Why? Weekends!

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!

IMG_9085

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!

IMG_9093

The kids especially loved the tents and kept popping in and out of those with increasing levels of giggles!

IMG_9111

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!

IMG_9120

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!

IMG_9126

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.

IMG_9132

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.

IMG_9139

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!

IMG_9140

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.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

What a wonderful weekend! I’m just going to jump right in…

On Friday, Mom, Jeffrey, and I had lunch at Bomba Tacos and Rum. Lunch was the perfect time to go, as it wasn’t as crowded and we could take advantage of the lunch special (3 tacos + a side for only $9.95). But first, I started with a pomegranate ginger margarita and some guacamole and pineapple salsa.

PicMonkey Collage

The guacamole was delicious, especially with our chosen additions of corn, spicy peppers, and goat cheese. And we all enjoyed the plaintain chips!

IMG_2886

For my tacos, I chose the slow braised duck, the spicy shrimp, and the chorizo and potato. The tacos were very flavorful and fresh, but some were a bit heavy on the toppings.

IMG_2888

Overall, though, the atmosphere, food, and drinks at Bomba are fantastic and this will be a must-visit summer locale on the west side!

On Saturday, I volunteered with other members of Playhouse Square Partners at the International Children’s Theater Festival. Our task was helping the kids make sock puppets, with googly eyes, pom-pom noses and more. I was so impressed with the kids’ creativity in making their puppets. Also, never underestimate my non-craftiness…I definitely burned myself on the hot glue gun!

After my volunteering shift, Matthew and Jeffrey met up with me to take in some of the Festival. One of the best parts of the International Children’s Theater Festival is that there are activities for all ages. Jeffrey is young for the theater performances, but he loved the balloon artists, the performance by the Okee Dokee Brothers, and the strolling puppeteers.

PicMonkey Collage

Sunday was my first Mother’s Day! I was kind of overwhelmed thinking about how much has changed in a year! Matthew made a wonderful dinner for my Mom and me, with the help of my Dad, the grill master. One of the many fabulous things on the table was this goat cheese and sun-dried tomato tart, which is on the list of best things I ever ate (recipe here).

IMG_2916

Jeffrey made me a deconstructed roll of toilet paper (it’s ART, my friends) as possibly the funniest Mother’s Day present I’ll ever receive.

IMG_2912

And Matthew created this amazing framed photo for our playroom: a collection of special things from Jeffrey’s first year, shaped into a heart. I truly am a lucky lady to have these two guys in my life and to have had such a nice day to share with my own amazing Mom!

How was your weekend?

***Disclosure: I am a member of the board of Playhouse Square Partners. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Happy New Year!

I’ve been sitting here staring at a blinking cursor, not sure what to write in this post. This last year was so filled with momentous change and the year ahead promises to be so filled with adventure that I’m at a loss for words.

What I am sure of is the people in my life who made 2014 amazing and who will make 2015 even better.

Jeffrey, who made me understand what the phrase “light of my life” truly means.

PicMonkey Collage

Matthew, who I’ve known is a wonderful man and a fantastic husband, but who I never imagined I could love as much as I do when I see him being a father to our son.

PicMonkey Collage

My parents, who are unfailing and constant in their love and support.

PicMonkey Collage

My girlfriends, who keep me sane, who keep me in touch with “me,” and who have ridden this crazy roller coaster of a year with me.

PicMonkey Collage

And to Cleveland, for continuing to inspire the love and passion that goes into this blog and that defines every reason Why CLE?.

Image Source - cleveland-cpa-firms.com
Image Source – cleveland-cpa-firms.com

For everything that 2014 was and everything that 2015 will be, CHEERS and Happy New Year! Wishing you and yours a year filled with happiness!

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

My pre-Thanksgiving weekend was already stuffed (haha) with food and family time! On Friday night, Matthew and I went out for a quick date night dinner at Olivor Twist in downtown Willoughby. This is a longstanding favorite spot, thanks to their extensive and creative martini list and tasty food.

Since the place was packed, we grabbed a seat at the bar. You can still order the full menu there and we’ve always had great service regardless.

IMG_0977

We started with the stuffed peppers appetizer, filled with chorizo sausage and cheese and topped with tomato sauce. These had just the right amount of heat and were a great start to our meal.

IMG_0980

For our entrees, Matthew chose the mac ‘n cheese with lobster, which put him in a bit of a food coma. The bites I snagged were really good…packed with lobster meat and a delicious creamy sauce.

