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
We boarded the wagon and wound our way through a not-too-scary forest filled with fun decorations and enthusiastic actors.
Once we departed the wagon, we could choose from the scary or not-scary path for some Halloween festival fun. We chose the not-scary path and enjoyed playground equipment, tasty food vendors like Corbo’s, and a glow-stick dance party.
The Haunted Hayrides sell out quickly every year, so stay tuned next year for information on ticket sales!
…pick a pumpkin to decorate and play fun Halloween-themed games.
Plus, there was cider and donuts from Patterson Fruit Farm…a fall classic! We always enjoy these school parties that let the kids (and parents) connect outside of glass and have a great time!
Dinner at Red and Eagles Concert
Saturday evening, my dad and I had tickets to see the Eagles at Quicken Loans Arena (thanks, Mom!) We started our evening with dinner at Red, the Steakhouse. Dad and I made our own surf and turf with a pound of king crab legs and a 22-ounce bone-in ribeye.
Both were perfection! We also shared the stuffed hot peppers for an appetizer and the classic creme brulee for dessert. What a great meal!
Then it was off to the concert. This was honestly one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Vince Gill and Deacon Frey (Glenn Frey’s son) did an incredible job filling Glenn Frey’s shoes.
The hometown crowd loved all the Joe Walsh numbers, of course. The Eagles played two and a half hours of solid music and sounded incredible!
But for me, the best part of the evening was the chance to connect with my dad. We share an appreciation for classic rock (and a good steak), but we don’t often get the chance to do things just the two of us. So the evening was really special and not just because the concert was so great!
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…
On Friday afternoon, Jeffrey and I found ourselves in need of lunch, so I pulled us into Swensons Drive-In.
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.
It’s fast food that totally lives up to the hype. Oh, and don’t skip the milkshakes!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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…
…the lobster and potato pierogi from Strip Steakhouse (pictured above), the s’mores dessert from BRIM Kitchen and Brewery which paired perfectly with their stout (I live way too close to this yumminess)…
…the spicy jambalaya made with our favorite Pope’s Kitchen Bloody Mary mix…
…and my favorite of the evening: a mini waffle cone stuffed with mac ‘n cheese and fried chicken with Sriracha honey drizzle from University Hospitals.
What a tasty evening! We also scored a big win at the silent auction: a Goodyear racing tire autographed by Dale Ernhardt, Jr. for a Father’s Day present for my dad (obvi, dad’s not a big blog reader).
What better gift for a racing fan who owns a tire business?! Plus, it was a donation to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank!
Market at the Food Bank is always an impressive evening that not only raises money, but puts attendees in touch with where their donations are going. Cheers to another successful year!
***Disclosure: I was asked by the Greater Cleveland Food Bank to help promote Market at the Food Bank. In exchange, I received two general admission tickets for myself and two general admission tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***
I love how bright, open, and engaging the new Museum is! And I’m not the only one…the Museum was packed on Friday! From building cars to making crafts to caring for cats…
…Jeffrey had a great time and burned off a lot of that stuck-inside winter energy.
After the Museum, we headed for lunch at a spot that makes both kids and adults happy: Mama Santa’s in Little Italy.
Pro tip: if you’re at any of the museums with your kiddos and heading there, give them a call and they’ll have your pizza ready to eat when you arrive!
New Year, New Beauty at The Beauty Room
Saturday afternoon, I popped into The Beauty Room for a blowout and some bubbles at their New Year, New Beauty open house.
Aside from getting a killer blowout, there was a photo booth, snacks, skincare consultations, and lots of fun gifts and prizes. It was a great event to thank current clients and introduce new people to this fabulous finishing salon.
The event combined an hour-long pilates class with the chance to play with some adorable, adoptable pups from the Parma Animal Shelter.
You could also sign an anti-puppy mill petition, purchase dog treats and clothes, and make donations to the Shelter. If you’re interested in getting fit with the fuzzes, Soza Fitness and Wellness is hosting another Puppies and Pilates class on Sunday, March 4. Cost to attend is $17.
Welcome to the time of year where every weekend is so packed with fun and festivities that they might burst. So, let’s get right to it!
Pajamas and Popcorn
On Friday night, Jeffrey’s school hosted Pajamas and Popcorn, a family movie night with pizza, popcorn, kids in PJs, and cookies.
The movie was “Horton Hears a Who,” so there were also cute Dr. Seuss photo opps. It was a really cute idea and a fun way to ease Jeffrey into the movie theater experience.
The Capital Grille
On Saturday night, we met up with my parents to celebrate my Dad’s birthday with dinner at The Capital Grille.
I started with the Blackberry Bourbon Sidecar, because apparently I like cocktails with bourbon now. I’m clearly growing as a person. Matthew and I also shared the lightly-breaded calamari with cherry peppers that give it a nice kick.
For my entrée, I decided to be the only non-red meat eater at the table because I just couldn’t resist the evening’s fish special: grilled swordfish topped with crab gratin.
Paired with a nice Sauvignon Blanc, this meal had lots of delicate flavors that were executed perfectly. Swordfish is one of my favorite fish and when you top it with crab…wow! My dad ordered the lamb chops, which received rave reviews!
