Why? 2018!

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…

…we drank…

…we traveled…

…I yoga-ed and barre-d…

 

…we sported…

 

…we got cultured…

 

…and we got to the Point.

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We loved…

 

…and lost.

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And my kid grew into even more of an extraordinary, funny, smart, inquisitive human.

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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

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

Just to let you know right from the start, this post is 90% Jeffrey’s birthday and 10% donuts…

Goldie’s Donuts

On Friday afternoon, Jeffrey and I had the chance to check out the brand new Goldie’s Donuts and Bakery in Lyndhurst.

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Located in the former Amy Joy’s Donuts location, Goldie’s does more than just donuts, but boy, do they make great donuts! The sour cream donut was my favorite: so moist and delicious! I also tried the classic glazed, which was light and fluffy.

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Goldie’s also offers tons of pastries, like cookies with rich and delicious chocolate icing, Russian tea cakes made from a 100-year old recipe, and decadent brownies and coconut bars.

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Goldie’s also has apple fritters and chocolate chip cookies that are both as big as your head!

Goldie’s is open daily from 5am to 10pm, so any time you’re craving donuts or any of their other delightful treats, you can grab one (with the convenience of a drive-through if you want). Goldie’s is a great addition to our fabulous locally-owned donut scene in Cleveland!

***I was invited to a complimentary tasting at Goldie’s Donuts and Bakery. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Jeffrey’s Birthday: Parts One, Two, and Three

Jeffrey turned four yesterday and it’s hard to believe how fast time has gone! I’m so proud of the boy he has become: so inquisitive and funny and smart and empathetic. And what better way to mark turning four than with a weekend of parties?!

On Friday, we had a party for Jeffrey’s school friends at Preston’s HOPE Playground Park. This is always a favorite place to play and it was the perfect spot for the kids on that beautiful day.

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We ordered pizza from Pizzazz on the Circle and had a great time playing.

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Jeffrey has gotten really into birthdays, particularly singing “Happy Birthday,” and it was such a treat to watch him get so excited for that part of his parties.

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On Saturday, we had a party with Jeffrey’s friends at the Children’s Museum of Cleveland.

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When the new Museum opened, Jeffrey immediately requested to have his birthday party there. It was the perfect spot, with lots of fun things for the kids to do, plus a spacious and well-appointed party room and friendly staff that made hosting a breeze!

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Jeffrey’s cake came from Cakes to You and was designed to match his invitations and party décor perfectly!

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Jeffrey also requested a rocket ship piñata (thank goodness for Amazon…you can find anything, I swear), which led to a lot of excited candy grabbing!

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And then on Sunday, we had a party at our house with our family and Jeffrey’s godparents. My dad arranged for a pretty amazing surprise in our driveway: Lightning McQueen and Mater!

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Lightning is my dad’s car, with the addition of a perfectly-designed sunshade. It was so cool for Jeffrey to see these characters come to life in his driveway!

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We had lots of good BBQ food, time to play in the yard, and another fabulously designed Cakes to You cake.

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Anything that can make Jeffrey this happy is completely worth doing (three times over)!

Happiest birthday to our favorite little man, who woke up this morning and said very seriously, “Momma, I am four now.” I can’t wait to see what it brings!

And of course, what an epic Cavs win! Pretty nice birthday present they gave Jeffrey there!

I hope you enjoy the rest of your long weekend and take time to remember the reason for the holiday, too.

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

It was a busy, fun-filled weekend in Cleveland, so let’s dive right in:

Fish FRYday

There’s nothing more Cleveland this time of year than a fish fry. Jeffrey and I met up with friends at St. Dominic Church for their Lenten Fish Fry.

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Do not pass up the hush puppies or the fried shrimp! Jeffrey loved his kids cheese pizza meal, but he also loved the crafts and balloon artist there, too. This was everything a fish fry should be: classic, tasty, well-run, and fun!

Children’s Museum of Cleveland

On Saturday morning, we took Jeffrey to a school friend’s birthday party at the Children’s Museum of Cleveland.

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We just love this bright, fun, imaginative space! But then you throw in the excitement of a birthday party on top of it…well, as you can see, a great time was had by all!

The Children’s Museum is also working to reach its capital campaign goal, with plans to open expansion exhibits, including Meadow (for children ages birth to 3 years), Music, and Theater.

Meadow Exhibit rendering

You can donate to the Museum’s capital campaign online now.

