Delightful December: The Final Month of 2018 in Review

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Due to the craziness of work, the month of November was pretty quiet for me, so I didn’t do a monthly recap. Alas, December picked up, and I’m happy to report out on some of my holiday fun! Christmas is my favorite time of year, so I try to savor it every day I can! I was able to get out and enjoy some Cleveland holiday fun (although I didn’t get to do everything I wanted) and spent so much time with family and friends. I had so many ideas for blog posts that just didn’t come to fruition due to time, but I will definitely save some of those ideas for next year!

I also did not do a great job of taking enough photos when I was out and about, so unfortunately, I am just able to touch on and summarize some of my adventures! I guess it is a good sign that I was enjoying the experience and the company of others, rather than being pre-occupied with taking photos!


HUGE Nutcracker that was in the Cleveland Playhouse District.

HUGE Nutcracker that was in the Cleveland Playhouse District.

To celebrate some of my family members’ December birthdays, we were able to check out and visit Castle Noel in Medina, Ohio. This is identified as America’s largest indoor holiday attraction and was definitely a busy venue in early December! This museum displays various holiday movie memorabilia, as well as beautiful window and store displays from New York City. It is interesting to see all the pretty window displays, as it is definitely an art! This is a venue that gets you in the holiday mood! It’s not too late to check it out prior to the New Year and to stay in the seasonal mood.

Thousands of ornaments!

Thousands of ornaments!

The National Lampoon Trailer!

The National Lampoon Trailer!

My Favorite Nutcracker Window Display

My Favorite Nutcracker Window Display

House of Hunan—Medina

After touring Castle Noel, we were able to eat on Medina Square. There are so many great restaurants I want to try on the square, so that is definitely on my to-do list for 2019! We decided on House of Hunan, an Asian Fusion restaurant with great sushi (some of the top in the area—I definitely recommend).

The Hidden Backyard—North Royalton


The Hidden Backyard is a restaurant that recently opened up in North Royalton where the old Tonight, Tonight used to be. It is such a cozy and warm restaurant, and all the food is home-cooked. Everything was super tasty, and I loved the atmosphere. I will definitely be back again, especially this winter!

Cozy atmosphere with twinkling lights and good wine

Cozy atmosphere with twinkling lights and good wine

Delicious homemade lasagna

Delicious homemade lasagna



I live literally less than five minutes from Stancato’s, and I’m here ALL the time, so I probably never really do this place justice on my Instagram or on the blog. I did not even take more than this photo either! I promise—I will do a better blog post on what all this place has to offer in the future, but I cannot just not mention it for this month!

It is such a cozy, classic. Cleveland place—you need to check it out if you are ever in the Parma area. Their pizzas are the best in Cleveland (imho), but my go to has been the bar steak with salad and their house Merlot. The pastas and sauces are spectacular, their bar menu is great, and happy hour prices are awesome!


Some other adventures that I want to note include:

  • Traveling Vineyard Wine Tasting: I attended my first Traveling Vineyard Wine Tasting and had such a good time. As you all know, I’m a definite wine drinker, but I don’t claim to be an expert! I really am a red only kind of gal, but it was great to try different wines, and I learned so much on how to taste wine and pair wine! If you ever have an opportunity to go to one, check it out. It’s tons of fun!

  • Samosky’s Home Bakery in Parma Heights is a yearly Christmas tradition, as we always order cheese, nut, and poppyseed strudel. It is by far the best I have ever had. If you have never had it, you are truly missing out!

  • Don’t forget to check out my home tour on the blog if you want some Inspo for next year. You can find it here.


So I had all good intent to do great photos and a full blog post of what I did for these two days, but alas, in the final minutes of prep, I needed to PREP, and ran out of time to do all these photos for the blog! Story of my life. I did want to include some photos and some of my appetizer recipes, so you can check these out if you are in need of some ideas for New Year’s Eve!

Loving how cozy and rustic everything came together for Christmas Eve.

Loving how cozy and rustic everything came together for Christmas Eve.

For Christmas Eve, I hosted my family and some family friends for an evening of drinks (wine and beer) and appetizers. I was able to use items from my CLE Pack (scroll below for more info and a link) to create delicious items for a paired meal.

  • On my Instastories, I reviewed how I do my cocktail meatballs. I love the version with grape jelly and barbecue sauce, but I also love this version with cranberry sauce and chili sauce. It has a little heat and tang! You can find the recipe by clicking here. I just dump everything in the crock pot and have never added garlic (I may need to try that twist).

  • I paired my Miller’s Country Jams Sweet Pepper Jelly from my CLE Pack with cream cheese. I took half a bar of a cream cheese brick and spread this on top and paired with crackers. Delicious! It had a great spicy sweet flavor.

  • I also paired my Bertman’s Dortmunder Beer Mustard with sourdough pretzels and mini franks. This was a great pairing. I loved it with the pretzels, but I almost liked it with the mini franks better! This is a must try! It would even be good with soft, hot pretzels.

  • I also had the idea of doing a cheese and charcuterie Christmas tree tray, which you can find by clicking here. I actually didn’t even read the recipe but was inspired by this and came up with my own.

  • Lastly, I absolutely LOVE baked brie in pastry. Knowing that not all my guests are fond of Brie, I also picked up baked gouda and fontina in pastry, which were FABULOUS! Almost as good, if not better, than the brie. I made gouda for Christmas Even with rave reviews, and I only got a bite of it! I picked up my pastries at Acme Fresh Market in Parma.


For Christmas Day, we decided to do an appetizer hour, where everyone brought an appetizer. Instead of starting in on a full dinner right away, we were able to graze with some drinks and socializing. I loved this idea! I made two cheeseball bites (totally came from Pinterest and not my idea—I’ll be linking up the exact recipes here), which where a White Cheddar Parmesan Cheeseball bite topped with cranberries (above) and Cheddar Cheeseballs with fresh bacon and chives (below). You can find the White Cheddar Parmesan Cheeseball bite here, and the Cheddar Bacon Chive Cheeseball Bite here.


Christmas was fabulous, and I felt sooooo blessed!



With the holiday season, I was so blessed to have had several GREAT collaborations!

  • CLEPack: CLEPack had to be one of my favorite collars with such great Cleveland items. it is such an awesome gift idea, and I even used some of my items for Christmas Eve. You can learn more about my experience here and learn more about their company here.

  • Walgreen’s and Hallmark: I was able to put together a last minute Christmas gift idea for Grandpa with the help of Walgreen’s and Hallmark. I used their fabulous Paper Wonder Pop-Up cards with a photo album book for his Christmas gift.

  • I’m currently partnering with Fetch & Co and The Peace Project for an awesome t-shirt giveaway! Check out my Instagram to enter.

  • Lastly, I’m working on my final collaboration of the month with JustFab! Stay tuned to my Instagram feed, and I’ll link up my blog post here once it’s completed.

Stay tuned for my recap of 2018 and my New Year’s Resolutions for the upcoming year! I hope to have some of you join me in my goals.

I am so thankful to all of you for reading and supporting my blog and Instagram over the past year. I can’t believe it’s been a year! I look forward to more great content to come.