Why? Happy Birthday, Jeffrey!

Every cliche about time flying and children growing up so fast is true.

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Photo Credit: Lane Baldwin Photography

It is unbelievable that it’s been three years since you were born, Jeffrey.

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Photo Credit: Lane Baldwin Photography

I am amazed by your intelligence and curiosity; I am sustained by your love; I am made hopeful for our future by your kindness; I am challenged by your growing pains; I am inspired by your openness to everything the world has to offer.

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This currently says it all for me. I am and always will be so proud of you, my best buddy.

Happiest of birthdays with all of my heart.

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Why? The Gathering Place Race for the Place!

On Sunday, June 4, The Gathering Place will hold its seventeenth annual Race for the Place at Beachwood Place to celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day and help raise funds to support The Gathering Place’s mission.

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The Gathering Place has two locations (Beachwood and Westlake) and provides free services to those battling cancer and their families. These services include everything from counseling to art therapy to massage and yoga to cooking classes. The Gathering Place offers comfort, support, and needed help during a time of chaos in the lives of those touched by cancer.

Participants in Race for the Place, presented by University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, can run or walk either a one-mile or chip-timed 5K course surrounded by those who have been touched by cancer and helped by The Gathering Place. Aside from the race and awards ceremony, there will also be a National Cancer Survivors Day ceremony. Bring the whole family, as there will be face painting, games, music, and more in Celebration Village.

You can register individually or form a team. Click here to register and start fundraising today! You will not only have a great time, but you will be supporting a great cause!

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Why? Twilight at the Zoo!

One of the biggest parties of the summer is coming to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on Friday, August 4. Of course I’m talking about Twilight at the Zoo!

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Twilight at the Zoo brings together a wide array of local bands scattered throughout the Zoo for a wild good time! From Disco Inferno to Abby Normal and the Detroit Lean to Funkology to CRAIC, the bands cover lots of different genres of music and will all get you dancing through the night.

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Also, new this year is Club Twilight, featuring a DJ and dance floor!

All of the fun is for a good cause, too! Proceeds from Twilight at the Zoo benefit the Cleveland Zoological Society and their work caring for not only the animals in the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, but also their educational and conservation programs.

Tickets for Twilight at the Zoo are now on sale online. General admission tickets are $75 in May, $80 in June, and $85 in July and August. Zoo members can save an additional $5 off tickets in May only! General admission runs from 7pm-12am and includes all bands, small bites, and complimentary Samuel Adams beer, wine, and soda.

VIP tickets are $150 and include all of the above, plus priority parking, open bar, and food samples from Bonefish Grill, Café 200, Carrabba’s, House of Blues Cleveland, Inca Tea and Texas de Brazil. The VIP party runs from 6-9pm and you can join the general admission fun anytime after 7pm.

You don’t want to miss the roaring good time!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote Twilight at the Zoo. In exchange, I will receive 2 complimentary VIP tickets for the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? REBoL!

I can’t get enough of Cleveland Public Square in the summertime: the fountains, the views, the people-watching, and as I’ve recently discovered, the delicious food! REBoL is located right on Public Square and offers yummy “bols” made with super healthy ingredients.

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Much like Townhall, it’s sister restaurant, REBoL offers 100% non-GMO food and sources organic food whenever possible. All dressings, oil, and sauces are free of refined sugar and coconut oil is used for cooking. REBoL prides itself on offering “urban performance” food, that’s as good for you as it is tasty.

The menu at REBoL offers a few already-built bols, but you can also build your own by choosing your base, protein, toppings, sauces, and garnishes. I got a chance to sample lots of different bol elements on my recent visit.

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Some of my favorite combos? The braised pork with creamy cabbage slaw, street corn salsa, and Paleo cherry BBQ; the zucchini noodles with REBoL rub steak and apricot ginger honey mustard, and the citrus rub chicken with sticky rice, tikka masala, and spiced cashew.

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The quality of the ingredients means you can’t go too wrong in whatever you pick to build your own bol, but if you’re feeling the need to stick to already-created choices, I can also highly recommend the tuna poke bol, with kale and cabbage salad, avocado pico de gallo, miso cabbage, apricot ginger, and sesame.

REBoL doesn’t forget it’s young guests, either. Kids can build their own bol or get a grilled cheese or PB&J.

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And the next time I go, I am not passing up the peanut butter & honey milkshake!

REBoL’s awesome location makes the picnic tables there the perfect spot to watch the Public Square fountains or play a game of cornhole or ping pong.

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For good food that you can feel good about in an unparalleled location, look no further than REBoL!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a menu tasting at REBoL and received complimentary food for Jeffrey and myself. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

We had a really fun weekend! On Saturday, we did one of our favorite things to do: had friends over for dinner. Especially when the weather is nice, there’s nothing like being outside on the patio, watching the kids play in the yard, and enjoying some great company!