Ohio City Beer Crawl

From the party, Matthew and I headed to the craft beer mecca of Ohio City. We met up with our friends Denise and Ritch, who have the goal of hitting 40 craft breweries in the area before Ritch turns 40. Being the good friends we are, we agreed to help him accomplish his goal!

We started at Hansa Brewery, where we munched on superb potato pancakes and Bavarian pretzels, washed down with a beer sampler.

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The Wit Wit and Bye Felicia! were my favorites.

Then we walked over to Forest City Brewery to enjoy another sampler and their West Side Market chacuterie platter.

The St. Wendelin Wheat was my favorite here.

Then it was off to Bad Tom Smith Brewing, which I have to confess was completely unheard of to me before our crawl.

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But you should definitely stop by to try their wide selection of beers, plus you can order from their neighbor Ohio City Burrito while you’re there!

We ended our crawl at Nano Brew Cleveland, with more samplers, plus the Stoner Fries and fried mac ‘n cheese bites (both are pretty much necessary for life on stop 4 of a bar crawl).

Add in their DJ spinning epic 80’s music and you have the end to a perfect afternoon in Ohio City. I love how walkable, energetic, and diverse the neighborhood is. Whether you want a bar crawl or a nice meal, you can find it there!

Cleveland Orchestra Family Concert

On Sunday afternoon, we met up with Matthew’s family for the Cleveland Orchestra Family Concert of Scheherazade. Matthew’s brother and sister-in-law chose the concert as a family Christmas present and it was a great choice!

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Not only did Jeffrey get to experience the beautiful music and creatively-told story thanks to the Orchestra and the Enchantment Theater Company, but he also got to try his hand at playing some of the instruments before the show.

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The Meet-the-Instruments pre-show event allowed children to get hands-on with some of the instruments they would hear during the concert and certainly sparked interest in a lot of future musicians.

Matthew used to play the French horn, so we especially loved seeing Jeffrey try that out!

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How lucky we are to be able to experience not only one of the best orchestras in the world, but one of the loveliest venues too! I also love that the Orchestra offers family-friendly options to make music and culture accessible to all ages. Jeffrey can say he cut his teeth on music from the Cleveland Orchestra and that is pretty spectacular!

Dewey’s Pizza

After the show, we stopped by Dewey’s Pizza for a fun family dinner filled with laughter, catching up, and of course, yummy pizza. Dewey’s has a wide selection of creative pies, plus a window where the kids could watch their pizzas being made. It was a perfect dinner choice!

So, that was our weekend. Lots of great times with family and friends and lots of time at some of Cleveland’s finest neighborhoods and institutions. You can’t ask for more than that!

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

It was a wonderful Christmas weekend, filled with family and friends and presents and food!

Cupcakes and a Story

On Friday, Matthew and I met up with friends at White Flower Cake Shoppe for their Cupcakes and a Story event. We got to hear a sweet winter story, as well as see how to decorate 4 different Christmas cupcakes.

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While our decorated cupcakes never look quite as good as the originals, they sure are fun and tasty to make!

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Cookie Baking

From cupcakes to cookies, we spent most of our day on Saturday baking cookies and wrapping presents. I try to make everyone in the family their favorite type of cookie, so we had lots of varities from shortbread to thumbprints to double chocolate peppermint.

And Jeffrey was my best helper…or taste-tester, I should say!

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Christmas

We’re lucky to have both of our families in town and to be able to split the time between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with everyone.

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We all got lots of great presents under the tree! Jeffrey loved his sled (and then we got enough snow to actually use it)…

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And my mom continued her tradition of buying Jeffrey musical instruments (and then sending them home with us).

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Jeffrey also scored big with some of his favorite character toys: PAW Patrol and Cars. His excitement for Christmas this year and his enthusiasm as he opened each present was really wonderful to see!

Matthew got a couple beer-themed gifts, which is perfect in such an awesome beer city! We both can’t wait to read “Cleveland Beer” and this Cleveland wooden six-pack holder from Wood ‘n What Knot (available at Merchant’s Mrkt) is perfect for parties!

My mom loved this custom cutting board that I got from Lovely Paperie & Gifts. It has a handwritten recipe from my great grandmother laser cut on it. These cutting boards are such a unique and touching way to showcase a recipe!

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Speaking of cutting boards, check out this awesome board from my brother-in-law!

And I of course got a little sparkle…

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…and a little Cleveland, which is always the perfect combo for me!

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Is it Opening Day yet?! 

Hope you all had an amazing holiday weekend and enjoy a nice week before round two of holiday celebrating!