For dessert, Matthew ordered the warm double chocolate cake with port-wine cherries and I had the apple crostada.
Each was the perfect compliment to our meal. We have never been less than totally impressed with the food and the service at The Capital Grille. And during the holiday season (until December 30), The Capital Grille will also be open for lunch from 12-3pm.
Breakfast with Santa
Sunday morning, we attended the John Carroll Alumni Breakfast with Santa. The event includes a Mass, a toy collection for Bellefaire JCB, breakfast, and of course a visit with Santa!
My favorite part of this event has been how my friends and I have used it as a chance to gather with our kids. I spent the morning with people I’ve known for 18 years (whoa) and got to see our kids forming friendships with each other too. It’s really special, especially being up on campus with our future Carroll students!
If you’re a John Carroll alum, you have another chance to celebrate the season on campus at the annual Christmas Reception this Wednesday, December 6. It’s truly one of my favorite events of the year, so don’t miss it!
It was a weekend filled with homey holiday parties, which are always a favorite way to celebrate the season!
But first, on Friday morning, we had a holiday sing-along at Jeffrey’s school. I wasn’t sure how getting a class filled with 2 and 3 year olds to sing anything together would work, but I was excited to see the sure-to-be-adorable result.
The kids danced and jingle belled along with some cute snowman, angel, and dreidel songs. The music teacher did a wonderful job not only showcasing what the kids had learned, but making the parents feel a part of the event. It was Jeffrey’s first assembly and I can’t wait to be in the audience cheering for him for years to come!
On Friday evening, we had one of my favorite holiday traditions: “TWC Christmas.” It’s such a great chance for friends to get together, eat lots of food, drink some bubbly, exchange crazy White Elephant gifts, and generally celebrate the holiday together.
This year, we had a very special addition to the party in one Baby Brenna. So add in baby snuggles to the party and everyone had a perfect time!
We enjoyed pizza from Pizzeria Cerino, plus homemade contributions like cranberry Boursin dip, bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, and meatballs. I’m always so grateful to have time with friends to just relax during this busy time of year!
On Saturday, there was much more food to be eaten, as my mom had Matthew, his dad, and me over for a fabulous holiday feast. From blue crab tomato bisque…
everything was delicious! My mom always outdoes herself with hosting!
Plus, while we were over at their house, my dad had the chance to take Jeffrey to see a spot-on replica of Mater (from “Cars”) that lives near them. Jeffrey was so excited to see a life-sized version of one of his favorite characters!
On Sunday, I hosted a Mary Kay party with a few of my lovely gal pals. I’m always apprehensive about hosting something like this because I like to just have friends over without them feeling pressure to buy something or do something.
But despite my apprehension, we had a great time, fueled by cranberry martinis, Buffalo chicken dip, Kahlua cake, and lots of laughter. And I actually ended up purchasing some eye shadow and serum, too.
So, that was our weekend! And now I’m feeling that last-minute Christmas crunch, so I’ll be hitting the shops today for sure. How was your weekend?
It was a long, family-and-turkey filled weekend, so let’s get right into it! We had two Thanksgiving dinners: one on Wednesday night and one on Thursday. On Wednesday, we went to Matthew’s sister’s house. Our contributions to the dinner were a butternut squash side dish (recipe here) and this adorable turkey cake from Michael Angelo’s Bakery.
The cake was as tasty as it was cute and all the kids (big and small) loved it!
On Thursday, we had my family over for Thanksgiving. Since I graduated from law school, I’ve been preparing our Thanksgiving dinner and I really love doing it! From my great grandmother’s pumpkin pie recipe to Eastern European favorites like dumplings and sauerkraut, the table is filled with traditional foods.
This year, I took advice that I received at Pier W’s Tour of Italy wine dinner and served Prosecco with both dinner and dessert. It was a crowd-pleaser and paired well with all the foods!
Friday was spent picking out our Christmas tree…
…and starting to decorate the house, too. Jeffrey has his own small tree in his room, which he really loves!
Then it was off to Public Square for the lighting of the giant Christmas tree, as well as all the other trees and displays around the Square.
The new Public Square has quickly become a favorite gathering place and it’s so nice to see the lights and ice rink back there this year, too. I always went to the tree lighting with my mom as a kid and I love continuing that tradition with Jeffrey.
Winterfest has grown to encompass so many different areas of downtown, with shopping, music, ice skating, and all kinds of family-friendly activities. After the tree lighting, we popped over to Bloom Bakery for complimentary cookies and hot cocoa, which was the perfect sweet way to end the evening!
On Sunday, we went to dinner at The Capital Grille for my Dad’s birthday. Even after all the Thanksgiving eating, we somehow found room for more food! I ordered the bone-in ribeye with porcini dust and aged balsamic. So rich, so perfectly cooked, so good!
Our table shared side dishes of mushroom risotto, wild mushrooms, and sweet creamed corn with bacon. Matthew and I also shared the lobster and crab cakes for our appetizer and my Dad’s complimentary birthday dessert of a mini cheesecake and mini espresso flourless cake was delicious, too!
