Why? Weekends!

As of today, we have two weeks left of Jeffrey’s summer break. Just two weeks! So, we’re going to get in every bit of summer goodness we can. Here’s what we were up to this weekend…

Lake Metroparks Farm Park

On Friday, we met up with friends Lane and Nolan for a play date at the Lake Metroparks Farm Park.

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Jeffrey is so sweet with Nolan! The Farm Park was the perfect way to bridge the age gap between the boys by giving them things to see and do that they could both appreciate.

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Photo Credit: Lane

It was a lovely little summer Friday afternoon!

First Watch

Saturday morning, Mom and I met up for brunch at First Watch. I really love the food at First Watch, plus any place that brings me a pot rather than a cup of coffee is speaking my language!

I ordered the Elevated Egg Sandwich, with bacon, Gruyere, avocado, mayo, and lemon-dressed arugula.

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I loved the freshness of the avocado and lemon paired with the richness of the bacon and Gruyere. So good!

Mom chose the seasonal Elote Mexican Street Corn Hash, with seasoned potatoes, roasted sweet corn, chorizo, Cotija cheese, and chipotle crema.

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Spicy, sweet, and satisfying! First Watch is a great breakfast spot!

Buckeye Beer Engine

Then it was off to our friend Kevin’s 40th birthday party at Buckeye Beer Engine. While Buckeye Beer Engine is known for their craft beer selection, I found myself enjoying their bourbon cocktails, including the bourbon ginger mimosa.

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We also chowed down on their boneless wings (the spicy garlic Parmesan are on point), crab cakes, and pierogi. It was a fun afternoon of good drinks and good food to celebrate a good friend!

Cedar Point

On Sunday, we found ourselves at Cedar Point once again, this time for our annual trip with Amanda and Scott.

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As Jeffrey’s godparents and huge Cedar Point enthusiasts, Amanda and Scott are the perfect folks for a day at the amusement park. They love going on the rides with Jeffrey and I can see their relationship with him deepen each time we go.

 

It was a beautiful day to be up at the park too! We’re squeezing in as many Cedar Point trips as we can before the summer is through!

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So, that was our weekend. How was yours? Are you feeling the back-to-school blues too?

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Why? Weekends!

Other than having a howling good time at Twilight at the Zoo, there was lots of other happenings this weekend. Here’s what we were up to:

AIA Cleveland Sand Festival

For the last four years, Matthew and some of his AECOM colleagues have competed in a sand castle building competition put on by AIA Cleveland. It’s always so cool to see the beach filled with sandcastles built by actual architects!

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This year, the AECOM team created a Harry Potter themed sand sculpture that looked incredible and took home the judges’ award for the fourth year in a row!

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The competition takes place at Edgewater Beach and there are awards from both judges and the public. You can follow along at @CleSandFest to vote for your favorite (cough, AECOM, cough.)

Babes and Babies Who Brunch

On Sunday morning, my friend Maria had Alicia and me over with our kiddos for a lovely brunch!

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Maria and I have been friends since a fateful English class (and living in the same dorm) in our freshman year at John Carroll.

It’s always so great when friendships stand the test of time and evolve to fit where we are in our lives now.

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Jeffrey took this, thus the finger photo bomb

And it’s even more fun to see our kids getting along too!

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I swear Brenna was having fun! We all had a lovely morning!

Blossom Music Festival

Sunday night, we found ourselves back at Blossom Music Center for another Cleveland Orchestra concert.

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This time, we brought Jeffrey and met up with friends who also brought their sons. From the “Under 18s Free” tickets to the Young Audiences guide, the Cleveland Orchestra goes out of its way to make these concerts accessible to all ages.

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Jeffrey enjoyed listening to the orchestra and picnicking outside just as much as we did! I love being able to expose him to culture in a way that is fun and accessible to him!

So, that was our weekend! How was yours?

jenclesig_pur

Why? Bomba the Brave!

I’m on a kick this week with people who use their fame as a springboard for doing something meaningful for the community at large (see here.) Recently, I had the chance to chat with Denise Dufala, a longtime Cleveland reporter and anchor.

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Denise has authored a children’s book called “Bomba the Brave,” which is not only adorable, but also has a great message for children as young as preschool.

