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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Why? American Heart Association Cleveland Heart Ball!

There are some amazing parties in Cleveland and the American Heart Association Cleveland Heart and Stroke Ball is sure to be a slam dunk. As we continue to celebrate Cleveland’s championship season, this year’s ball is themed Hoops & Dreams. The evening celebrates the work and mission of the Cleveland American Heart Association, as well as the volunteers and donors who advance the mission and the lives of those impacted by those efforts.

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The Cleveland Heart & Stroke Ball takes place on Saturday, June 10 at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown. The evening includes a cocktail reception, silent auction, dinner, and live auction.

Plus, you can keep the party going at the Overtime Party with the Young Professionals group, with open bar, concession-style food, and more. Tickets for the Heart & Stroke Ball are $500 and for an extra $50 you can join the Overtime Party fun! You can purchase tickets online.

So, how do you get ready for such an amazing evening? A black tie party takes lots of prep for a guest! Step one: find a great date!

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Matthew is out of town that weekend, so this pretty lady will be my perfect plus one!

Step two: Find a fabulous dress! Since it’s an American Heart Association event, I figured red would be the right choice. Rent the Runway has become my go-to for a black tie event. It’s easy to use, has great selection, and I can look fantastic without committing to a dress that I won’t wear all that often. I recommend getting the dress delivered on Thursday for a Saturday event. And the free second size is always a good idea, too!

My only problem is that I’m kind of in love with more than one dress! So, help me choose between this one, this one, and this one! Vote for your favorite in the comments!

 

Any of these dresses warrant some great bling! I love Bombay Taxi Boutique, Banyan Tree, and even Nordstrom for jewelry and will definitely be snagging something sparkly to compliment whichever dress I decide to wear.

Step three: Beautification prep. You want to look and feel your best for a big event! I love how barre3 makes me feel toned and strong, but it can also make me a bit sore, which is not ideal for a long evening in heels. So, I’ll stack those earlier in the week and then hit my favorite Harmony Studios class the morning of the event that will leave me feeling centered.

It’s always nice to have a facial, but make sure to leave enough time to allow any redness to fade before the big night. As for the day of, definitely a hair style and maybe a makeup application too. It takes the stress off, makes you feel lovely, and is just relaxing. That’s the best way to float into a magical evening!

Step four: Have a fantastic time! The best thing about events like the Heart & Stroke Ball is that it’s not just a great party, it’s for a great cause. You can feel good about your contributions to the cause and, if you follow the steps above, you can also feel good about how you look and feel for the night. Every girl needs a glamorous evening!

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I hope to see you at the Heart & Stroke Ball, fulfilling Hoops and Dreams!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland American Heart Association to help promote the Heart & Stroke Ball. In exchange, I will receive 2 complimentary tickets to the event and the Overtime Party. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Mental Health Awareness Month!

Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month? Mental illness is more common in the United States than cancer, diabetes, or heart disease, impacting one in four adults. With proper treatment, 70-90% of those affected by mental illness will experience a significant reduction in symptoms and an improved quality of life. (Source)

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Recovery Resources, a Cleveland non-profit dedicated to helping those struggling with addiction and mental health issues, is co-hosting a Client Art Show with the Cuyahoga County Justice Center now through May 31, to mark Mental Health Awareness Month.

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The works of art that are displayed were all created by Recovery Resources clients and demonstrate their creativity and determination. Some pieces of artwork are for sale.

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This Client Art Show is a wonderful way to celebrate the successes achieved with Recovery Resources, as well as highlight the prevalence and help remove some of the stigma of mental illness. In this video, Judge Deena Calabrese discusses the importance and impact of the Recovery Resources Client Art Show.

Be sure to stop by the Cuyahoga County Justice Center before May 31 to take a look for yourself.

If you or someone you know is showing signs of mental illness, have an open and honest discussion, without judgment. Offer your support and encouragement. Also, click here to find out more about Recovery Resources services, including the Warm Line Telephone and Mobile Crisis Team.

Mental illness and proper treatment for mental illness are critical issues in our country. Recovery Resources is helping to shine light on these issues and provide much-needed services, particularly in Mental Health Awareness Month.