And you might not believe it, but The Capital Grille really is family-friendly! Jeffrey loved his cheeseburger and ice cream trio. Our server was attentive and friendly to his needs and we all had a wonderful experience! This is a steakhouse that really delivers!
So, that was our weekend! A seamless transition from one holiday to the next and lots of fun, too! How was your Thanksgiving weekend?
The Halloween Hay Ride involves a not-too-scary ride through the Farmpark, with lots to see from Peanuts to pirate ships to Chewbacca (the only thing that scared Jeffrey).
Once you’re done with the Hay Ride, there are activities to enjoy, such as a glow dance party, hay maze, concessions, playground equipment, and more.
There are two post-hay ride path options: scary and not-scary. This makes the event great for all ages! Jeffrey also got to enjoy a pony ride!
I’m always so impressed with the Farmpark’s special events. They are well-planned, adorable, and offer a lot for a wide range of ages. We will definitely be jumping on the Country Lights tickets, which go on sale tomorrow morning for Farmpark members and Lake County residents (general public on sale November 8).
We met up with Jeffrey’s cousins Leila and Hannah and enjoyed not only the museum itself, but craft stations like decorating picture frames and pumpkins and making banana “ghosts” and special animal presentations.
This is the second year we’ve attended Owls and Howls and we always have a wonderful time!
Saturday evening, Mom and I went out to dinner and to watch the Indians game. We chose the bar at Fahrenheit for the right combination of delicious food and being able to watch the game. We started with the chicken spring rolls and grilled avocado with goat cheese.
That grilled avocado…amazing! Mom chose the pork chop for her entrée, served with creamed sweet corn and carmelized Brussel sprouts. The sides alone would make this a great choice, but the pork chop was also juicy and delicious!
I went with a special for the evening: seared lamb paired with lamb Bolognese. From the homemade pasta to the brightness of the peas and orange in the sauce to the rich flavor of the seared lamb, this dish was spot on!
And of course we couldn’t pass up dessert: banana cream pie for Mom and chocolate chip cookie dough pot de crème for me (let that sink in…it was heaven).
We had such a fun time eating, drinking, talking, and cheering! I can remember friends taking me to Fahrenheit back in 2003 before I moved to DC as a way to entice me to move back to Cleveland after law school (it worked, too). And Fahrenheit remains just as delicious today!
On Sunday, we took Jeffrey to Mall-o-Ween at SouthPark Mall. This was our first time going mall trick or treating and I was unprepared for how crazy crowded it would be! But Jeffrey had a great time and came home with lots of good candy (we snag the Reese’s cups and 100 Grand bars for ourselves).
We had lunch at the just-opened Bar Louie at SouthPark. The burgers were tasty, but the service and kitchen are working out some hiccups (which is understandable when it’s been open for all of 3 days).
Still, it was a great spot for lunch after the candy craziness!
That was our weekend! Have a great Halloween and rest up for another late night of baseball on Tuesday!
It was a lovely, love-filled weekend in the CLE! On Friday, Jeffrey and I met up with friends for a play date at the Cleveland Museum of Art. As much as I love the Museum, I somehow had never taken Jeffrey there! And I had no idea what we were missing!
We spent our time in Studio Play, which offers bright, colorful, fun, hands-on ways for kids to explore art. From building mobiles to playing with shapes on felt boards to interactive touch-screens that find shapes and patterns in art, there was so much to do!
The kids especially loved the tents and kept popping in and out of those with increasing levels of giggles!
One of my favorite Cleveland locations is now a favorite for Jeffrey too! It doesn’t get much better than that!
Friday evening, I made some spicy Asian noodles and shrimp to help take away the chill. Packed with vegetables and a flavorful broth, this recipe is a new favorite in our house!
On Saturday, Mom and I celebrated Galentine’s Day and an early birthday for her (the big day is today!). We started with some super-relaxing spa time at Spa West. Mom even brought mini bottles of bubbly and some Malley’s chocolate-covered strawberries to make the day even sweeter!
After we were rubbed and scrubbed, we met up with Matthew, Dad, and Jeffrey for a family birthday dinner at Paco’s Tacos. We started with the guacamole made table-side, then headed into taco combo plates. I chose the brisket, shrimp, and pork belly tacos.
The tacos are small, but when you factor in the guacamole, rice and beans, and margaritas, it’s plenty of food! I also enjoyed the mini brownie topped with fried ice cream for dessert. It was a tasty way to celebrate Mom’s special day!
Sunday, we celebrated a quiet Valentine’s Day at home. We took Jeffrey to a Kindermusik play date with lots of love-themed songs and activities. After he went to bed, we enjoyed a delicious home-cooked dinner with crab legs and risotto (recipe here) for the main course.
For dessert, I wanted something we could enjoy without having a ton of extra. So, I found this dessert-for-two recipe for chocolate raspberry pizza and it was decadently good and perfectly sized!
It was so nice just to be able to relax at home with good food, good wine, and the best company a girl could ask for! That’s what Valentine’s Day is all about, right?
Hope you had a lovely weekend, too!
***Disclosure: Kindermusik is a client of my consulting company. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***