Why? Weekends!

It was a busy and fun first weekend of April! On Saturday morning, Matthew and I took Jeffrey to see Sesame Street Live at Playhouse Square. We purchased “Sunny Seats,” which not only provide great seats for the show, but also a Meet-and-Greet beforehand.

Jeffrey got to meet Elmo, Grover, and Telly, with lots of hugs, fist bumps, and dancing (on both sides). Seeing his total excitement over getting to meet the characters was the best part of the day!

Then it was on to the show, which was themed “Make a New Friend.” From classic characters and songs to new ones, the show was bright and engaging and filled some sweet and heartfelt lessons.

 

We all had a great time and from the laughter and dancing from the rest of the audience, we weren’t alone in feeling that way!

Saturday evening, Matthew and I attended the fifth annual Mass and a Meal event put on by the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. This mainstay chapter event combines Mass at Holy Rosary in Little Italy with dinner at Nido Italia for a really nice evening! My favorite part of the event is getting to have dinner with other alums, usually people I didn’t know before, and sharing stories and memories of our time at John Carroll.

The food at Nido Italia is always so good, served family-style for our event. We enjoyed breaded eggplant, salad, bread, lemon chicken, cavatelli, and spumoni. We were stuffed! But we couldn’t be that close to Presti’s Bakery and miss a chance to take home a couple cannoli!

If you’re a John Carroll alumni looking to connect at an alumni event, click here for a list of upcoming happenings in Cleveland and beyond!

On Sunday, we hosted friends for brunch. We’ve found brunch is a great time to get people together, but since we wanted to include kiddos and all, it was easier to make brunch in and be able to linger over our bloody mary or mimosa and talk as long as we wanted.

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I made crab, roasted red pepper, and gruyere strata (recipe here) and baked almond French toast (recipe here). These two recipes made me not have to make the always difficult brunch choice of savory or sweet…just have both!

Beyond good food, the company was wonderful! I especially love seeing Alicia‘s daughter Brenna and Jeffrey playing together!

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Sunday afternoon, Jeffrey had his first race in the Healthy Kids Running Series. The program offers a five-week race series, open to ages from 2 through 8th grade. For Jeffrey’s age division, the kids run a 50-yard dash.

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Jeffrey did a great job! Beyond just the race, there’s pre- and post-race stretching and local businesses that provide healthy snacks.

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It’s such a fun activity and a great way to ease into an organized, group sport. I’m excited for next week’s race!

And to counterbalance the healthiness, we made a stop at Rosati’s Frozen Custard on the way home, which just opened for the season this weekend. The Higbee’s Chocolate Malted was calling my name!

So, that was our weekend! How was yours?

***Disclosure: I am the president of the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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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.

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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!

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Why? Weekends!

I feel like we packed a holiday weekend’s worth of fun into this weekend! On Friday, Jeffrey and I met up with friends at The RainForest at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

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This is always a favorite winter play date location. How can you beat getting to see zoo animals in a temperate 80-degree environment, even in February?! We especially loved watching the new baby orangutan swing and play. He was so active and his parents looked so tired…I guess that sort of feeling really is universal!

Friday evening, I was in the mood for comfort food with a kick, so I whipped up some chorizo and hatch chile mac and cheese. I used this recipe, which doesn’t call for chorizo, but really, isn’t chorizo always a good idea?!

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I paired it with this amazing Straffe Hendrick Belgian Quad, which was recommended to me by the beer guru at my Heinen’s (you can follow him on Insta for craft beer tips here). It was a perfect meal!

On Saturday morning, Jeffrey and Matthew had a dad/son morning with friends at another favorite play date spot: the Great Lakes Science Center. From the Polymer Play Area to Build It!, the guys had a blast!

I so often get to share these experiences with Jeffrey, so I loved that Matthew had the chance for some one on one time with him!

Plus, I can’t be mad at how I spent my morning while they were there: with a yoga class at Harmony Studios, followed by a smoothie from their smoothie bar enjoyed in the gorgeous sunshine.

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Later Saturday afternoon, I attended a baby shower for our friends Lane and Nathan, who are getting ready to welcome a baby boy in April.

Everything at the shower was lovely, from the food to the décor to the favors (little daffodils that held as much promise of spring as this weekend’s weather did). I’m so excited for Lane and Nathan!

Sunday was a day of eating! I met up with Alicia and Amanda for brunch at what has become our go-to brunch spot: The Flying Fig.