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

Has your turkey coma lifted? I hope you all had wonderful Thanksgiving weekends! Here’s what we were up to:

Thanksgiving, Parts 1 and 2

This year, we flip-flopped our normal holiday arrangement, which meant we celebrated Thanksgiving with Matthew’s family on Thursday and with my family on Saturday. Since I’ve prepared Thanksgiving dinner for my family for 11 years now (!), it was kind of odd to be just hanging out in my jammies, watching the Macy’s parade. I kept thinking I was forgetting to cook something!

For Matthew’s family dinner, we brought caramelized butternut squash (recipe here) and this gorgeous cake from Kelsey’s Bakery.

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This cake was as tasty as it was pretty, with moist chocolate cake layered with caramel buttercream. The frosting was the perfect level of sweetness and everyone from Jeffrey to my father-in-law loved the cake!

Kelsey’s Bakery has a kiosk at Beachwood Place for the season, so check them out for some holiday sweetness.

On Saturday, we hosted my family for Thanksgiving, part 2. I cook as if we’re feeding an army…I counted and I made enough side dishes that everyone could have their own!

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I use my grandma’s stuffing recipe and my great grandma’s pumpkin pie recipe. Everything we eat is traditional and tastes just like it always has, which I love at the holidays!

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It was so nice to be able to celebrate with everyone in our families (and get a little breather between all the eating, too!)

Holiday Decorating

The rest of the weekend was spent preparing for Christmas. We went and picked out our Christmas tree…

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And then covered it in lights and sparkles and ornaments with lots of history, tradition, and stories.

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Jeffrey also has a small tree in his room with his own ornaments (think: lots of Lightning McQueen, fire trucks, and the like).

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Even the pups are in the holiday spirit!

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I love Christmas time and I love having the house all sparkly and twinkly. I think this year is going to be the peak of Jeffrey’s Christmas excitement, too, which makes everything more fun.

I’m glad we had such a nice, productive weekend at home, too. The next weekends are jam-packed with chasing Santa all over the Cleveland area! Stay tuned…

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

It was another glorious fall weekend in Cleveland, this one packed with lots of family fun! Here’s what we did:

Halloween Hayrides

On Friday, we headed to Lake Metroparks Farmpark for the Halloween Hayrides.

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We started with a hayride past several fun, not-too-spooky stations with everything from traditional Halloween scenes…

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…to movie characters…

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…to cute decorations.

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The hayride drops you off where you can select your path: scary or not scary. We stuck with the not scary side, where we enjoyed glow dancers…

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…festive decorations…

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…and yummy concessions (Corbo’s Bakery apple fritters are not to be missed.)

Before we left, Jeffrey had to take a pony ride, too!

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The Halloween Hayrides have definitely become a favorite Halloween event for us. And while they are sold out for this year, keep your eyes open for next year’s ticket sales!

Pumpkin Party

Saturday morning was the annual Pumpkin Party at Jeffrey’s school. They create a mini pumpkin patch for the kids to pick a pumpkin and decorate, as well as other crafts and donuts and cider to enjoy.

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And since the weather was so fabulous, the kids got plenty of time to play outside on the playground too!

Marvel Universe Live!

Saturday afternoon, we met up with Jeffrey’s godparents Amanda and Scott for Marvel Universe Live.

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Jeffrey is just starting to get into superheroes and Amanda and Scott are very into superheroes, so it was the perfect activity. Jeffrey enjoyed the show (he thought most of the fight scenes were simply funny due to the number of flips and crazy moves) and declared Spiderman and Ironman to be his favorites. For me, I love that Jeffrey and his godparents can connect and have so much fun together!

Birthday Party

Sunday, we had a fifth birthday party for our niece Hannah. Elizabeth was pregnant with Hannah at our wedding…time flies! The party was at West Side Gymnastics Club and Jeffrey had a blast bouncing and playing with his cousins.

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Home Cooking

Despite all the activity, we managed to squeeze in some dinners at home too. I made my favorite homemade mac ‘n cheese, which has hatch chiles and chorizo.

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I use this recipe, but add in the chorizo. So spicy and comforting and yummy!

On the lighter side, I made swordfish with tomato relish (recipe here) and rice and broccoli pilaf (recipe here).

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Lots of good, fresh flavors in this meal! With as crazy as our schedules can be, I miss being able to cook at home and it was nice this weekend to have the time to make some meals for us.

So, that was our weekend! How was yours?

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

Whoa! What a kickoff to the Fourth of July long weekend…this past Friday through Sunday were packed with fun! On Friday, my sister-in-law Elizabeth and I went to the Total Package Tour, with Boyz II Men, Paula Abdul, and New Kids on the Block. But before we get to all the flashback fun, let’s talk about our pre-show dinner.