PicMonkey Collage

I had the pan seared scallops, topped with apple mango chutney and served with rice pilaf and broccoli. The scallops were perfectly cooked and I really enjoyed the sweetness of the chutney. But the sides left me wanting more in terms of flavor and texture. They didn’t take away from the scallops, but they didn’t add to them either.

For dessert, we shared a slice of chocolate tort in all it’s dense, rich deliciousness.

IMG_0984

It was a great date night!

On Saturday, we attended our niece Leila’s fourth birthday party, which of course was adorably themed around the movie “Frozen.” It’s hard to believe Leila is four already! The only picture I managed to get was with Leila’s sister, as the birthday girl barely sat still all day, but that’s to be expected!

IMG_0990

On Sunday, we celebrated my Dad’s birthday with good food, good wine, and good company. Mom made an excellent dinner and we ended the evening with cassata cake from Dad’s favorite bakery, Baraona’s.

IMG_1009

It was a great weekend, although I was hoping for a few less calories heading into the Thanksgiving week! I’m off this entire week and am so excited to get ready for the holiday and spend some time with my little man! How was your weekend? How is your pre-Thanksgiving week shaping up?

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

It was a busy weekend! So much so, that I’m saving the first part of our Friday evening – a preview of the newest exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art – for tomorrow. Stay tuned!

The second part of our Friday was a birthday dinner for our dear friend Scott at Urban Farmer.

IMG_0722We started our dinner with a lovely surprise – a complimentary cheese plate filled with delicious options!

IMG_0714Matthew and I shared the beef tartare, which I knew from my last Urban Farmer experience, is a dish not to be missed! The quality of the beef is fantastic, but I also love the little additions with this dish: the brioche toast and deviled egg.

IMG_0715

For dinner, we shared the New York Steak Tasting, which features 6-ounce cuts of White Oak grass-fed, Creekstone corn-fed, Ohio Proud twenty-one-day dry aged, and (for an additional cost), Imperial Ranch Wagyu.

IMG_0718

We also added on the candied bacon and bacon jam. For our side, we split the twice-baked Fingerling potato tart with sour cream, bacon, and chives. There is nothing to say about the candied bacon and potato tart except YUM! Both were amazing and I highly recommend adding them to your entree.

The steak tasting is more than enough to share, especially with a shared appetizer and side dish (which are family-style anyway). The tasting was a great way to get to know the different types of beef served at Urban Farmer and do an immediate comparison of flavor and texture. Our favorites were the dry-aged and the Wagyu, but explore the tasting and decide for yourself!

How on earth we found room for dessert, I don’t know. I had the sweet corn pound cake with buttered popcorn ice cream. I may have found a tie for The Greenhouse’s popcorn pot de creme. And Matthew chose the decadent Guanaja chocolate pate, with dried fruit, olive oil ice cream, and sea salt.

PicMonkey Collage

This was my first off-the-menu dining experience at Urban Farmer and it lived up to my very high expectations. When you know a dinner will be a splurge, it is so nice when it is worth every penny and calorie.

On Saturday morning, I volunteered with Playhouse Square Partners at our first annual Halloween Town. The event featured crafts, photo opps, candy, hot cider, raffles, and a chance for the kids (and grown-ups) to show off their costumes.

PicMonkey Collage

The Connor Palace Theatre lobby was all decked out for Halloween and everyone seemed to have a great time! It was a fun way to get into the Halloween spirit!

Later on that day, we stopped up at Broadview Heights’ indoor Halloween event with Jeffrey. My dad’s business, Tireman USA, has its headquarters in Broadview Heights and participated in the event with a festive table, juice for the kids, and an appearance by the Michelin Man.

IMG_0730

Halloween is quite a big holiday, with lots to do to celebrate, especially with little ones!

Sunday was spent relaxing and taking in a showing of “Gone Girl” with my Mom. I read the book, but was really impressed with the intensity of the movie and would say this is one where either the book or the movie are equally entertaining.

How was your weekend?

***Disclosures: While at Urban Farmer, we were presented with a complimentary cheese plate for our table. I am a member of the board for Playhouse Square Partners, which sponsored Halloween Town. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Jeffrey’s Baptism!

Sunday was a big day as we celebrated Jeffrey’s baptism. The ceremony was held at St. John Vianney by the same priest who performed Matthew’s and my marriage ceremony.

IMG_2583

We were so lucky to have both sides of our family able to attend this special day.

PicMonkey Collage

Jeffrey did really well throughout the whole ceremony and didn’t cry one bit when the water was poured over his head! All the practicing in the bath paid off!