When Bomba Zarowski (a Cleveland name if there ever was one and the actual name of Denise’s nephew’s stuffed bunny) goes to school, he discovers he needs glasses and is teased by the other bunnies. But with the help of a kind bunny and Bomba’s own sweet spirit, all the bunnies learn an important lesson about bullying and how to stand up for what’s right.

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Denise told me that the book is inspired by a story that she wrote in first grade, when Mrs. Fish (Matt Fish of Melt’s mom) instructed her students to create their own story. Young Denise wrote a story about a bunny with glasses that evolved into the playful, helpful story book of today. As the daughter of a first grade teacher, I love where her inspiration came from!

Denise said that covering news stories about bullying prompted her to want to make a difference in this area. She wrote “Bomba the Brave” with the help of child psychologists and bullying experts, who made sure that the book’s anti-bullying message was clear and properly directed.

Denise also partnered with Values in Action to make “Bomba the Brave” a reality and spread it’s message of acceptance, friendship, and courage.

As a mom, I worry about Jeffrey facing bullying as he progresses in school and want him to understand both how to respond to bullying and also the impact that being the bully can have on others. “Bomba the Brave” was age-appropriate for Jeffrey and a great way to introduce the concept, while still holding his interest with cute characters and fun songs.

“Bomba the Brave” is currently available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books a Million. This is a great way to teach your kids important lessons about bullying, while also supporting a local notable who is doing her part to better our community.

***Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of “Bomba the Brave.” As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Ohio State Fair Giveaway!

I love summer fairs, so I was embarrassed to admit that I had never made my way down to the biggest one around: the Ohio State Fair.
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On Friday, Jeffrey and I corrected that and spent a packed day at the Fair. There is so much to see and do! Our hosts at the fair took us on a tour of the livestock and agricultural areas of the Ohio State Fair.

Of course, we had to start with the butter cow display, this year made to look like a scene from “A Christmas Story.”

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We started in the Voinovich Livestock Center, where we met with folks from the Ohio Beef Council. From learning about the different cuts of meat to taking a virtual reality tour of a beef farm to seeing the cows there to show, we got a taste of everything beef at the Fair!

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We also visited with the Ohio Soybean Council in the Donahey Ag & Hort Building, where we learned more about the impact of soybeans on Ohio’s economy.

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The virtual reality tours remained a favorite with Jeffrey!

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I typically think of fairs as being about rides, games, and fair food. While there is plenty of that at the Ohio State Fair, there is also the chance to learn more about Ohio’s agricultural community and support the farmers.

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The Taste of Ohio Café boasts delicious food and drink from Ohio’s beef, pork, poultry, sheep, dairy, grape, and craft beer industries. We got to sample the pork tenderloin sandwich and it is nothing short of delicious!

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Of course, there are plenty of games, rides, and traditional deep-fried fair food, too. Jeffrey got his (my) money’s worth and then some out of his ride wristband.

And while he was riding, I was chowing down on some philly tots from Tot Spot.

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Other fair highlights included seeing the Budweiser Clydesdales, feeding the animals at the petting zoo, and just generally experiencing an amazing cross-section of what Ohio is made up of.

The Ohio State Fair runs daily through Sunday, August 5. You can purchase admission tickets and ride wristbands online.

Or you can enter to win four admission tickets good for any day of the fair, as well as some food coupons (including a free funnel cake, because you can’t go to a fair and not get a funnel cake) right here!

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 what part of the Ohio State Fair you’re most excited to see (it better be the butter cow).

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

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

4. Follow @OhioStateFair 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 experience the @OhioStateFair thanks to @WhyCLE #giveaway https://whycle.com/2018/07/30/why-ohio-state-fair-giveaway 

To maximize your opportunity to go, the giveaway will close on Monday, July 30 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was invited by the Ohio State Fair to attend an influencer tour of the agricultural areas of the fair. I received complimentary admission tickets, parking, and food vouchers. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Culture in Cleveland!

Our family has packed a ton of cultural activities into three days! We’ve hit some of the biggest cultural events happening in town right now. So, here’s what we’ve been up to…

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors

The three of us all went to see the incredible Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

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The exhibition includes many of Kusama’s paintings and early work, as well as seven of her immersive Infinity Mirror Rooms.

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There is even a room called Where the Lights in My Heart Go, which is exclusive to the exhibition in Cleveland.

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Your time in each room is limited to 20-30 seconds, as the artist intended, which is just enough time to take it all in and snap a few pictures.

