Why? Twilight at the Zoo!

As summer gets into full swing, it’s event season at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The Cleveland Zoological Society puts on several FUNdraising events for the Zoo during the summer months, the biggest of which is Twilight at the Zoo, happening August 3.

This summer marks the 25th year for Twilight at the Zoo, which combines bands, beer, food, and after-hours Zoo admission into one wild party! This year will be my sixth year attending Twilight at the Zoo, so I thought I’d take a look back at all the years of fun so you can have a sense of what you’ll experience at Twilight at the Zoo:

2012

Yup, there are cheesy photo opps with pretend critters, but also the chance to see some of the Zoo’s real critters as you move from stage to stage throughout the Zoo. Remember, Twilight at the Zoo is a great party, but also a fundraiser for the Cleveland Zoological Society to support the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

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2013

Twilight at the Zoo is a 21+ event and there are plenty of libations to enjoy! All levels of tickets include open bar. VIP tickets include additional beer, wine, and cocktail choices.

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2014

Glow necklaces! There are always fun giveaways like necklaces, flashing cups, and the like at Twilight at the Zoo. This is helpful because it is definitely a party-after-dark event!

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2015

Bands! Twilight at the Zoo is a huge outdoor concert, with bands playing simultaneously throughout the Zoo. Musical styles range from rock ‘n roll to swing to country to jazz. We often discover new favorite bands at Twilight at the Zoo…Billy Likes Soda quickly became a favorite and a yearly stop for us now!

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2016

So, there’s lots of walking and dancing at Twilight at the Zoo. While you wouldn’t know it from this happy, early-in-the-night picture, this is the year I ended up taking my shoes off and attempting to walk barefoot to the car before Matthew gave me his shoes. He’s a good one. Point being, wear comfy shoes and come ready to walk and dance it out.

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2017

Twilight at the Zoo is genuinely the party of the summer! We always have such a great time, from enjoying nibbles in VIP, to discovering new bands and old favorites, to partying with friends.

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Tickets are currently on sale for this always sold-out event! General admission tickets are $75 in June and $85 in July and August. Zoo Members can save $5 off general admission tickets in June only. Click here to purchase tickets.

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote Twilight at the Zoo. In exchange, I will receive four complimentary VIP tickets. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Silver Spoon Awards Party!

The Cleveland Magazine Silver Spoon Awards Party to benefit the Arthritis Foundation isn’t just a strolling food and wine event. It is a whole body sensory experience. From the tastes and smells to the sights and sounds, I always leave this party buzzing with Cleveland happiness.

So, let me take you on a little sensory overload tour of last night’s fun…

Matthew and I enter the VIP area and immediately head toward Porco Lounge and Tiki Room. Their set-up whisks us away to an island bar somewhere in the Caribbean…

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…and so do their drinks. Get the Painkiller! We enjoy our drinks while taking in the historic sights at the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum at the Cleveland History Center.

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From the Caribbean to Japan, we can’t pass up the ultra fresh and ultra delicious sushi prepared by Chef Dante Boccuzzi at Ginko.

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The Silver Spoon Awards Party isn’t just a chance to eat great food, but also a chance to rub elbows with Cleveland’s culinary elite! Oh, you can also rub elbows with some blogger friends too!

We head upstairs to the main room and prepare ourselves (loosen our belts) to tackle this gauntlet of gastronomic  glory.

We snag a delicious chicken slider with mango habanero salsa from Deagan’s Kitchen & Bar before heading downfield to enjoy steak from Kosar’s Wood-Fired Grill and see Bernie Kosar himself!

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I almost fumbled my steak as I caught sight of Swensons Drive-In‘s burgers and mini milkshakes! I had two mini shakes, because they’re mini, obviously.

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Next up was the delicious chorizo and roasted corn from Butcher and the Brewer and the comforting smells and tastes of French Onion Pot Roast from Creekside Restaurant & Bar.

We spiced things up with the delicious offerings from Thai Thai (the buzz is well earned) while taking in the beautiful sights and sounds of the Euclid Beach Park Grand Carousel.