IMG_2591

Our wonderful godparents (all six of ’em!) were all in attendance and we’re so grateful for their already strong presence in Jeffrey’s life!

IMG_2649

After the ceremony, we headed to Match Works Tavern for Jeffrey’s first official party. We had a room off their patio and the staff made it a lovely afternoon for all of us. We enjoyed strawberry spinach salad, grilled veggies, cheese, hummus, and chicken salad croissants.

PicMonkey Collage

We also had a delicious white and chocolate layer cake with chocolate mousse filling from Cakes to You. And my Mom added to the sweetness with personalized M&M’s as party favors!

IMG_8299All in all, it was a truly lovely afternoon celebrating our wonderful little man! Thanks to everyone who helped make it so special!

PicMonkey Collage

jenclesig_pur

 

Why? Father’s Day!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win 2 Big Kahuna VIP tickets to the Shoes and Clothes for Kids Luau on the Lake? Check it out! Remember, you can tweet once per day for additional entries.***

This year, Father’s Day has taken on a new meaning and significance. In just two weeks, I’ve seen Matthew become such a wonderful and loving father to Jeffrey.

Image Source - etsy.com
Image Source – etsy.com

I had no doubt he would be a great dad, but to see it happen has been more amazing than I could have imagined. Happy first Father’s Day, Matthew! Jeffrey and I love you so much!

Photo Credit - Rich Jeschelnig
Photo Credit – Rich Jeschelnig

And, of course, Happy Father’s Day to my dad and my father-in-law, who are fully embracing their grandfather roles and who taught us so much about the love of a father.

Photo Credit - New Image Photography
Photo Credit – New Image Photography

I hope all the dads out there have a wonderful Father’s Day weekend!

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

It was a fun, busy weekend! On Friday night, Matthew and his friend Brian checked out Billy’s A Cappelli Martini Bar, a relatively new spot in Mentor.

photo (11)

Billy’s menu is an interesting mix of fun and tasty martinis to drink, with pub fare to eat. Matthew had a cheeseburger and Brian had a pizza.

mycollage (5)

From the feedback I heard, it sounds like a great neighborhood spot! Billy’s is celebrating a year in business with a Customer Appreciation Night on Thursday, January 30, with drink specials and complimentary appetizers.

From martinis to tea, my Saturday involved beverages of a different sort as I attended my friend Beth’s baby shower at Miss Molly’s Tea Room.

IMG_7654

Miss Molly’s is a cute little spot! We lunched on chicken salad croissants, soup, and, of course, tea. But the best part of the meal was the cake, made in house at Miss Molly’s. It was light, not too sweet, and entirely delicious!

IMG_7653

Then it was time for presents. Since Beth is also having a boy, I definitely got some good ideas for when I make up my registry.

IMG_7665

It’s been so nice to have a good friend pregnant at the same time as me! Beth is 8 weeks ahead of me, so she’s been able to give me the scoop on pregnancy just slightly ahead of where I am.

While I was at the shower, Matthew and my Dad grabbed lunch at Whitey’s Booze n Burgers. His burger had jalapeno bacon and bleu cheese. After all these good burger pictures, I’m craving one myself!

photo (14)

On Sunday, we had our friends Jason and Patty over to hang out. Their son Lincoln got to meet Tobey and the two seemed to hit it off pretty well!

IMG_7687

We ordered a selection of pizzas from one of favorite places: The Wild Goose. They have a great selection of unique, wood-fired pizzas! Some of our favorites are the Tony Roni, with jalapenos, pepperoni, and spicy red sauce; the Murphy, with potato, bacon, cheese, and sour cream; and the Loosey Goosey, with sausage, green pepper, onion, and olives.

IMG_7689

It was a nice afternoon of good friends and good food!

How was your weekend?

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

Doesn’t it feel like forever since we’ve had to go to work or be on a normal schedule? This nice, long Thanksgiving weekend was much needed. Aside from gorging ourselves on turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes and decorating our house for Christmas, there was plenty of other fun to be had.

On Friday night, Matthew and I met up with a couple of my high school friends, in town for the holiday.

photo

We went to Great Lakes Brewing Co., where Matthew enjoyed Christmas Ale and I enjoyed ginger ale. Matthew reports that the Christmas Ale is good this year, but definitely sweeter than last year.

Saturday morning, we headed to Chuck-E-Cheese’s for my niece Leila’s third birthday party. While it may not be the most exciting place for an adult, the kids absolutely love this place!

IMG_7513The biggest attraction seems to be the “ticket blaster booth” that you get to go in on your birthday. Leila looked adorable in there, although I’m not sure she caught all that many tickets.