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Why? Legacy Village Food Truck Mondays!

It’s food truck season again! Food trucks have made grabbing a bite to eat outside not only fun, but really tasty. Which is why I’m so excited that for 8 Mondays over the summer, you can chase away your weekend-is-over blues at Legacy Village with the return of Food Truck Mondays.

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The inaugural Food Truck Monday takes place on Monday, May 22 from 11:30am to 1:30pm. There will be an expanded line-up of food trucks, with Orange Truk, Beachcomber, Barrio, Chef Grey Wolf, Proper Pig, Slyman’s, Wholly Frijoles, 216 Bistro, and Donut Lab participating in the opening event.

You’ll also be able to enjoy a variety of local bands performing at each Food Truck Monday to add to the fun, festival-like atmosphere.

Food Truck Mondays will take place on May 22, June 5, June 19, July 3, July 17, July 31, August 14, and August 28. Aside from the awesome line-up for opening week, other weeks will include food trucks such as KC & J Hawaiian, Manna Truck, Off the Griddle, and Smash Time. Food Truck Mondays are perfect for a lunch break, a lunch date, or a play 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? Weekends!

We didn’t let the rain slow us down this weekend, as there was lots to do and plenty of fun to be had! On Friday evening, Matthew and I took Jeffrey to a sneak peek of “Truck,” one of the shows that made up the International Children’s Theater Festival at Playhouse Square.

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The sneak peek was for Playhouse Square Partners Encore Society members and started with a cocktail and hors d’oeuvre reception, where Jeffrey caught up with some of his favorite Partners.

The performance was supposed to take place outside, but given the weather, the truck for “Truck” was relocated to a loading dock that made a pretty great makeshift theater. Bridgman Packer Dance put on a fun and interesting performance, all inside a U-Haul box truck, after which we had time to chat with the artists.

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They were even kind enough to let Jeffrey check out the truck and their cool video effects!

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The next morning, we were back at Playhouse Square for more International Children’s Theater Festival fun! While I volunteered at the craft room with fellow Partners members, Jeffrey, Matthew, and his dad went to see “The Moon’s a Balloon.”

While volunteering, I got to check out the imaginative, upcycled “The Junkyard,” a magical world made entirely of recycled materials.

The International Children’s Theater Festival has so many cool components, from theater performances to concerts to crafts to face painting and balloon artists.

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All of it opens the imagination to new worlds, both for adults and kids. Definitely put it on your must-do list for next year!

Saturday evening, Matthew and I met up with friends James and Jamie for dinner at one of my all-time favorite Cleveland restaurants: Momocho. We started with margarita and guacamole samplers, which are fabulous since I can never decide which margarita or guacamole I want to eat!

My margarita sampler had the red bell pepper, blood orange, and hibiscus margaritas, which were all fantastic (although the spicy mango remains my all-time favorite). Our guacamole sampler had the goat cheese, pickled corn and crab (my favorite), and smoked trout guacamole.

For dinner, Matthew had the scallops, with achiote creamed corn and cauliflower-hominy disco.

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All the elements of this dish work together so well! I had the Dos Equis-braised beef short rib tamales with red and green mole sauces.

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Smoky, tender, delicious perfection!

For dessert, we shared the Mexican chocolate pot de crème, which is a very sharable size and the perfect sweet and spicy way to cap off our Mod Mex dinner.

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The atmosphere, drinks, and food at Momocho are never anything short of fantastic and our dinner on Saturday was no exception!

On Sunday, Jeffrey had his final race in the Healthy Kids Running Series, a five-week program of races for kids from ages 2 through 8th grade.

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All the kids earned a medal at the end of this week’s race, which Jeffrey has been proudly wearing since. It was a great way for him to start an organized sport and have fun, too! The parents also had the chance to participate in a 1-mile Fun Run, which I did, mainly to earn this tasty Burger Fresh burger…

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…and some Mitchell’s Ice Cream after the race!

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Seriously, though, I’m really proud of Jeffrey for completing the series and think it’s a great way to get both kids and parents being active together!

So, that was our weekend! How was yours?

***Disclosure: I am the vice co-chair of Playhouse Square Partners. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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