Why? The King and I!

Shall we dance on a bright cloud of music? Shall we fly? Shall we dance? If the dancing is at “The King and I,” currently occupying the stage of the Connor Palace Theatre at Playhouse Square, then the answer is a resounding yes!

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I can remember watching the film version of this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic with my mom. I loved the music, I loved how funny the story was at points, and I loved the costumes and sets.

So, it was such a treat to not only get to see the story played out on the stage, where it was originally meant to be seen, but also to see that my favorite things about the movie were in this production.

The costumes and sets are beautifully done and transport you to Siam, with a dash of jolly old England thrown in. The relationship between Anna and the King is just as funny and tense and, yes, romantic as the one between Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr in the film. The entire production was breathtaking and sweeping and just lovely.

It’s always difficult to overcome someone’s favorable first impression of a story. Think about when your favorite book was made into a movie. The chances of you loving what was on the screen as much as what you saw when you read it are slim. For me, that’s what I expected from this production of “The King and I.” I thought I’d enjoy it, but I was hesitant to believe that anything could surpass a movie that was integral in my falling in love with musicals in the first place.

“The King and I” did just that. My Mom, who introduced me to the film and is known to sing “Shall We Dance” to Jeffrey on a regular basis, proclaimed it “the best thing [she’s] ever seen.” Truly, it is a wonderful production. Whether you love “The King and I” already or just want to fall in love with this story, don’t miss it!

The show is still at the Connor Palace Theatre at Playhouse Square through this Sunday, February 26, with two performances on both Saturday and Sunday. Click here for tickets.

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Why? All About the Bag!

Last night, I attended a glittery, fashionable, philanthropic evening that was a wonderful time for a wonderful cause. All About the Bag to benefit the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland brought together a fabulous auction, a fashion show, food, drink, and local celebrities, all to raise money to help the hungry in our community.

The centerpiece of the evening was a fashion show featuring looks from Brigade and other stores at Beachwood Place Mall, inlcuding Tommy Bahama, Ann Taylor, francesca’s, Athleta, and more.

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Local celebrities from news channels, radio, restaurants, and businesses took to the runway to strut their stuff to the awesome music provided by MIMO.

There was also the chance for attendees to see and vote on original fashions designed by students at Virginia Marti College of Art and Design. These creative clothes were all designed using food containers, from McDonald’s Happy Meal boxes to Great Lakes Brewing labels to drinking straws (the winner and our favorite too).

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This event isn’t called All About the Bag for nothing! There was a fabulous auction and raffle that included gorgeous bags from designers such as Chanel, Gucci, Fount, Louis Vuitton, kate spade, and more.

The raffle also featured other non-bag prizes, from wine baskets to yoga to shopping excursions.

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Yours truly won a private shopping party at kate spade and I literally jumped up and down so high I could be seen above the crowd when I discovered my win!

Held at Landerhaven, the event showcased the beautiful event spaces there, as well as the tasty catering options, with yummy flatbreads, delicious dips, and tasty Chinese food.

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Our desserts were courtesy of Orlando Baking, with a variety of Italian cookies, with perfectly-paired milk shooters.

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This was the fourth annual All About the Bag and my first time attending. I loved the energy, the fashion, and the fun that was packed into this evening. People were not only excited about the clothes and bags, but also the chance to make a real impact in the community. A $5 donation to the Hunger Network can fill a bag that will feed an entire family (see, it really is All About the Bag)!

Plus, I went to this event with my dear friend Sara and it was the perfect belated Galentine’s Day celebration: a chance to look at (and wear) pretty clothes, sip wine, and catch up!

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I’m All About the Bag and I’m so glad the Hunger Network is too!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland to help promote All About the Bag. In exchange, I received two complimentary tickets for myself and two tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Barre3 Solon!

On Valentine’s Day, I had a chance to start the day with a little self-love by taking a class at Barre3 Solon. The studio was all decked out for the holiday and our teacher, Elizabeth, made love for your body and mind a central focus of the class.

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I’ve taken a handful of barre classes, but it had been awhile since I had taken one. So I really appreciated Elizabeth’s detailed explanations of the postures and moves, as well as offering a range of options and modifications for each posture.

What usually keeps me away from or makes me not want to repeat a new workout is feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing and can’t possibly keep up (Zumba, I’m looking at you). So, being able to walk into a relatively new-to-me class and feel welcome, comfortable, and like this was something I could get a handle on was really valuable.

