Why? Nuevo Modern Mexican!

There is nothing like waterfront dining, which is why I was so excited when Nuevo Modern Mexican opened on the East Ninth Street Pier. Nuevo Cleveland describes itself as casual upscale modern Mexican with amazing views of Cleveland’s lakefront. And on my recent visit for lunch, I found it to be a spot-on description.

I started with the margarita flight, as one does at lunch.

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I had the house margarita, the spicy mango margarita, and the jalapeno cilantro margarita (which, for someone who doesn’t like cilantro, was very light on that flavor). All three were great, but I think the jalapeno cilantro (with smoked salt on the rim) was my favorite.

Unable to decide what to order, we decided to get a table full of appetizers. We started with the queso fundido with chorizo and the guacamole with escabeche corn, fresnos, and poblanos.

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I loved the queso dip! Creamy, spicy, and so delicious. The guacamole was good, but I would have liked the add-ins more mixed into the dip itself.

From there, we shared the plantain fritters, the langosta empanada, the calamari, and the carne asada.

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The calamari was just barely breaded and very tender. The sauce that accompanied the plantain fritters was a chipotle agave syrup that made the dish. And the empanadas were my favorite, with flaky pastry and a delicious spicy truffle crema.

Since it was my birthday (does that justify the margarita flight at noon?), we couldn’t pass up dessert. The tres leches cake was so moist and I can never resist blueberry and lemon flavors!

Matthew had the flourless chocolate cake and Jeffrey ate most of my mom’s cinnamon cupcake. Overall, Nuevo Modern Mexican delighted all of us with delicious food, tasty drinks, and great views.

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What a great addition to the waterfront!

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Why? Weekends!

It was a lovely weekend in CLE or so I’m told. I spent my weekend reuniting with my group of closest friends from law school.

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So many lady lawyers!

 

It was 10 years this past May since we graduated from American University Washington College of Law. And while we had all seen each other here and there since graduation, it had been nine years since this entire group was in the same place. So we had lots of catching up to do!

We met in Bethany Beach, Delaware, which is just the cutest little beach town.

We were lucky enough to have two family beach houses to stay in, which left us more money for food and outlet shopping (hello, tax-free Delaware).

We had lunch one day at Off the Hook, where I enjoyed the corn and jalapeno crab bisque and the asparagus salad with strawberries, burrata, candied pecans, and a crab cake. The food was so delicious! I couldn’t be on the East Coast and not order seafood!

Our big dinner out was at DiFebo’s, which had some of the best traditional Italian food I’ve had in ages. I ordered the cavatelli Bolognese and we shared the calamari and the white bean and garlic dip.

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In between bigger meals, we also enjoyed boardwalk fries from Thrasher’s French Fries, frozen custard from Kohr Bros.,

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coffee and pastries from The Artful Bean, pizza from Grotto Pizza, and beachy cocktails from Mango’s.

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We also did some serious shopping at Tanger Outlets and some not-so-serious golfing at Captain Jack’s Pirate Golf.

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Argh! (All group pics made possible through the wonder of the selfie stick)

 

As fun as all the eating and shopping and walking on the beach was, the real highlight of the weekend was just sitting around and talking (and talking and talking) for hours. It was amazing how genuinely easy it was to be reunited with these ladies. While our lives are all so different than when we were in school together, the friendship that united us translated seamlessly into talking about families and new jobs and houses.

I couldn’t be more grateful to have had the chance to get together with everyone and we all agreed that it will not be another nine years until we do this again!

And this weekend wouldn’t have been possible for me without my mom and Matthew seeing it’s value and keeping all the trains here at home smoothly on the tracks. It looks like Jeffrey had a pretty great weekend too!

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How was your weekend? Did you check out the Ohio City Street Festival or cheer on the Indians?

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Why? An Evening in Gordon Square!

On Wednesday, I had dinner plans with some fellow Playhouse Square Partners in Gordon Square. I decided to get down there a bit early and do a little progressive tour of the area. My first stop was Old City Soda.

Even before their appearance on Cleveland Hustles, I had heard of the brand and enjoyed their tasty collaboration with Platform Beer Co. But after watching Cleveland Hustles, I was even more excited to check out the finished storefront.

