There’s nothing I love more than when a person not only recognizes a problem, but comes up with an innovative solution. That’s exactly what Ashley Weingart did when she launched Perfectly Imperfect Produce.
Ashley’s family has been in the produce business for four generations. Ashley saw that the industry had a lot of food waste due to buyers’ shifts in demand or desire for “perfection” in the product.
Perfectly Imperfect Produce rescues produce that would otherwise go to waste, but is perfectly good for consumption. The items are unique in size, shape, or color, as well as those considered surplus crops.
Not only does Perfectly Imperfect Produce help to reduce food waste, they also help improve access to healthy food. For every box purchased, a donation of produce is made to local food pantries through the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland.
We got to hear about Perfectly Imperfect Produce’s mission, as well as taste some of their delicious produce last night at Prep Kitchen CLE, which is a gorgeous space that is available for rent for meetings, social gatherings, and the like.
Aubrey of That’s What She Eats, who works with Perfectly Imperfect Produce to create recipes with their produce, created some delicious nibbles: sweet potato slices, roasted cauliflower, curry hummus, and butternut squash mac.
We also got to fill our own box of Perfectly Imperfect Produce, with items like apples, pears, ginger root, squash, and mango.
You can get in on your own Perfectly Imperfect Produce box with various options, such as organic, all fruit, and all veggie. You can also pick your size and frequency of delivery. Yes, I said delivery. All this great produce is delivered right to your door! Click here to see your options and order.
Perfectly Imperfect Produce is available in Cleveland and Columbus. Rescue some produce and do something good for you, for the food industry, and for those in need!
***Disclosure: I was invited by Perfectly Imperfect Produce to attend a complimentary influencer event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***
The winery is huge and beautifully decorated, with lots of seating options from at the wine tasting bar to tables to cozy chairs and couches.
I started with a wine flight, which let me sample four different wines. I chose the Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
I really enjoyed all my selections, except for the Pinot Noir (which, admittedly, I don’t have as much experience with in general.)
We decided to share a couple appetizers: the crispy Brussel sprouts with maple aioli, mint, and lemon and the confit chicken wings with soy garlic sauce.
Both were quite tasty! The pizzas coming out of the kitchen all looked amazing, too!
In addition to the food and wine, you can snag yourself some of Michael Angelo’s well-known bakery items, from bread to macarons to paczki. There is also a shop with coffee, candy, and bottles of wine for purchase.
The winery quickly filled up on Friday evening and is clearly deserves it’s new “hot spot” status with food, wine, and atmosphere that are all on point.
Yoga and Oils
Saturday morning, I went to an event that combined something I know really well (yoga) with something I don’t know as well (essential oils.)
Then, Alicia led us through a Slow Flow and Yoga Nidra combination that left us feeling refreshed and intent on the year ahead.
Alicia graciously let me just hang out in my own restorative poses in the back, but I was definitely able to reap the benefits of the relaxation and the chance to set a mantra for 2019.
Mine? “I am at ease.”
Plus, Borrow was just a lovely environment for this event, with lots of beautiful lighting and vintage items all around. I want one of these swings at home, stat!
The Rest of the Weekend
We spent most of the rest of the weekend taking down the Christmas decorations. It was definitely time to do it, but I also just don’t like that job, except when it’s done.
Since we were all working so hard around the house, we needed some sustenance, so I made a winter time favorite: hatch chile and chorizo mac ‘n cheese.
I use this recipe, but add in some loose chorizo that I brown and mix in. When you can get hatch chiles from Heinen’s next summer, grab as many as you can and freeze them. That way you can enjoy these smoky, spicy peppers all year!
We also went to a 10th birthday party for Iain, who Jeffrey calls “my big friend Iain.” Pizza, cake, and lots of chances to play made for a perfect Sunday Funday for these guys!
So that was our weekend. Hope you enjoyed the very not-January-like weather!
2018 was, well, a year. To be completely honest, I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s Eve on a good year and this year was more challenging than most. I’m having a hard time separating the bad from the good, so I’m mostly just ready to welcome a new beginning.
But when I look back on it, there were certainly fun moments in 2018, along with a lot of growth, strengthening of relationships, and deepening of commitments.