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The final room in the exhibition is the Obliteration Room. Each guest receives a sticker sheet and can add their own personal mark to the room. Jeffrey especially loved this hands-on part of the exhibition!

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Infinity Mirrors is truly an amazing sensory experience! The exhibition is at the Cleveland Museum of Art through September 30. Each Monday of the exhibition, the Museum releases a limited number of tickets at 9am. Click here for more details.

Hamilton: An American Musical

Matthew and I couldn’t wait to see one of the most talked about musicals in history: Hamilton: An American Musical.

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On the advice of pretty much everyone who has seen the show, we both listened to the wordy, complex, fast-paced soundtrack before seeing the performance. It definitely helped to keep us focused and let us absorb more of the sets, staging, and amazing choreography.

Without giving too much away, Hamilton is compelling, funny, heart wrenching, and thought provoking. We enjoyed every moment of the nearly three hour performance and will certainly be talking about it for weeks to come.

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It’s extraordinary that we have a performing arts center like Playhouse Square that could book a six-week run of this celebrated show! Hamilton is here through August 26. Every day, there is a lottery for 37 tickets to the show. You can get more details on how to enter here.

Asian Lantern Festival

We rounded out our cultural trifecta by taking Jeffrey to the Asian Lantern Festival at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

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Even though it was pouring, we still enjoyed the colorful, unique festival, although we got fewer pictures than we would have liked!

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The Asian Lantern Festival features 40 larger-than-life lantern displays, featuring everything from Asian animals to architecture.

 

There are also nightly performances of acrobatics and music, plus the chance to see the zoo creatures after hours.

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The Asian Lantern Festival takes place on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights through August 19. Tickets can be purchased here.

All of these cultural events made me think how lucky we are to live in a city with world-class cultural institutions that can attract world-renowned exhibitions and performances. Plus, so many of these incredible cultural happenings are great for the whole family! If you’re a Hamilton fan, you’ll understand why I say, “Look around, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now…in the greatest city in the world!”

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

It was one of my favorite weekends of the summer: the weekend of our annual backyard BBQ. But that wasn’t the only fun this weekend. Let’s get to it…

Swensons Drive-In

On Friday afternoon, Jeffrey and I found ourselves in need of lunch, so I pulled us into Swensons Drive-In.

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Swensons has a crazy cult following and it’s easy to see why. The service is fast and friendly and the food is cheap and delicious! Jeffrey loved the novelty of having a tray of food hooked onto our car window!

He enjoyed the kid’d hot dog and I dove into a cheeseburger with ketchup, mustard, and pickle.

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It’s fast food that totally lives up to the hype. Oh, and don’t skip the milkshakes!

Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival

On Friday night, I stopped up at the Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival.

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This festival combines the best in Irish food, beer, and music into one fun-filled weekend. There were creative Irish food options like the Irish eggrolls and Reuben raft from Hooley House and the Irish street corn from Gunselman’s Tavern.

I also got to hear a variety of live music at various stages around the Festival, some of which was paired with traditional Irish dancing, too!

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The Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival attracts nationally-known musical acts, which adds to the excitement of the weekend. It was a fun Friday night raising a pint to lots of Irish traditions!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival. In exchange, I received complimentary admission tickets, as well as $10 in food tickets. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Annual Backyard BBQ

When Matthew and I moved into this house just over six years ago, we knew we had a great house and yard for entertaining. So we started a tradition of hosting a summer backyard BBQ, which has evolved from lots of beer drinking by the fire into the wee hours to lots of kids running around.

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It’s always one of our favorite evenings of the summer! My dad mans the grill and makes burgers, hot dogs, and Italian sausage sandwiches. Everyone gets a chance to just relax and have fun. One of the best parts of the evening is how well friends from different places in our lives come together.

People have actually gotten to know each other through coming to this event each year! I was especially excited this year to get to hug my friend Beth, who had completed the Velosano ride that morning!

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A great new addition to the BBQ was the Bunch o Balloons, which are water balloons that fill a bunch at once and self-tie.

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Water fun doesn’t get easier than this! The weather was perfect (despite lots of predictions of rain all week) and we had an amazing summer evening that ended with this kind of silly fun…

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It doesn’t get any better!

Sunday was spent cleaning up from Saturday and making this delicious Portuguese barbecue chicken to pair with my Heinen’s Portuguese wine finds.

