Why? SoulConnect Tribe!

A few months ago, I told you about SoulConnect Tribe, helmed by the lovely Katie Kurtz.

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Katie in her element: connecting and eating ice cream

I finally got a chance to attend one of the monthly SoulConnect gatherings, this time held at Mason’s Creamery.

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I can never resist ice cream and when you pair that with a chance to connect with some like-minded, open-hearted ladies, you’ve got yourself a pretty perfect evening.

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I ordered the affogato, because I feel like at Mason’s, while the ice cream can 100% stand on its own, you owe it to yourself to get a churro or an egg waffle or something out of the usual ice cream shop box. So take a scoop of their French Toast ice cream, pour some espresso over it and you have a creamy, dreamy breakfast-like treat.

But, I wasn’t just there for the affogato. Read the paper in the picture above. Or just focus on this: In our Tribe (you already belong.) How amazing is that? There was an instant comfort level among the ladies attending the event. And while we had some questions to help prompt conversation, I found the conversations immediately took deeper turns. There was not a lot of simply small talk. We dove into dreams of new jobs, hopes for the fate of relationships, and more.

And we took selfies…

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Hey, Annie’s Sweet Shop!

It was open, real, honest connection, which can only happen when everyone comes to the table with a mind and heart that can accept and reciprocate that. And I think SoulConnect Tribe can serve a lot of purposes. It can be a way to find new friends. It can be a safe space to voice hopes, fears, and dreams. It can be a break from the grind of every day life, with a chance to do something purely for you. It can be a chance to connect with ladies in similar and entirely different life circumstances and all learn from each other.

As Katie said, it is not a support group, it is a supportive group. And can’t we all use a little more of that?

If this kind of connection sounds like your jam, sign up for the SoulConnect Tribe email newsletter to stay informed of the next gathering. They are held monthly at female-owned businesses in the Cleveland area. And while last night’s was my first meet-up, it most certainly won’t be my last!

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Why? Northeast Ohio Rocks!

Don’t let the title fool you. I don’t mean like “Cleveland Rocks.” I mean actual rocks. Painted adorably and scattered around as an act of goodwill.

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Northeast Ohio Rocks is a community that is homegrown, grass roots, and entirely adorable. We found our first painted rock in Cleveland Public Square back in April. Jeffrey was so excited by the rock painted to look like a crocodile. On the back of the rock was a message to post a picture of the rock on the Facebook group and re-hide it.

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We found our next rock at Legacy Village, this one with the sweet and simple message, “Smile.”

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Jeffrey has since hidden those rocks for others to find. And he loved seeing people post that they found them on the Facebook page!

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We also picked up a couple plain rocks on our adventures and painted them to add to the Northeast Ohio Rocks family.

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The Facebook group has grown to over 176,000 members, with rocks found everywhere from Cleveland to Australia! People take such time and care in painting the rocks and in finding fun places to hide them. And it truly brings such joy to find one.

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There are other rock painting groups, too. For example, Jeffrey found this rock at Cedar Point painted by Erie Rocks.

Keep your eyes peeled for painted rocks and maybe try your hand at adding to those out and about in the community. For inspiration or to see where rocks are found, check out Northeast Ohio Rocks on Facebook and Instagram.

This simple act of kindness and fun that even a three year old can understand is such a cool and unselfish way to spread joy. I love that the gesture can span ages, regions, and abilities to touch everyone.

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Why? Yoga with Goats!

Yoga is getting paired with a lot of things these days: beer, wine, brunch, scenic locations…and goats. For me, yoga used to be outside my comfort zone. But since I started practicing nearly six years ago, practicing yoga has become my comfort zone. So, I love pushing my practice by trying new things paired with my yoga.

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This week, I met up with my brave, up-for-adventure friends Katie and Anne to check out a yoga with goats class put on by Threads of Wellness at Downs on the Farm.

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We practiced an hour-long class, surrounded by a gaggle of goats!

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As we practiced, the goats would come over and hop up on us or snuggle up on the blankets covering our mats (we kept the mats covered because the goats try to munch them.)

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Now, let’s be honest: it’s a bit hard to focus on the practice as goats are frolicking around you. But as we started to move more, the goats found places to settle down and we actually managed to get some yoga in (along with goat selfies.)

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This goat is definitely eating my hair

I think two things that are essential in a yoga practice are the ability to focus through distractions and the ability to let go of yourself and your preconceived notions. Both of these came into play with yoga with goats.

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Yoga is always teaching me things and opening me to new experiences, on my mat (that a goat may be trying to eat.)