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We went to Bakersfield Tacos in Ohio City, which I had heard nothing but good things about. And the reviews were right! We started with drinks, of course. The spicy margarita packed some nice heat, but it was also just a really good margarita: smooth, and not overly sweet or syrupy.

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We shared the queso dip, which was flavorful and delicious, with light, crispy tortilla chips.

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Elizabeth and I ordered the same thing for dinner: the short rib tostada (essentially an open-faced taco) with tender short rib, fried egg, black beans, Bakersfield hot sauce, queso fresco, shredded romaine lettuce, and cilantro buttermilk ranch dressing.

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The flavors were delicious and the egg added a nice richness to the dish. I can’t wait to go back to Bakersfield and try some of the tacos and some more of their yummy drinks!

Then it was off to the concert. All of the acts sounded great and played all of their 80’s and 90’s hits, with plenty of dancing, light shows, and confetti to go along with them.

While NKOTB was on stage, they mentioned that they’ve been playing shows in Cleveland for 29 years now. I was at their shows that long ago (eek!) and it was so fun to be at another one and have just as much giddy excitement as back then!

On Saturday, we had another dinner in Ohio City and concert combo. Matthew and I met up with Alicia, as well as some of Matthew’s friends. We started with dinner at Townhall, which was absolutely packed between the gorgeous weather and lots of U2 fans grabbing a bite before the show.

I had the unfried chicken sandwich, which has cashew-crusted chicken, avocado, and spicy Bang Bang sauce. This huge, tasty sandwich might be my new Townhall favorite. The truffle fries were pretty amazing too!

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It was Alicia’s birthday, so of course a cookie skillet was part of the dinner and the birthday girl was kind enough to share some nibbles with all of us.

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From there, it was on to FirstEnergy Stadium for the U2 concert.

The band put on an incredible show! There’s something about a stadium show that is just very sweeping and grand and U2 definitely knows how to capitalize on that.

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There was a pretty stark difference between the concerts on Friday and Saturday night, but both played great shows in their own right and owned the niche they fit into.

Sunday, we headed up to Cedar Point for a day of family fun in the sun.

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Jeffrey loves the rides and kept insisting on one more ride, one more ride until we were all pretty beat!

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We ended the day with some Toft’s Ice Cream and headed home to rest up from a fun and crazy weekend!

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

Aside from backyard vinyasa, we had lots of other weekend plans! On Friday, Matthew’s family came over for an early Father’s Day BBQ. The kids played in the pool and yard like crazy, the grown-ups had a chance to catch up, and everyone enjoyed lots of summery treats, like watermelon and a homemade sundae bar.

Saturday morning, we took Jeffrey to Legacy Village for Meet the Machines. This event packed Legacy Village with all kinds of vehicles from police cars to fire trucks to construction equipment to the Euclid Beach Rocket Ship Car.

You could even get in some of the vehicles to drive and explore!

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I really appreciated how spread out the vehicles and activities were, giving everyone plenty of space to see and enjoy everything. Plus, there was a huge variety of vehicles, so every kid could find something cool to check out.

Beyond just the vehicles, there was live entertainment, giveaways from local companies, and crafts. Jeffrey loved decorating his CAT construction hard hat!

Legacy Village’s Meet the Machines was really well put together, which made it just as much fun for the adults as for the kids!

On Sunday, Matthew selected an activity to do with Jeffrey for Father’s Day and he chose to go to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The Zoo had free admission for dads on Father’s Day and we saw a lot of families taking advantage of this fun way to spend time together.

The animals were definitely putting on a show on Sunday, too. We got very up close and personal with the giraffe…

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…lion…

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…and tiger.

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It was a really great morning with lots of good family memories made! Stay tuned this week for more information on Zoo membership and all the great reasons to check out our Cleveland Metroparks Zoo!

After that, we headed to my parents house to stuff ourselves with guacamole and margaritas, as it should be on Father’s Day!

It was a fun, family-centered weekend! How was yours?

***Disclosure: I have an ongoing relationship with Legacy Village to promote their events. In exchange, I will receive compensation in the form of Legacy Village gift cards. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

Really, this post should be titled, “How to Do Wall-to-Wall 3rd Birthday Festivities.” We had lots of celebrating to do for Jeffrey’s birthday! On Friday, I visited Jeffrey’s class with cupcakes and a birthday story.