How was your weekend?

jenclesig_pur

 

Why? Coastal Taco Bar & Chill!

If you’re looking for the perfect summer spot, with a laid-back vibe and fabulous food, then look no further than Coastal Taco Bar & Chill.

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Located on the East Bank of the Flats, with a fabulous on-the-water patio, Coastal Taco has a beachy, open air aesthetic that transports you to an island bar instantly. The margaritas do a pretty good job of that, too! The Perfect Margaritas is, well, perfect and the pineapple habanero packs a satisfying heat.

Speaking of a nice heat, the salsas at Coastal Taco bring lots of flavor, with just the right amount of heat. My favorite was the pineapple salsa!

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Coastal Taco’s elote bites are also not to be missed! Think of hush puppies, with lots of flavorful corn, queso fresco, and lime.

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There are a ton of tasty tacos and bols to choose from at Coastal Taco. I tried the short rib taco, with crispy onion and candied carrot, and the fried avocado taco, which is vegetarian and gluten free.

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Both were so flavorful! The short rib basically melted in your mouth and the onion straws and candied carrot were delicious, playful touches.

My mom ordered the Burning River chicken taco, with house-made hot sauce, pico, cheese, and ancho ranch.

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So flavorful and delicious! We also both ordered bols too: the crispy shrimp for me and the steak for Mom.

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With Spanish rice, black beans, and lime crema, my bol was both flavorful and filling! You can also build your own bol. Jeffrey loved his kids beef taco, too!

We somehow found room for the apple empanada with cinnamon ice cream, which was the perfect sweet finish to our meal!

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Chef George told us that Coastal Taco is committed to seasonal, sustainable ingredients that keep the tacos tasty and delicious, but also priced in a friendly way (only $4 per taco)! Ultimately, Coastal Taco is focused on a total guest experience of delicious food in a friendly and relaxing atmosphere. Make this your next Taco Tuesday (or any day) destination!

***Disclosure: I was invited to enjoy a complimentary lunch at Coastal Taco with a guest. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

It was a great weekend! So, let’s get right to the recap…

Sandusky Festival of Sail

On Friday, I drove up to Sandusky with one mission: see the World’s Largest Rubber Duck.

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Jeffrey brought his own personal rubber ducks with him to meet Mama Duck, which was so sweet! The duck was at the Sandusky Festival of Sail, so we also got to check out some tall ships while we were there.

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But let’s be honest, the real mission of the trip was to see the duck! And she was adorable!

Barrio

Friday evening, we met up with friends for dinner at the recently-opened Barrio in downtown Willoughby. We ordered the special guacamole with charred watermelon and chevre, which was the perfect summer guac!

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I ordered one of the suggested tacos and then built two of my own. I’m always nervous when I make up my own creations, but these were pretty tasty! I love the mango habanero salsa. Oh, and the short rib. But not together. Make your own creation. See how it goes!

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The Flying Fig

Saturday morning, I went to brunch at my favorite brunch spot in town: The Flying Fig. From the food to the atmosphere, it’s always a win.

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I was having a hard time deciding between sweet and savory (the classic brunch dilemma, right?!), so I went with the loaded breakfast potatoes and cornmeal biscuit with crème fraiche and berries. Perfect carb-a-licious combo!

Partners 1980s Prom Murder Mystery

On Saturday night, Matthew and I attended a totally rad prom that took us back to 1985!

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It was put on by Playhouse Square Partners and we were all involved in the action, getting to play different parts and figuring out whodunnit!

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From the costumes to the décor, it was a great night and so fun to be a part of the Murder Mystery Mayhem! And Matthew got a certificate for correctly figuring out the murderer!

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I also think he deserves an award for his awesome Miami Vice-like threads! We both found our outfits at Goodwill, which had exactly what we needed for a small price tag (my dress was $5)!

Cedar Point

OK, so I think we just live in Sandusky now. We were up there for the second time in a weekend for a trip with friends to Cedar Point.

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We usually stick to our tried-and-true favorites at Cedar Point, but we did discover a new thing to love: Funnel Fries!

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They’re funnel cakes dough, made into fries, and dusted with powder sugar. And you need them in your life. So good! They made a hot, fun day with the kiddos a bit sweeter (we shared with the kids…sort of).