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If yoga with goats seems like something you want to try, here are some options:

  • Threads of Wellness puts on regular classes at Downs on the Farm in Amherst, which also double as a fundraiser for the farm.
  • Harmony Studios is hosting a one-time yoga with goats at Todd Field in Willoughby on Saturday, July 29, which doubles as a fundraiser for the Lake County Humane Society.
  • Soza Fitness and Wellness has recurring yoga with goats classes at Feels Like Home Farm in Kirtland, including a kids-friendly Goat Yoga on August 12 and a Goat Yoga and Wine Tasting on September 9.

However you practice, consider expanding the options of where you put your mat and who (or what) might be around it. Maaaa-maste!

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Why? Weekends!

One of the things I love so much about summer is that every weekend feels like a marathon of fun! On Friday evening, Matthew and I met up with my parents, Amanda, and Scott for the Billy Joel concert at Progressive Field.

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Before the show, we had dinner at Mabel’s BBQ, which never fails to deliver amazing meats. I also tried the rye bread stuffing this time, which was moist, flavorful, and delicious. And I can never resist the cracklins!

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The concert was awesome, with so many hits, as well as deep cuts. Billy Joel even played a 5 song encore! One of my favorite moments of the show was when he honored crew member Larry Doby, Jr., whose father Larry Doby played for the Cleveland Indians and was the first African-American to play in the American League.

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Cleveland has quite the amazing line-up of concerts this summer and we’ve been able to enjoy so many great artists at a variety of venues.

On Saturday, we attended our friends Kevin’s and Sarah’s wedding. After the sweet ceremony, we enjoyed even more sweetness with a donut bar! (Seriously, this should be a must for all occasions.)

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The reception was held at Mahall’s with plenty of retro bowling fun, plus the other kind of bar every occasion should have: a taco bar.

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The wedding and reception were relaxed, fun, and so true to Kevin and Sarah. Congrats and best wishes to the happy couple!

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After the reception, I swung by the St. John Vianney church festival with Jeffrey. This is one of our favorite summer festivals. There are a ton of great kids games (most of which are only 25 cents to play!,) plus putt-putt, some rides (not traveling carnival rides,) really good food (funnel cakes,) and the piece de resistance: the Euclid Beach Rocket Car.

It was the perfect end to a lovely summer day!

On Sunday, we met up with Amanda and Scott again, this time for a fun-filled day at Cedar Point. Amanda and Scott are one set of Jeffrey’s godparents and they are so wonderful with him!

From rides to the arcade to ice cream, Jeffrey got to do everything he loved, with people he loves so much!

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I think it’s safe to say that Cedar Point is currently Jeffrey’s favorite spot on earth!

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So that was our weekend! How was yours?

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Why? Smokin’ Q’s BBQ and Beer House!

When I was about six weeks pregnant with Jeffrey, we went on a trip to Texas to visit Matthew’s family. I was so excited for real Texas BBQ. I researched restaurants and had a plan of how to maximize brisket consumption.

Then, we arrived. I got off the plane and the very smell of smoked meat made me sick. And all of Texas smells like smoked meat. It’s like cologne at Abercrombie. I think they pipe it in. So, needless to say, I didn’t get my fill of Texas BBQ on that trip.

Lucky for me, Texas-style BBQ is hot right now on the Cleveland restaurant scene. And since I’m not six weeks pregnant, the smell of smoked meat is A-OK with me.

Last week, I met up with friends for dinner at Smokin’ Q’s BBQ and Beer House.

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Smokin’ Q’s is helmed by Carl Quagliata of Giovanni’s Ristorante. The restaurant offers a great selection of craft beers and a nice cocktail selection too. I chose the “Bad Ass” with OYO vodka, ginger beer, mint, and lime.

Unable to resist brisket or poutine, we shared an order of the poutine topped with beef brisket, house sauce, cheddar curds, and pickles. I loved the smoky flavor of the house sauce and the tenderness of the brisket.

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For my entree, I got the smoked Ohio Amish chicken. You can get your meats served with brioche, slaw, pickles, and house sauce (traditional style) or with tortillas, slaw, salsa, and guacamole (El Jefe style.)

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The chicken was moist and tender and the spicy sauce gave it a great kick.

Smokin’ Q’s also offers tacos and sandwiches, in addition to the traditional BBQ meat platters. I can’t complain about the expansion of the BBQ offerings in Cleveland. The ones I ‘ve tried have been tasty, flavorful, and bring a slice of the southwest to our hometown.

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Why? 750ml Wine Bar!

Is there anything better than a good wine bar? Of course not. Which is why I was so excited that I discovered 750ml Wine Bar in Brecksville. Nestled in a cozy brick building at the corner of Routes 21 and 82, it’s part wine boutique, part wine bar, and all fabulous.