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We couldn’t resist diving under the sea with Pier W‘s oyster po boy and Marble Room‘s smoked salmon puff.

I attempted to look dainty as I tore into the ribs from Mabel’s BBQ, but that pepper crust and mustardy sauce made all restraint go away!

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Speaking of making all restraint go away, we definitely did shots of ceviche followed up with shots of Mezcal. We blame Chef Jonathon Sawyer and this The Greenhouse Tavern deliciousness.

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We capped off this feeding frenzy with sweet treats from one of my favorite east side haunts, Luna Bakery and Café. I didn’t dive in to this table set-up face first, but I wanted to.

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Then, it was back downstairs for another visual treat: watching bartenders from Ginko, Porco Lounge and Tiki Room, Salt+, and Cork & Cleaver Social Kitchen compete in a Chopped-style cocktail competition, with ingredients including Woodford Reserve, green tea, rhubarb, and dragon fruit.

We also got to sample their unique creations and vote for our favorite! Matthew and I split our votes between Porco Lounge and Tiki Room and Ginko.

Tired, stuffed, and overwhelmingly impressed yet again by this event and Cleveland’s diverse and vibrant food scene, we waddled back to home to dream of next year’s Silver Spoon Awards Party!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Silver Spoon Awards Party. In exchange, I received two complimentary VIP tickets for myself and 2 general admission tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? The South Side and Hi & Dry!

Last week, I met up with some fabulous lady bloggers for a taste of two fabulous Tremont restaurants: The South Side and Hi & Dry. The South Side was opened in 2003 by Sherman DeLozier with the idea of being a middle ground for Tremont’s restaurants: not too fancy, not too casual. And Chef Natasha Pogrebinsky, who grew up in Parma, does just that with fabulous and fun menu offerings.

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We got a broad taste of The South Side’s menu, including items that will be appearing on the summer menu starting in early May. The gazpacho and seafood shooters and Big Fat Greek Salad (watermelon, cucumber, tomato, onion, feta, and basil), both tasted just like summer should: fresh and delicious!

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The tuna and avocado salad was incredible and had everyone going back for seconds!

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The beets and grapefruit salad was also light, bright, and so good!

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We also got to sample several different kinds of tacos: steak, shrimp, and black bean and kimchee.

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Pair them with a habanero tequila and peach margarita and you’ll want to spend your taco Tuesdays at The South Side!

The South Side also pays homage to Natasha’s Eastern European roots with things like deep-fried pierogi stuffed with mac ‘n cheese and kielbasa kebabs (kielbasa and potato pancakes).

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A bite of these with the chipotle aioli is SO GOOD!

But Chef Natasha didn’t stop there and showed us her skill with fish and pasta, too. The mushroom ravioli with truffle and beet fettucine with goat cheese and dill were both well-prepared and delicious!

The pesto-crusted salmon and tomato-roasted grouper also elevate The South Side’s menu to true gastro pub status. The food is creative and tasty, while still being accessible and not too pretentious.

The South Side strip and St. Louis style ribs will keep the more traditional meat-eaters happy, with just enough of a foodie flair.

Oh, you’re a pizza fan? Try the shrimp primavera pizza!

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And if you’re looking for brunch decadence, look no farther than the Money Ball, a meatball wrapped around a 6-minute egg and baked under a blanket of pie dough, served with buttermilk sausage gravy.

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The South Side truly has something on their menu for everyone! The food, drinks, and staff are easy-going and genuinely wonderful. If this place slipped off your Tremont radar, as it did mine admittedly, make sure you get there soon for all this Cleveland-grown deliciousness!

We then waddled (literally) down the street to Hi & Dry for a sampling of their playful cocktail menu and some duckpin bowling.

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All of Hi & Dry’s cocktails are named after hashtags. I think the #CaseoftheMondays (pictured here) is my favorite! And while Hi & Dry is primarily a bar and arcade destination, there are some fun bar food menu items, including this SPAM sandwich.