It was a fantastic weekend with food, friends, 1980s fashion, and a big duck! How was your weekend?

jenclesig_pur

 

Why? Weekends!

Could this weekend have been more glorious? It was a perfect summer weekend in Cleveland! Here’s what we were up to…

Everyday Heroes Activity Center

On Friday, Jeffrey and I met up with friends to check out the Everyday Heroes Activity Center at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage.

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Everyday Heroes highlights ways that we can all be everyday heroes, such as kindness and gratitude.

Kids can also dress up like everyday heroes, put on a puppet show, “build a better world” with blocks, and lots more.

This exhibit is a great way for kids to learn how they can be heroes in their everyday lives and show appreciation for the heroes they encounter.

The Everyday Heroes Activity Center is open through Sunday, August 12 and is $10 for everyone 12 and older, $5 for children ages 5-11, and free for children 4 and under. You can purchase tickets online here.

Square 22

On Friday night, my friend Denise and I checked out Square 22 in Strongsville.

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From creative cocktails to an extensive dinner menu, Square 22 had a lot to offer. I started with the rich and delicious chicken paprikash soup.

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While this is definitely not a summery dish, I couldn’t resist the spaetzle, rich broth, and tender chicken.

For my entree, I chose the jumbo sea scallops, served on top of blue crab risotto, with wild mushrooms, asparagus, and capers.

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The scallops were well prepared and I enjoyed all the accompaniments with the dish…for me, you can never can wrong with mushrooms or asparagus! I didn’t get a lot of crab flavor in the risotto, but it was nice and creamy.

After all that, I was pretty stuffed and opted for another drink instead of dessert (this is a real rarity, as you know). Square 22 is pricey, but the food and drinks are nicely done and it’s a good addition to an area that has a lot of casual and chain restaurants.

Cedar Point

Jeffrey, Matthew, and I spent our entire Saturday at Cedar Point with friends, having an absolute blast!

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Jeffrey is tall enough to go on a lot of rides now and he enjoyed checking out the Himalaya and Lake Erie Eagles especially.

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The Sky Karts have become a favorite as well and a great way to check out the whole park!

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From rides to lunch at the in-park Melt Bar and Grilled to playing arcade games, it was a perfect summer day!

Birthday Party

Then, on Sunday, there was more opportunity to soak in the gorgeous weather at a friend’s birthday party at the Orange Leisure Pool.

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With a zero depth wade in and lots of splash elements, along with a water slide and lap pool, this pool has something to keep everyone happy! And we definitely had a fun time!

So, that was our weekend! How did you get out and about to enjoy?

jenclesig_pur

Why? CampRents!

There are many things about being the mom of a boy that I’ve had to learn on the fly: the names of construction vehicles, the different species of bugs, and, most recently, how to camp in our backyard.

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When Jeffrey mentioned that he wanted to sleep in a tent in our backyard on the same week that longtime blog reader Jenny reached out about her local backpacking startup called CampRents, it seemed like the stars were aligning to make a camping adventure a reality.

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Jenny and I discussed what a perfect camping adventure for our family would look like and, from there, she picked out everything we needed to make it a reality. We received a three-person tent, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads, all designed for maximum comfort.

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The tent was easy to assemble and I loved seeing Matthew and Jeffrey working together to get it put together.

And while Jeffrey didn’t want to spend the entire night outside (too many strange noises), we had a great time hanging out in the tent, reading stories, playing word games, and chasing lightning bugs.

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I have to say, the chance to have some quality family time outdoors was fun for all of us! Even the dogs got in on the action!

CampRents made it possible to have a fun backyard camping experience without committing to a bunch of gear that we might not need regularly or be certain is best for us. Whether you’re camping in your backyard, in a nearby park, or in far-flung destinations, CampRents has you covered.

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You provide all the details on your camping adventure and they pack you the perfect bag to suit your needs. Click here to read more on how it works and what’s in a standard CampRents bag (ours was a little more stripped down due to us being in our own backyard.)

Jenny was inspired to start CampRents after a backpacking trip where she spent tons of time and money testing gear for herself. CampRents definitely makes camping or backpacking turnkey, lowering your financial commitment and maximizing your fun!

Check out this local startup company for your next outdoor adventure! You’re sure to have a great time!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote CampRents. In exchange, I received a complimentary CampRents bag with the gear mentioned in the post. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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