IMG_7522After a few games of skeeball, I had to admit that I was having fun too and not just from watching the kids!

Saturday evening, Matthew and I got into the holiday spirit with a Cleveland classic: Great Lakes Theater‘s production of “A Christmas Carol.” This is the 25th anniversary year of the production, which has become a favorite way to celebrate the season. Plus, the theaters of Playhouse Square always look so beautiful decorated for the holidays.

IMG_7539

As it was Social Media Night, we were treated a backstage tour of “A Christmas Carol.”

IMG_7528From getting to see the fog machines and rigged set pieces that contribute to the creepy atmosphere of Scrooge being haunted by the spirits to standing on stage and checking out the set up close, it was a neat way to learn more about some of the tricks behind the production.

Everyone’s favorite moment was the demonstration of the trap door used for one of the spirits’ exits during the production.

IMG_7535We also got to hear a lovely performance from the Hathaway Brown School Bravuras. There are local choirs performing carols in the Ohio Theater lobby before almost every performance of “A Christmas Carol.”

IMG_7538While “A Christmas Carol” is a story we almost all surely know, the Great Lakes Theater production makes it fresh, fun, and a perfect way to get into the holiday spirit. The show runs now through December 22 and tickets range from $28-60. Click here for more information.

After the show, we drove through Public Square to check out the lights. Make sure you make time this season to drive around downtown in the evening and check out the festive glow!

Sunday, we went to dinner at Red, the Steakhouse to celebrate my dad’s birthday. See how things change between age 3 and age 62?!

Red

As I mentioned, I had a pretty strong aversion to meat in the first trimester. While I’ve been feeling a lot better, the thought of a steakhouse made me a little nervous. I will say, though, that if you’re going to “try” meat again, the filet at Red would be my choice to ease yourself back into being a carnivore!

It was a delicious evening and a great ending to a fabulous holiday weekend! How was your holiday weekend?

***Dislcosure: I was invited to attend Great Lakes Theater’s Social Media Night for “A Christmas Carol.” In exchange, I received 1 complimentary ticket to the show, a backstage tour, and 1 complimentary drink ticket (hot chocolate FTW). Matthew’s ticket was purchased by us. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Wood & Wine!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Mickey Quinn (Comment #2), randomly-selected winner of 2 VIP tickets to see Run Avril Run at Twinsburg’s Rock the Park. Please check your email and reply by the end of the day or a new winner will be chosen. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets for any of the Rock the Park concerts by clicking here.***

Last week, my parents and I grabbed dinner at Wood & Wine in Avon. I had tasted the yummy Wood & Wine chicken, asparagus, and gouda mac-n-cheese at L’Amour du Vin and wanted to give the rest of the menu a try.

We started with cocktails, including an orange creamsicle sangria for Mom. It sounds strange, but it was more blood orange tart than overly sweet and, despite not looking creamy, had a creamsicle smoothness. I was pleasantly surprised!

For dinner, I chose the scallop and shrimp sackatini.

photo2

This dish has pasta pockets filled with cheese, tossed with shrimp and scallops and served in a light sun-dried tomato cream sauce. The sauce was not too heavy or salty and the pasta was tender. The shrimp and scallop pieces were small, but plentiful, for the price point ($19).  I enjoyed this dish, as evidenced by my completely clean plate at the end.

Dad had the classic chicken parmesan and, since I couldn’t sneak a bite or a picture, I think he really liked it! Mom chose the coffee-encrusted pork tenderloin, served with roasted vegetables and butternut squash ravioli with rum butter sauce.

photo1

This was a decidedly fall-like dish to me, but despite being a bit seasonally off for my palate, it was delicious. My one complaint is the rum butter sauce, which was more the consistency of apple butter and could overwhelm the butternut squash flavor.

For dessert, we chose strawberry shortcake.

photo

The dessert selection was somewhat limited. Actually, there a lot of options but only one non-cheesecake option. Cheesecake is not the way to this girl’s heart, so strawberry shortcake it was. The dessert was middle of the road for me and I found the entrees to be of a higher quality.

Wood & Wine occupies a space that looks like it used to be a Denny’s or Perkins-style restaurant. The wood-fire oven and wine room are nice and the restaurant has done a lot with the space, but it still needs a bit of effort to overcome the Denny’s-interior vibe, particularly in the booths. However, the food and price point are both good and for casual pizza or pasta in the far west ‘burbs, Wood & Wine is worth a visit.

jenclesig_pur