles are for everyone sort of way. Trust me, growing up, Dairy Queen was only for winners. If you lost, you had to go home and help clean out the garage, visions of the other kids scarfing down dilly bars floating in your head. That was the lesson we all learned as kids. If you worked hard enough, tried your best, your time will come. It will eventually be your turn.

I can't imagine a city that has worked harder or had more faith than Cleveland.  The city I love is the Susan Lucci of the sports world.  Always so close to winning, but not quite close enough.

Our worst days, have been someone else's best. Our saddest failures are forever memorialized with titles like The Fumble, The Drive, The Shot - on an ESPN loop.   But now, the pieces have finally fallen into place. We have a championship caliber team, with more than just LeBron leading the charge.

As Cleveland fans, we cling to the notion of winning. We are proud of our teams, our city and most importantly ourselves. A championship for Cleveland is more than a title or a trophy. It is solid confirmation of what we have known all along.

That we are champions, and this is our year for sprinkles.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

40ish Things To Know By 40ish

Don't Give Up The Ship. Photo taken at the Sandusky Maritime Museum.

Eyeing back at my 40ish birthday in the rearview of my day, I'm thinking about all the advice that has been dropped on me. Some dropped near me, some on my head, some just in time, some to be saved and remembered for next time. 

With that in mind, here are 40ish things to know by the time you are 40ish.

1.     Learn to take a compliment. The appropriate response is always, “thank you." Don't respond with a treasure trove of your faults. Don't fight the compliment. Just smile and say, "thank you."

2.     Kenny Rogers said it best, "Know when to walk away, know when to run."  There is no shame in walking away from a bad marriage, a crummy book club, a soul sucking job or a failed crafting project. Know that sometimes, you will need to run, and never look back.

3.     Swearing can be fantasticly cathartic, but be aware of your surroundings. Use your other big words to get your point across in business dealings and in earshot of others.  Just because you *can* say something, doesn’t always mean you should.  Don't let people judge you based on a singular word selection.

4.     Complain about a problem only if you can offer a solution. 

5.     Own at least one piece of furniture that did not come in a box, from your parents or a  thrift store.  

6.     Know what is important to you in life. A job title? A family? World domination? Set your plan and go for it.  

7.     Don't be a checkbook philanthropist. Volunteer your time, influence and skills to a cause that is important to you. 

8.     Ask for help. Moving, managing your finances or maintaining equilibrium in your life, whatever it is, don't be afraid to ask for what you need. Asking for help isn't throwing in the towel. It is picking it up. 

9.     Read. Read books about your business, history, knitting or the chupacabra. The subject doesn't matter. Just read.  

10.     Purge your closet, your emails and your laptop. Clear away the clutter. 

11.     Not every moment of your life needs to be documented.  A lot happens outside of the frame and text box. 

12.     Stop saying you're sorry as a conversation filler.  Apologize and take ownership if it's yours. If not, don't say it. 

13.     Send hand-written notes or cards not attached to a holiday to friends and family once a year. 

14.    Toss your judgey pants out along with that pair of jeans you're hanging on to from high school. Stop judging other people for their job, lifestyle or clothing choice. What does it matter to you if the person next to you is wearing shoes you don't approve of? You aren't walking in them. 

15.     People rarely change. Accept people for who they are. That friend that is always 30 minutes late? Stop being angry about it and plan accordingly. Let the little stuff go. 

16.    Do something nice for someone else with no strings, no attachments. 

17.     Keep your word. Period. 

18.     Own your birthday. Want to stay home and eat nachos while binging Netflix with your cat? Fine. Want to have a major bash? Great. Celebrate on your terms. 

19.    Stop waiting. The perfect time, the right time or the next time may never come. 

Looking out over Phoenix.

20.   Balance your life, pay attention to more than one area. Life has a funny way of moving your priorities around. 

21.    Everyone has something to teach you if you listen.

22.    Bad attitudes are contagious.  Get close and it will consume you. Move out of the way. 

23.    Travel somewhere alone. Explore a new city, visit your favorite restaurant or check out a show. There will be times that no one wants to do and see what you want to. The choice will be yours - stay home or enjoy your life. 