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So, whether you’re in search of a great meal, a great drink, or a great time, you can’t go wrong stopping at The South Side or Hi & Dry (or both)! These locally-owned, locally-focused restaurants are true gems in the Tremont neighborhood!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a complimentary tasting at The South Side and Hi & Dry. Much thanks to Tricia of Planes, Trains, and All of Our Meals for organizing this event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

It was a wonderful holiday weekend, filled with family and friends! Here’s what was hopping:

Dyeing Easter Eggs

On Friday, Jeffrey and I had our friends over to dye Easter eggs. We dye eggs every year and I love how Jeffrey has gotten more interested in it as time goes by.

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Check out his masterpieces!

Cleveland Botanical Garden Easter Egg Hunt

Speaking of annual traditions, on Saturday we went to the Cleveland Botanical Garden Easter egg hunt. This is one of our favorite holiday events!

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You ticket includes an Easter egg hunt in the Hershey Children’s Garden, which is filled with tons of candy-filled eggs, as well as fun spring decorations.

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There were also crafts and outdoor games like bean bag toss and giant tic-tac-toe to enjoy. Plus there was a visit from a very special bunny in a very special bunny car!

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You also got admission to the Cleveland Botanical Garden to check out their Spring Blooms event. Spring Blooms replaced Big Spring and has all the bright spring colors and flowers you’ve come to expect, but fewer children’s play elements.

We really enjoyed our morning at the Easter egg hunt! For an event that draws around 1,000 people, it is very well organized and always a lot of fun!

Dante and Justin Timberlake

On Saturday night, I celebrated my dear friend Kimberly‘s birthday with dinner at Dante, followed by the Justin Timberlake concert.

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Our meal at Dante was perfect, from the aptly-named Something Fun cocktail…

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…to the honey-roasted Brussel sprouts with goat cheese and polenta with pork belly (OMG, both were life-changing!)

From there, it was off to an awesome night of music with Justin Timberlake, with a special guest appearance from LeBron James, too!

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What a fun night!

Easter

The rest of our weekend was spent enjoying Easter with our families. On Saturday, I prepared a traditional and locally-sourced Polish Holy Saturday feast, with pierogi from Janka Meat Products and Pierogi, kielbasa from Pinzone Market Fresh Meats, and sauerkraut from Wholesome Valley Farm via Fresh Fork Market.

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On Sunday, we had Easter bunny treats to discover…

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…time with both Matthew’s and my families and lots of smiles and good memories!

It was a great weekend! How was yours?

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Why? Weekends!

Oh my goodness, we could not have crammed more into this weekend if we tried! So, let’s get right to it:

#HamilFlow and Ginko (hey, that rhymes)

Friday night, I watched as one of my favorite people paired two of her favorite things and, boy, was the result magical! Alicia taught a 75-minute yoga class with the music of “Hamilton: An American Musical.” Much like the musical itself, the class was inspiring, fun, and fast-paced. This class sold out fast, so stay tuned because Alicia has promised a sequel!

After class, we headed downstairs to Ginko for what is always the finest sushi in Cleveland.

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Ginko always has the freshest and most inventive sushi offerings. It’s so fun to sit at the bar and watch the chefs create, too!

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Dessert that evening was a chocolate pot de creme, so who can resist that?

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It was a perfect Friday night!

Seussical Jr.

On Saturday afternoon, we headed to St. Francis of Assisi School for their production of “Seussical, Jr.” My friend Melissa was the director of the show and I was so impressed with her work and the talent of the cast!

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Plus, it’s a great musical for kids to enjoy! Jeffrey especially loved seeing his friend Dean (Melissa’s son) in the cast as one of the Whos!

Cleveland Monsters Purple Game

From there, we headed downtown for the Cleveland Monsters Purple Game. The Purple Game focused on raising awareness and funds for the American Cancer Society.

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There were opportunities to donate, to learn about community efforts to help those with cancer, and just generally show your support for those battling cancer.

