Why? Children’s Hunger Alliance Come Out to Play!

Want to attend a fun and fabulous evening where you can eat, drink, dance, and play, all to benefit children in need? Then look no further than Come Out to Play sponsored by FirstEnergy, a fundraiser for Children’s Hunger Alliance.

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On Thursday, September 8, head out to the cool art gallery, smARTspace at 78th for this fun, networking-geared event. There will be a DJ, as well as life-sized Jenga, Connect 4, and more to provide plenty of entertainment for the evening and spark conversations with fellow young professionals.

You’ll also enjoy food and drinks (2 drink tickets included with your admission) and can participate in the wine pull to help Children’s Hunger Alliance raise even more money. Last year’s inaugural event was a fantastic time and I’m sure this year will be even bigger and better!

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Children’s Hunger Alliance works with child care providers, schools, and other programs to provide nutritious food, education, and physical activity  for kids in need. The organization works with communities across the state of Ohio, with a local office right here in Cleveland. CHA provides meals to sites in Cuyahoga County like Afterschool All Stars, the YMCA, and City of Cleveland Parks and Recreation and ensure these programs are meeting USDA standards to provide children with healthy options that keep them full, too.

Tickets for Come Out to Play are currently on sale for $75 per person (or $140 per couple). You can also upgrade to VIP status for an additional $25 per ticket, getting you access to additional appetizers, as well as a special bourbon tasting. You can purchase tickets online.

I hope to see you for what is sure to be a playful evening for a great cause!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Children’s Hunger Alliance to help promote Come Out to Play. In exchange, I will receive 2 complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Chefs Unbridled Giveaway!

There are certain events throughout the year that you know will have the height of great food and great wine. Chefs Unbridled, to benefit Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center, is one of those signature events.

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Held at the Chagrin Valley Hunt Club Polo Field on Saturday, September 17, you will enjoy delicious tastings from some of Cleveland’s finest chefs, cocktails, a food truck and cupcake truck, live music, horse-drawn carriage rides, and a bourbon tasting.

Chefs Unbridled overview - Credit Creed Woodka Photography
Photo Credit: Creed Woodka

 

This year’s chefs represent a diverse line-up of styles who are sure to delight your tastebuds:

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Photo Credit: Creed Woodka

Plus, Chefs Unbridled always features an incredible live and silent auction, which this year includes items like vintner getaway packages to Napa Valley and Sonoma and a Kentucky Bourbon Trail trip.

Chefs Unbridled is the primary fundraiser for Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center, which serves people of all ages who face challenges such as PTSD, ADHD, injuries, and neurological disorders. Fieldstone Farm students work with the horses to overcome barriers and achieve goals. This is one of the largest centers of its kind in the country, serving more than 1,000 students each year.

Tickets for Chefs Unbridled are on sale now and are $140 per attendee. Or you can enter to win two tickets to this incredible event right here!

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

1.Leave a comment here letting me know which chef’s food you’re most excited to try at Chefs Unbridled.

2. Visit Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center and Why CLE? on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you visited both pages.

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

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

I want to attend #ChefsUnbridled to benefit @fieldstonef thanks to @WhyCLE: https://whycle.com/2016/08/25/why-chefs-unbridled-giveaway-2 #giveaway

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

The giveaway will close on Monday, August 29 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Chefs Unbridled. Due to scheduling conflicts, I sadly declined my two complimentary tickets. I will receive two tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends, Part 2!

We spent time other places than the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo this weekend, so here’s how we filled the rest of our time:

On Friday, Jeffrey and I met up with one of his little friends and her mom for a ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

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Through the month of August, children ride free with the purchase of an adult ticket, so we took advantage of this deal! We boarded the train in Peninsula, so we didn’t do the full length of the trip, but rather went to Akron and back to Peninsula. I would recommend the shorter trip for younger kids. Our ride was just under 2 hours, which is around Jeffrey’s maximum capacity for being entertained by an activity.

He loved seeing the train come into the depot, plus our trainman obligingly said, “All aboard!” for him as we were getting on the train.

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A trip to the concession/souvenir car netted Jeffrey a new train to play with and helped keep him engaged for the trip.

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The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is truly a unique experience and I love how passionate the volunteers on the train are about the railroad. Oh, and another great thing about starting and ending your trip at Peninsula is that you can walk to Winking Lizard for lunch, which makes everyone happy!

After our Zoo excursions on Friday and Saturday, we had the rest of the weekend fully booked with parties. First, it was a second birthday party for one of Jeffrey’s friends. From delicious cake to fun favors, Jeffrey had a blast (as did we)!

From there, it was off to a wine and beer pairing soiree, thrown by friends Melissa and Tim, who make their own beer and wine. All the libations were delicious, especially when expertly paired with foods representing different seasons.

