Why? John Carroll University Reunion Weekend!

In the midst of all the other busy-ness this weekend, it was also John Carroll University Reunion Weekend. And while it’s not my reunion year (although I did come to the realization that next year will be my 15th…eep!), there was still plenty of fun to be had up on campus for me.

Every year, the Friday night of Reunion Weekend is open to all Cleveland-area alumni, to come and socialize with friends from various classes. This year’s theme was all about Cleveland, celebrating this great city that is home to John Carroll University and so many of it’s alumni.

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From the decor, with mini Cleveland script signs about, to the beverages, with Great Lakes Brewing Co. beer and Cleveland Whiskey beverages flowing freely, Cleveland was front and center.

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Food stations throughout the big tent paid homage to Cleveland’s diverse and delicious food scene, with the Tremont Taco Bar, West Side Market Salad Bar, Little Italy Pasta Station, and East Side Corned Beef and Pierogi.

The desserts were from two of Cleveland sweetest businesses: ice cream made before your eyes from Piccadilly Creamery and mini donuts (with glitter!) from Brewnuts.

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You could also stock up on Cleveland-themed gear at the In the 216 pop-up shop (I bought a magnet and a skyline throw pillow.)

A night that combined so much John Carroll and Cleveland love left my heart feeling so full! Both places are “home” to me and it was so neat to see them celebrated together.

On Saturday morning, I headed back up to campus for an outdoor yoga session on the quad.

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It was a wonderful class, taught by Samantha of SozaFitness and Balance & Brews. Again, when two things I love combine, it’s bound to be a special experience!

While I was practicing, Jeffrey was at Camp Carroll, a kids camp during Reunion Weekend that keeps the little ones entertained while the grown-ups reunite. He played in the gym and splashed in the pool and further cemented my plan to have him wanting to enroll at John Carroll before he even hits kindergarten!

It was a lovely weekend of time up on my favorite campus. I can’t wait for the full reunion experience next year (although maybe we don’t need to talk about which number reunion it is!) And if you’re a Cleveland alumni, come up and celebrate with me on the Friday night of next year’s Reunion Weekend!

***Disclosure: I am the President of the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Jet Express Giveaway!

This weekend, Matthew, Jeffrey, my parents, and I made a little day getaway to Put-In-Bay aboard the Jet Express.

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The Lake Erie Islands make for the perfect summer staycation and, when you only have a day to explore, the Jet Express is the perfect way to get there.

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The Jet Express provides the quickest way to get to Put-In-Bay or Kelley’s Island from either Port Clinton or Sandusky, with tons of travel times, central drop-off locations, late night service, and guaranteed spots when you reserve online.

So, how do you make the most of one day on Put-In-Bay? Here’s my Top 5 List:

1.Plan ahead. Think about your interests and what you would like to do while on the island. The Jet Express offers packages to fit lots of different needs, from families to island hoppers. We had the Kayaks & Caves Adventure Deal as our package for the day, which helped structure our activities.

2. Secure a mode of transportation. This will ensure you can maximize the ground you cover. Our Kayaks & Caves package offered a free bike rental for two from Island Bike & Cart Rental.

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Since we had 5 people and a wagon to haul, we opted for a cart rental instead. This allowed us to cover maximum ground in minimum time.

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3. Head below ground. Both Perry’s Cave

and the Crystal Cave at Heineman’s Winery

offer one-of-a-kind experiences unique to Put-In-Bay and captivating for all ages. Tours of both caves were included in our package and were not something I would have experienced otherwise.

4. Nourish and hydrate appropriately for your adventures. From the lobster roll and Lake Erie perch and walleye at The Boardwalk Upper Deck (we had a $25 food voucher there as part of our package)

to the award-winning wines at Heineman’s Winery

to a fruity blender drink at Mojito Bay Tiki Bar, there’s plenty to tempt you in food and drink. Make sure you have time to enjoy a variety!

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5. Leave time for distractions. We went in with the Kayaks & Caves Adventure Deal guiding our day. But along the way, we stumbled into Kimberly’s Carousel

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and the Pyrate Fest

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and the beauty and history of Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial.

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As much as you need to plan to maximize a one-day trip, you need to also allow the island to work it’s charms on you and not be afraid to stop and enjoy them along the way!

So you can enjoy your own getaway to the Lake Erie Islands, I have two round-trip tickets on the Jet Express to give away! The tickets are good for any day in 2017, departing from Port Clinton. And to sweeten the deal, I’ll throw in a bike rental for two voucher from our package that we weren’t able to use.

Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, four, or all five entries, just leave a separate comment here for each):

1.Leave a comment telling me what you’d most like to do with a day on Put-In-Bay.

