Why? Thyme Table!

I had heard so much good buzz about Thyme Table, so I was excited to meet up with my friend Beth for dinner there this week. I got even more excited when I was greeted in the parking lot by this awesome Lisa Quine mural.

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I love Lisa’s work and I love this punny message, too!

Beth and I snagged seats at the bar (Thyme Table is small and popular, so you might end up there, but it’s still a great experience either way) in the last moments of happy hour, which goes until 6pm.

Thyme Table’s happy hour includes select wine, beer, cocktails, and appetizers for $5. The Lobster Tots were included on the happy hour menu, which made them even more irresistible.

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The Lobster Tots have lobster meat, bacon, scallions, cheese sauce, chipotle aioli, and cilantro. So decadent and so delicious!

I didn’t order my cocktail from the happy hour menu, but it was worth it. I had the Friends with the Bartender, with bourbon, grilled pineapple, mint, and ginger.

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Beth chose the BBQ and Beer Braised Short Ribs for her entree, wild cheddar grits and garlic broccolini. Perfect comfort food for a winter night!

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I had the Crispy Chicken Confit, with sweet potato puree, roasted Brussel sprouts with bacon, and mustard jus.

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The chicken was juicy, with just enough crisp to the skin. And the sides were a perfect compliment. The jus added a mustard tang, without being overwhelming.

From the drinks to the food, Thyme Table delivered and I can see why this cozy, tasty spot is getting such a fan following.

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Why? Weekends!

It was a busy weekend, with lots of buddies, beverages, and brunches, so let’s get right to it…

100th Day of Kindergarten

On Friday, Jeffrey’s class celebrated their 100th day of Kindergarten. All the kids had to make a project using 100 of something they love, so Jeffrey built a roller coaster with 100 LEGOs.

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He was so proud of the project, plus his class made special 100 day t-shirts and crowns, too. I can’t believe the school year is more than half over!

Griffin Cider House & Gin Bar

On Friday night, I met up with Amanda at Griffin Cider House & Gin Bar for some low-key cocktails and catching up. We happened to run into our friend Kate, too!

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Griffin Cider House has an expansive gin selection, but if gin isn’t your thing (and it’s not mine), there are still plenty of great cocktail choices, like this bourbon apple cider that I thoroughly enjoyed.

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It’s a chill spot that’s perfect for hanging out with friends!

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink

On Saturday, I gathered some of my favorite ladies for a Galentine’s brunch at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink.

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From bottomless mimosas to delicious food, this was the perfect spot for our celebration. I had the shrimp and grits, with andouille, poached eggs, and a truly spicy and flavorful hot sauce.

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The grits were the perfect texture and this dish had a lot of great flavor!

I also highly recommend a side (or two) of the focaccia bread, which was served piping hot in a mini cast iron skillet.

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Most of all, it was a great morning spending time with some of my girls. I am so lucky to have friends from a lot of different areas of life. Around the table were ladies I met in high school and college and through blogging and motherhood. They all blend together so well and it just makes getting everyone together such a joy!

Blu the Restaurant

On Sunday, I was back on the brunch bandwagon at Blu the Restaurant. My dear friend Anne is heading to Honduras on a mission trip this week, so after her missioning Mass, we wanted to take her out to brunch to send her off well.

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We shared the spicy hash, with barbecued potaotes, jalapeno, poached egg, and spicy hollandaise to start. Everyone agreed these were the tastiest potatoes they’ve ever had.

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We also shared the mimosa bottle service, with blood orange, orange, and pomegranate juices.

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For my entrée, I had the stuffed peppers, with veal and pork stuffed peppers and marinara, topped with fried eggs. I liked the brunch twist on this traditional Italian dish!

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Jeffrey had the Yaya’s Pancakes, which were somewhere between a biscuit and a muffin in terms of shape and texture, and were entirely devoured!

This was a great spot for brunch and I definitely have my eye on a few other menu items for the next time we go back!

I snuck in a bit more food fun this weekend at the soft opening of Proof in Tremont, so stay tuned for that later this week…

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Why? Zhug!