For me, the biggest attraction was the $15 wine flight. For this totally reasonable price, you can select any four red or white wines available by the glass (excluding sparkling.) I loved the chance to try some new wines and enjoy several different varietals in one sitting.

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Red is always my preferred wine, but I couldn’t ignore rose, since it is summer after all!

My friend Deborah and I shared a small bite and a flatbread, which was the perfect amount of food! The pretzel sticks and mustard dipping sauces were really yummy (and if that seems like more of a beer food choice, 750ml has a nice craft beer selection.)

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We also shared the wild mushroom flatbread, which was earthy and flavorful and devoured quickly!

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There are several flatbreads on my “to try” list, especially the brie and pear and the fig and prosciutto. I also definitely want to give the sriracha hummus and the brie in puff pastry (a seasonal special) a try.

750ml also has a wine boutique that takes up about half their space, with a wide variety of wines and craft beer for purchase to enjoy at home, with special events and tastings too.

There are 750ml Wine Bar locations in Akron and Brecksville. The Brecksville location offers happy hour Monday through Friday from 4-6pm with discounted small bites and drinks.

Next time you’re looking for the perfect wine bar that combines a cozy atmosphere with a great wine selection and yummy food, give 750ml Wine Bar a try!

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Why? Western Reserve Historical Society!

Western Reserve Historical Society is celebrating 150 years of preserving Cleveland’s history and making it accessible to the public. The Western Reserve Historical Society encompasses the Euclid Beach Park Grand Carousel, Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum, Costume Collection, Hay-McKinney and Bingham-Hanna Mansions, Kidzbits Family Hands-on Center and the Research Library. 

From the Cleveland History Center to Hale Farm and Village, you can experience the city to the country with Western Reserve Historical Society.

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Jeffrey and I recently visited Hale Farm and Village, where I hadn’t been since grade school! Hale Farm preserves the early-1800’s Hale family farm in the Cuyahoga Valley and brings history to life with period re-enactments and original buildings.

We got to go inside the original settlement house…

…see the blacksmith’s forge…

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…meet artisans like broom-makers,

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wool-dyers,

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and glass-blowers…

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…and see farm animals, which was Jeffrey’s favorite part!

Hale Farm and Village is a great way to step back in time and has something for all ages to enjoy. I’m excited to take Jeffrey back once he can understand even more of the history, too!

From Hale Farm and Village to the Cleveland History Center, which will be opening a special Cleveland Starts Here exhibition in November to celebrate the history of Northeast Ohio as it advanced from a small wilderness settlement to the city we love today, you can learn so much about our region at the Western Reserve Historical Society. Learning about the rich history of our area just makes me love it even more!

To help you immerse yourself in history too, I have an annual household membership to the Western Reserve Historical Society to give away! 

This membership includes free admission to all Western Reserve Historical Society locations for two adults, plus children/grandchildren in the same household for a year, as well as four guest passes for additional guests. You can see a complete list of membership benefits here.
Here’s how to enter: You must complete the online survey to enter. All other entries are optional, but increase your chances of winning.

1.Complete this free, fast online survey to help Western Reserve Historical Society better understand it’s community perception. Click here to take the survey. You must provide your email address to be entered to win this giveaway.

2. Visit Cleveland History Center and Why CLE? on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you visited both.

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

4. Follow @CleStartsHere 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 @CleStartsHere annual membership from @WhyCLE: https://whycle.com/2017/07/11/why-western-reserve-historical-society #giveaway

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

The giveaway will close on Friday, July 21 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day.

***Disclosure: I was asked to help the Western Reserve Historical Society’s survey and offerings. In exchange, I received a complimentary annual household membership for myself and one to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

You guys. This weekend was glorious. We spent every moment possible outside. Please stay, summer.

Friday night, we met up with friends for Farm Fest at the Lake Metroparks Farmpark. We already know that the Farmpark is one of our favorite spots, but Farm Fest adds on to the normal good times with BBQ, live music, barrel train rides, pony rides, and more.

Plus, with free admission, it was the perfect way for our friends, who were Farmpark newbies, to explore all the offerings. I’m always so impressed by how well the Farmpark events are put together. They truly offering something for everyone and are tons of fun!

On Saturday, we decided to make it a family outing to check out the just-opened Margaritaville in the Flats East Bank.

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From the bright decor to the Jimmy Buffet tunes to the beachy cocktails, this place was just perfect for summertime sipping and sitting.

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The food offerings range from some island-inspired dishes like crab cakes and shrimp tacos to Cheeseburgers in Paradise.

I highly recommend the gigantic, very shareable Volcano Nachos.

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We went early (like, senior citizen dinner early), so our wait for a table was only an hour. But by the time we left, it had climbed to closer to three hours. This is a hot spot for summer, so consider enjoying drinks and nibbles at the bar (and I will say the views from the rooftop bar are worth the wait.)