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I created my brunch entirely out of side dishes, thus confirming my belief that all restaurants should offer the “Boston Market side dish meal.”

I had the taleggio polenta, the smothered breakfast potatoes (because bacon and cheese should never be optional), and the apple crisp. This was honestly the best polenta I’ve ever had: smooth, creamy, and rich. Everything from the food to the service was spot-on and made for a great brunch with two of my favorite ladies!

Sunday evening, we had dinner plans with my parents at Mama Roberto’s, so I somehow made room for more food! I had the tortelloni special, with red pepper pesto and shrimp. It was delicious!

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And Matthew had the veal Roberto, with artichoke hearts, tomato, basil, and mozzarella.

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Both of us chose really well, and ended up with plenty of leftovers to take home (along with a couple of Mama Roberto’s gigantic and legendary cannoli).

It was a really fun weekend, filled with good times with some of our favorite people! How was yours?

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Why? Weekends, Part 2!

This past Sunday was so packed with fun that it deserves it’s own blog post! We started our day at the first annual Donut Fest in Cleveland!

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Cleveland has joined the ranks of Chicago and New York City in hosting a Donut Fest. Your admission got you a donut from each of twelve vendors (mostly sample-size, thank goodness), plus three coffee samples (kudos to Hartzler Family Dairy for also offering milk as a beverage choice), a chance to vote for your favorite donut, a swag bag, and the chance to ride the wave of an epic sugar high and crash!

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I tend to be a donut traditionalist, so the chocolate crème sticks from Madsen Donuts and Jubliee Donuts were big favorites for me.

We’re all big chocolate lovers, but Matthew, Jeffrey, and I all loved the raspberry donuts from Peace Love and Little Donuts (raspberry coffee cake to be exact) and Holey Toledough (what a great name, too).

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Brewnuts had the cutest table set-up (plus a yummy and not overly sweet Salty Malty donut),

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and Red the Steakhouse and Moxie were clearly having fun.

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The Judges’ Choice winner was Peace Love and Little Donuts and the Crowd Favorite went to Jack Frost Donuts.

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But from the crowd’s general happiness, everyone was a winner at Donut Fest! This event sold out in less than a day, so be sure to stay tuned for info on Donut Fest 2018 and get your tickets early!

In order to balance out all the donuts, I spent my Sunday evening at a yoga event! GroundSwell Collective hosted CLE is my OM, an awesome event that brought together yoga, live music, a mini retreat, food, and local makers at 78th Street Studios for a fabulous collaborative evening.

We started with a soulful and fiery flow led by one of my first and favorite yoga teachers, Ylonda (you can catch her classes regularly at Yoga Strong, as well as GroundSwell).

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After the flow, we settled in with the ladies from Rock Your Bliss for a mini version of their Seven Weeks to Bliss curriculum.

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It was a meaningful, open, and inspirational conversation! After that, we noshed on delicious wraps and cookies from Cleveland Vegan and continued the conversation and fun.

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As good as yoga is for my body and soul, I loved taking the soul nourishment to an even higher level with this kind of combined yoga and bliss crafting event. I’ll definitely be on the look out for more GroundSwell Co. collaborations!

So, that was part 2 of an altogether wonderful weekend! How was yours? Do you agree that donuts are just as good for your soul as yoga retreats?

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Why? Weekends, Part 1!

It was a fantastic and busy weekend in the CLE, so I’m breaking it down into a two-part weekend recap to fully describe all the fun.

On Friday, I attended the Cleveland American Heart Association Go Red for Women luncheon.

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This event featured both a fun and informative expo, as well as a healthy luncheon with inspiring speakers telling their personal heart health stories. At the expo, you could find out your blood pressure and BMI, learn CPR, and find out more about managing stress, all courtesy of University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute.

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You could also compete in Jenga, play Heart Jeopardy for cool prizes like this AHA t-shirt,

enjoy heart-healthy snacks like this beet and chickpea spread from Vitamix (How many samples is too many to take? Asking for a friend),

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and bid on some fabulous silent auction items like vineyard tours, concert tickets, and private shopping parties.

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From the sea of red in the attendees’ clothes to the amazing stories of courage and hope from the speakers to the chance to both donate to the Cleveland AHA and fill out postcards to send to legislators advocating for access to healthier food for all, the event left me all around inspired and invigorated.