The newest hot spot in Cleveland Heights is Zhug, featuring a delicious menu of Middle Eastern small plates. Even on a Tuesday night, this relaxed space was packed with energy.

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My friend Melissa and I checked it out for her birthday dinner and were delighted with the flavors and unique options. Melissa is a vegetarian, so we stuck toward those menu choices, although I couldn’t resist the braised lamb, with crispy carrots, dates, cocoa, and pecorino.

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This sauce was rich and flavorful and the crispy carrots added the perfect amount of texture and slight sweetness.

Melissa and I shared the harissa peanut hummus, which is one of the top three hummus dishes I’ve ever had!

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We also enjoyed the crispy Brussel sprouts, with pine nut and pomegranate…

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…and the whole roasted cauliflower, with golden raisins and almond chimichurri.

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I love small plate concepts, where I can taste and share a lot of different bites! Everything we ordered at Zhug was loaded with flavor and surprising twists that added Middle Eastern flair to the dishes.

This welcoming, bustling restaurant is perfect for a date night, where you can explore different tastes together, or for a girls night out. Whether sharing for two or for a group, you can explore a range of different options all in one meal.

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Why? M Cellars!

It’s no secret that I love visiting Ohio wine country, especially M Cellars. Not only are they a small business that is relentlessly committed to quality, they are also committed to supporting other local small businesses in the products they use in their tasting room. To put in simply, they’re doing it right and putting out tremendous wines in the process.

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I recently had a chance to talk with Matt and Tara Meineke about what makes M Cellars so special. First, if you have the chance to visit the winery and meet Matt and Tara, you’ll instantly see why I vibe so much with M Cellars. They’re a young couple who took on this passion project and are balancing the business along with raising two young girls, making time for each other, and just being charming, lovely people to talk to.

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The vision for M Cellars started on Matt and Tara’s trips to Niagara on the Lake. They fell in love not only with the wineries, but with the wine-making styles they discovered in that region. Matt started experimenting with making wine at home and in 2007, they were able to acquire the land to start M Cellars. They planted grapes with the guidance of the agriculture program at Ohio State University and, since 2015, M Cellars wines have been crafted entirely with grapes grown on site.

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M Cellars is truly a labor of love and a family business. You’ll find Matt down in the cellar making the wine or out and about talking to wholesale buyers to increase M Cellars footprint.

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And you’ll find Tara behind the counter at the tasting room or sharing M Cellars’ story on social media. They’ve taken their personalities, passions, and strengths and poured them into different aspects of the business to make it work.

Matt and Tara pride themselves on M Cellars offering something distinctive and different than the typical Ohio wines. Through their years in business, they have stayed true to that mission, not trying to overreach, but rather excelling in their niche.

One of the distinctive varieties of wines you can find at M Cellars are sparkling wines, which are not typical for Ohio vineyards. Sparkling wines are labor-intensive, but Matt and Tara have a passion for them and work to produce some amazing ones, including the Brut Rosé, which is my favorite of the wines that M Cellars offers (maybe…I really like the Meritage too…and the Pinot Noir.)

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There are many ways you can experience the distinctive difference of M Cellars wines. You can visit the tasting room, which is cozy and homey and gives you the opportunity to try and buy several varieties of M Cellars wine.

You can visit one of the several fabulous Cleveland-area restaurants and bars that carry M Cellars wine, including Urban Farmer, Quintana’s Speakeasy and Bar, Adega, Table 45, Lola, The Flying Fig, Toast, Spice Kitchen and Bar, Craft Collective, Beach Club Bistro, and Bistro 83.

Or you can join one of M Cellars’ wine clubs, which offer everything from bottles shipped to you monthly to more hands-on, tasting-room driven clubs with exclusive events and tastings.

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You’ve heard me mention M Cellars a lot on the blog and it’s because I’ve never failed to have a stellar experience whether in the tasting room or enjoying one of their wines at home. But getting to know Matt and Tara has only increased my love for the winery. There’s nothing better than supporting a small, local business that is committed to quality, to growing and strengthening the region, and to having fun while doing it.

Cheers to M Cellars!