2. Visit The Jet Express and Why CLE? on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you visited both pages.

3. Follow @jetexpress and @whycle on Instagram and leave a comment here letting me know you’re following both.

4. Follow @JetExp and @WhyCLE on Twitter and leave a comment here letting me know you’re following both.

5. Tweet the following phrase and leave a comment here letting me know you tweeted:

I want to win @JetExp tickets for an island getaway from @WhyCLE: https://whycle.com/2017/06/27/why-jet-express-giveaway #giveaway 

 You can tweet once per day for additional entries, just leave a separate comment here each time you tweet.

The giveaway will close on Sunday, July 2 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was invited by the Jet Express to spend a day on Put-In-Bay with the Kayaks & Caves Adventure Deal and to share my experience. I received a complimentary Kayaks & Caves Adventure Deal, as well as a swag bag and 2 complimentary Jet Express round-trip tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Cleveland Museum of Art Solstice!

The Cleveland Museum of Art is world-renowned, which not only gives us access to an incredible permanent collection of art, but also means the Museum can command incredible exhibitions and amazing performers from around the world.

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Nowhere is this more evident than at Solstice, the must-attend party of a Cleveland summer. There are amazing international musicians both in the Atrium and outside, where a massive dance party takes place with the gorgeous Museum facade as the backdrop.

You can also take in the permanent collection and special exhibitions, with special gallery tours too.

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Matthew and I loved perusing the galleries and had a lot of fun in the new ARTLENS Gallery, which is a fun and interactive way to enjoy and explore art.

You can also purchase small bites from Provenance, as well as sippers from a full-service bar (white wine only though, because summer.) And the people-watching at Solstice is unparalleled!

Solstice is top to bottom a visually stunning event, not just because of the art that surrounds you, but also because of the incredible light shows, gigantic robots made from balloons (seriously), gorgeous flowers, and the chance to celebrate this most glorious season under the stars at one of Cleveland’s premier venues.

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Welcome, summer! You are my favorite time in Cleveland and Solstice is one the best ways to fete the season!

***Disclosure: I was invited by the Cleveland Museum of Art to attend Solstice with two complimentary tickets. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Eton Explorers!

I’m always on the hunt for fun new experiences with Jeffrey, which led us to Eton Explorers, a fun, carnival-like event put on by Northeast Ohio Parent and held once a month in the summer at Eton Chagrin Boulevard.

The theme for this month’s Eton Explorers was Superheroes and Princesses, so capes and frilly dresses were everywhere!

There was lots of fun to experience, from a balloon tent manned by The Twister Girl

…to police cars and fire trucks from the City of Woodmere…

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…frozen yogurt treats from Menchie’s

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…to games and crafts from the Cuyahoga County Public LibraryThe Ratner School, the Cleveland Gladiators and Cleveland Monsters, and more.

It was a true community event, with lots of participation from various family-friendly businesses. And while it was a bit crowded, the lines moved quickly and we were easily able to participate in all the activities.

The next Eton Explorers are scheduled for July 18 (Splash Pad) and August 15 (Scavenger Hunt.) The events are free and open to the public. And if you live on the West side, you can check out Crocker Park Kids, scheduled for July 11, August 8, and September 12.

I’m proud to be blogging for Northeast Ohio Parent (check out my posts here), but I’m also happy to share this event because it was honestly a great time with a fun theme! We’re excited for the next two Eton Explorers!

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Why? Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Membership!

One of our favorite places to go, both with Jeffrey and as a couple, is the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.  From amazing special events to incredible exhibits that let you get up close and personal with the animals to a commitment to wildlife conservation, there’s so much to love at the Zoo!

 

We’ve found that the best way to enjoy the Zoo is with a membership. Because your membership gets you unlimited free admission to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and The RainForest, you don’t feel the pressure to see everything in one day, which is definitely a benefit when you combine a 3-year-old with a Zoo as big as ours!

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We also save on carousel rides, which is always a must-ride for any Zoo trip!

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We’ve also used our membership to save money at reciprocal zoos around the country from as close to Akron to as far away as Corpus Christi.

You can choose the membership level that’s right for you, from Individual Plus to Family Select, with varying levels of guests, perks, and more.

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A Zoo membership pays for itself in about two visits, which is easy for anyone to accomplish. So, what does membership get you?

  • Free unlimited admission to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and The RainForest for one year – go right to the gate, no waiting in line
  • Discounted daytime admission to more than 150 zoos nationwide
  • Subscription to award-winning Z Magazine
  • Discounts on camps and educational programs
  • Exclusive invitations to special events
  • 10% discount on purchases at Zoo gift shops
  • Discounts on carousel rides and Total Experience packages
  • Discounts on Twilight at the Zoo (in May only)

Membership contributions support the Zoo and its efforts to promote wildlife conservation and education both within your Zoo and around the world.