In 2018, we ate…
…I yoga-ed and barre-d…
…we got cultured…
…and we got to the Point.
And my kid grew into even more of an extraordinary, funny, smart, inquisitive human.
It’s been a hell of a year and while I’m honestly not sad to see it go, I do hope the lessons, the growth, and the friendships stay with me into 2019.
May the New Year land softly, however you may feel about 2018. XO
Hi there, guys! This is one of my favorite blogging days, when I celebrate the anniversary of Why CLE?
This year, it’s my 8th blogiversary. And I say something like this every year, but I honestly can’t believe I’ve gotten to do this for so long. I am so grateful for those of you who have been reading since the beginning and for those of you who just started reading and for those of you in the in between.
I’ve gotten to explore so much of my favorite town and show it off to strangers!
I’ve deepened my love for Cleveland and it’s amazing people!
I’ve written 1,610 blog posts!
I’ve (sort of) figured out Twitter and Instagram!
I’ve met some of my best friends and just incredibly cool and engaged folks through social media!
I’ve had incredible experiences with this city’s institutions, makers, and organizations doing fantastic work in the community!
I’ve eaten a lot of food!
I’ve gotten to be on TV (bonkers)!
I’ve gotten to be a small part of your Cleveland life and you’ve been a huge part of mine!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for these past 8 years; for growing with me, supporting me, and choosing (because what you read on the Internet is 100% your choice) me. I adore you, I adore this city, and I adore celebrating made-up holidays!
To thank you for 8 great years, I am giving away a $25 gift card to the Cleveland-area restaurant of your choice and a $25 gift card to the Cleveland-area boutique of your choice. There will be two winners: one for the restaurant and one for the boutique.
To enter to win, just leave a comment here letting me know which restaurant or boutique you’d choose.
Ooh, and hop over to Instagram for an additional chance to win!
It was a fun and busy weekend, as I got the chance to show off more of Cleveland to my friend Jen, who was visiting from DC. Here’s what we were up to…
Laurentia Winery and The Pompadour
Jen arrived on Saturday and we decided to have a fabulous evening out and about on the town. On past visits, I’ve taken Jen toward downtown for dinner, so I decided we should head in a different direction and try the wineries instead.
We started at Laurentia Winery, which was packed on a snowy Saturday night. There was live music, a fire in the fireplace, and a lively crowd. We enjoyed the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon for me and the Gewurtzraminer for Jen, along with a charcuterie and cheese board to share.
The wines and food were delicious and the atmosphere was both fun and relaxing. Laurentia has quickly become a must-stop for me anytime I’m in wine country!
From there, we headed to dinner at The Pompadour Bar and Tapas. I seriously cannot get enough of this cozy, delicious spot. For my cocktail, I had the Pompadour Buck, with Knob Creek Bourbon, ginger shrub, ginger beer, and angostura bitters. Bourbon and ginger are a tasty match!
Jen had the Pineapple Upside Down Cake Martini, with cake vodka, Frangelico liquor, pineapple, and grenadine.
Jen and I have always enjoyed tapas restaurants because we get to have such a communal eating experience. So, we shared the chorizo and potato croquetas, with Spanish chorizo, potato, manchego cheese, and lemon garlic aioli…
…the marinated roasted vegetables with goat cheese and balsamic reduction…
…the turkey albondigas (turkey meatballs) with tomatillo mojo sauce, goat cheese, and cilantro…
…and the braised short rib with parsnip puree, ancho chili mojo sauce, and pickled chayote.
When (not if) you go to The Pompadour, you must order the short rib. All our other choices were also flavorful and fantastic! This place is spot-on with taste and presentation!
Even though Alicia has switched from Yoga/Brunch to Soul Flow Sundays, we decided to create a little throwback when we attended her class on Sunday morning, then headed to brunch afterwards.
The Soul Flow Sundays class was a classic Alicia mix of challenging poses (with plenty of modifications to keep beginners and advanced yogis happy), great stretching, and some soul and breath work too. So, an entirely perfect way to start a Sunday!