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Old City Soda is actually sharing open retail space with Fount, a unique way to attract varied clientele to both locations. Old City’s space is light and airy, with a bar, some high top tables, and couches too. There are board games for entertainment and hot pretzels for nibbling, but the focus is on the craft soda cocktails.

I ordered the Cleveland Roots, with Old City root beer, vodka, and spiked whipped cream (this is an option, but do not pass it up). The drink itself was good, but mixing in the spiked whipped cream gave it a melty root beer float taste that combined the childlike and adult aspects of the beverage perfectly.

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The staff was friendly and knowledgeable. And I found a few more drinks on the menu that I’m anxious to try. For a before or after dinner drink, this is a perfect spot. Be sure to grab a shot with the very Instagram-able citrus wall, too!

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From there, I met up with my fellow Partners for dinner at Spice Kitchen & Bar. I can never resist the mushroom beignets, which have been on the menu since the restaurant opened. They are crispy on the outside and filled with creamy mushroom deliciousness on the inside.

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And the goat cheese creme fraiche for dipping is perfection! I also snuck a taste of a tablemates polenta and chickpea fries, which are similarly amazing!

I also ordered the sweet potato agnolotti, with wild mushroom, peach, pecan, and scallion ash.

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All the sweet flavors of late summer and early fall came together in this dish! The two appetizer-sized portions were plenty for my dinner, too.

As part of our Gordon Square Dine Around, we had Partners members dining at four different restaurants in the Gordon Square area, then we all met up for a nightcap at XYZ the Tavern. This is such a great, relaxed neighborhood bar with a nice craft beer list.

Part of the Cleveland Hustles narrative has been that Gordon Square is a neighborhood in need of revitalization. And while there are still empty storefronts, it’s wonderful to see “older” businesses like Spice thriving there, as well as newcomers like Old City Soda starting a successful run too.

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

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Why? Taste of the Browns!

On Monday night, Matthew and I went to Taste of the Browns, a fundraiser for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. This event combines two of Cleveland’s favorite things, food and sports, to raise needed funds to help the hungry in our community.

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Over 30 restaurants were represented, serving delicious small bites.

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Such a great set-up from Deagan’s Kitchen and Bar!

Here are some of our favorites from the evening:

The eggplant rollatini and shrimp and polenta from Corleone’s Ristorante

The sweet potato and chorizo hot cakes from AMP 150‘s new brunch menu

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The crab and chorizo chowder from Pier W (loved the contrast of the cold crab salad with the warm chowder)

The lamb meatballs from Bar Cento/Bier Markt

The pork lollipops with pancetta from Cleveland Browns craft services

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The pork ravioli with mushrooms and butternut squash from Johnny’s Downtown

The French onion cups from Edwin’s Restaurant (even better that they were bite-sized with no silverware required)

The tacos from Barrio (so smart to have the taco truck outside to give everyone a nibble as they walked in)

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The grilled avocado from Fahrenheit

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And the always delicious rosemary and garlic frites from Sawyer’s Street Frites

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So much amazing food! Plus, there were amazing silent and live auction items, plus a wine pull to raise even more money for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.

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Every dollar raised funds 4 meals for the hungry in Northeast Ohio!

One of the most unique parts of Taste of the Browns is the chance to sit in a quiet stadium, sip some wine, and relax with this view…

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This event is nothing short of a touchdown, with fabulous food, great auction items, a cool venue, and a wonderful cause!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Taste of the Browns. In exchange, I received two complimentary media VIP tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

It was a fabulous and sparkly birthday weekend, filled with my favorite people and favorite things!

On Friday, I tried a new-to-me yoga studio, Yoga Roots. I’m always a little nervous checking out a new studio, but considering that Yoga Roots had Alicia‘s stamp of approval, I figured I’d be perfectly happy there. And I was! From the challenging flow to the heated floor (how brilliant) to the awesome playlist, it was a great class!

Also on Friday, we attended a homecoming festival at Jeffrey’s school. There were food trucks (I loved my dinner from the Barrio truck) and music and plenty of fun to be had! It’s a great tradition and I love getting Jeffrey involved with his school!