Not only did Barre3 Solon make me feel welcome, but they made Jeffrey feel right at home, too!

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They have a beautifully-appointed play area that is staffed during the morning classes, so you can get your workout in, while your kiddo has some fun! Scheduling workout time can be a challenge, as any mom knows, so a place that offers the ability to get in your workout and ensure that your child is happy is just awesome!

The play area is not the only beautifully-appointed part of the studio. From the retail area to the complimentary water, coffee, and oranges to the towel service to the bathrooms that offer a full compliment of toiletries to freshen up after sweating at the barre, this is a great space!

I will confess to being sore for a day or two after the class, but the good kind of sore. The kind of sore that means I worked hard. While I don’t know that anything will ever replace yoga as my go-to activity, I really liked what Barre3 provided not only in the workout, but in the environment. And we all know that changing up your workout routine and using different muscles is good thing. If you want to give it a whirl, just meet me at the barre!

***Disclosure: I was invited by Barre3 Solon to take a complimentary class of my choice. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

I feel like we packed a holiday weekend’s worth of fun into this weekend! On Friday, Jeffrey and I met up with friends at The RainForest at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

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This is always a favorite winter play date location. How can you beat getting to see zoo animals in a temperate 80-degree environment, even in February?! We especially loved watching the new baby orangutan swing and play. He was so active and his parents looked so tired…I guess that sort of feeling really is universal!

Friday evening, I was in the mood for comfort food with a kick, so I whipped up some chorizo and hatch chile mac and cheese. I used this recipe, which doesn’t call for chorizo, but really, isn’t chorizo always a good idea?!

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I paired it with this amazing Straffe Hendrick Belgian Quad, which was recommended to me by the beer guru at my Heinen’s (you can follow him on Insta for craft beer tips here). It was a perfect meal!

On Saturday morning, Jeffrey and Matthew had a dad/son morning with friends at another favorite play date spot: the Great Lakes Science Center. From the Polymer Play Area to Build It!, the guys had a blast!

I so often get to share these experiences with Jeffrey, so I loved that Matthew had the chance for some one on one time with him!

Plus, I can’t be mad at how I spent my morning while they were there: with a yoga class at Harmony Studios, followed by a smoothie from their smoothie bar enjoyed in the gorgeous sunshine.

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Later Saturday afternoon, I attended a baby shower for our friends Lane and Nathan, who are getting ready to welcome a baby boy in April.

Everything at the shower was lovely, from the food to the décor to the favors (little daffodils that held as much promise of spring as this weekend’s weather did). I’m so excited for Lane and Nathan!

Sunday was a day of eating! I met up with Alicia and Amanda for brunch at what has become our go-to brunch spot: The Flying Fig.

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I created my brunch entirely out of side dishes, thus confirming my belief that all restaurants should offer the “Boston Market side dish meal.”

I had the taleggio polenta, the smothered breakfast potatoes (because bacon and cheese should never be optional), and the apple crisp. This was honestly the best polenta I’ve ever had: smooth, creamy, and rich. Everything from the food to the service was spot-on and made for a great brunch with two of my favorite ladies!

Sunday evening, we had dinner plans with my parents at Mama Roberto’s, so I somehow made room for more food! I had the tortelloni special, with red pepper pesto and shrimp. It was delicious!

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And Matthew had the veal Roberto, with artichoke hearts, tomato, basil, and mozzarella.

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Both of us chose really well, and ended up with plenty of leftovers to take home (along with a couple of Mama Roberto’s gigantic and legendary cannoli).

It was a really fun weekend, filled with good times with some of our favorite people! How was yours?

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Why? Cleveland’s Finest Hors d’Oeuvre Contest!

Cleveland’s Finest Hors d’Oeuvre Contest, a foodie fundraiser to benefit Our Lady of the Wayside, is one of those events that just keeps getting bigger and better every year! This year, there were even more restaurants, who all definitely brought their “A” game to the Terrace Club at Progressive Field.

Before I reveal the winners, let’s talk about some of the favorites from the evening:

The beef wonton from Driftwood Catering. The texture of this wonton was superb!

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The mini veal parmesan sausage from Progressive Field/DNC. This is elevated ballpark food for sure!

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The lobster sweet pea risotto from Aurora Inn, served in a light and flaky wonton cup, was a great blend of rich and sweet flavors.