From spring salad to summer BBQ to football nachos to gingerbread cookies, each season had it’s dishes and drinks (and centerpieces…Melissa is a hostess with the mostest). I was so impressed by not only the food and drink, but the hospitality and friendliness of everyone at the party. I can’t wait for the next one!

On Sunday, I co-hosted with the fabulous Kathleen a sprinkle for our friend Tracy, who is expecting her second daughter in October. I completely failed on getting any pictures of the lovely ladies, but I did get some of the food and beverages (priorities).

We ordered chicken piccata, cavatelli, meatballs, and salad from La Vera Party Center, who not only makes delicious food, but is also incredibly reasonably-priced for their catering options. I made the punch from this recipe. This punch is not too sweet and is also really tasty with a bit of vodka or tequila mixed in!

While I was sprinkling, Matthew and his friend Nathan took in a #Windians game on a beautiful day for baseball!

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So, that was our weekend! It was busy, but so much fun with friends from so many different times and seasons (see the tie in there?) in our lives!

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Why? Weekends, Part 1!

It was quite the whirlwind of a weekend, so we’re breaking up the weekend recap so as to better digest it all. Between Friday night and Saturday morning, we had two events at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo within 12 hours, so I figured I’d start with those two:

On Friday night, Matthew and I attended Date Night at the Zoovies, a fundraiser for the Cleveland Zoological Society. This event includes appetizers, a chance to check out the African Safari and Australian Adventure areas of the Zoo, unlimited Beachhouse wine and Great Lakes Brewing beer, and a movie shown on the big screen under the stars. We even ran into a friend or two, as well!

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We munched on mini Chicago-style hot dogs, veggie burger sliders, Italian hoagie sandwiches, mini deep-dish pizzas, and Korean BBQ wings.

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If it seems like a lot of the food had a Chicago-esque theme, then you may have also guessed that the movie did too: “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” During the movie, there was theater-style fare, from popcorn to nachos to boxes of candy.

Date Night at the Zoovies is one of my favorite events at the Zoo because it is just pure fun and relaxation. Such a simple concept of food and a movie, but such a cool place to enjoy it! And since the event sells out every year, I know that opinion is shared by many!

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Saturday morning, we were back at the Zoo bright and early for the Recovery Resources Run for Recovery. Before the run began, we checked out some of the community partners’ tables, as well as the chalkboard filled with inspirational messages to those helped by Recovery Resources’ addiction recovery services.

I have been to the Zoo many a time with Jeffrey, but this was my first time trying to do “the big hill” at a good pace.

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Jeffrey’s face pretty much says it all. It was hot and that was a BIG hill. But we made it! And the folks stationed throughout the Run to cheer everyone on were so sweet and encouraging!

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That is the face of someone who pushed the stroller DOWN the big hill, not UP

One of the best parts about having a 5K at the Zoo is the chance to see some animals not only while you’re doing the run…

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but also afterwards. The Run for Recovery included Zoo admission for the day, so we stuck around for a bit to see some critters, as well as enjoy some of the snacks, music, and happy vibes from the people there for the Run.

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Two Zoo events in 12 hours – check! As for the rest of our weekend…stay tuned!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Date Night at the Zoovies and the Run for Recovery by their respective organizations. In exchange, I received two tickets for Date Night at the Zoovies and two race entries for the Run for Recovery. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Gigi’s on Fairmount!

Last week, I met up with the lovely Reena for drinks, food, and so much good conversation at the equally lovely Gigi’s on Fairmount.

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I love the atmosphere at Gigi’s. It’s got this wonderful, intimate vibe that makes me feel like I’m in a cafe in Paris. The menu includes small bites, salads, panini, and the wonderful bruschetta boards, along with three special entrees each evening.

While all the entrees that evening sounded delicious (scallop risotto, what?!), we decided to share the fromage board and the bruschetta board.

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The fromage board was delightful, especially with the jam and lavender honey. And while it was so tough to choose which four bruschetta we wanted for our board, we decided on the smoked salmon, chicken liver pate, tomato and whipped feta, and the brie and granny smith apple.

These are substantial bruschetta and the board gave us more than enough to share. And the flavors were wonderful, with all the different elements of the bruschetta really coming through.

From the food to the wine list to the intimate atmosphere to staff who let us sit for as long as we wanted over our wine and cheese, Gigi’s on Fairmount won my heart that night and I will certainly back to this neighborhood gem!

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Why? L’Amour du Vin Giveaway!

I can’t believe that the summer is almost over, but as invites for fall events hit my inbox, I realize that it’s true! One of these great fall events is L’Amour du Vin to benefit the Arthritis Foundation, Northeast Ohio, happening at the Avon Oaks Country Club on Thursday, October 6.