***Disclosure: I was asked to tell M Cellars story. In exchange, I received complimentary wine. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

This weekend recap could also be titled “How I spent most of my weekend in Tremont…”

Great Big Home and Garden Show

On Friday afternoon, Jeffrey and I checked out the opening day of the Great Big Home & Garden Show at the I-X Center.

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We especially enjoyed checking out the Garden Showcase and getting a breath of spring in January!

This year’s gardens are themed on One-Tank Trips and showed off a lot of creativity in imagining nearby destinations in gardens.

From model homes to ways to decorate both the inside and outside of your house, there’s something interesting for everyone to find at the Great Big Home & Garden Show!

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The show runs through Sunday, February 9. You can save $1 off your online ticket purchase with code CLE2020.

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Great Big Home & Garden Show. In exchange, I received two complimentary tickets to the show.***

Prosperity Social Club and Literary Tavern

On Friday night, I was out and about in Tremont with friends for dinner and drinks. We started at Prosperity Social Club, which offers great food and drinks in a casual atmosphere.

 

I had the Maple Bacon Old Fashioned (yum) and the fried chicken (double yum.) The chicken was crisp on the outside, juicy on the inside, and paired perfectly with the mashed potatoes.

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Simple, classic, delicious food in an easy-going setting. Sounds like the perfect place to end the week!

From there, we headed over to Literary Tavern. This cozy bar serves up craft cocktails and small plates in an intimate environment.

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I enjoyed the Blood Fountain, with OYO Bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and red wine. Both the taste and presentation of this drink are spot on!

Game of Thrones Bar Crawl

On Saturday, it was back to Tremont for the Game of Thrones Bar Crawl to benefit A Special Wish Cleveland. When you registered for the crawl, you picked a house (Targaryen for us) and then went from bar to bar with your house.

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From The Treehouse to Post 58 to Crust to the South Side to Dante, we covered a lot of ground on the Tremont bar scene.

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And it was all for a good cause! What a fun way to spend the afternoon!

Children’s Theater Series

Before the bar crawl, Jeffrey, my mom, and I attended another of the Children’s Theater Series shows at Playhouse Square.

This show was “The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Eric Carle Favorites,” presented by Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. This puppet-based theater company did a lovely job presenting these classic stories in a bright, engaging way.

The Children’s Theatre Series is a great way to introduce your child to live theater in a friendly way, with shows that speak directly to them.

So, that was my weekend! How was yours?

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Why? Weekends!

It was another fun and busy weekend, so let’s get right to it…

Quintana’s Speakeasy

On Friday afternoon, Mariah and I slipped away for an afternoon cocktail at Quintana’s Speakeasy.

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Tucked upstairs from Quintana’s Barber Shop, the speakeasy has all the atmosphere of stepping back in time, including a secret entrance (nope, you have to figure it out for yourself.)

I had the What Do Wine Know?, with house mulled wine, ginger syrup, lemon juice, and soda. I love mulled wine and this was a refreshing twist on it!

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I can’t wait to go back and try more delicious drinks in this super intimate location!

Upward Basketball League

On Saturday morning, Jeffrey had his first game with his Lil Cowboys team as part of the Upward Sports basketball league.

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From the announcement of each player, complete with a tunnel to run through…

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…to the fun of the actual game…

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Jeffrey loved every minute!

I’ve been really impressed with the Upward league’s focus not only on skills, but also sportsmanship and character building. It’s going to be a great season for the Lil Cowboys!

Children’s Museum of Cleveland

From there, it was off to a birthday party at the Children’s Museum of Cleveland.

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The museum has really grown since it’s opening, adding new exhibits like Meadow (for little ones), Playlist, Theater, and Brick Works.

If you saw a group of crazed almost six-year-old boys tearing through the museum, that was our group!

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Jeffrey and I rounded out our Saturday with a Cavs game with the John Carroll Cleveland Alumni Chapter.

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We had a reception in one of the new banquet rooms at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, complete with awesome views of downtown and delicious food.

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And while we only made it until halftime (it was a long, busy day), we loved watching all the NBA action!

Catholic Schools Week

On Sunday, we kicked off Catholic Schools Week with a Mass and open house at Gesu Catholic School.

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I can’t believe just last year, Jeffrey went to the open house as a prospective student and now he’s showing off his Kindergarten classroom and projects.

