Best Advice for Cleveland Indians general manager Mark Shapiro (Two tickets to a Tribe game): It is getting to the point where this one is starting to sound logical. Despite all the pleas for signing Jim Thome to a new contract and hiring interim manager Joel Skinner, we liked this response from Kelly Schurdell from Strongsville the best: "Please contact local [first name only] paranormal investigator Mary Ann at (440) 230-2970 and get the curse taken off of the Indians ball club. At a recent seminar that I attended with friends, Mary Ann stated that the Cleveland Indians will not go to the World Series again until the curse is taken off the club."
Best way to spend a $100 at the mall ($100 gift certificate from Westfield Shoppingtown SouthPark): "For the last six months I have been homeless as a result of toxic mold in my newly purchased home," wrote Lisa Papi of Lakewood. "All furniture and other porous belongings had to be left behind. Finally, I am able to sleep in a real bed. I would take the gift certificate and buy flannel sheets, a good book and a new teddy bear."
Best chocolate-chip cookie recipe (Cookies By Design bouquet): "These are the you gotta have with a glass of milk" cookies, warned Willoughby's Valerie Quior when she sent us her recipe for "Absolutely Sinful Chocolate Chip Cookies." She was right. The Ghirardelli milk chocolate and "secret ingredient" of vanilla pudding mix, pushed this recipe over the top.
Absolutely Sinful Chocolate Chip Cookies
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour, baking soda and baking powder; set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. Drop cookie by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Edges should be golden brown. Let cool on baking sheet for five minutes and remove to wire rack. Makes three dozen cookies.
Guess the amount of money Cedar Point has collected from the ground and donated to charity during the last 14 years (Four tickets to Cedar Point): Cedar Point reports they have collected $126,000 in change off the ground during the past 14 years. Donna Crooks of Eastlake was closest with her guess of $189,200.
Best Joke (Four tickets to Second City): This category proved beyond a doubt that most people should leave comedy to the professionals. From a crop of groaners, we deemed this short joke from Kim Foust of Garfield Heights the best: "Why do you never get hungry at the beach? Plenty of sand which you could eat." At least it's original.
Best of Stylists
Free visits with the winning stylists were awarded for five of the categories we highlighted. We also included the reasons why they needed an appointment with Cleveland's best stylists.
Best Colorist (Visit with Edgar Alhajj, Spa West Westlake): "I'm afraid I bear a striking resemblance to Tonya Harding," pleads Christy Warthling of Cleveland, asking for our help with her hair. "I guess the Sun-In was a bad idea. Am I beyond redemption? Getting beyond this tragic hair color would help."
Best Stylist Women's Hair (Visit with Lucia Giomini, Dante Lucci, Rocky River): "I gave birth in August 2001 and look like a mommy from Return of the Living Dead, says Michelle Dudik of North Ridgeville. "So, I tried to get a fresh new cut and received the worst cut I've ever endured."
Best Nail Technician (Visit with Terry Knudsen, Studio 2212, Rocky River):"I bought my first house this year and have spackled, painted, stripped and caulked almost every room," writes Barbara Kakiris of Cleveland. "My hands are in complete disrepair and I can't seem to keep my nails strong or tidy. Hopefully she could help me out. My hands sorely need attention."
Best Make-Up Artist (Visit with Lynn Marrino, Ohio Clinic Skin Care & Day Spa, Westlake): "I'm 24 and I haven't the slightest clue how to apply makeup," concedes Kelly Connelly of Westlake. "I went to an all girls high school, so the need for makeup wasn't there and I was a complete bum in college. Now I have a job and have to look good every day. Help me."
Best Aesthetician (Visit with Pat Bilek, Mario's International Spa & Salons, Aurora): "I have very pale skin that makes every spot on my face even more noticeable," writes Sara Legarth of Olmsted Township. "I would love it if Pat would give me some tips on how to take care of my face. This would definitely give my self-confidence a boost."
Thanks to everyone who responded to this year's "Best Of" contest and a special thanks to all of our winning stylists, Westfield Shoppingtown SouthPark, Second City, Cedar Point and Cookies by Design for their generous donations.