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L’Amour du Vin features small bites from some of Lorain County’s and Western Cuyahoga County’s best restaurants, like Bar 145, Kiedrowski’s Simply Delicious Bakery, Heck’s Cafe Avon, Parker’s Grille and Tavern, and Taki’s Greek Kitchen. All this delicious food will be paired with unlimited tasty wine samplings from a variety of vineyards.

There is also a VIP Lounge, with exclusive wines, Brown-Forman cocktails, and a special dish from Heck’s Cafe Avon.

All proceeds from the event benefit the Arthritis Foundation, Northeast Ohio, which works to help the 1.3 million people in Northeast Ohio with arthritis.

Tickets are $75 for general admission and $95 for VIP admission and can be purchased online. Or you can enter to win two general admission tickets to L’Amour du Vin right here. Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, four, or all five entries, just leave a separate comment for each):

1.Check out the list of participating restaurants and leave a comment here telling me which you’re most excited to try.

2. Visit Arthritis Foundation Ohio and Why CLE? on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you visited both page.

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

4. Follow @ArthritisFouNEO 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 attend #LAmour2016 to benefit @ArthritisFouNEO thanks to @WhyCLE: https://whycle.com/2016/08/18/why-lamour-du-vin-giveaway-5 #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 Monday, August 22 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Arthritis Foundation, Northeast Ohio Chapter to help promote L’Amour du Vin. In exchange, I will receive two complimentary VIP tickets for myself and two general admission tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Food Fanatics!

Last night, Matthew and I attended the launch party for the fall issue of Food Fanatics magazine. Created by US Foods, Food Fanatics magazine presents the latest food trends in a beautiful visual package.

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I poured over the fall issue, but especially the splashy feature on Cleveland penned by Food Fanatics Chef Chris Quinn. Chef Quinn highlights his favorite restaurants and Cleveland destinations and it’s a great feature on our fair city!

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At the launch event, Chef Quinn was joined by fellow Food Fanatics chefs from across the country, who prepared small bites for guests to enjoy. We especially enjoyed the tuna crudo and beef tartare!

The event was elegantly set up at Windows on the River, allowing us to enjoy skyline views, while nibbling on the Food Fanatics chefs’ offerings, as well as a huge meat, cheese, and vegetable table…

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…and amazingly tasty desserts (including these apple pie snickerdoodles, which will be my new fall obsession).

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I loved the ice sculptures too!

We also had the chance to meander through the Greater Cleveland Aquarium, checking out the sharks and turtles with cocktails in hand.

Food Fanatics is a must read for any discerning foodie and they certainly know how to throw a party, too! Get more information on the fall issue here or follow along and join the conversation at @FoodFanatics.

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend the launch party of the fall issue of Food Fanatics with a guest. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

Despite having made lots of rain contingency plans for this weekend, we actually got in all the fun we originally had planned for the weekend. On Friday morning, Mom and I took Jeffrey to Playground World for some playground fun in some much-appreciated air conditioning.

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The Warrensville Heights location of Playground World has 14,000 square feet of room for play. They offer pay-to-play for $6 per child and even have donate-to-play hours where the price is only $1 per child and they money is donated to a local charity.

Jeffrey always has a great time there, plus it’s a good way to check out playground equipment for home before you buy!

Friday night, we stayed in and, despite the heat, I turned on the oven to make this Eggplant Parmesan Casserole. I actually used both eggplant and zucchini in the casserole and it was really tasty!

On Saturday, we had family in from out of town. Since they were staying in the Akron area, we took them to one of our favorite places in the 330: Gervasi Vineyard.

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We enjoyed time out on the Piazza, playing bocce ball and sipping sangria in this family-friendly spot. I think we might have a budding bocce player on our hands with Jeffrey!

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We also stuffed ourselves with a delicious selection from the Piazza lunch menu: the meat and cheese plate, the Guiseppe pizza (with sausage and banana peppers), baked feta spread, and loaded pita chips with pulled pork.

And you know we got dessert…the decadent ice cream sandwich with brownie cookies and vanilla gelato.

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Not only is the atmosphere at Gervasi absolutely beautiful, but the wine and food are delicious too! Make a trip down to Gervasi soon for a great Ohio wine experience!

Saturday evening, I met up with my friend Elizabeth for a Junior League of Cleveland fundraiser: Glowga. Glowga combined yoga, glow sticks, a bit of shopping, and wine and beer tastings into a really fun evening at Crocker Park.

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Before the yoga class, we got to shop from some local vendors, as well as enjoy nibbles from Aladdin’s Eatery and Bar Louie. Then we were led through a great practice from 3 Sisters Yoga that focused on community, gratitude, and intention. It was really cool to see everyone’s glow sticks raised high throughout the class, too!

