Why? Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Membership!

One of our favorite places to go, both with Jeffrey and as a couple, is the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.  From amazing special events to incredible exhibits that let you get up close and personal with the animals to a commitment to wildlife conservation, there’s so much to love at the Zoo!

 

We’ve found that the best way to enjoy the Zoo is with a membership. Because your membership gets you unlimited free admission to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and The RainForest, you don’t feel the pressure to see everything in one day, which is definitely a benefit when you combine a 3-year-old with a Zoo as big as ours!

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We also save on carousel rides, which is always a must-ride for any Zoo trip!

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We’ve also used our membership to save money at reciprocal zoos around the country from as close to Akron to as far away as Corpus Christi.

You can choose the membership level that’s right for you, from Individual Plus to Family Select, with varying levels of guests, perks, and more.

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A Zoo membership pays for itself in about two visits, which is easy for anyone to accomplish. So, what does membership get you?

  • Free unlimited admission to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and The RainForest for one year – go right to the gate, no waiting in line
  • Discounted daytime admission to more than 150 zoos nationwide
  • Subscription to award-winning Z Magazine
  • Discounts on camps and educational programs
  • Exclusive invitations to special events
  • 10% discount on purchases at Zoo gift shops
  • Discounts on carousel rides and Total Experience packages
  • Discounts on Twilight at the Zoo (in May only)

Membership contributions support the Zoo and its efforts to promote wildlife conservation and education both within your Zoo and around the world.

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As you can see, a Zoo Membership features a lot of benefits and gives you access to one of Cleveland’s finest and most fun attractions! And I have a discount code that lets you save 15% on a membership!

When you purchase a membership online, enter code WHYCLE to save 15% on the Individual Plus, Family, Family Plus, or Family Select membership levels. The discount code expires on August 31, 2017.

I hope to see you at the Zoo soon for a wild time for all ages!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote zoo membership. In exchange, I received a complimentary membership renewal for myself, as well as the discount code for readers. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Tough as Milk and Peripeti Home!

When you spend all week worrying that the outdoor yoga class you scheduled to be held in your backyard will get rained out and you forget to worry about it being 90 degrees…

On Saturday, I hosted a yoga class in my backyard, which was kind of like a dream come true for this vinyasa-loving girl. But this wasn’t just any yoga class, it was a “Shift,” a donation-based class to benefit Tough as Milk.

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Tough as Milk is a local organization that provides trauma-informed fitness and wellness classes to women who are survivors of domestic violence, particularly while they are in shelters. These classes are taught with the specific needs of domestic violence survivors in mind and can help them start to find healing and peace in their bodies during traumatic times.

Tough as Milk’s founder, Bilyana, taught our class and shared a bit of the harrowing story of domestic violence that she and her mother endured at the hands of her father.

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Yoga was a way for Bilyana to find healing in her own life and now she is bringing her unique insights into domestic violence survivors and her passion for yoga to incredible use and purpose.

I know how much yoga has helped me in my own life to find peace, strength, calm, and insight.

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I can only imagine how powerful a force it could be for someone coming through the struggles of domestic violence. I am so grateful to the women in my life who showed up for this amazing cause and for a lovely (albeit hot) afternoon of connecting through movement and intention.

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Even Fitz got into it!

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If you’re interested in hosting a Shift of your own, you can learn more here and you can stay up-to-date on Tough as Milk’s upcoming public events here.

And I can’t fail to mention that adding a bit of ambiance to our yoga Shift were some Nature’s Shield candles from the Cleveland-based Peripeti Home.

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I connected with this great local business and we decided that keeping the yoga Shift bug-free and smelling lovely seemed like the perfect thing!

The Nature’s Shield candles smell great, naturally keep pests away, and burn cleanly and for long time (we had them going most of Friday night when we were in the yard too.) Peripeti Home was nice enough to provide take-home gifts for all the yogis, too!

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These candles are made here in Cleveland with natural soy, use a wooden wick so they crackle like a campfire (LOVE), and come in a bunch of fabulous scents and designs (obviously the Cleveland landmark series is my favorite.)

You know I love to support and spread the word about great local businesses! Peripeti Home is not only putting out great products, but they were eager to partner up for an event combining yoga and charity, which makes them super cool in my book. You can purchase their products online or check out their social media feeds for where else to find them!

Stay tuned for the rest of the weekend recap, coming tomorrow!

***Disclosure: I was contacted by Peripeti Candles to help promote their Nature’s Shield candles. I was provided with two Nature’s Shield candles for my own use, as well as mini candles to give to those attending the yoga Shift. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

 

Why? American Heart Association Cleveland Heart Ball!

When you combine an event I’ve never been to before with a place I haven’t been to yet, you get one excited blogger!

