Why? Soul Connect Tribe!

One of my favorite parts of blogging is getting the chance to connect with passionate Clevelanders doing amazing things in our city. Soul Connect Tribe first caught my eye on Instagram, with inspirational quotes and lots of positive messaging. Seriously, this feed is like a warm hug.

From events like alternative girls nights out to a Galentine’s Day celebration, I loved the events I was seeing and I loved the vibe. I had to know more. Well, what’s beautiful about Katie, the founder of Soul Connect Tribe, is that she’s all about connection. Not just posting, but really connecting.

So, she didn’t think I was weird when I said we needed to grab drinks (or she didn’t let on) and when we sat for two hours at Humble Wine Bar the other night, it felt like I was there with an old friend.


So, what is Soul Connect Tribe? It’s a little bit of everything soulful: coaching, Tribe gatherings, collaborative events,  and online community. Katie is a trained soul coach. My first question: what does that mean? Katie explains it herself here, but what really resonated with me was this explanation: she doesn’t get you through something, she gets you to something.

Soul Connect Tribe also puts on Tribe gatherings and collaborative events, from girls’ nights that give you the opportunity to connect with others in the Tribe to the new Sunday Soul Sessions, a walk and talk group coaching experience in the Cleveland Metroparks.

For me, Soul Connect Tribe’s mission is analogous to a lighthouse. It’s a beacon to like-minded ladies who want to connect in a safe space; who want to talk about their hopes and dreams and gain some guidance in finding the path that is right for them; who want to tap in to their inner power and inspiration, but maybe need a little push to find it.

And I can tell you that Katie is all heart, full of genuine caring and compassion, so easy to talk with, and super passionate about what she’s doing with Soul Connect Tribe. So whether it’s one-on-one coaching, a Tribe gathering, or just dipping your toes in the warmth of the social media feeds, you’ll gain so much by connecting with Soul Connect Tribe!


Why? Blogiversary!

Well, hi there! Today marks six years of Why CLE?! How crazy is that?! I say something similar every year, but I honestly can’t believe how the blog (and all the social media platforms that go along with it) has grown and evolved and lasted.

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I am consistently honored and humbled by you, my readers. Thank you for six years of friendship and support, for giving me the space to grow and change here. From the online friends to those who have turned into some of my closest friends, I value our connections.

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I am also so grateful to the organizations who trust me to write about their events and initiatives. Being able to share your good work and partner with amazing Cleveland institutions is always a thrill.

Cleveland has had an incredible year and this has certainly been a uniquely fun one about which to write. Six years ago, I really felt like I was convincing people of Cleveland’s coolness. Now, I get to simply add my voice to the chorus of those singing Cleveland’s praises. But that doesn’t make the singing any less exciting or fun. To see this incredible renaissance, to be a small part of those on the ground floors of Cleveland hype, is so amazing!

As I reflect on this year, I’ve been feeling more and more called to service. I know that Cleveland is rich with service opportunities. But I’m not exactly sure where to start.

For those of you who have been reading for awhile, you know that I like to give something away on my blogiversary. So, this year, I’m giving away my time. And I’m asking you to help me decide where to give it.

Here’s how:

  • Leave a comment on this blog post telling me about an organization in Cleveland with which you volunteer your time. I really want you to also have an investment in wherever this is.
  • I’ll reach out to you and we’ll schedule a time in 2017 to volunteer at that organization (hopefully together if you’re open to that).
  • You have until December 31, 2016 to leave a comment.
  • The volunteer opportunity must be within the Cleveland area.
  • The volunteer opportunity cannot require special skills (e.g., it can’t require the volunteer to be a nurse or other professional occupation).
  • If for some reason, the volunteer opportunity does not fit with my moral compass, then I will politely decline. I totally respect wherever it is you donate your time, but it’s better for you, me, and the organization if I believe in their mission too.
  • If it’s OK with you and the organization, I will blog/tweet/Facebook/Instagram about the volunteering.

I’m hoping to not only raise awareness about places where you can volunteer, but also find a standing volunteer commitment for myself. I’m really excited to make service a recurring theme in year 7 of Why CLE? and I hope you can help me out with that!

Thank you again for all the wonderful years and here’s to more!


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!


Why? A New Look!

