Celebrating 12 Years With 2 Days In Cleveland

Mike and I spent the weekend in wonderful Cleveland, Ohio, to celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary. Cleveland is absolutely one of my all time favorite places. I love Cleveland’s diversity, and that it is a city proud of it’s heritage. I love that Cleveland is full of artists; from musicians to painters to potters to quirky designers – Clevelanders love to make stuff that looks cool. And above all, I love how much Cleveland loves to eat. The city of Cleveland, is a foodie city. 

So when Mike and I decided to plan a little get away for our anniversary weekend, but needed to stay fairly close to home, we immediately knew we wanted to go to Cleveland.

We got to Cleveland as early as two parents of three young children could possible arrive – which for us, was about 10:30. It’s a short drive for us into the city, about an hour, but in that time I think I clapped/cheered/fist pumped about half a dozen times because OH MY GOSH YOU GUYS I WAS EXCITED.

I couldn’t wait to spend some quality time alone with Mike. I couldn’t wait to do some things that we both love to do, and enjoy them as adults and not as parents. Because let’s be honest, those are not the same thing, lol. Mike told me a few stories about the kids on our drive and I was just like “Oh hey let’s get coffee!”

Because momma was ovvvvver it.

So we got coffee.

I’m a firm believer that all good things start with an extra shot of espresso.

My favorite Cleveland coffee shop and roaster is Rising Star, and Mike had never been. So first things first, we drove to the Hingetown location and enjoyed ourselves two delicious, fully caffeinated beverages.

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All that driving and talking and fist pumping caused us to work up an appetite, so after coffee we headed straight for lunch at The Flying Fig, a place that had been on my Cleveland Bucket List for awhile now.

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Lunch was yummy and we enjoyed it out on the front patio where we also enjoyed some good old fashioned people watching. I ordered the Keep The Beet sandwich, a delicious creation with whipped goat cheese, arugula, pistachio, pickled red onion and citrus vinaigrette, served on focaccia. Mike ordered an enormous sandwich of smoked turkey, ham, apple butter, house aioli, maple bacon, and lime pickles, called the House Club. The Flying Fig’s house chips were a thing of beauty and we loved them and would have ordered three more baskets but that seemed extreme so we settled on just agreeing to come back in the very near future because seriously, those chips were everything.

After lunch we walked around West Side Market which is always just a lovely thing to do. I bought a macaron and Mike bought a cannoli and together we sat on the balcony and split a cup of coffee and watched the people and smelled the food and generally just felt happy to be alive and together.

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From there we walked around Ohio City. We found several great shops that left us feeling inspired and even came away with some new spices from Penzeys Spices and an art print from an absolutely awesome store called Room Service. (How great is that name?)

We still had an hour to kill until we could check into our hotel so we went for a walk at Edgewater Park. It was a beautiful but windy day, but all I need is to set my eyes on water and suddenly everything becomes right with the world. So we strolled along the boardwalk hand in hand, mostly to keep ourselves from being blown away, and laughed as we were occasionally sprayed by the huge lake waves that crashed into the rocks. My hair was a mess and I was sure that I was starting to smell like lake water which would have all amounted to one highly annoyed Rebekah in years past, but time and perspective has a way of changing a person and honestly, it seemed like a small price to pay for a great experience on our weekend away together.

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We had some big plans for the evening, so after our walk we checked into our hotel room to change. We stayed in the Tudor Arms Hotel and our room on the 11th floor had a lovely view of the city, while the building itself was historic and beautiful.

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I had way more places that I wanted to go to than we had time, so I made reservations all across the city for different things. We went to Spice Kitchen + Bar for a cocktail and appetizer and we were blown away by our experience. The food and service was great, but what struck us the most was how passionate everyone was about what they were doing. Spice is a true farm to table restaurant – they even have their own farm in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park! So cool. We loved getting a chance to talk to some of the staff about the creative things they get to do behind the scenes. It was inspirational and delicious and I can’t wait to go back.