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As you can see, a Zoo Membership features a lot of benefits and gives you access to one of Cleveland’s finest and most fun attractions! And I have a discount code that lets you save 15% on a membership!

When you purchase a membership online, enter code WHYCLE to save 15% on the Individual Plus, Family, Family Plus, or Family Select membership levels. The discount code expires on August 31, 2017.

I hope to see you at the Zoo soon for a wild time for all ages!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote zoo membership. In exchange, I received a complimentary membership renewal for myself, as well as the discount code for readers. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

Aside from backyard vinyasa, we had lots of other weekend plans! On Friday, Matthew’s family came over for an early Father’s Day BBQ. The kids played in the pool and yard like crazy, the grown-ups had a chance to catch up, and everyone enjoyed lots of summery treats, like watermelon and a homemade sundae bar.

Saturday morning, we took Jeffrey to Legacy Village for Meet the Machines. This event packed Legacy Village with all kinds of vehicles from police cars to fire trucks to construction equipment to the Euclid Beach Rocket Ship Car.

You could even get in some of the vehicles to drive and explore!

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I really appreciated how spread out the vehicles and activities were, giving everyone plenty of space to see and enjoy everything. Plus, there was a huge variety of vehicles, so every kid could find something cool to check out.

Beyond just the vehicles, there was live entertainment, giveaways from local companies, and crafts. Jeffrey loved decorating his CAT construction hard hat!

Legacy Village’s Meet the Machines was really well put together, which made it just as much fun for the adults as for the kids!

On Sunday, Matthew selected an activity to do with Jeffrey for Father’s Day and he chose to go to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The Zoo had free admission for dads on Father’s Day and we saw a lot of families taking advantage of this fun way to spend time together.

The animals were definitely putting on a show on Sunday, too. We got very up close and personal with the giraffe…

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…lion…

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…and tiger.

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It was a really great morning with lots of good family memories made! Stay tuned this week for more information on Zoo membership and all the great reasons to check out our Cleveland Metroparks Zoo!

After that, we headed to my parents house to stuff ourselves with guacamole and margaritas, as it should be on Father’s Day!

It was a fun, family-centered weekend! How was yours?

***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? Tough as Milk and Peripeti Home!

When you spend all week worrying that the outdoor yoga class you scheduled to be held in your backyard will get rained out and you forget to worry about it being 90 degrees…

On Saturday, I hosted a yoga class in my backyard, which was kind of like a dream come true for this vinyasa-loving girl. But this wasn’t just any yoga class, it was a “Shift,” a donation-based class to benefit Tough as Milk.

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Tough as Milk is a local organization that provides trauma-informed fitness and wellness classes to women who are survivors of domestic violence, particularly while they are in shelters. These classes are taught with the specific needs of domestic violence survivors in mind and can help them start to find healing and peace in their bodies during traumatic times.

Tough as Milk’s founder, Bilyana, taught our class and shared a bit of the harrowing story of domestic violence that she and her mother endured at the hands of her father.

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Yoga was a way for Bilyana to find healing in her own life and now she is bringing her unique insights into domestic violence survivors and her passion for yoga to incredible use and purpose.

I know how much yoga has helped me in my own life to find peace, strength, calm, and insight.

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I can only imagine how powerful a force it could be for someone coming through the struggles of domestic violence. I am so grateful to the women in my life who showed up for this amazing cause and for a lovely (albeit hot) afternoon of connecting through movement and intention.

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Even Fitz got into it!

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If you’re interested in hosting a Shift of your own, you can learn more here and you can stay up-to-date on Tough as Milk’s upcoming public events here.

And I can’t fail to mention that adding a bit of ambiance to our yoga Shift were some Nature’s Shield candles from the Cleveland-based Peripeti Home.

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I connected with this great local business and we decided that keeping the yoga Shift bug-free and smelling lovely seemed like the perfect thing!

The Nature’s Shield candles smell great, naturally keep pests away, and burn cleanly and for long time (we had them going most of Friday night when we were in the yard too.) Peripeti Home was nice enough to provide take-home gifts for all the yogis, too!

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These candles are made here in Cleveland with natural soy, use a wooden wick so they crackle like a campfire (LOVE), and come in a bunch of fabulous scents and designs (obviously the Cleveland landmark series is my favorite.)

You know I love to support and spread the word about great local businesses! Peripeti Home is not only putting out great products, but they were eager to partner up for an event combining yoga and charity, which makes them super cool in my book. You can purchase their products online or check out their social media feeds for where else to find them!

Stay tuned for the rest of the weekend recap, coming tomorrow!

***Disclosure: I was contacted by Peripeti Candles to help promote their Nature’s Shield candles. I was provided with two Nature’s Shield candles for my own use, as well as mini candles to give to those attending the yoga Shift. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

 

Why? Etna Ristorante!