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The shrimp and grits, with a bit of a gumbo flavor, from Zack Bruell Restaurants (okra, FTW).

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The pork belly pinxos from Momocho, with just enough spice and acidity to cut through the rich pork belly.

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The spicy Caribbean shrimp from Carrie Cerino’s Ristorante proved they can deliver on more than simply Italian favorites (and earned them third place).

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Matthew and I agreed on our top two favorites (as did the rest of the attendees): taking second place was the rich 72-hour beef rotello with lobster pasta from Tree House/The Clifton and taking first place was the citrus-seasoned scallop from Corleone’s Ristorante and Bar.

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We ended the evening on a sweet note with mini cupcakes from Cupcake Cravings (the chocolate mint was our favorite) and some amazing views that held the promise of spring.

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It was such a fun and delicious evening, raising funds to support Our Lady of the Wayside’s mission of helping those with developmental disabilities. Specifically, the funds from Cleveland’s Finest Hors d’Oeuvre Contest will go to the construction of a new group home in Summit County.

Next up is Our Lady of the Wayside’s summer FUN-draiser, Grapes and Ale, on May 19. Stay tuned for more information!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Our Lady of the Wayside to help promote Cleveland’s Finest Hors d’Oeuvre Contest. In exchange, I received two complimentary tickets for myself and two tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Metropolitan Market Giveaway!

I’m so excited to share with you the scoop on a wonderful, cozy, specialty market that has not only a fabulous selection of high-end foods, but also the some of the friendliest staff you’ll find. Metropolitan Market in Pepper Pike has been around for 13 years and becomes an instant favorite as soon as you walk in.

Metropolitan Market prides itself on it’s high-quality meats and seafood. The big feature is the Angus Reserve beef, which is aged for a minimum of 28 days. I also was impressed with the selection of meats, from Delmonico and strip steaks to short ribs to rack of lamb to pork tenderloin.

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They also get a selection of fresh seafood in daily, from scallops to oysters to swordfish.

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Metropolitan Market also has Chef John Wu making fresh sushi right on site. Chef John is beloved by customers for his friendly personality, as well as his sushi-making skills.

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You can stay up-to-date on the sushi special of the week on the Market’s website. Or just pop in and ask Chef John to create something for you!

There’s a selection of produce, sauces, and dry goods available too, featuring a lot of local brands (hey, Pope’s Kitchen and On the Rise).

There are frozen appetizers guaranteed to make your next party a success (or, frankly, the next time you just want to eat a bunch of mini crab cakes on your own…no judgment). And there are also some great specialty items like duck confit and veal stock to take your meals to the next level.

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And for the nights you don’t feel like cooking, check out the selection of prepared foods.

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What I found impressive more than even the quality and selection packed into this small market was the way the customers were treated. Everyone was known by name, special orders were whipped up, and new products were pointed out to people who would love them. This is clearly a neighborhood business that takes pride in knowing not only their products, but their clientele too.

I had the chance to construct a delicious at-home Valentine’s Day dinner from Metropolitan Market’s offerings. I chose two Angus Reserve Delmonico steaks, some brie and raspberry puffs, asparagus, spicy tuna roll, and chocolate lava cake.

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Everything was sensational! I’m a sushi snob and “grocery store” sushi is usually not too tempting, but this was not “grocery store” sushi. It was fresh and absolutely delicious! The brie puffs were rich, the steak was of great quality (dig that marbling), and the vegetables were the perfect side.

For a fancy at-home dinner, for a quick sushi lunch, or for the next time you’re stumped on what to make but know you want it to be good, swing by Metropolitan Market to not only get some great food, but to probably make a friend or two as well!

And to help you do just that, I have a $50 gift certificate to Metropolitan Market to share. 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 here telling me which of Metropolitan Market’s offerings tempts you most (meat, seafood, prepared foods, sushi, etc.)

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

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

4. Follow @metromarket_cle 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 a $50 gift card to @metromarket_cle thanks to @WhyCLE: https://whycle.com/2017/02/16/why-metropolitan-market-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 Tuesday, February 21 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was invited to visit Metropolitan Market to select a complimentary dinner of my choice and share my experience. I also received a $50 gift certificate to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends, Part 2!

This past Sunday was so packed with fun that it deserves it’s own blog post! We started our day at the first annual Donut Fest in Cleveland!