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Saturday evening, Matthew threw me a birthday party at Punch Bowl Social. This was a great place to meet up, with lots of things to see and do. From bowling to karaoke to tons of sports to watch to tasty food and drinks, there was something for everyone!

Our attentive server helped make sure we had plenty of tables and that we didn’t run out of libations and munchies (the chips and dip are so delish). And the fun, relaxed atmosphere made everyone feel comfortable!

I loved what a wide cross-section of my life was represented at the party, from someone I’ve known since kindergarten to friends I’ve met through activities with Jeffrey.

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I am so honored that everyone spent their Saturday evening with me and am ridiculously touched by the sweet presents and notes too! As cliché as it sounds, having such great friends is the best birthday present a girl could ask for!

Sunday started with two of my favorite things: yoga and shopping! I went to my home studio, Harmony Yoga, for a great flow (that happened to be free with my birthday coupon)! When I left the studio, the Wandering Wardrobe truck was parked nearby and so I couldn’t resist stopping in and picking up a cute sweater and dress for my fall wardrobe. I always go a bit out of my comfort zone with their clothes and I never regret it!

Then we had dinner at my parents house, where my mom made my long-time favorite meal: roast beef with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, and carrots. I love fancy food, but nothing beats the comfort food standards! It was lovely to have time with family and have Jeffrey sing Happy Birthday to me!

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I couldn’t have asked for a sparklier, more fun weekend! How was yours?

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Why? Things I’ve Learned this Last Year (or so)!

So, this birthday, I’m feeling much more reflective on the year that’s come before than I usually am. Typically, I’m all about what’s next, but I thought I’d take a minute to reflect on what’s come before.

Here are a couple nuggets that I’ve learned over this last year (or so). Hopefully I’ll carry them with me into the year that is to come…

I actually like myself! Somehow, my assessment of my self esteem stalled out around junior high (when I definitely did not like myself). I steadily grew in confidence and independence, but I would still say that I didn’t like myself all that much. Maybe I was confusing humility (which I think is a good quality in measure) with not liking myself. But either way, over the last year or so, I’ve accepted the fact that I do think I’m a pretty good person (with the confidence to wear glitter booties in public.) I screw up for sure. But on balance, I like who I see in the mirror.

I can filter myself and still be authenticThis is a tough one. What you see on the blog, Insta, Twitter, Facebook isn’t the whole picture. And I think you know that. But that doesn’t mean that the slice I show there isn’t real, authentic me. I struggled with feeling like maybe I was putting on a face that wasn’t genuine. But I’ve learned the balance between sharing pieces that are surely real and still keeping things for myself.

Friendships are a great challenge with great rewards. Similar to leaving my self esteem assessment in junior high, I thought I left friendship challenges there too. But in every stage of life, as we navigate new experiences, we make and break friendships and it is a challenging thing to handle. Why do some friendships fall away? What makes others stick? How can I be for someone the friend they actually need me to be and not just the friend I think they need me to be? I have absolutely no answers other than to say that acknowledging the challenge and the process has been it’s own reward. When you stop expecting it to be easy, but know that the process has a great reward and that not everyone is going to fit as a friend, you are more able to participate in the process.

My capacity for love is greater than I ever could have imagined. I discover this daily with Jeffrey. He has made my heart more open not just to him, but to everyone in my life. I have no intention of being a self-congratulatory mom, but I do know that my love for my son exceeds where I thought my capabilities ended.

No age, whatever the number, is all that scary when you’re happy with your life. The other night, I had a dream where I told someone from my past that, among other things, I am genuinely happy with my life. And I knew that deep down for a long time. But somehow it was time for me to really know it. Live it. Say it. Daily. Joyously. Into the next year with head held high and a world of possibilities in front of me.

Cheers to a great year past and a great one ahead!

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Why? Favorite Fall Fests!

It’s unofficially my FAVORITE season (sorry for being basic). I adore fall and last year, Jeffrey and I fall fested all over the place, so I thought I’d share some of our collective wisdom on the places that are fun, festive, and fritterlicious. Hopefully this gives you some fun options for fall festivities!