It’s here! The new look of Why CLE? is complete! So much thanks to the fabulous Brosteins and their friend David, who moved me over to whycle.com, designed the new graphic from my scattered description of what I wanted, and made the new layout look so pretty.

The whole idea with the new graphic is to show the different parts of my life that are incorporated into Why CLE?, all played out with Cleveland as the backdrop. So you’ll see “me” on the graphic as a wife, a mom, and a friend.


This is exactly what I had in my head and I cannot thank David enough for making it come to life or the wonderful Brosteins for all of their patience and help through the process.

I hope you love the new look and I hope it feels as fun and fresh to you as it does to me.

Happy Saturday!



Why? Ohio Blogging in University Circle!

On Wednesday night, I met up with some of my blogging buddies for a lovely evening in University Circle.



We started with dinner at Provenance Cafe at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Not only is the food delicious (I was craving a good burger and their Ohio Beef Cheeseburger really hit the spot), but you can sit and eat in the gorgeous atrium area. Win, win!

From there, we headed to the Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse special exhibition.



This special exhibition is the first of the Cleveland Museum of Art’s centennial exhibition, as 2016 marks the Museum’s 100th year. This massive and massively popular exhibition features 107 paintings from Monet, Matisse, and other impressionist painters. Our docent could have easily taken 2 hours to show us everything she wanted to highlight!

The special exhibition features a three-panel Water Lilies painting, which has not been displayed in unity since 1978. One of the three panels is part of the Cleveland Museum of Art’s permanent collection, but to see all three together is something truly stunning. This is quite an amazing exhibition and Cleveland is one of two places in the world where it will be seen!

Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse is only on exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art and, subsequently, the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Purchasing your tickets in advance is highly recommended. Tickets are free for Museum members, $18 for adult non-members, $16 for students, and $9 for children ages 6-17. The special exhibition runs through January 5.


The Cleveland Museum of Art will also be kicking off its centennial year in style with a New Year’s Eve Party. The party will feature live music from King Britt, a dessert bar, a champagne toast, and access to the galleries with curator-led tours too. Tickets are $40 for general admission and $150 for the Centennial Package, which gives you access to the Centennial Lounge with a full open bar, hors d’oeuvres, and an additional DJ. This is sure to be one of the hottest parties in town this New Year’s Eve!

From the Museum, we headed out into the non-December weather to enjoy some ice skating at the Rink at Wade Oval, part of Wade Oval Winter.


The Rink at Wade Oval allows skaters to enjoy the twinkly lights of University Circle, sip on hot chocolate, and snuggle by fireplaces. The Rink is open, weather permitting, until March 6. Admission is $2 and skate rental is $3. Many of the University Circle institutions also offer discounts with your skate wristband, so you can make a full day out of it! Click here to find out more.

University Circle is home base to so much of Cleveland’s wonderful cultural scene and it was truly a special holiday treat to spend an evening there!


Hope to see you taking in the Monet or making a pass around the ice sometime this season!

***Disclosure: Ohio Blogging Association members received complimentary tickets to the Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse special exhibition courtesy of the Cleveland Museum of Art and complimentary admission and skate rental to the Rink at Wade Oval courtesy of University Circle, Inc. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***



Why? 5th Blogiversary!

It’s that time of year again. On Sunday, Why CLE? will turn 5 years old! I always appreciate the opportunity to reflect on this blogging journey. When I started Why CLE?, the tone was a bit more defiant I think. As in, “Of course Cleveland is a wonderful place to live. Why don’t you think so?”

Over the last 5 years, it’s become less of a sales pitch for how great Cleveland is. Even out-of-towners are getting it, respecting it, appreciating it. The goal became more of an uncovering of local gems, shining light on even more ways why CLE is the place to be. Writing like this is a lot easier when you’ve already bought into the premise that Cleveland is a great town.


But we’re Clevelanders. We never totally lose the defensive edge, right? The need to prove that we can play in the big leagues. Sometimes I worry that we forget that not being New York or LA or Chicago is part of our charm.

When I started Why CLE?, I also had the idea that there would also be some “negative” posts (think, “Why are you doing this, Cleveland?”). I think those conversations can be productive and necessary. But I found I wasn’t the one to write them. There is plenty of negative on the Internet. Plenty. But in the little corner I’ve created, I want to highlight the good things about Cleveland, the things I love, the things that will always keep me here.