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Cleveland has joined the ranks of Chicago and New York City in hosting a Donut Fest. Your admission got you a donut from each of twelve vendors (mostly sample-size, thank goodness), plus three coffee samples (kudos to Hartzler Family Dairy for also offering milk as a beverage choice), a chance to vote for your favorite donut, a swag bag, and the chance to ride the wave of an epic sugar high and crash!

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I tend to be a donut traditionalist, so the chocolate crème sticks from Madsen Donuts and Jubliee Donuts were big favorites for me.

We’re all big chocolate lovers, but Matthew, Jeffrey, and I all loved the raspberry donuts from Peace Love and Little Donuts (raspberry coffee cake to be exact) and Holey Toledough (what a great name, too).

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Brewnuts had the cutest table set-up (plus a yummy and not overly sweet Salty Malty donut),

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and Red the Steakhouse and Moxie were clearly having fun.

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The Judges’ Choice winner was Peace Love and Little Donuts and the Crowd Favorite went to Jack Frost Donuts.

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But from the crowd’s general happiness, everyone was a winner at Donut Fest! This event sold out in less than a day, so be sure to stay tuned for info on Donut Fest 2018 and get your tickets early!

In order to balance out all the donuts, I spent my Sunday evening at a yoga event! GroundSwell Collective hosted CLE is my OM, an awesome event that brought together yoga, live music, a mini retreat, food, and local makers at 78th Street Studios for a fabulous collaborative evening.

We started with a soulful and fiery flow led by one of my first and favorite yoga teachers, Ylonda (you can catch her classes regularly at Yoga Strong, as well as GroundSwell).

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After the flow, we settled in with the ladies from Rock Your Bliss for a mini version of their Seven Weeks to Bliss curriculum.

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It was a meaningful, open, and inspirational conversation! After that, we noshed on delicious wraps and cookies from Cleveland Vegan and continued the conversation and fun.

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As good as yoga is for my body and soul, I loved taking the soul nourishment to an even higher level with this kind of combined yoga and bliss crafting event. I’ll definitely be on the look out for more GroundSwell Co. collaborations!

So, that was part 2 of an altogether wonderful weekend! How was yours? Do you agree that donuts are just as good for your soul as yoga retreats?

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Why? Weekends, Part 1!

It was a fantastic and busy weekend in the CLE, so I’m breaking it down into a two-part weekend recap to fully describe all the fun.

On Friday, I attended the Cleveland American Heart Association Go Red for Women luncheon.

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This event featured both a fun and informative expo, as well as a healthy luncheon with inspiring speakers telling their personal heart health stories. At the expo, you could find out your blood pressure and BMI, learn CPR, and find out more about managing stress, all courtesy of University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute.

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You could also compete in Jenga, play Heart Jeopardy for cool prizes like this AHA t-shirt,

enjoy heart-healthy snacks like this beet and chickpea spread from Vitamix (How many samples is too many to take? Asking for a friend),

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and bid on some fabulous silent auction items like vineyard tours, concert tickets, and private shopping parties.

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From the sea of red in the attendees’ clothes to the amazing stories of courage and hope from the speakers to the chance to both donate to the Cleveland AHA and fill out postcards to send to legislators advocating for access to healthier food for all, the event left me all around inspired and invigorated.

There is such power in people (particularly women) coming together to make an impact: in this case to someday eliminate heart disease from it’s spot as the number one cause of death for women. Click here to find out how you can get involved in the Cleveland Goes Red for Women movement!

On Saturday, we went to a Family Fun Day party at Jeffrey’s school. The morning started with a presentation from Jungle Terry.

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The kids got to see turtles, snakes, birds, and the oh-so-adorable chinchilla.

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After the show, the gym was open for tons of running around and burning off energy. Anything that can tire Jeffrey out that much in the winter time is a good thing by me! It was a fun morning and just another example of why we love his school so much!

So, that’s part 1 of the weekend…stay tuned for donuts and yoga and bliss crafting tomorrow!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Cleveland American Heart Association Go Red for Women initiative. In exchange, I received one complimentary ticket to the Go Red for Women Expo and Luncheon. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? BRIM Kitchen + Brewery!

For months, Matthew and I have been eyeing construction of a new restaurant in downtown Willoughby. The building is beautiful and spacious, with an outdoor second-floor patio. The word was it was a new brewery and they were already brewing ahead of opening. We were curious, to say the least.

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Last Thursday, BRIM Kitchen + Brewery opened their doors. We went for dinner on Wednesday, so we managed to sneak in during opening week! First, we were not the only ones excited about BRIM. The place was absolutely packed by the time we left (pro tip: they take online reservations).