There is such power in people (particularly women) coming together to make an impact: in this case to someday eliminate heart disease from it’s spot as the number one cause of death for women. Click here to find out how you can get involved in the Cleveland Goes Red for Women movement!

On Saturday, we went to a Family Fun Day party at Jeffrey’s school. The morning started with a presentation from Jungle Terry.

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The kids got to see turtles, snakes, birds, and the oh-so-adorable chinchilla.

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After the show, the gym was open for tons of running around and burning off energy. Anything that can tire Jeffrey out that much in the winter time is a good thing by me! It was a fun morning and just another example of why we love his school so much!

So, that’s part 1 of the weekend…stay tuned for donuts and yoga and bliss crafting tomorrow!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Cleveland American Heart Association Go Red for Women initiative. In exchange, I received one complimentary ticket to the Go Red for Women Expo and Luncheon. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

We capped off a busy, wonderful holiday season this weekend and rang in 2017! And I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of ready to get back on a normal routine, as fun as the holidays were.

But before normalcy returns, we have one more holiday weekend to talk about. Friday afternoon, I met up with my friend Adrienne who was in town from Colorado. I was able to snag a bit of time with her during her busy visit. And I couldn’t think of a better spot to take her than The Greenhouse Tavern.

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We ordered the always-amazing chicken wing confit (even more amazing when on happy hour for only $9) and I got my favorite rose prosecco that they serve, while Adrienne went for the Greenhouse Ale on happy hour special. The Greenhouse Tavern is such a great representation of Cleveland’s fabulous food scene, plus any chance to show off East 4th Street is also fantastic. It was the perfect spot to catch up!

From there, I made a quick stop by Nadine‘s house for some long overdue in-person catching up, then it was off to a family holiday party. I was the only person attending from my branch of the family tree and I finally felt like a grown-up, sitting around the table drinking, laughing, and getting filled in on everyone’s everything.

Saturday morning, Jeffrey and I headed to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo for their Noon Year’s Eve Party. I was even more excited to be there when I found out that it was kicking off the Cleveland Metroparks centennial year. I can’t wait to see all the things the Emerald Necklace has in store to celebrate!

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The weather was chilly but manageable and it was nice to be able to take a spin around the outdoor parts of the zoo. The tigers were particularly active and I caught this amazing picture of Jeffrey with one of the beautiful cats.

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I’ve said it before, but the Rosebrough Tiger Passage is truly extraordinary! And during the New Year’s countdown, the zoo’s director, Dr. Chris Kuhar, teased that there will be another new cat exhibit coming in 2017!

Back to the Noon Year’s Eve festivities, the kids could make party hats and share their re”zoo”lutions (ways to help animals and the planet in the next year), have a dance party, and participate in a noon countdown with tons of confetti and fun.

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It was a really great way to involve Jeffrey in celebrating the new year, since keeping him up until midnight would be nothing short of craziness!

As for Matthew and I, after a quick stop with Jeffrey at a friend’s house for a New Year’s party, we spent the evening at home with a fancy dessert (prepared by Matthew), some prosecco, and “The Secret Life of Pets” (a must-watch, for real).

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It was a low-key New Year’s Eve (we made it to midnight, though!) and frankly a wonderful way to bring in 2017!

On Sunday, we went over to my parents’ house for dinner. Typically, my mom makes the traditional Eastern European pork, dumplings, and sauerkraut. But this year, she spun the tradition and made a standing pork roast with apple pecan stuffing and mashed potatoes.

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It was incredibly delicious and I think everyone, even my grandpa, liked this new take on the traditional New Year’s meal.

So, that was our weekend! I have to say, I’m feeling pretty good about the way we sent out 2016 and welcomed 2017. How was yours?

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Why? #HolidaysWithHeinens!

Last night, I kicked off the holiday season at Heinen’s in Brecksville. And while it’s a bit early for holiday cheer and carols, listening to Bing Crosby while sipping wine felt like just the warm hug I needed.

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Have yourself a merry little Pinot. Let your Prosecco be light.
The evening’s event brought together bloggers and other social media folk for some nibbles, fellowship, and some good work, too. Heinen’s tasked us each with creating a basket to be auctioned to support Achievement Centers for Children. But rather than simply making a basket, there was a challenge element too.

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Each of us received a Heinen’s gift card of various denominations and had 15 minutes to go through the store and create a basket coming in under our gift card amount. I had a $15 gift card, so it was a real challenge, but I came in at $14.95 (hooray for using my iPhone calculator while shopping) and think I created a pretty nice basket, too.