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My friend Maria (we met in our freshman year in college!), her husband, and their adorable daughter recently moved back to Cleveland and I couldn’t be happier to have them nearby! And I think Jeffrey is pretty happy about it too, given how sweet the kiddos were together!

I made one of my favorite summer dishes: chicken kebabs with tons of fresh veggies (bell peppers in lots of colors, zucchini, mushrooms, and pearl onions). I used this recipe for the marinade and it was as easy as it was tasty!

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And rose season is in full swing over here!

On Sunday morning, Matthew, Jeffrey, and I went to Day Out with Thomas put on by the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

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I’m so impressed with the events put on by the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad! They are fun and well-organized and the volunteers are just the sweetest!

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The Day out with Thomas includes a half-hour train ride, photo opps with Thomas and friends, an Imagination Station with train tables and coloring, model trains, and lots more!

Day Out with Thomas also happens this coming weekend, May 26-28, and tickets are still available online. This is a magical family time not to be missed!

Sunday evening, we took a stroll up to the Downtown Willoughby Rib Burn Off. It’s amazing how this event has grown to feature tons of bands, BBQ restaurants, and fun!

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We enjoyed ribs from two Downtown Willoughby favorites: Olivor Twist and Nickleby’s Roundbar. Both were finger-lickin’ good!

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I love how many fun events and great restaurants are in Downtown Willoughby! We always have such a great time there!

So, that was our weekend! How was yours?

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Why? Grapes and Ale!

Friday night was chilly and rainy, but luckily we had lots of delicious barbecue and wine to keep us warm. Matthew and I attended Our Lady of the Wayside‘s Grapes and Ale fundraiser at Progressive Field.

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From Strip Steakhouse‘s lobster mac ‘n cheese to The Cutting Board‘s braised chicken and mac ‘n cheese to the pulled pork slider and mac ‘n cheese from Smokin’ Rock and Roll (OK, so maybe I just really love mac ‘n cheese), the food was great!

We were also impressed by Garden Grille & Bar‘s scallop and rib offerings in the VIP room, as well as Cupcake Cravings‘ yummy mini sweets.

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Of course, there was lots of wine and craft beer to pair with all this food. I always can find old favorites and new wines I love, with over 300 different wines to sample, all of which are conveniently available at Giant Eagle.

Of course, being at Progressive Field led to some fun photo opps and a generally summery, festive atmosphere (despite the weather!)

Our Lady of the Wayside is celebrating it’s 50th year of providing needed services to those with developmental disabilities. Proceeds from tickets, auctions, and raffles at Grapes and Ale benefit this mission, including the new home being built in Summit County. It was a great night for a great cause!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Our Lady of the Wayside to help promote Grapes and Ale. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary VIP tickets for myself and 2 general admission tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Punch Bowl Social Rooftop!

There’s a new hot spot in town that combines everything Clevelanders want in the summertime: water and city views, great drinks, yummy food, and lots of fun!

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Punch Bowl Social hosted a VIP opening party for their brand new rooftop patio bar yesterday, showcasing this awesome new space. The rooftop wraps around Punch Bowl’s expansive front, giving you views of the lake, the river, and the city all in one location.

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From picnic tables to hightops to bar seating to cozy couches, there’s the perfect lounging spot for everyone up here. The bar features Punch Bowl’s selection of yummy punches and cocktails, as well as wines and tons of local, seasonal craft brews (Grandes Lagos on draft!)

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We got to nibble on a selection of Punch Bowl favorites, including the fried bologna sandwich, the Alabama chicken sandwich (my favorite of the evening), the toasted Western sandwich, and the black eyed pea hummus.

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Beyond just great food and drinks, there’s Punch Bowl’s signature fun up on the roof, with cornhole boards, Jenga, and more interactive elements.

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Punch Bowl Social’s rooftop opens to the public today. It is open Monday through Thursday from 3pm-12am; Fridays from 3pm-2am; Saturdays from 11am-2am; and Sundays from 11am-12am. Enjoy summer in Cleveland at one of it’s newest sure-to-be hot spots!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend the VIP opening of the Punch Bowl Social rooftop with a guest. We received complimentary food, drink, games, and swag items. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.**

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Why? Legacy Live!

If you’re anything like me, when it’s summer in Cleveland, you want to do just about everything you can outside. Which is why the Legacy Live series at Legacy Village is so perfect!

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Legacy Live is a free outdoor concert series that takes place at Legacy Village every Friday and Saturday evening in the summer from 6:30-9:30pm,  starting May 26 and concluding September 9. Legacy Live brings in a variety of bands and musicians, from pop to rock to Motown to R&B.