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After that we headed to the studio of a Cleveland ceramics’ artist whose work I’ve admired for some time – Billy Ritter. I made arrangement to meet Ritter at his studio and he graciously showed us around and told us all about his work. Again, we had so much fun talking to someone who just loves what they do so much. You can’t help but catch some of the inspiration and excitement when you are around people like that.

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We don’t really exchange anniversary gifts, but Mike bought me a piece of pottery to commemorate our 12th anniversary and it’s probably one of the most meaningful gifts he’s given me. Also, it’s bonkers cool and beautiful to look at, so that’s that. 😉 (It’s not the bowl pictured above, btw. I don’t like to share photos of gifts just because that seems tacky and weird.)

We had dinner at the same restaurant that we go to every year for our anniversary. We don’t tend to do a lot of the same things twice, but this has become a tradition that I love and cherish. It’s our special place, and I think everyone should have a place like that in their lives and marriage.

Saturday morning, we got up and hit the art museum right as they opened. I love going to the Cleveland Museum of Art anytime of day because it is just an incredible museum, but holy moly, seeing it in all that glorious morning light was something truly spectacular. This, too, is a part of our anniversary tradition, and just thinking about it makes me smile. (You can read about that tradition, in last year’s post.)

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After the museum we went to lunch at La Dolce Vita in Cleveland’s Little Italy – one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city. We sat on the sidewalk and ate pasta and homemade bread and listened to the church bells announce the hour and it felt and tasted like a slice of Italy and I was happy.Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Then we went across the street to Presti’s Bakery and I ordered a double espresso and again. I was happy. So much happiness.

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We spent the rest of our time in Little Italy and Coventry Village, exploring the neighborhoods and browsing shops. We got more coffee – this time from Phoenix Coffee Company, so good! –  we explored old buildings, and we even stumbled upon a treasure trove of vintage clothes. I didn’t realize that Cleveland used to have a huge textile industry. Did you know that Pendleton was made in CLEVELAND before it was made in PORTLAND? What??? Hipsters’ minds gonna be blown on that one.

Anyways, that industry closed years ago,  and all the clothes that were in the factories at the time were boxed up and sat, untouched, unsold and unworn, in the abandoned warehouses for years. I’m talking clothes from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s! The old warehouses were recently sold but the new owner didn’t want all the clothes, so they sold them to a local Clevelander who opened up a store and now we get to reap the benefit! I had fun trying on some craaaazy clothes, but settled on a pink Pendleton sweater – my first Pendleton, and vintage to boot!

Mike and I drove home Saturday afternoon feeling happy and refreshed. 24 hours in Cleveland – a city that we both love – was the perfect way to celebrate our 12th anniversary.


Earlier that day, in one of the shops we browsed, I saw a quote from Julia Child that read:

“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”

Mike and I have been married for 12 years, which I know doesn’t make us experts, but if there is one thing I’ve learned that has mattered above the rest, it’s this: Stay. Interested.

Stay interested in the things your partner loves. Stay interested in the things that communicates love to your partner. Stay interested in WHO the person is that you married and, bonus tip, that person WILL change. We all do! You can’t just be interested in the person you married a few years ago but disengaged from the person they are becoming. We all grow and evolve and are constantly in a state of becoming – so stay interested.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am for my husband. For all the ways that he shows me that he is genuinely interested in me, AS A PERSON. Oh my goodness. He may not put his clean clothes away and he might never remember where he put his wallet and he might have a totally different way of parenting our kids but at the end of the day I know that he is INTERESTED in me. Not the person he thinks I should be. Not the person I used to be. The right-this-second me. And that, makes allll the difference in the world. Because I believe that your interest becomes your investment.

So thank you, babe, for staying interested for all these years. We might not be rich, but we have a solid investment of love. And that, you can take all the way to the bank. 😉

And thank you, Cleveland, for being such a wonderful and delicious place to explore. You were the perfect place to celebrate our love. We’ll be back.

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