24.    One Ranger per forest fire. Every one does not need to be involved in every thing

25.    It's never too late to pick up where you left off. Texting an old college friend, calling your aunt or catching up with a colleague will be time well spent. 

26.    Create an email address for junk email. 

27.    Keep a daily work journal and document your successes. Prove why you deserve a raise at your next review. 

28.    Cars and homes require maintence. Know the basics and at least one place you can get repairs without getting ripped off.

29.    If someone wants to share something important to them with you, listen. You may be the only one listening.

Behind the practice fields in Goodyear, Arizona. 

30.    Figure out your belief system. 

31.   Eat healthier. You aren't a kid anymore.

32.   Mentor someone. For a year, a week or a project.  You know more than you think you do. 

33.    Find a hobby that you enjoy. Knitting, spoken word poetry, fly-fishing. Whatever it is, find it. 

34.    You can always go home again, but keep in mind, things will be a lot smaller. And older. 

35.    Consider how you feel about kids, pets and marriage. Plan accordingly.

36.   Learn how to network, and treat it like a job. The event may be open bar and buffet, but you are there to work, not to get your grub on. 

37.    Take a class in person or online, just because you want to. There are free courses you can participate in online and learn something new. 

38.   Learn to read a map and get around without GPS. You don't want to drive into a lake because Siri told you to. 

39.   Invest in your clothing and get items hemmed and tailored. Look professional. 

40.    In the immortal words of Mr. Patrick Swayze in the classic movie, Road House, “Be nice.”   It's possible to have manners and be polite while informing people what you will and won't stand for. 

41.    Don't compare where you are in your life to anyone else. You might not even be in the same book. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Great Big Home + Garden Show Winner

Thank you to everyone that entered to win tickets to the Great Big Home + Garden Show!

The winner has been notified. 

You can buy tickets here  and you can save money on your tickets by using the promo code PIEROGI16.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Great Big Home + Garden Show Giveaway

Spring is right around the corner and visions of home improvements are dancing in my head. 

The Seventh Annual Great Big Home + Garden Show to the rescue! The event features over 600 exhibits and hundreds of home industry experts to get your ideas flowing. 

At the Cleveland I-X Center, Friday, February 5 - Sunday, February 14, the Show features include: 

  • Wolf Timbers Rustic Manor, a 2,500-square-foot, ranch rustic-style Idea Home, is an open and airy three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom energy efficient home with a layout designed to wow! Built by Blossom Homes and sponsored by Sherwin-WilliamsCleveland Magazine and Ohio Magazine the home features an aging-in-place design that will inspire visitors thinking of building or renovating their homes.
  • The 1,500-square-foot Xtend Technologies Hi-Tech Entertainment Home, built by Pepperwood Homes, is designed with entertaining in mind and will inspire visitors with ideas for their own entertainment spaces. The home features the latest in indoor and outdoor technology from Xtend Technologies. Landscaping surrounding the Hi-Tech Home will also be provided by Morton’s Landscaping.
  • Everyone deserves their own personal getaway space and this year’s She Sheds will have visitors thinking about how to create their own backyard retreat. Whether it’s a nature nest, writer’s retreat or wine tasting room, these She Sheds will spark ideas for creating any type of retreat space with a feminine touch.
  • The popular Garden ShowcaseCelebration!-themed gardens created by some of Northeast Ohio’s top landscapers. From Mardi Gras and Labor Day to welcoming home our military or enjoying a wedding, each garden will leave visitors feeling festive and ready to plan their own backyard party!
  • The combined Main Stage and Loretta Paganini Cooking Stage will be bigger than ever to offer attendees the best of home improvement celebrity appearances with the opportunity to taste and enjoy culinary delights in one convenient location. A state-of-the-art kitchen stage and vignette, will be designed and built by Perrino Builders & Furniture for consumers to tour between stage presentations. Celebrities include: 
·         Mother and daughter duo Karen Rominger and Mina Starsiak – Hosts of one of HGTV’s newest show, “Good Bones.” They will be appearing on The Main Stage Friday, Feb. 5 and Saturday, Feb. 6.
·         The Beekman Boys – From the Cooking Channel’s “The Fabulous Beekman Boys,” featuring Dr. Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell. They will be appearing on The Main Stage Friday, Feb. 12 and Saturday, Feb. 13.  
·         Jason Cameron  Presented by Bright Covers, host of DIY Network’s “Desperate Landscapes,” “Man Caves” and “Sledgehammer,” Jason Cameron, will be on The Main Stage on Friday, Feb. 12 and Saturday, Feb. 13.
·         Ursula Carmona -  Local DIY superhero behind the nationally recognized blog, “Home Made by Carmona,” Ursula Carmona, will appear on the Main Stage on Friday, Feb. 12 and Sunday, Feb. 14.
  • The Petitti Gardening Stage, daily gardening seminars on landscape design, flora and furnishing outdoor rooms will be held by Northeast Ohio landscape experts. The Petitti Floral Mart will also feature numerous outdoor furniture sets and plants to purchase.