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Jeffrey requested rainbow cupcakes for his class, so I summoned every ounce of Pinterest-y creativity to create these:

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I took white cake mix, divided it up and added food coloring. Then I spooned each color into cupcake papers. And the result was kind of psychedelic and definitely kid-approved! Jeffrey loved putting the sprinkles on too!

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On Saturday, we hosted lots of Jeffrey’s friends (and our friends, too) at Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream‘s Ohio City location.

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We of course love the taste of Mitchell’s ice cream, but having the party right at the factory location added in the magic of watching the ice cream be made right in front of our eyes!

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Plus, the Rialto Room (upstairs) at the Ohio City location is bright, cheery, and the perfect spot for hosting a party, with views of both the factory and West 25th Street.

Since Jeffrey calls Mitchell’s “the ice cream train store” (because of the trains in each of their locations), we made our party Thomas the Tank Engine-themed. Before we enjoyed our ice cream, we munched on pizza from Rascal House.

Then, it was ice cream time!

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Our guests got to select their favorite flavor and we had to have plenty of sprinkles, too! Delicious!

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Jeffrey had such a wonderful time celebrating with his friends and their families! When everyone was singing “Happy Birthday,” I kept watching his face and it was filled with such pure joy. That’s the kind of moment you live for as a parent!

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I also can’t say enough about how easy it was to plan a party at Mitchell’s and how wonderfully helpful and sweet the staff were to us. I couldn’t have asked for more from this fabulous Cleveland business! If you want to have a party in the magical land of ice cream, click here for more details.

Then, on Sunday, there was one more party to be had, with our immediate family. Since Jeffrey is all about Paw Patrol, we went with that as our theme. Check out our matching shirts!

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Jeffrey also had this amazing Paw Patrol cake from Luna Bakery’s Custom Cake Shop.

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Luna’s cake designer worked with me to find out about Jeffrey’s favorite characters and create a cake that was just perfect. It even included a hand-painted Cali the Kitten on the front! It was not only adorable, it was delicious too! We chose chocolate cake with strawberry cream. Yum!

And Jeffrey got a very cool Big Wheel for summer biking adventures!

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It was such a fabulous weekend celebrating our favorite little man!

Today we’ll attend the Memorial Day parade in downtown Willoughby to help commemorate the day and remember those who sacrificed everything for our country.

I hope you are enjoying the unofficial start of summer!

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

What a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend! We kicked things off on Friday with a family overnight stay at Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky.

Jeffrey loves water parks and it’s always so fun to see as he grows that he’s able to enjoy more and more at the park. Great Wolf Lodge’s water park is great for toddlers, with several slides, a lazy river, and a splash pool that are all perfect for his size.

Our room was the family log cabin, which let Jeffrey have his own private section of the room, which was not only fun but functional.

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Aside from the water park, we also spent time at the Northern Lights Arcade. Jeffrey had a blast playing the games and winning lots of tickets! This was a great place to go after dinner or before the water park opened the next day.

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Speaking of dinner, we had both of our meals at the Gitchigoomie Grill, which offers a nice menu of family-friendly favorites. Jeffrey enjoyed the grilled cheese and cheeseburger. Matthew’s and my favorites were the mac ‘n cheese with smoked sausage and bacon and the brisket sandwich with onion straws and horseradish sauce.

And while you’re at it, stop by Baskets to get some fruity blender drinks while the kiddos enjoy the water!

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Great Wolf Lodge is really great for family’s with younger kids. From accessible food menus to a water park with lots of age-appropriate fun to tons of extra activities like story time, dance parties, and kids yoga to wolf ears at check-in, the entire experience was a great time for all of us!

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On Sunday, Matthew surprised me with a decadent Mother’s Day brunch at Fahrenheit. Since Fahrenheit began brunch service in March, I’ve been dying to try this new menu at one of my favorite restaurants.

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First, let’s discuss the amazing cocktail line-up, from several varieties of mimosas and bellinis to creative Bloody Marys. I had the Grand Cava, with Grand Marnier, Cava, and fresh raspberry.

Next up, the Marcona almond sticky buns. Holy layers of breakfast sweet goodness!

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We also shared the chicken sausage with roasted apples, which added a nice touch of savory to all the sweet!

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For my brunch, there was no doubt what I was going to order: the jumbo Cap’N Crunch pancakes with vanilla milk reduction and maple syrup.

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I am a cereal fiend and the combination of this breakfast classic cereal with light fluffy pancakes and that milk reduction…perfection!

What was even sweeter was sharing the day (and the entire weekend) with my wonderful family and feeling surrounded by love and happiness (and Cap’n Crunch and Cava.)

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