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Which is why I was feeling so excited to be attending the American Heart Association Cleveland Heart Ball, held at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown. This gorgeous hotel with sweeping city views made for the perfect location for the black tie gala. (Also, I kind of cried sending back my Rent the Runway dress.)

The theme of this year’s Heart Ball was “Hoops and Dreams” and everywhere you looked, basketball was part of the event, from a locker room celebrating the sponsors…

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…to the table decor…

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…to cheerleaders…

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…to famous basketball faces…

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…to the chance to shoot some hoops yourself.

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Amanda and I enjoyed the VIP room and the social suite before dinner, with nibbles, wine, and conversation.

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Then it was on to a delicious seated dinner, with seasonal salad, tender beef short rib, and decadent dessert.

During dinner, we also had the chance to participate in a live auction, as well as open donation time (which raised an amazing $202,000 alone.) We were inspired to bid to help the Cleveland American Heart Association by listening to event chairman Terry Fergus talk about his grandson, Ray, who suffers from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, but is still incredibly active, hopeful, and eloquent about his future.

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Ray’s story and learning how the research funded by the American Heart Association can benefit him and so many others gave an entirely new meaning to “Hoops and Dreams” and made the evening not just glamorous, but also so meaningful.

The mood lightened again at the Overtime Party put on by the Young Professionals Board, with a DJ, concession-style munchies, and more basketball fun.

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It was a truly great evening for such an important cause. The Cleveland American Heart Association hopes to make heart disease a thing of the past and that is a dream definitely worth shooting for!

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***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the American Heart Association Cleveland Heart Ball. In exchange, I received two complimentary VIP tickets, as well as two tickets to the Overtime Party. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

It was a busy, fun, summery weekend in the CLE! On Friday night, my friend Melissa and I met up for Zippity Zoo Doo, a fabulous fundraiser for the Cleveland Zoological Society.

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This year, the Cleveland Zoological Society is celebrating 60 years of supporting the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo‘s conservation efforts and educational programs. The event raised an impressive $300,000 through ticket sales, a Wild Side Silent Auction (I scored a great package of gift cards and tickets for summer fun), and the Giving Tree donations.

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The Driftwood Group provided delicious food, from passed appetizers (the coconut chicken was my favorite) to small bites (the beet and goat cheese pasta was to die for) to mixology drinks, including a special and yummy Zootini, served in a souvenir martini glass.

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There were also fun giant games to play, like Jenga, Scrabble, and Connect 4.

Melissa and I got to take on some of the Cleveland Gladiators in Connect 4! And how’s this for symbiotic content: I have a Gladiators ticket giveaway going on now!

We also got the chance to meet the Zoo’s new Amur tiger, Hector, who was enjoying his first night in the Roseborough Tiger Passage.

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From delicious food and drinks to games and music to majestic creatures to benefiting a great cause, Zippity Zoo Doo had everything that makes an event truly spectacular! There are two more great events to benefit the Cleveland Zoological Society scheduled this summer: Twilight at the Zoo and Date Night at the Zoovies.

On Saturday morning, Jeffrey, my mom, and I went to the Macedonia Funfest because we love summer festivals with rides, games, and fun!

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Plus, it gave us an excuse to stop by Rosati’s Frozen Custard, which is just so yummy on a hot day!

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Then on Sunday, we decided to beat the heat at the newly-opened Cedar Point Shores Water Park.

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From the brand new kids area with tons of slides and fun critters for the kids to great new thrill rides for the grown ups, Cedar Point Shores expanded the water park fun and the access to and views of Lake Erie.

There are also expanded food selections, updated seating and cabanas, and more. This will definitely be a summer destination for us!

So, that was almost all of the weekend…stay tuned tomorrow for my recap of the Cleveland American Heart Association Heart Ball! How was your weekend?

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote their events. In exchange, I received one complimentary ticket and one discounted ticket to Zippity Zoo Doo and I will receive complimentary tickets to Twilight at the Zoo and Date Night at the Zoovies. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

This weekend was so chock-full of fun and food and awesomeness, so I’m going to try to get through it all (but I’m saving a bit for tomorrow)…

Friday was our fifth anniversary, so Matthew and I had a special weekend planned. I kicked it off by heading in the direction of the rest of our weekend plans, spending Friday morning at Cedar Point with Jeffrey and my mom.

 

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We have season passes and just love taking Jeffrey up to enjoy our world-class amusement park (click here for my tips and tricks for enjoying Cedar Point with your little one.) He is a ride monster and it’s so fun to see him not only enjoy the rides he can go on, but also daydream about the ones he wants to ride when he gets bigger.

Then Matthew met up with me for dinner at Chez Francois in Vermilion. This restaurant is 100% worth the drive and knows how to elevate a special occasion to a true experience with fabulous service that is unhurried, yet responsive; decadent food; a lovely, rustic French atmosphere; and a wine list to die for.