Whew! You can buy tickets here  and you can save money on your tickets by using the promo code PIEROGI16.

Now, before you go knocking out that dining room wall, win some tickets so you can learn to do it right!

The awesome peeps at The Great Big Home + Garden Show have given me a pair of tickets to giveaway!

There are several ways to win:
1. Follow The Great Big Home + Garden Show on the Twitter. 
2. Follow Home + Garden Events on the Pinterest. 
3.  Visit Home + Garden Events on the Facebook. 
4. Follow Cleveland Chick on the Twitter.
5. Leave a comment with your home improvement or garden project. 
6. Tweet "I want to go to The Great Big Home + Garden Show!  http://bit.ly/1m4vljK" 

You can tweet once a day, and leave me a comment here for each of the tasks you complete. I let a computer pick a winner, so if you don't comment, it won't be included. 

The winner will be selected Sunday, January 31 at 5 pm, so get tweeting!

Disclosure: The folks at The Great Big Home + Garden Show offered me a pair of tickets to give away and a pair for my own use. The words are my own, fueled by too much hazelnut coffee. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Entertaining by Design Giveaway

Entertaining by Design, a fundraiser for Malachi House.

The holidays are getting closer, stores already filled with Christmas trees and brightly colored candy canes, and it is easy to forget how very fortunate I am.

The Ohio Design Centre is is sponsoring a fundraiser for Malachi House - Entertaining by Design. Malachi House of Hope serves persons who are terminally ill without regard to gender, race, or national origin and without cost to the resident or family. The home ministers to individuals who need an available caregiver, who have limited or no financial resources and are in need of special home care in the final stages of life. Learn more about Malachi House here

The two-day event, Friday, Nov. 6 (11 am- 6:30 pm) and Saturday, Nov. 7 (10 am - 5 pm)  features themed tablescape designs from more than 30 of Cleveland's top interior designers.  Each over the top visual masterpiece, spread throughout Ohio Design Centre's 8 showrooms, provides inspiration for holiday and year-round entertaining. Themes include Garden of Eden, New Year's Eve A Deux and Prismatic City. 

Tickets for the event are only $10, benefiting Malachi House. You can purchase tickets here or at the door.  You may also snag a ticket to the November 6  Patron Party ticket for $100, enjoying a celebration of food, live entertainment and a VIP sneak peek at the tablescapes. 

The good folks at the Ohio Design Centre have given me a pair of tickets to giveaway. 

There are several ways to win:
1. Follow Ohio Design Centre on the Twitter. 
2. Follow Malachi House on the Twitter. 
3.  Visit Malachi House on the Facebook. 
4. Follow Cleveland Chick on the Twitter.
5. Leave a comment with something you are grateful for. 
6. Tweet "I want to go to Entertaining by Design thanks to @MalachiHouse & @OHDesignCentre http://bit.ly/20iherF " 

You can tweet once a day, and leave me a comment here for each of the tasks you complete. I let a computer pick a winner, so if you don't comment, it won't be included. 

The winner will be selected Wednesday, November 4 at noon, so get tweeting!

Disclosure: The folks at Ohio Design Centre offered me a pair of tickets to give away and a pair for my own use. The words are my own. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Key to the Cure - Winner

The winner for the Key to the Cure giveaway has been randomly selected and notified. 
Thank you all for entering. 

You can purchase tickets here