The game also took place during the Monsters and Cavs ongoing food drive for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank‘s Harvest for Hunger program, so there were lots of ways to do good while taking in the hockey action.

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This was Jeffrey’s first hockey game. From meeting the Monsters Girls and practicing his shot on the concourse to high-fiving the players before the game (check out my Insta for the video), he had a great time.

The Monsters games definitely have a family-friendly atmosphere, with lots happening on the ice in between the action and plenty to cheer about.

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They also have a more family-friendly price-point than some other sports, making it easy to take your whole family (and in our case, some of Jeffrey’s godparents, too). You can check out the Monsters upcoming games and promotions online to get in on the icy fun for yourself!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Cleveland Monsters Purple Game. In exchange, I received complimentary tickets to the game and the opportunity to participate in the pre-game high-five tunnel. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Playhouse Square Partners Brunch Around

Sunday Funday came and I decided to just keep the weekend fun going! I met up with fellow Playhouse Square Partners for a Brunch Around in the Gordon Square Arts District.

We had groups at 4 different restaurants in the area, then all met up for a cocktail together after our brunches. I had brunch at Luxe Kitchen and Lounge. Luxe has a Sunday happy hour from 11am-1pm with half-off bloody marys, mimosas, and bellinis. Talk about a Sunday Funday!

For my brunch, I chose the buttermilk fried chicken thigh, served with country gravy, braised swiss chard, and a biscuit.

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This was savory brunch perfection! It had been way too long since I had been to Luxe. Now, I just need it to be warm enough for their fabulous patio to open!

***Disclosure: I am the co-chair of Playhouse Square Partners. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

So, that was our weekend! Plenty to keep us busy for sure! How was yours?

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

If it can’t be warm in Cleveland, at least the sun can shine, right? Here’s how we spent this bright, chilly weekend.

Breakfast with the Bunny 

On Saturday morning, we hopped right over St. Patrick’s Day celebrations to Easter celebrations!

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Matthew, Jeffrey, and I headed south to the Akron Zoo for their Breakfast with the Bunny. We started with a breakfast buffet and time for Easter crafts, plus time with the fuzzy bunny himself.

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Then the kids went to an Easter egg hunt in a designated area of the Zoo, divided by age. The eggs were plentiful and easy to find, plus the kids got to trade in however many eggs they found for a sweet treat bag.

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After the egg hunt, we could stay for as long as we liked to explore the Zoo, too. Even the animals were getting in on the egg hunt fun!

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It was fun, albeit cold, morning and a nice way to kick off the Easter season!

St. Patrick’s Day Dinner

Of course, we couldn’t completely ignore St. Patrick’s Day! My mom made a delicious corned beef dinner.

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Pair it with a Great Lakes Brewing Co. Conway’s Irish Ale and you have a the perfect St. Patrick’s Day meal!

Death of a Salesman

Saturday evening, Matthew and I went to see our friend Wes, who was playing Bernard in The Brecksville Theatre‘s production of “Death of a Salesman.” It had been awhile since I had attended a community theater performance and I forgot how much I enjoy the intimacy of those shows. I’m always so impressed by the talent we have right in our own backyard, too.

While Death of a Salesman ended its run on Sunday, The Brecksville Theatre has a full season of options, plus there are community theaters all over Cleveland offering great cultural experiences with homegrown talent.

Yoga/Brunch

I kicked off my Sunday at Alicia‘s Yoga/Brunch. I’ve said it before, but Alicia’s balance of meditative mindfulness and challenging asana is really my favorite way to practice. I always feel taken care of in both body and spirit.

After class, we headed to downstairs to Dante Next Door for mimosas and conversation and delicious brunch food. I had the cheddar, bacon, scallion hash (OMG, so good) and the waffle with apples and Kentucky bourbon maple syrup.

I can never choose between sweet and savory at brunch, so I decided not to decide!

Alicia has a ton of upcoming Yoga/Brunch dates, if you want to get your Sunday Funday kicked off the right way. Cost is $15 for a 60-minute class, plus a free mimosa or coffee at brunch. Click here for dates and to register.