Patterson Fruit Farm Fun Fest

Dates: September 17-October 30

Location: Patterson Fruit Farm, 8765 Mulberry Road in Chesterland

What: Hay stacks, tractors, corn maze, wagon ride, and all manner of apple goodness

Pro tip: Go on a weekday if you can. Weekends reach 10+ level of craziness.

Admission: $5 weekdays, $8 weekends for all over 2 years of age

 

Maize Valley Fall Fun

Dates: September 10-October 30

Location: Maize Valley Winery, 6193 Edison Street NE in Hartville

What: Wagon rides, a pumpkin cannon, corn maze, animal train ride, various animal races, plus a winery

Pro tip: Do your winery tasting before heading out to the corn maze for a real challenge!

Admission: $10 for all over 2 years of age

 

Ohio City Street Festival

Date: Sunday, September 25, 11am-7pm

Location: West 25th Street between Lorain Avenue and Bridge Avenue

What: Arts programming, the Ohio City Farm Stand and tours, live music, a Kids Zone, food and merchandise vendors, yoga, giant board games

Pro tip: Go to this. That is all.

Admission: Free

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Hiram House Camp Pumpkin Festival

Date: Sunday, October 9, 10am-5pm

Location: Hiram House Camp, 33775 Hiram Trail in Chagrin Falls

What: Bounce house, hay maze, pony rides, food, crafts, Euclid Beach Rocket Car

Pro tip: You have to park at Orange High School. And the festival is spread over a massive area, so wear your walking shoes.

Admission: $5 for all over 12 years of age

The Great Pumpkin Fest at Halloweekends

Date: Saturday and Sundays through October 30 from 11am-7pm

Location: Cedar Point, 1 Cedar Point Drive in Sandusky

What: Trick or treating in the kids area, fun house, foam pit, Peanuts characters, live shows

Pro tip: This is worth the drive. It lets the kids have one last taste of an amusement park mixed with fall fun.

Admission: Cost varies based on age/height

Those were some of our favorites from last year, but I also have the Mapleside Farms fall festivals on my radar. Which fall festivals are your favorite? No matter where you celebrate, get out and enjoy the lovely weather and pumpkin and apple goodness of the season!

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Why? Pope’s Cocktail Syrups!

You know I love to promote shopping (and eating and drinking) local, especially when one of my talented friends is behind the local product. So, I was so excited to try out the line of Pope’s cocktail syrups.

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Clark is a good friend from Playhouse Square Partners and I’ve always enjoyed his handcrafted food products, from the Bloody Mary Mix to the Burning River Hot Sauce.

Matthew and I experimented with the Mint, Orange Habanero, Lavender Lemon, Grenadine, and Orange Vanilla cocktail syrups. At first, we mainly stuck to the suggested recipes on the labels. I enjoyed the Lavender Lemon gin daisy, with gin, tonic water, Lavender Lemon syrup, and Grenadine. I wanted some more flavor, so I doubled the amounts of Lavender Lemon and Grenadine.

The Adult Creamsicle, with Orange Vanilla syrup, vodka, and soda is deliciously like that favorite ice cream treat! And Matthew really liked the Orange Habanero syrup with bourbon.

We did get a bit creative, t00. I paired a teaspoon of the Lavender Lemon syrup with a teaspoon of honey and a glass of prosecco. Sweet and delicious!

And Matthew tried a new drink with the Lavender Lemon syrup, too. He took 2 ounces of citrus vodka, muddled with rosemary, then added 1 ounce of Lavender Lemon syrup and .5 ounces of lemon juice. You could also top this with tonic water for some fizz.

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I also liked the Orange Habanero syrup mixed with tequila for a spicy and sweet compliment to Mexican food.

Pope’s cocktail syrups are a great addition to our bar. They are locally made with natural ingredients and a great deal of care. You’re not only getting a high quality product, but supporting a great local entrepreneur!

Currently, the Lavender Lemon, Mint, and Grenadine syrups are available online, but look for the other syrups to be available soon. You can also find Pope’s products at the new Legacy Village Merchant’s Market.