It’s been an amazing 5 years. I’ve gotten to chronicle Cleveland through some wonderful and challenging moments. I’ve shared my family with you, I’ve shared personal struggles and scary moments, and I’ve overshared.

In 2016, look for a refreshed look to the Why CLE? website, as well as a continued attempt to balance between family and adult activities in my posts.

I am, as always, so grateful for your readership, your support, and your shared love for our great city. You make this fun and you’ve made this milestone possible.

As a thank you, I’d like to offer a giveaway that allows you to pick two of your own reasons Why CLE? If you are the randomly-selected winner, you will receive a $25 donation to the local charity of your choice in your name, as well as a $25 gift card to the Cleveland restaurant/destination of your choice (think anything from The Greenhouse Tavern to Playhouse Square).

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

1.Leave a comment here telling me which charity and which restaurant/destination you would choose for your winnings.

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

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

I love Cleveland and want to win the @WhyCLE 5th blogiversary #giveaway! https://whycle.wordpress.com/2015/12/10/why-5th-blogiversary

The giveaway will close on Tuesday, December 15 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!


Why? Whole Hog Butchering with Saucisson!

Monday night was one of those quirky Cleveland experiences that make me so glad to be doing this blogging thing. I got to attend a Whole Hog Butchering class given by Chef Melissa Khoury of Saucisson and sponsored by the American Culinary Federation’s Cleveland Chapter.


Attendees got to see Chef Khoury at work, explaining the various well-known and less well-known cuts of meat. One of the biggest surprises was the small amount of tenderloin that comes off a 150-pound pig. Now you know why pork tenderloin is so pricey!

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Students from Tri-C were able to get up close to see the process, as well as ask questions about everything from butchering to the restaurant business in general. While I’ve always been impressed by Chef Khoury’s culinary talent, listening to her passion for her work and her commitment to buying local and using every part of the animal impressed me even more. When the “lady butchers” of Saucisson butcher a 300-pound hog, they will produce less than a pound of waste! That’s an impressive use of resources!


Saucisson will be opening their own storefront on Fleet Avenue this spring, but for now you can find their delicious products at various farmer’s markets. And while I wasn’t quite brave enough to try the head cheese, I will vouch for the chicharrones being fabulous!

I always love learning more about cool Cleveland businesses, as well as getting a behind-the-scenes culinary take! Thanks for a fun and interesting evening, ACF!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Whole Hog Butchering event with a complimentary ticket. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Sarah @ Cooker Girl (Comment #55), randomly-selected winner of two tickets to the Greater Cleveland Foodbank’s Market at the Foodbank fundraiser. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets online.

Also, you have through today to enter to win a set of Aveda Rare Bloom makeup. Check it out and remember you can tweet daily for additional entries!***

This weekend was the perfect balance. I love when that happens (and it’s so rare)…when I get to do mom things and friends things and blogger things and home things and feel like a lot of different aspects of who I am are fulfilled.

The fun started on Saturday afternoon, when we attended a first birthday party for one of Jeffrey’s friends from Kindermusik. It was held at Lifetime Fitness and had tons of great stuff for the kids to do, including a bounce house! Seriously, what could be more fun than spending your afternoon in a bounce house? Well, seeing how much fun Jeffrey had made it even better!

PicMonkey CollageThe cake was from White Flower Cake Shoppe, so it was not only tasty but completely adorable. Look at the sweet little ladybug smash cake!


I’m so glad Jeffrey is making friends and has such fun playmates and play dates!

On Saturday evening, I met up with my favorite yoga buddy Alicia for a special class at Inner Bliss Yoga Studio. Our friend Ylonda taught a class that combined three different Sanskrit chants, along with a powerful vinyasa flow and Ylonda’s cello playing during savasana.

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Photo Credit: Poise in Parma
Not only did the class provide a great workout, but it also simultaneously refreshed and invigorated my soul. If you practice at Inner Bliss, I can’t recommend Ylonda’s classes highly enough!

Being believers in detox to retox, Alicia and I went to grab dinner after class. We wanted to check out the new Bomba Tacos and Rum, but faced with a nearly two-hour wait, we decided to go back once some of the initial buzz dies down. We ended up at Rocky River Wine Bar and were not at all disappointed with friendly service, great wine, and tasty food.