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I decided to construct a “take care of yourself at the holidays” basket, with hot tea, sparkling cider, lip balm, a scented candle, a candy bar, and cake mix. Heinen’s offers such a great selection of grocery essentials, as well as specialty items, treats, and tons of organic and non-GMO options. My fellow attendees made baskets themed on baking, breakfast, baseball, and chocolate and each one was packed with awesome choices!

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Not only were we able to get creative and explore Heinen’s selection of merchandise, all of these baskets will benefit Achievement Centers for Children! Cheers to that!

As I mentioned, we also got to enjoy some nibbles, including cheese, grilled vegetables, BBQ meatballs, and to-die-for sweets.

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Heinen’s prepared foods are second-to-none (I legit had some of their chicken pot pie for lunch yesterday too). And the cheese selection…Heinen’s employs a cheesemonger who discovers the tastiest cheeses, including ones air-shipped from Italy and France for ultimate cheesy goodness.

Heinen’s outshines other grocery stores in selection, quality, and service (the folks at my Heinen’s all know us by name), but they also give back to the community, such as through the baskets we made last night, their Teaming up for Education program, and other initiatives. For your holiday baking, cooking, and entertaining, you can’t do better than celebrating your #HolidaysWithHeinens!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Heinen’s Holiday Event, where we were provided with food and beverage, as well as a gift bag to take home. As always, all opinions (and slightly irrational love for a grocery store) are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

Aside from all the fun with Cocktail Week Cleveland, there were lots of other good times this weekend. On Saturday morning, Alicia and I met up for a “mom date.” I let the momma-to-be decide what we did, so she picked a yoga class at GroundSwell Collective, followed by brunch in Gordon Square.

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It was a chilly morning, but Mike’s flow got us warmed up very quickly. GroundSwell boasts beautiful views of Cleveland, as well as yoga classes that good for both the body and the soul.

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I’ve enjoyed watching GroundSwell’s development on Cleveland Hustles and I can’t wait to see what’s next for them. The classes are moving indoors to a temporary location after this week, but you can stay up to date on the schedule and all the happenings on GroundSwell’s website.

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Then we were off to brunch. Through happenstance, we ended up at Latitude 41n, which ended up being the perfect spot to sit and catch up. My brunch was pure fall: an apple cider mimosa (with a cinnamon sugar rim) and apple cinnamon pancakes.

And Alicia had the egg plate with turkey sausage and grits, which looked like a whole lot of traditional breakfast goodness.

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It was a perfect morning to spend some time doing favorite things with a favorite friend!

On Sunday, we met up with Amanda and Scott to go to the Great Pumpkin Fest at Cedar Point.

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I loved this event with Jeffrey last year, but it’s even better now that he’s older and can participate more.

He went trick-or-treating through Kiddie Kingdom, rode some of his favorite rides, visited the Magical House at Boo Hill, went through a corn maze, and even got to see a parade with favorite characters like Snoopy, Linus, and Sally.

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It was such a fun day and a great way to start to get into the Halloween spirit!

How was your weekend? Can you believe it’s October?!

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Why? YP Events!

Over the last two days, I’ve had a chance to attend two great young professionals events that just reinforce what an active and engaged YP community we have in Cleveland!

On Wednesday night, I attended the Playhouse Square Partners BBQ With a View. Held on the roof of the Playhouse Square parking deck, this event offered great BBQ food, beautiful lake and city views (complete with some fly-bys from the Air Show), and the chance to find out more about the Playhouse Square Partners organization and committees.

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We also had some tasty libations from Pope’s Kitchen (Clark is a Partners member!) and Mancan Wine in a Can (a Cleveland company with a legit wine product).

And there was the reveal of the theme for Jump Back Ball, happening February 25, 2017. This year’s theme is Roaring Back to the 20’s, with plenty of glitz, glam, gangsters, and Gatsbys.

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Tickets for this fabulous party go on sale on October 24 and are sure to sell out fast!

If you missed the BBQ or if you were there and can’t wait for the next chance to hang out with some cool Playhouse Square Partners like myself, here are a few upcoming events that are open to all:

I hope to see you at a Partners event soon! Not only do we have a great time, but we do great work benefiting the Playhouse Square Foundation!

And last night, I attended a scavenger hunt through the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo with the Cleveland Zoological Society’s Ambassadors’ Circle. Joined by Alicia, Amanda, and Scott, the “Flaming-GALS” team scavenged through the Zoo, answering questions and posing for fun photo opps.