There are so many amazing restaurants packed into the relatively small area of Little Italy that it can be tough to get to them all. But when pasta is involved, I can make the commitment! Last night, I tried a new-to-me restaurant in Little Italy with some of my fellow Playhouse Square Partners.

Etna Ristorante is located near the west end of Little Italy, on the corner of West 120th and Mayfield Road. It can be easy to miss this cozy spot, but trust me, you don’t want to overlook it!

The menu at Etna features a nice selection of pasta and meat dishes, with an emphasis on seafood. The specials for the evening were all fish and seafood-based as well, including rainbow trout, cod, salmon, and cioppino.

I started my meal with a summer favorite: caprese salad. The tomatoes were fresh and the clean flavors of this classic dish really popped.

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For my entrée, I chose the penne with scampi, served with a very light tomato cream sauce (seriously, just a touch of cream), mushrooms, and basil.

The size of the pasta dishes allowed everyone to clear their plates and feel happily and comfortably full.

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I loved that the sauce wasn’t overly heavy and the flavors of tomato, basil, and mushroom all came through distinctly. The scampi were large and cooked well. All in all, a spot on dish for classic Italian flavors.

From a nice wine list to an intimate atmosphere to a menu filled with Italian standards done to perfection, Etna Ristorante is a Little Italy location not to be missed! Also not to be missed is the annual Feast of the Assumption in Little Italy, a celebration of faith, food, and tradition, happening Saturday, August 12 through Tuesday, August 15.

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Why? Annie’s Sweet Shop!

You’ve heard me say it before, but I just love the connections that blogging about Cleveland has afforded me, especially when I get to meet passionate Clevelanders doing cool things in our city.

I started following Annie’s Sweet Shop on Instagram and was hooked by the yummy looking mini desserts, especially the signature lavender lemon cookies.

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A couple weeks ago, I met up with Ann LoParo, the woman behind Annie’s Sweet Shop to hear her story (and get some of those signature cookies for myself, which are buttery and not too sweet and just delicious.)

Ann and I both graduated from Magnificat High School, so before we even met, I felt like we had some connection. And when Ann shared that what drew her to baking was a voracious sweet tooth, I knew we’d hit it off!

Ann started her career as a social worker, but was always baking on the side, mostly for large family gatherings. That’s what got her into making mini desserts, to give people an easy grab-and-go nibble while at a party.

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Eventually, Ann decided to pursue her baking passion and talent full-time, earning her degree from Johnson & Wales University College of Culinary Arts. She worked at various resorts and clubs before family drew her to move back to her hometown (another point of connection for us.)

In Cleveland, Ann worked as a pastry chef at the Horseshoe Casino, Provenance at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and Lola Bistro. But she kept feeling drawn to build something of her own.

Ann went on a yoga retreat in Bali, which gave her the right perspective to decide the direction to take her career and her life. I just love this part of Ann’s story so much! To know that you want something more or different and to take the time and space to figure out what that is and how to make it happen takes a lot of bravery and commitment!

So, Ann launched Annie’s Sweet Shop. She is creating beautiful and delicious mini desserts, such as tarts, brownies, cookies, and cheesecakes. They would make the perfect addition to your next gathering or event, plus you’ll be supporting a local small business with talent, passion, and a lot of heart!

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Why? Little Legacy and Meet the Machines!

I’ve been sharing a lot with you about the great goings-on at Legacy Village and now I have two more to share that are specifically focused on your kiddos.

Little Legacy

Three Wednesdays this summer, the green at Legacy Village will be filled with fun activities specifically geared for children pre-K and older. There will be on-stage entertainment from Jungle Terry, The Real Pop Fusion, South Euclid-Lyndhurst Library, Mercury Theatre Co., and more.

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There will also be crafts and games provided by Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter, Cleveland Cavaliers, Lake County Captains, L.L. Bean, Playhouse Square, and more.

Little Legacy is free, open to the public, and takes place Wednesday, June 14; Wednesday, July 12; and Wednesday, August 9 from 10:30am-12pm.

Meet the Machines

On Saturday, June 17 from 11am-3pm, Legacy Village will host a monster-sized touch-a-truck event that will allow children to get hands on with safety vehicles, construction equipment, service vehicles, and more.

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This event that is perfect for the whole family will also feature live entertainment, giveaways, and safety information. Jeffrey loves these types of events and it’s always fun to see your child sit in a fire truck, interact with safety officers, and just generally have a wonderful time!

We have found Legacy Village to be the perfect spot for fun for the whole family and these two events certainly adds to that feeling. Hope to see you out and about at Little Legacy and Meet the Machines!

***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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