Meet up with friends for shopping and dinner at one of Legacy Village’s many restaurants, then head out to the Legacy Village Lawn to enjoy the show! 

The first Legacy Live concert happens Friday, May 26 with The Blue Drivers. Other notable bands include the No Name Band, Run Avril Run, and Revolution Pie (Beatles Tribute). Legacy Live makes the perfect centerpiece for a fun evening out with friends or a great summer date!

***Disclosure: I have an ongoing relationship with Legacy Village to promote their events. In exchange, I will receive compensation in the form of Legacy Village gift cards. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Cleveland Furniture Bank Inside the Park Home Run!

Remember me telling you about the amazing Beds for Kids program at the Cleveland Furniture Bank. Bed frames and mattresses are provided for children ages 2-17 referred by the Cleveland Furniture Bank’s partner agencies. This program providing such a basic need for children deserves all the support it can get!

Which is why the Inside the Park Home Run on Sunday, July 30 at Progressive Field will not only be fun (haven’t you always wanted to cross home plate at a major league stadium?!), but a chance to do good too.

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You’ll get to race through Progressive Field and cross home plate, enter raffles to win Indians and Cavs tickets, get a custom race t-shirt, and enjoy refreshments after the race. Want to attend? You can choose from three different events:

Home Run: A 4-mile run, including a 5K through the streets of Cleveland, then finish the final mile on the ramps and warning track of Progressive Field. The race is chip timed. $25 for pre-registration, $30 day of the run.

Single: A 1-mile, untimed run starting near the Bob Feller Statue, then up and down the ballpark ramps, ending down the third base line to home plate. $25 for pre-registration, $30 day of the run.

Kids Dash: An untimed run around the warning track for kids 7 and under. Prizes for all participants! Cost is $10, no shirt included.

Also, if you register for the Inside the Park Home Run, you’ll have the opportunity to purchase discounted Indians tickets for either Friday, July 7 versus the Detroit Tigers ($17 per ticket) or Sunday, August 27 versus the Kansas City Royals ($13 per ticket).

Proceeds from the Inside the Park Home Run benefit the Beds for Kids program of the Cleveland Furniture Bank. Click here for more information and to register. I’ll be running and will be sure to high-five you as you cross home plate!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Furniture Bank to help promote the Inside the Park Home Run. In exchange, I will receive complimentary race registration. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

What a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend! We kicked things off on Friday with a family overnight stay at Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky.

Jeffrey loves water parks and it’s always so fun to see as he grows that he’s able to enjoy more and more at the park. Great Wolf Lodge’s water park is great for toddlers, with several slides, a lazy river, and a splash pool that are all perfect for his size.

Our room was the family log cabin, which let Jeffrey have his own private section of the room, which was not only fun but functional.

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Aside from the water park, we also spent time at the Northern Lights Arcade. Jeffrey had a blast playing the games and winning lots of tickets! This was a great place to go after dinner or before the water park opened the next day.

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Speaking of dinner, we had both of our meals at the Gitchigoomie Grill, which offers a nice menu of family-friendly favorites. Jeffrey enjoyed the grilled cheese and cheeseburger. Matthew’s and my favorites were the mac ‘n cheese with smoked sausage and bacon and the brisket sandwich with onion straws and horseradish sauce.

And while you’re at it, stop by Baskets to get some fruity blender drinks while the kiddos enjoy the water!

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Great Wolf Lodge is really great for family’s with younger kids. From accessible food menus to a water park with lots of age-appropriate fun to tons of extra activities like story time, dance parties, and kids yoga to wolf ears at check-in, the entire experience was a great time for all of us!

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On Sunday, Matthew surprised me with a decadent Mother’s Day brunch at Fahrenheit. Since Fahrenheit began brunch service in March, I’ve been dying to try this new menu at one of my favorite restaurants.

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First, let’s discuss the amazing cocktail line-up, from several varieties of mimosas and bellinis to creative Bloody Marys. I had the Grand Cava, with Grand Marnier, Cava, and fresh raspberry.

Next up, the Marcona almond sticky buns. Holy layers of breakfast sweet goodness!

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We also shared the chicken sausage with roasted apples, which added a nice touch of savory to all the sweet!

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For my brunch, there was no doubt what I was going to order: the jumbo Cap’N Crunch pancakes with vanilla milk reduction and maple syrup.

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I am a cereal fiend and the combination of this breakfast classic cereal with light fluffy pancakes and that milk reduction…perfection!

What was even sweeter was sharing the day (and the entire weekend) with my wonderful family and feeling surrounded by love and happiness (and Cap’n Crunch and Cava.)

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