So, that was my weekend! How was yours? Did you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

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Why? Yuzu!

Last week, Matthew and I had a chance to try a sample of the creative and flavorful cuisine at Yuzu in Lakewood, thanks to Mouthwater Media. Yuzu is an Izakaya-inspired bar. If you don’t know what Izakaya is (raises hand), it’s a type of informal Japanese pub. So, essentially, Yuzu is a Japanese gastro pub.

Yuzu provides a wide variety of small bites, bowls, and ramen, as well as a creative and fun cocktail menu with a ton of craft beers, as well as cocktails ranging from margaritas to punchbowls.

We started with orders of Yuzu fries and Thai fries. The Yuzu fries had panko, cusabi, and chives and the Thai fries had Dutch peanut aioli, crushed salted peanuts, and green onion.

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Both were delicious, but that peanut sauce on the Thai fries was really something special!

Next up game the yakitori flight, with pork belly, top sirloin, chicken thigh, and vegetables.

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The flavorful meats and delicious sauces made this plate a real treat!

Then came the vegetarian ramen, which was packed with yummy, delicate flavors and lots of vegetables (and that egg!).

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We also got to try four different rice bowls, each more flavorful and incredible than the next: Harmonic (mango, avocado, red pepper, black beans, onion, corn, and cusabi); Little India (chickpea curry with sweet potato); bourbon chicken; and Korean beef.

For a collection of interesting, flavorful dishes in a fun, relaxed atmosphere, check out Yuzu. You’ll be as glad as I am that you figured out what Izakaya is!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a complimentary tasting at Yuzu with a guest. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? All About the Bag!

On Wednesday, Cleveland’s best fashion and fanciest handbags were on display at All About the Bag to benefit the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland.

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There were raffles for gorgeous handbags from Tory Burch, kate spade, Fount, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, and more.

There was also a fabulous fashion show featuring merchants from Beachwood Place and local celebs rocking the runway.

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DJ MIMO kept the tunes pumping to fire up both the crowd and the models. The event was held at Landerhaven and showcased the diversity of that space, with rooms that could accommodate everything from a runway show to a cocktail party with the signature Tito‘s Tote-ini.

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The food was delicious, with tacos, empanadas, fried rice, egg rolls, charcuterie, and a sweet dessert treat from Orlando Baking.

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Kimberly was my lovely, fashionable date and we saw lots of friends in the crowd too. What a perfect ladies night out!

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Of course, all this fun and frivolity was to benefit the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland and every $5 donation puts a bag of food on the table of someone who needs it in our community.

This was my second year attending this fabulous event and it’s confirmed: I am All About the Bag!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland to help promote All About the Bag. In exchange, I received two complimentary tickets for myself and two tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Jump Back Ball!

On Saturday night, we set our phasers to fun as we blasted off to 2018: A Space Odyssey, the 27th annual Jump Back Ball.

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From the amazing décor created by Playhouse Partners at Shop Nights to the many creative costumes that attendees wore, people embraced and celebrated the Space Odyssey theme.

 

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Here come the Men in Black, galaxy defenders

 

VIP attendees enjoyed a delicious sit-down dinner from The Driftwood Group, as well as an exclusive performance by Cleveland’s own Tesla Orchestra.

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General admission attendees could fuel up for an evening of dancing with a buffet dinner, also provided by The Driftwood Group. Oh, and the open bar helped fuel the dancing, too!

And dance we did! Faction kept the crowd moving and grooving on the KeyBank State Theatre stage.

We also had the chance to mingle with some familiar intergalactic visitors!

This year, attendees had the chance to compete in a fun and challenging online scavenger hunt that got our competitive sides showing! For those interested in games of chance, there were casino games, as well as raffles and silent auctions, all to benefit the Playhouse Square Foundation.

By the time we reached the lobby to party late-night style with Billy Likes Soda and munch on eats like tacos, tots, and hot pretzels, everyone agreed that Jump Back Ball 27 was an out-of-this world party!