His teachers are just wonderful and I’ve been so happy with his progress this year! I also just love being part of such a warm, caring community.

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So, that was the weekend. Lots of good time with my favorite kiddo (and a little mom break too!) How was your weekend?

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Why? Masthead Brewing!

Last night, Alicia and I grabbed a casual and yummy dinner at Masthead Brewing before heading over to the Hanna Theatre for a show. While you wouldn’t necessarily think of Masthead for a pre-show meal, it’s within a short walk or an inexpensive Uber ride to the theaters.

While I know I like Masthead’s craft beers (the Single Origin Coffee Stout and Falling Fruit are my favorites currently on tap there), I opted for a cocktail last night. I had the Bourbon Jam, with Watershed Bourbon, Grand Marnier, orange bitters, orange juice and raspberry preserves.

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Sweet, but not too sweet, this cocktail was right up my alley!

Alicia and I shared the new-to-the-menu Meatball Pizza, with crushed red pepper, red sauce, and fresh basil.

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I love Masthead’s thin-crust pies and this one is packed with traditional Italian goodness!

We also shared the Brussel Sprouts, with Ohio apples, roasted shallots, bacon, maple syrup, and apple cider vinegar. Because we felt better about devouring the pizza with some vegetables nearby.

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Actual footage of me devouring the pizza

We also shared the Everything Pretzel, with pimento cheese, stadium mustard, and IPA honey mustard (my favorite of the dips.)

Then it was off to see “The Office! A Musical Parody” at the Hanna Theatre. The show was funny and light and a great tribute to the sitcom we loved.

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Masthead made the perfect casual stop before this casual show. Next time you’re in the area, grab a pizza and a beer and enjoy! And Masthead is celebrating their Third Anniversary Party tomorrow, so drop in and celebrate!

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Why? Weekends!

It was a fun weekend in Cleveland, as we bounced between spring and winter weather…

Disney on Ice

On Friday night, Jeffrey and I attended opening night of Disney on Ice Presents Road Trip Adventures at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

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Disney always puts on a fantastic show, between great costumes, fun songs, and amazing skating and acrobatics.

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We got to see favorites from Frozen, The Incredibles, Toy Story 4, Mary Poppins, Aladdin, The Lion King, and more.

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Our seats were in the “Extra Magic Zone,” so we had lots of up close time with the characters! Jeffrey’s face says it all…it was a magical show!

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Disney on Ice Presents Road Trip Adventures is at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse through Sunday, January 19, with shows on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Click here to purchase tickets. If you use code WHYCLE, you can save on tickets to the 7pm shows on each day.

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Disney on Ice. In exchange, I received two complimentary tickets. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

JCU Alumni Retreat

On Saturday morning, I attended an alumni retreat at John Carroll University. I always love being back up on campus, but I find it especially conducive to reflection for me.

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The retreat focused on releasing things from the past year that were no longer serving us and cultivating healthy habits for the year to come. The retreat even started with an hour-long yoga flow, which you know always puts me in a great mindset!

One of the most moving parts of the retreat was when all the participants wrote down on flash paper something they wanted to release moving into 2020. We each lit the paper on fire and watched our something be released into the air.

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I got so much out of both our personal reflection time, as well as the group sharing that we did. Campus Ministry and the Cleveland Alumni Chapter did a fantastic job planning a meaningful morning!

Winter Wonder Cleveland

On Saturday afternoon, I made a return to Winter Wonder Cleveland, which is fun, interactive “Instagram museum” where you can play and get some great photos, too.

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Since I first visited Winter Wonder Cleveland, there are some new interactive elements at the Griswold House, as well as some new artwork from Platform Beer Co

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…and an even more in-depth mirror room.

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Winter Wonder Cleveland is open through Sunday, January 26. There’s so much more than just Christmas fun to experience here. Instagram museums are becoming the hot new thing and Cleveland has its own for just a bit longer, so check it out while you can. For hours and tickets, click here.

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Winter Wonder Cleveland. In exchange, I received complimentary admission. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Phunkenship Barrel Room Yoga

On Sunday, I checked out a familiar yoga teacher (Alicia) in a new-to-me setting (Phunkenship by Platform.)