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After class, there were wine and beer samples, including my first sip this year of a seasonal favorite: Great Lakes Brewing‘s Oktoberfest. I also tried Sibling Revelry Brewing‘s Swing State Pale Ale, which was crisp and refreshing. I’ve heard so many great things about Sibling Revelry and I definitely want to try more of their brews.

It was a really fun and relaxed evening that combined some of my favorite things (yoga, girl time, and craft beer) into one! I hope Glowga becomes an annual event for the Junior League of Cleveland.

Then on Sunday, we caught up with our visiting family again. We had them over for dinner and made one of my favorite summer meals that is always great for a group: grilled garlic tequila lime flank steak (recipe here).

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We serve this flavorful meat taco-bar style, with homemade guacamole, salsa, and refried beans. So good!

For dessert, I made a Mexican chocolate cake (recipe here) that was devoured before any pictures could be taken of it, but I highly recommend pairing it with some Mitchell’s Vanilla Bean ice cream!

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend and so lovely to have time with family that we don’t see nearly enough! How was your weekend?

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Why? Playhouse Square Partners BBQ With a View!

Playhouse Square Partners, the young professionals group of Playhouse Square, is kicking off their 26th year in a style, with a rooftop BBQ, where you can not only have a great time, but also save on your Partners membership.

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Image Source 
BBQ With a View on Wednesday, August 3 31, will feature live music, lawn games, and cookout food and beverages, all with awesome skyline views from the rooftop of the Playhouse Square parking garage. You’ll also have the chance to mingle with Partners members and learn more about the different Partners committees.

Plus, you’ll be the first to learn the theme for the 26th annual Jump Back Ball, happening in February 2017!

BBQ With a View is open to all, whether or not you’re a Partners member. But if after all the fun and new friends, you decide to become a first-time member of Partners that evening, you will save 20% on all memberships at the $100 level and above.

All attendees will receive one complimentary drink ticket, as well as complimentary cookout food. Please bring cash for additional libations, as credit cards will not be accepted. RSVP by emailing sarah.stengel@playhousesquare.org.

I hope to see a lot of you up on the roof to send off the summer in style and learn more about all the fun and good work Partners has in store for the 26th year!

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

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Why? Weekends!

Seriously, a weekend recap? What about Twilight at the Zoo and Autism Speaks Cleveland Chef Gala? Well, yeah, there was that and that. But there was more, too!

On Saturday, Matthew and some of his colleagues from AECOM participated in the AIA Cleveland Beach Day sand castle competition at Edgewater Beach. After their first place wins in last year’s competition for both judges’ and people’s choice, the pressure was on for this year! They decided to build a Pokemon-themed sculpture, with lots of Pokemon breaking out of an iPhone to run around the beach.

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The end result was pretty awesome and they once again won judges’ and people’s choice first place awards!

Matthew and I decided to spend Saturday night downtown after the big Chef Gala event. We stayed at the new Drury Plaza Hotel. Located in the former Board of Education building, the hotel is a great example of how spaces in downtown Cleveland are being repurposed to suit new needs.

The hotel boasts some pretty gorgeous views! The guest room hallways are all marble and it’s great to see how much of the original beauty of the Board of Education building has been renovated and retained. Also, I love that the bar in the hotel is called The Teachers’ Lounge. What a great play on the building’s history!

Since we were spending the night downtown, we decided to partake in some late-night libations with my fellow Chef Gala committee members at re:bar, a new bar located on East 9th Street near Progressive Field.

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Since we were celebrating a successful event, I couldn’t pass up a glass of sparkling wine, but I was also impressed with the craft beer and wine selections. This is a great spot to stop for a bit more elevated drink experience before or after an Indians game.

On Sunday morning, Matthew and I couldn’t pass up the chance to take a free yoga class on Public Square. There are free one-hour, all-levels classes offered at 6pm on Mondays and Wednesdays and 9am on Saturdays and Sundays through September.

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What a view for practice! Megan from Pose Cleveland led us through a great flow and a great start to our Sunday morning.

My parents had watched Jeffrey overnight, so we met up with them for lunch and the return of our favorite little man on Sunday afternoon. It was such a beautiful day and a perfect chance to walk along the East Bank of the Flats.

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Jeffrey loved watching the boats, jet skis, kayaks, and paddle boards that were out enjoying the weather.

We had lunch at Coastal Taco. I loved the vibe there, from the steel drum band on the patio to the Jenga and cornhole to the open windows, Relax pillows, and Adirondack chairs. We shared some tasty guacamole with jicama and corn chips.

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Matthew really enjoyed his carnitas tamale! And while my crispy shrimp bol with rice, beans, and green salsa was tasty, I found myself coveting my tablemates tacos. Next time!

Coastal Taco is a fun addition to the Flats, with a beachy vibe that makes it a great summer spot for a bite.

So, I think we squeezed every possible moment of fun out of this weekend! How was yours?

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