I enjoyed the duck flatbread, with duck confit, brie, caramelized onions, and cherries. But I even more enjoyed the chance to sit, relax, and catch up with a wonderful friend. What a great night!

On Sunday, I headed to the Ohio Blogging Association meetup at XHIBITION. This Ohio City store is about more than just clothing, it’s about a lifestyle. The store sells everything from men’s clothing to magazines and books to home goods to personal care products.

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We got a tour of the store and got to hear about the brands, buyers, and philosophy that make this unique and fashion-forward store the hot spot that it is. I have to admit that my initial reaction was that the clothing was too edgy for my (and Matthew’s) taste, but upon closer look, I found shirts, sweaters, and jeans from great designers that would make even a conservative dresser happy.

I loved the Baxter of California styling products and snagged some for Matthew. I’ll also be back for some of the Detroit Wick candles, made in repurposed bottles of Grey Goose, Dom Perignon, and more.

Aside from getting to explore the store, we were also treated to tasty brunch nibbles from Jack Flaps. We got to try the spicy and delicious breakfast bahn mi sandwich, the root vegetable hash, and mini waffles with lemon curd, berry compote, crushed Golden Grahams, peanut butter fluff, and bacon pecan crumble as topping options.


Not only was the food tasty and creative, having Jack Flaps there was a reminder of how supportive Ohio City businesses are of each other. That is so great to see and definitely a reason why the neighborhood is thriving!

So, all in all, it was a perfect and perfectly balanced weekend! How was yours?

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend the meetup at XHIBITION with other Ohio Blogging Association members. While in attendance, we received a $50 gift card to shop at XHIBITION, as well as complimentary food from Jack Flaps. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Destination Cleveland!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win two tickets to Our Lady of the Wayside’s Cleveland’s Finest Hors D’Oeuvre Contest? Check it out! Remember, you can tweet daily for additional entries.***

On Monday, I had the opportunity to attend the Destination Cleveland annual meeting.The meeting talked about the progress made in the travel and tourism industry over the last year, as well as plans for the future.

The theme for the meeting and beyond is “Cleveland. It’s go time.”


And it certainly is go time for Cleveland. With the Republican National Convention on it’s way and the national spotlight on us, not just for the RNC, but for the Cavs and the many travel articles touting Cleveland as one of the top spots to visit in 2015, Cleveland is no longer simply poised for greatness. We are launched into it.

The meeting kicked off with a panel discussion featuring David Gilbert, President and CEO of Destination Cleveland; Dan Walsh, CEO of Citymark Capital; City of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson; and Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish.

IMG_2359The focus of the panel was on the impact that the RNC is and will continue to have on Cleveland. Mayor Frank Jackson spoke about the positive attitude that Clevelanders displayed once the convention was announced. “We won,” he said. “We didn’t come in second. We didn’t do a good job. We won.” And that winning is a powerful shot in the arm.

Aside from positive vibes, the RNC will have a major impact on travel, tourism, and infrastructure, not just during the convention, but in the years to come.

This video is a great way to highlight how the city is preparing and the result of the positive energy that Mayor Jackson spoke about.

After the panel discussion came the keynote speaker, Cleveland’s own beloved celebrity chef, Michael Symon.


Chef Symon spoke about falling in love with Cleveland by visiting places like the West Side Market, at the heart of the city’s urban core. And that, even if you live in the suburbs, supporting Cleveland’s urban center is hugely important. He also talked about never doubting that Cleveland would have a resurgence, because he’s never doubted in the people who make up our city.

If you know Chef Symon at all, though, you know it wasn’t all serious talk and there were plenty of jokes and light moments about what Clevelanders consider rush hour, the proper name for the Indians ballpark (“It’s The Jake, dammit”) and more. Ultimately, Chef Symon encouraged everyone there to be passionate advocates for Cleveland. And there is no better example of that than Chef Symon!

David Gilbert throughout the meeting showed us facts proving how powerful we can be as passionate advocates for Cleveland. There has been tremendous growth in the travel and tourism sector, but not only that, there has been a large uptick in the percentage of Clevelanders who would recommend their hometown as a tourist destination.


And getting people into Cleveland works. Visitors have positive impressions of the city, want to come back, and 32% of new residents in a community initially visit that place as a tourist.