Phunkenship is Platform Beer’s dedicated sour-beer facility, which also has a very cool taproom for enjoying those sour beers. I had a The Wolf at the Door, a dark-chocolate raspberry stout.

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But before enjoying the beers, we enjoyed an hour-long vinyasa flow in Phunkenship’s barrel room.

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Alicia is teaching at Phunkenship on the second Sunday of every month, so check out the schedule for some savasana and sours combined! For $15, you get the hour-long class, plus a beer. The laughs are free!

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So that was my weekend! How was yours?

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Why? Mecklenburg Gardens!

For New Year’s Eve this year, my friend Anne invited me to take a road trip with her to Cincinnati to ring in the new year German-style.

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Anne’s friends Chris and Allison own Mecklenburg Gardens, the oldest restaurant in Cincinnati. Mecklenburg Gardens was established in 1865 and is still serving up delicious German food and beer, with the distinction of being named America’s Best Beer Garden by Travel and Leisure Magazine.

While it was too chilly to enjoy the outdoor gardens, we did get to experience the bier hall, which was filled with old-world charm.

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Mecklenburg’s Midnight in Munich party included a champagne toast at 6pm (midnight Munich time); a delicious buffet of German favorites like sauerkraut balls, a whole roast pig, and German chocolate cake; live music; and lots of fun.

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Seriously, all New Year’s Eve celebrations should happen at 6pm. I was in my PJs on our hosts’ couch before midnight.

While our trip to Cincinnati was super short, I was absolutely delighted with Mecklenburg Gardens and the hospitality we received. I definitely want to head back down south soon to explore more of the city, so let me know if you have any recommendations of where to go!

And if you find yourself in Cincinnati, check out Mecklenburg Gardens for a delicious taste of old-world Germany!

How did you ring in the New Year?

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Why? Weekends!

So, is anyone else confused as to when the weekend actually started (or ended for that matter?) It was a lovely, relaxed holiday weekend around these parts…

Laurentia Vineyard and Winery

On Friday night, I met up with my friend Michelle for dinner at Laurentia Vineyard and Winery. Michelle and I went to college together and hadn’t seen in each in way, way too long!

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It was wonderful to reconnect and so easy to chat. Plus, Laurentia makes for such a pretty, cozy place to meet.

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I tried the 2016 Pinot Noir instead on my usual Cabernet Sauvignon and really enjoyed it! For dinner, I had the Roast Chicken Gnocchi, with chicken, spinach, mushrooms, parsley pesto, and bone broth.

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The flavors were delicate, which made me glad I chose the Pinot Noir over the Cabernet.

It was a fabulous night of good food, good wine, and reconnecting with a good friend.

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Despite not having the outcome we were hoping for, my friend Anne and I had a great time on Saturday night watching Ohio State play in the Fiesta Bowl.

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We went to Brew Garden in Strongsville, which has tons of both bar and table seating and lots of TVs, making it the perfect place to take in a game.

They also have a great beer selection, with lots of Ohio brews (we both liked the Twisted Kilt from Thirsty Dog.) We shared the Spinach and Artichoke Dip and the Mean Green Nachos, which were both tasty and good for splitting.

Next time there’s a big game, check out Brew Garden for a place to watch it!

Adrenaline Monkey

Jeffrey had a high-octane adventure at Adrenaline Monkey on Sunday.

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It’s a great place for kids (and adults) to run, climb, jump, swing, and get out some of that pent-up winter break energy.

Adrenaline Monkey has winter break day camps and extended hours while the kids are out of school, so check it out. I can vouch for it buying us an extra hour and a half of sleep this morning, too!

Little Women

On Sunday, my mom and I went to see Little Women. Having read the book and seen various film adaptations, I was still so excited to see this new version.

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The cast is superb, the cinematography and costumes are beautiful, and the story is the one you know by heart, even if you didn’t remember that you do.

It is heartwarming and beautiful and empowering, so grab your best friend, your mom (or if, like me, they’re one and the same), and get to the theater to see it!

So, that was the weekend. Not bad for the last of the decade. How was yours?

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