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It’s amazing how alive the Flats East Bank is right now and Margaritaville is a great addition to the neighborhood. Their grand opening party is tomorrow, which is sure to be a beachy blast!

From there, Matthew and I headed to watch the Cleveland Indians take on the Detroit Tigers. We got to see a Tribe win, plus the Rock ‘n Blast fireworks were the perfect cap on a great night!

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Sunday morning, I swung by Legacy Village for the super healthy combination of the North Union Farmers Market and a free Barre3 class on the green. Each Sunday through September, you can catch the Farmers Market plus free athletic classes at Legacy Village. What a great way to start your week!

From there, it was off to a birthday party for one of Jeffrey’s friends (yay for pool parties!)

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Then, I had one more bit of weekend fun planned with taking in a Lake Erie Crushers game. Sunday’s game featured an appearance from the PAW Patrol characters. I can’t express how much Jeffrey loves PAW Patrol and how sweet his face was when he got to meet them!

Beyond the PAW Patrol, Jeffrey enjoyed the inflatables kid area (he went on the Ultimate Warrior Challenge Bounce House twice!)

Plus, we could sit so close to the baseball action that Jeffrey could actually follow what was going on with the game! This was such a great, affordable, family-friendly way to enjoy sports action plus some of Jeffrey’s favorite characters.

What a fantastic summer weekend filled with lots of our favorite things! How was yours?

***Disclosure: I have an ongoing relationship with Legacy Village to promote their events. In exchange, I will receive compensation in the form of Legacy Village gift cards. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Bud & Burgers with Scene!

This coming week, Cleveland will play host to a four-day lunchtime pop-up restaurant featuring Budweiser beer and chef-created burgers: Bud & Burgers, hosted by Cleveland Scene. It’s located in the former Willeyville space in the Flats East Bank, which has been converted into a Budweiser mecca.

Your $4 reservation ticket to Bud & Burgers gets you a gourmet burger, housemade kettle chips, and a beer. Plus, proceeds from Bud & Burgers benefit the Downtown Cleveland Alliance!

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So, what kind of burgers will be available at Bud & Burgers?

Chef Eric Williams will be offering the Empanadas Hamburgesa, with Mod Mex-style seasoned ground beef with melted queso inside sesame seed toasted empanadas topped with chipotle pickles.

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Chef Zack Bruell will be offering the ZB’s Big Shot Burger, an Italian cheese-stuffed burger with pesto mayo, crispy mortadella, and oven-dried tomatoes.

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Chef Demetrios Athenos will be offering the Colorado Lamb Kafta Burger, with Green City Growers living bibb lettuce, heirloom tomato, dank pickled red onion, and goat cheese tzatziki on a brioche bun.

Chef Shawn Monday will be offering the French Flip, with beer-braised short rib, carmelized onion jus, swiss cheese, and roasted garlic aioli.

Chef Mike Mariola will be offering the Mojo Burger, with a beef and andouille sausage patty, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and jalapeno coleslaw.

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There will also be a handcrafted veggie burger available. We got a sneak peek of the burgers yesterday and they are all really delicious and interesting! I honestly couldn’t pick a favorite!

Bud & Burgers happens July 11-14 from 11am-2pm in the Flats East Bank. You can purchase tickets online or email budandburgers@clevescene.com for parties of 6 or more.

You also have until July 12 to enter to Cleveland Scene Bud & Burgers photo contest for a chance to win Indians tickets! Snap a picture of your favorite burger (bonus points if you include a Budweiser beer too) and post it on Instagram or Twitter, tagging @clevelandscene and #budandburgerscle.

We love our burgers and beer in this town and Bud & Burgers will be a great celebration of both!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a media preview of Bud & Burgers with a guest. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Legacy Village Christmas in July Bar Hop!

As we reach the halfway point to the Christmas season, it’s time to celebrate Christmas in July with some of the great restaurants and bars at Legacy Village.

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On Thursday, July 13 from 5-9pm, don your best festive clothing and head to Legacy Village for the Christmas in July Bar Hop. Admission to the Bar Crawl is $10 and proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society. Participants receive a koozie, a photo with Santa, access to Christmas in July menu items and drink specials, and the opportunity to win Legacy Village prizes.

Restaurants participating in the Bar Crawl include Bar Louie, California Pizza Kitchen, The Melting Pot, Granite City Food & Brewery, Stir Crazy, Brio Tuscan Grille, and The Capital Grille.

With a wide selection of restaurants, a fun theme, and a great cause, you won’t want to miss the Christmas in July Bar Crawl at Legacy Village! Registration is limited, so click here to secure your spot today!

***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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