So, it’s not just about the RNC or any one event, but a continually growing of travel and tourism, seizing of opportunities, and advocating for our city among our own friends and family. Put more simply: Cleveland. It’s go time.

After the meeting, we got a chance to mingle and enjoy some fine food, drink, and music on the floor of Quicken Loans Arena.

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As I took in the entire scene, I was overwhelmed not just by the positive feelings for Cleveland, but by gratitude to be a part of this community of Cleveland advocates. There were attendees at the Destination Cleveland meeting from all of the Cleveland institutions I love and cherish, including Playhouse Square, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Metroparks, and so many more. To have been asked to attend, to be considered in even a small way a part of this larger conversation about our amazing city, is truly an honor and something I don’t take for granted.


I love you, CLE, and I can’t wait to see what’s next!

***Disclosure: I was invited by Destination Cleveland to attend the annual meeting. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Jim Alesci’s Place!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Kayla (Comment #5), randomly-selected winner of two tickets to the Cleveland Home & Remodeling Expo. Please check your email for details. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets online and save an extra $1 with promo code CLE15HR.***

Sunday afternoon, I attended one of the tastiest, warmest, most fun Ohio Blogging Association meet-ups we’ve ever had. Jim Alesci’s Place showed off their new Solon location in style, with a ton of delicious food and fabulous hospitality. Alesci’s is a family business that has come down through the generations.


In fact, this picture that hangs behind the cheese counter is of Jim Alesci’s dad manning the cheese counter at Alesci’s years ago. This family business embraces it’s heritage and all the traditions that go along with it.


We were greeted with a selection of tasty cheeses, meats, and bruschetta. My favorites were the Drunken Cow and the Taleggio.

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Everything we tasted is available at the market, which has not only high-quality grocery items, but prepared foods, a sandwich bar, beer and wine, and an amazing bakery.

PicMonkey CollageI loved the build-your-own-pizza case, where you can pick up sauce, cheese, dough, and all the toppings to make a delicious pizza at home.

After our tour, it was time to sit down and taste some of the prepared foods available at the market and through Alesci’s catering. Now, we bloggers can eat, so when I tell you that all of us were overwhelmed by the quantity and quality of what we were served, you know it was something really special.

I’ll highlight just a few of my favorites:

The pancetta pasta salad, with caramelized onions, peas, figs, and gorgonzola had some of the lightest, most delicate pasta I’ve ever tasted.


The grilled flatbread. I don’t think I can choose between the pancetta and asiago and the portobello mushroom.


The eggplant parmesan. I thought I didn’t like eggplant. I’ve clearly not been eating the right eggplant.


The mini chicken pot pie: so unexpected for an Italian market, but so spot-on.


The desserts. Cannoli, Napolean, tiramisu, cassata cake…I imagine it’s like trying to pick a favorite child.

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Speaking of children, I brought Jeffrey with me for this foodie extravaganza. He tasted a lot of what we had and the Italian beef and Sicilian white pizza topped his savory favorites. The peas from the pasta salad were also the first peas I’ve successfully gotten him to eat.


But his true favorite was the lemon cookie that Jim Alesci kindly gave him to eat during our tour. As you can see, Jeffrey got my sweet tooth!


By the time Jeffrey was presented with his “Little Wise Guy” bib, we felt like part of the Alesci family! That’s the great thing about our experience on Sunday: not only did we totally enjoy the food, which was made with such care and quality, but we were welcomed into the Alesci family with open arms. Particularly when a business is so hospitable, not just to me, but to my son, it makes me want to go back. It was a fabulous afternoon, not just as a blogger or a customer, but as a mom. And that’s huge for me.

Check out Alesci’s for a delicious lunch and pick up some items to make your own tasty dinner when you get home. I promise you’ll love the food, but you’ll love how you’re treated even more!

Oh, and in Ohio Blogging Association news, we have two upcoming events:

April 15 at Deagan’s, we’ll be having our own small version of one of the Told storytelling events. More info here.

April 26 at XHIBITION, we’ll be brunching on Jack Flaps and hearing about the latest fashions. More info here.

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Ohio Blogging Association meet-up at Jim Alesci’s Place. We received complimentary food and drink, as well as gift cards to Alesci’s and a t-shirt (and Jeffrey got a bib). As always, all opinions are 100% my own (and my interpretation of Jeffrey’s).***