From now until October 31, when you use code whycle in the coupon code box at check out, you’ll save 10% on any Pope’s products purchased online. Enjoy their whole line of tasty treats and tell ’em I sent you!

***Disclosure: I was asked to try the line of Pope’s cocktail syrups and received complimentary samples. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

It was a relatively quiet weekend around these parts, which was really nice! It gave us time to enjoy the beautiful weather and recharge our batteries a bit.

Friday evening, Matthew and I attended a gala at John Carroll University to celebrate the close of the Forever Carroll Campaign, a tremendously successful campaign that raised over $104 million for the university.

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Held on campus, the gala took place in a large tent on the main quad, which of course provided a great location for photos!

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The dinner was catered by Aramark and I have to say I was surprised at how spot-on the food was. We enjoyed appetizers ranging from caprese skewers to mini shrimp and grits, dinner of filet and scallops with rosemary risotto, and dessert of chocolate torte and key lime cheesecake.

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We also enjoyed live music from the Tom Fries Orchestra. But beyond the food and music and great company, the gala was a wonderful chance to celebrate what John Carroll means to alumni and what the successful Forever Carroll campaign will mean to the future of the university we love.

On Saturday, I spent the morning getting a little fall makeover at Illusion Unlimited. I’ve gone to the salon forever and love being able to just show my stylist a picture and have my hair turn out exactly like I want. And this was the result:

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It’s a big change but I really love it! As you can tell from the picture, I took myself for a little treat at Lilly Handmade Chocolates afterwards. I love their selection of candies, as well as the great craft beer selection for pairing.

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I got a mixed box of six chocolates. Matthew and I agreed that our favorite was the Red Planet, with red wine and strawberry ganache topped with raspberry powder in dark chocolate. But I also loved the very fall-like Mandy Apple Truffle with apple cider caramel with ginger and cinnamon in milk chocolate. This one is only available through October, so get on it!

On Sunday, we took Jeffrey to a family picnic at his school. It was a great way for families to get to know each other and for the kids to have even more positive associations with the school. There was an ice cream truck on hand, with classic treats to enjoy.

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The weather was perfect for the picnic and we all had a wonderful time!

So, that was our quiet little weekend! How was yours?

***Disclosure: I am the president of the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter and was invited to attend the Forever Carroll Gala because of my involvement with the chapter. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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

Last night, Matthew and I got to relive a bit of our childhood mixed with some adulthood in a room filled with gigantic board games, delicious food, a DJ, and adult beverages. The Children’s Hunger Alliance Come Out to Play fundraiser combined all these things into a relaxed and playful evening at SmArt Space at 78th Street Studios (with some cool and quirky art to enjoy too).

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We kicked off the evening by receiving a game passport and collecting stamps as we played various games scattered around the room. There was Operation…

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…Connect 4, Jenga, cornhole…

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…checkers and Kerplunk!

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We also loved the free play on the pinball machines!

Mixed in between the playing, we nibbled passed appetizers like caprese skewers, mini sliders, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, and cocktail shrimp and enjoyed a mashed potato bar (my second favorite kind of bar), all provided by A Taste of Excellence.

There were also kid-like desserts with a grown-up twist, like hazelnut liquor “dirt cups,” PB&J cookies, and Fruity Pebbles treats.

We bid on auction items, as well as took home a nice bottle of wine from the wine pull, all to benefit Children’s Hunger Alliance.

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Children’s Hunger Alliance helps to provide food, nutrition education, and physical activity programs to the 1 in 4 children across the state who are food insecure. Their local office in Cleveland works directly with Cleveland schools and care programs to impact those who need it most.

The thought of any child waking up not knowing if they’ll have a healthy breakfast that morning just breaks my heart. We are so fortunate to be able to provide for Jeffrey in that way. I feel like we also have an obligation to help out organizations like Children’s Hunger Alliance where we can, too!

The theory behind Come Out to Play was to make you feel like a kid again so that you not only had a fun evening, but could better empathize with children who should worry about if Jenga is going to fall over and not if they’re going to have dinner that night. The event accomplished both goals and was both a fun and impactful evening out!

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

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