What was so cool about the scavenger hunt was that it made you find places in the Zoo that you might not always stop to see and, in the process, you learned more about the animals and the place they call home in Cleveland.

Plus, seeing the giraffes come in for the night with the sunset behind them was pretty sweet, too!

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This was the first scavenger hunt put on by the Ambassadors’ Circle, but I hope it won’t be the last. From creative team names like “Tequila Mockingbird” and “The ScAvengers” to interesting questions to silly photos (oh, and appetizers and beer and wine and great raffle prizes), this event was a winner!

The Cleveland Zoological Society’s Ambassadors’ Circle has some upcoming events exclusively for members of Ambassadors’ Circle:

  • YP Meeting on Thursday, October 6
  • Volunteer opportunities for Boo at the Zoo on October 20-22 and 27-29
  • Zoo History Tour on Wednesday, November 9
  • ZooKeepers’ Circle Reception on Wednesday, November 16

Whether you’re passionate about the arts, animals, meeting new people, or benefitting great Cleveland institutions (or all of the above), Partners and Ambassadors’ Circle offer two great ways to get involved and, I can say with authority, have a lot of fun, too!

***Disclosure: I am the vice co-chair of Playhouse Square Partners. And I was invited to attend the Ambassador’s Circle scavenger hunt with complimentary admission for me and a guest. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

There was so much going on around town this weekend! We were busy bees, going here and there and everywhere. Friday evening, I met up with my lovely sister-in-law Elizabeth for dinner and drinks. I happened to hear about a winery down in Wadsworth and she lives down there, so this seemed like a perfect way to discover Filia Cellars.

We started with a wine tasting, catered to our individual preferences (dry for me, sweet for Elizabeth). My favorites were the Hannah, a blend of Petit Sirah, Syrah, and Grenache, and the Isabella, a blend of Cab and Cab Franc.

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Not only were the wines tasty, but the atmosphere at Filia was great! The winery has taken over an old house and filled it with cozy and adorable decor, plus utilized the backyard as a patio with live music and a local food truck.

Filia also allows you to bring in your own food, so we picked up take-out from The Galaxy Restaurant. I had the Toscano pasta, with shrimp, langostinos, and cherry tomatoes, served over cheese-filled pasta.

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This paired really well with my wine choices! It was a lovely evening, discovering a great winery, as well as having some wonderful girl time to catch up.

On Saturday morning, we took Jeffrey to the Mentor CityFest for the parade. He had fun seeing all the trucks and bands and whatnot, but he also loved getting lots of candy! he tried his first sucker and I think he might be hooked!

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I think he was mad the band didn’t hand out suckers 

That afternoon, we headed over to the Cleveland Garlic Festival for some fragrant fun. My first stop was the Cafe Avalaun stand for garlic fries. These were SO tasty! And I love all the high-quality, all-natural ingredients they use there.

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We headed to the Mighty Locavores area next to let Jeffrey run around and have fun with push tractors, hay bales, and lots more fun.

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Then it was time to eat! We got our dinner from Zest Cleveland, where Matthew enjoyed the Zest Melt (pulled pork, slab bacon, egg, cajun potato, and smoked mozzarella) and I had the Gumbo Ya-Ya. Both were delicious! Of course we couldn’t pass up Mitchell’s ice cream for dessert and a stop at the craft beer tent for some garlic beer from The Brew Kettle.

And we couldn’t leave without some garlic to use in our home culinary adventures. We picked up a variety pack from Thaxton’s Organic Garlic, with a handy cheat sheet as to the varieties and their flavors. Plus, the folks from Thaxton’s are so great!

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The Cleveland Garlic Festival is a fundraiser for North Union Farmers Market, but it’s also just a really fun summer festival!

Sunday, it was time for Alicia‘s flamingo-themed baby shower! From the decor to the favors to the delicious and adorable cake from Michael Angelo’s Bakery, everything was just perfect to help get ready for the new arrival.

Plus, Kimberly came up with the brilliant idea to find flamingo outfits to wear for the shower! I can’t wait to wear this fun dress again!

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I’m so excited for my dear friend and her growing family! And from all the fun at the shower, I know that feeling is shared by many!

So, that was our weekend! How was yours?

***Disclosure: I was asked by North Union Farmers Market to help promote the Cleveland Garlic Festival. In exchange, I received two complimentary weekend passes to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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