Alicia teaches her Soul Flow Sunday class every week at 9:30am at Elevated Dance Studio in Independence. Cost to attend is $15. Click here to reserve your spot!
From there, we headed to Burntwood Tavern for brunch. I had the Nashville chicken biscuit, with sweet and spicy chicken, eggs, American cheese, sausage gravy, and crispy potatoes. So good!
After lots of laughs and mimosas, we set about the rest of our days feeling full in body and spirit!
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Jeffrey wanted to show “Aunt Jen” one of his favorite places in Cleveland, so we took her to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Even though the weather was cool, there were still plenty of animals out and active, particularly in Asian Highlands, Wilderness Trek, and the Rosebrough Tiger Passage.
We also popped into The RainForest to warm up a bit after our trek around the outside of the Zoo!
Stay tuned to the Cleveland Zoological Society’s member magazine for my article on animals to see in the winter at the Zoo, but take it from me, there are plenty to see!
Brim Kitchen and Brewery
Since we let Jeffrey pick the location for our Sunday afternoon fun, we also let him pick our dinner spot. He chose Brim Kitchen and Brewery, which made all of us happy!
I had the General Tso Cauliflower, which is an unusual choice for me, but it was so flavorful and delicious! Served with kimchi fried rice, radish, sesame, and carrot, this is one vegan dish I would order again and again!
Matthew had the duck confit cavatelli and Jen had the mac ‘n cheese and both looked to die for, especially on a cold night.
Jen and I shared the apple hand pie, but inhaled it before any pictures could be taken of this fall deliciousness.
So, that was our weekend, aside from one very cute mermaid-themed second birthday party!
I’m reluctantly sending Jen back to DC this morning after a quick stop at Fiona’s Coffee Bar.
And then tomorrow, we’re off to Disney for the rest of the week! Stay tuned on Insta for all the Disney fun and here for all the Cleveland stuff I’ve prepared for you to read while I’m gone!
I make an exception to starting the season early when it comes to holiday brews! Eight Crazy Nights is spicy, not too heavy, and a tasty seasonal pour.
The launch was a lot of fun, with music from the Ohio City Singers and lots of tasty nibbles from Collision Bend’s menu. The bianco pizza and the Collision Bend popcorn, with chicken schmaltz, Mexican pepper mix, lime zest, and pecorino, were my favorite bites of the night!
Eight Crazy Nights is available on tap at the restaurant, as well as in cans in your local store (I’ve already confirmed my local Heinen’s has it!)
***Disclosure: I was invited to attend the launch of Eight Crazy Nights at Collision Bend Brewing Company. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***
Parents Night Out
Part of my job as one of the Room Parents for Jeffrey’s class was to plan Parents Night Out. This evening was a chance for the Pre-K parents to connect with each other outside of the drop-off line and without kids clamoring for attention.
Nighttown was so easy to work with setting up the event and the service was spot on! We had a selection of tasty (and generously-sized) appetizers, including egg rolls, bruschetta, chicken satay, and mushroom tarts.
It was a fun evening of catching up with friends and meeting people outside of school! We even got to hear some of the awesome live music that Nighttown had that evening before we had to get home to relieve babysitters of their duties!
Held at the Children’s Museum of Cleveland, the event brought together chef-inspired takes on favorite kids’ foods and drinks, along with a DJ, silent auction, and wine pull to raise funds for the Children’s Hunger Alliance mission of providing nutritious food to children across Ohio by partnering with local community organizations.
I snagged a nice bottle of sauvignon blanc from the wine pull and Melissa scored a Vitamix from the silent auction!
Plus, it was fun to spend an evening in a place where we often take our kids to play. I’m reminded how lucky we are to be able to provide as we do for Jeffrey and how important it is to help those less able to do so.
***Disclosure: I was asked by Children’s Hunger Alliance to help promote Eat Like a Kid Again. In exchange, I received two complimentary general admission tickets. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***
Put on Your Boogie Shoes
Friday night, Matthew and I transformed ourselves into a classic Cleveland couple for the Charles Bowlus Charities Put on Your Boogie Shoes fundraiser.
This annual event was held this year at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown and featured some delicious food stations (build your own mac ‘n cheese FTW), delightful drinks, and one of our favorite local cover bands: Faction.