For us, this was our seventh Jump Back Ball, and my favorite part was being able to blend friends who have been to many JBBs…

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…with friends who were brand new to this party and see everyone have such a blast!

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As co-chair of Playhouse Square Partners, I’m also so proud of and grateful for the hard work of our event co-chairs, Chris and Kate, and the entire Jump Back Ball committee, as well as the Playhouse Square staff and Red Coats who supported the evening and made it one of the best Jump Back Balls we’ve had!

Mark your calendars for the last Saturday in February 2019, because while JBB28 has big shoes to fill, I have no doubt it will!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Playhouse Square to help promote Jump Back Ball. In exchange, I received two complimentary VIP tickets to the event. I am the co-chair of Playhouse Square Partners. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

Phew! It was a super busy weekend in the CLE! Here’s what we were up to:

Cleveland Goes Red Luncheon

On Friday, I donned a sassy red dress and headed to the Cleveland American Heart Association‘s Go Red for Women Luncheon.

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The event kicks off with a fun and educational expo, with health screenings, CPR training, heart-healthy Jeopardy, photo opps, silent auctions, and more.

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I brought my best little buddy and biggest motivator to stay heart healthy with me! He had a great time too!

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After the expo, we headed into the luncheon, which not only featured a tasty, heart-healthy meal, but also speakers sharing their personal heart health stories and doctors sharing information on how to be heart healthy and recognize signs and symptoms of a heart attack, which are very different in women than in men.

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The theme of this year’s luncheon was “Everyone Plays a Role,” which is really true. From donating to the American Heart Association to educating ourselves and others, we all can help to reduce heart disease as the number one killer of women. I know I want my heart to be strong and healthy so that I can enjoy life with Jeffrey!

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

Vodka Vodka

On Friday night, Matthew and I went to Cleveland Scene‘s Vodka Vodka event at Red Space.

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The event included vodka cocktails from Skyy Vodka, Three Olives, Tito’s, and Amsterdam Vodka.

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I really liked the Skyy Pineapple Apple Spritzer and the Tito’s Cosmo, which was made with Cleveland’s own Pope’s Kitchen mixers.

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You could also grab tasty, vodka-soaked treats like strawberries and gummy bears.

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And enjoy truffles made with liquor from The Bom.

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The tunes were pumping with a great DJ and there was a fashion show featuring local boutiques like Whiskey Grade and Tres Sorelle.

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The atmosphere was clubby, energetic, diverse, and fun! I do enjoy a vodka cocktail and when you add in lots of local fun too, you have the makings of a great Friday night.

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Cleveland Scene’s Vodka Vodka. In exchange, I received two complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Hot Mommas at JBB

Playhouse Square Partners Jump Back Ball is right around the corner and this year, we are going with a group of friends who have never been to the event before. So, in order to fully chat dresses and jewelry and all the trimmings of the evening, we had a girls night in.

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We’ve dubbed our group “Hot Mommas at JBB” and you can see why, obviously. I can’t wait to share one of my favorite evenings in town with these fabulous friends!

Yoga/Brunch

I really love that Alicia has increased her Yoga/Brunch offerings at Dante Next Door, because it means I can enjoy this perfect way to kick off Sunday Funday even more often.

My friend Beth and I met up and practiced a strengthening, opening, Alicia-patented wonderful flow. Then we headed downstairs to Dante Next Door for mimosas and brunch. I couldn’t pass up the crab cake Benedict.

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The crab cakes are meaty, the eggs are perfectly cooked, and the Hollandaise adds just the right lemony tang.

The Yoga/Brunch events are a great way to spend a Sunday morning. $15 gets you an hour-long yoga flow, plus a complimentary mimosa or coffee afterwards. You have two more chances in February: the 11th and the 25th. Click here to register.

The rest of Super Bowl Sunday was spent vegging with the Puppy Bowl, Justin Timberlake, and “This is Us.” How was your weekend?

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