We started with a sampler of the BRIM beers. Right now, BRIM features four of their own brews, as well as a nice selection of mostly local craft beers on draft and in bottles.

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BRIM’s brews are the Stop 43 Stout, the Primus Pallidus Pale, the Fuzzy Peach Ale, and the Thai’d 2 the Tracks. Considering that the Fuzzy Peach and Thai’d are both Belgian-style ales, I was already confident in liking two of the beers.

I found the Fuzzy Peach to be fruity, but not overwhelmingly sweet. And the Thai’d, with it’s unique addition of Thai lemongrass, was interesting and refreshing. Matthew and I also both enjoyed the stout. And while pale ales are not our thing, the Primus is not a palate wrecker by any stretch. The beers are all relatively low ABV and easy-drinking.

Now onto the food. We started by sharing the Ahi Tuna Poke Nachos. Huge chunks of tuna, tasty avocado mash, and light crispy wonton chips made this one of the better tuna nacho dishes I’ve tried.

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We also want to try the Chips & Dip on our next visit, as well as the humongous hot pretzel (I’m not sharing).

For our entrees, Matthew got the BRIM Burger with bacon and egg and I chose the Braised Mushroom Philly. We seriously had a hard time deciding…there were lots of tasty options on the menu!

Matthew upgraded to the truffle fries and I upgraded to the poutine. Pro tip: get the poutine. The gravy is packed with beef flavor and is the perfect winter comfort food!

Matthew really enjoyed his burger! The philly had excellent flavor, with mushrooms, onions, and peppers sauteed to perfection. Pro tip: there’s no meat on the philly. If you read quickly or let your mind fill in imaginary gaps, you’ll think there should be. This may have happened to me. But honestly, and this from a meat-a-tarian, you don’t miss the meat. Promise.

We took Jeffrey with us and he devoured his kids cheeseburger and fries. BRIM not only has a kids menu, but also an under-1 menu with housemade organic fruit and vegetable purees. I love this idea! Not only is a great way to save parents having to bring their own baby food, but it also immediately lets you know that the whole family is welcome at BRIM.

Which leads me to how nice and welcoming everyone was at BRIM. Any first-week hiccups were far overshadowed by the staff’s dedication to making sure you had a great meal and, more importantly, a great time.

BRIM is a lovely addition to downtown Willoughby. BRIM is just as concerned about an easy, but still trendy menu, as it is about serving good beer. That combination, plus the friendly and welcoming vibe, spells success in my book! Cheers!

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Why? Build It!

You probably already know that we love taking Jeffrey to the Great Lakes Science Center, but their newest exhibit had me so excited to take him again. Build It!, presented by ArcelorMittal, brings a medieval land of LEGO to life.

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Build It! is divided into three phases: Play It!, Explore It!, and Move It! The Play It! phase is currently open through May 14. It’s main attraction is the Castle Builder, which is 2,500 square feet of exhibits from the Indianapolis Children’s Museum.

Castle Builder includes constructed model castles, as well as opportunities to construct your own castle.

There are also amazing LEGO dragons and knights, a castle slide…

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…and Jeffrey’s absolute favorite: a digital catapult that tests the strength of your simulated LEGO castle wall.

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There are other aspects to Play It! beyond the Castle Builder, including Blind Build (the chance to construct in a box using just your sense of touch),

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Maze Madness, surrounded by LEGO renditions of art masterpieces,

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ramps with a chance to construct your own car to race,

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and Mosaic Masterpiece.

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Jeffrey and his friends were all completely entertained and enchanted by this exhibit. Let’s just say there were tears upon leaving from one side, along with promises to return from the other side.

The next phase of Build It! is Explore It!, a 10-day festival from May 27-June 4 that includes workshops, LEGO experts, and extraordinary LEGO art from around the country.

And the third phase, Move It!, runs from June 17-September 4. This phase will feature selected sculptures from Explore It!, simple machine exhibits and the chance to build your own simple machines, and LEGO MINDSTORMS robotics.

Build It! allows visitors to explore the creativity, fun, and even beauty that can be created with LEGO and imagination. We will definitely be enjoying Phase 1 more and are looking forward to Phases 2 and 3, too!

***Disclosure: I was invited by the Great Lakes Science Center to experience Build It! with complimentary tickets for myself and my guests. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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