Everyone in attendance went all out with their costumes! Some of our favorites included the Scooby Doo group, the Handmaid’s Tale handmaids, and the Chipotle burrito.
***Disclosure: I was asked by Charles Bowlus Charities to help promote Put on Your Boogie Shoes. In exchange, I received two complimentary general admission tickets. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***
We all really enjoy these shows! They introduce children to live theater in a setting that is accessible. Children can talk quietly during the performances, attend pre-show workshops, and the shows are all around one hour long.
We’ve found the performances to be thoughtful, engaging, and fun!
While season tickets are sold out for the 2018-2019 season, you can purchase individual tickets for the remaining shows, which include “The Rainbow Fish,” “Emily Brown and the Thing,” and “Junie B. Jones.”
Grossology and Spooktacular Science
Since Sunday was rainy and cold, we decided to spend time indoors with two of Jeffrey’s godparents: Amanda and Scott (follow their super fun adventures on Tow for the Road!)
The Great Lakes Science Center was hosting their Halloween party, Spooktacular Science, with monster dance parties, glow-in-the-dark slime, and exploding pumpkins.
This weekend still felt like summer to me! So, despite the appearance of pumpkins later on in my post, I’m hanging on to the end of summer…
On Friday morning, while the kids were in school, I went with my friends Mariah and Ashlie to Brewnuts for their Harry Potter-themed donuts that were available this weekend only.
Brewnuts not only makes gigantic, creative donuts, but they come up with lots of fun theme days to sprinkle even more magic on the donuts. I opted for a Sorting Hat donut, whose yellow buttercream filling told me I was a Hufflepuff.
Add in a Butterbeer latte…
and the cute, tiki-themed decor…
and you have the makings of three very happy moms!
On Saturday, I attended Bloggy Conference, a conference for bloggers. Held at Cedar Point’s Hotel Breakers, the location was perfect for soaking in a bit more of summer.
We heard speakers on everything from SEO to brand ambassadorships and had a chance to connect with other bloggers from around the country.
This was my first blog conference, despite how long I’ve been doing this, and I really feel like I came away with some valuable insights into things I can implement with the blog, as well as things that I don’t want to change.
Small City Taphouse
Since we were spending the night in Sandusky, I had dinner at one of my favorite restaurants out that way: Small City Taphouse.
This restaurant boasts 80 beers on tap, which obviously means you have to get a flight because it is impossible to choose just one.
My two favorites from my flight were the Big Bad Baptist from Epic Brewing and the Haunted Hayride Pumpkin Ale from Masthead Brewing.
Small City Taphouse also has a full sushi and Asian cuisine menu. The TNT roll, with tuna and jalapeno was a great choice, as was the spicy egg noodles with beef.
If you find yourself in Sandusky, definitely check out Small City Taphouse!
This event brings together a collection of talented Cleveland chefs, all of whom prepare delicious small plates to be enjoyed while strolling the big tent on the Chagrin Valley Hunt Club grounds.
The weather was cooler and the chefs were thinking cozy, fall flavors. Chef Scott Kuhn and Chef Chris Hodgson of the Driftwood Group prepared seafood chowder and fried burrata, both of which were warm and satisfying.
Speaking of warm and satisfying, the tomato risotto from the Union Club of Cleveland fit that bill too! And the slightly spicy, totally tender pork ropa vieja from Sol was delicious!
The newly-opened Polpetta was on hand with chicken meatballs with Thai peanut sauce over veggie fried rice. Yum!
And Chef Demetrios Athenos’ stuffed dates wrapped in bacon were the perfect bite-sized nibble.
All of this food and fun (and friends)…
benefited Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center, which helps children and adults with disabilities, PTSD, and other physical and emotional challenges, connect with horses and find comfort and growth through these relationships.
The live auction, which included two in-home dinners provided by Driftwood Group, raised over $60,000 for Fieldstone Farm!
What a fabulous, fall-like evening for a wonderful cause!
***Disclosure: I was asked by Fieldstone Farm to help promote Chefs Unbridled. In exchange, I received two complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***