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Matthew and I chose the prixe fixe menu, which meant six course of deliciousness. Some of our favorites were the seared tuna with daikon radish,

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the Wagyu beef tartare with quail egg

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the quail stuffed with prosciutto and served with morel mushrooms and sweet potato mousse,

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the soft shell crab over sea beans,

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and the Chilean sea bass over Lyonnaise potatoes with local asparagus.

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We had an absolutely amazing dinner and enjoyed every relaxing minute of the three hours we lingered over our meal.

We spent the night at Captain Montague’s Bed & Breakfast in Huron.

This lovely old home, decorated impeccably was a great spot to stay. We had a short walk to the lake, plus the veranda near the pool was a lovely place to relax with a glass of sangria.

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The breakfast on Saturday morning was delicious and the company and hospitality were great, too. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay near the wineries, Vermilion, and Cedar Point, I highly recommend Captain Montague’s.

We spent our afternoon on Saturday at some of the wineries in the area, so stay tuned tomorrow for more on that!

We had to scurry back to Cleveland for Saturday evening, as we were attending the Cleveland Play House Gala with some fellow members of Playhouse Square Partners.

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I think it’s so great that local arts organizations support each other, because we all benefit from a mutually strong arts community.

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The theme of the Gala was Grand Illusion and the spectacle of the event was extraordinary! There was also a live auction with amazing packages that raised funds for Cleveland Play House’s education programs, a delicious dinner from The Driftwood Group, and fabulous music from Bluewater Kings Band.

It was a fabulous night supporting the first regional theatre company in the country (and a Tony Award winner, too!)

On Sunday, Jeffrey and I stopped by Legacy Village to check out Art in the Village, a strolling art show with everything from jewelry to wall hangings to wood carvings.

Despite the rain, we had for checking out all the different art work and brought home a couple pieces, too!

So, that was (almost) all of our crazy, busy, lovely weekend. How was yours?

***Disclosure: I am the vice co-chair of Playhouse Square Partners. Also, 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.***

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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!

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Why? Weekends!

We had a really fun weekend! On Saturday, we did one of our favorite things to do: had friends over for dinner. Especially when the weather is nice, there’s nothing like being outside on the patio, watching the kids play in the yard, and enjoying some great company!

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My friend Maria (we met in our freshman year in college!), her husband, and their adorable daughter recently moved back to Cleveland and I couldn’t be happier to have them nearby! And I think Jeffrey is pretty happy about it too, given how sweet the kiddos were together!

I made one of my favorite summer dishes: chicken kebabs with tons of fresh veggies (bell peppers in lots of colors, zucchini, mushrooms, and pearl onions). I used this recipe for the marinade and it was as easy as it was tasty!

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And rose season is in full swing over here!

On Sunday morning, Matthew, Jeffrey, and I went to Day Out with Thomas put on by the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

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I’m so impressed with the events put on by the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad! They are fun and well-organized and the volunteers are just the sweetest!

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The Day out with Thomas includes a half-hour train ride, photo opps with Thomas and friends, an Imagination Station with train tables and coloring, model trains, and lots more!

Day Out with Thomas also happens this coming weekend, May 26-28, and tickets are still available online. This is a magical family time not to be missed!

Sunday evening, we took a stroll up to the Downtown Willoughby Rib Burn Off. It’s amazing how this event has grown to feature tons of bands, BBQ restaurants, and fun!

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We enjoyed ribs from two Downtown Willoughby favorites: Olivor Twist and Nickleby’s Roundbar. Both were finger-lickin’ good!

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I love how many fun events and great restaurants are in Downtown Willoughby! We always have such a great time there!

So, that was our weekend! How was yours?

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Why? Grapes and Ale!

Friday night was chilly and rainy, but luckily we had lots of delicious barbecue and wine to keep us warm. Matthew and I attended Our Lady of the Wayside‘s Grapes and Ale fundraiser at Progressive Field.

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From Strip Steakhouse‘s lobster mac ‘n cheese to The Cutting Board‘s braised chicken and mac ‘n cheese to the pulled pork slider and mac ‘n cheese from Smokin’ Rock and Roll (OK, so maybe I just really love mac ‘n cheese), the food was great!

We were also impressed by Garden Grille & Bar‘s scallop and rib offerings in the VIP room, as well as Cupcake Cravings‘ yummy mini sweets.

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Of course, there was lots of wine and craft beer to pair with all this food. I always can find old favorites and new wines I love, with over 300 different wines to sample, all of which are conveniently available at Giant Eagle.

Of course, being at Progressive Field led to some fun photo opps and a generally summery, festive atmosphere (despite the weather!)

Our Lady of the Wayside is celebrating it’s 50th year of providing needed services to those with developmental disabilities. Proceeds from tickets, auctions, and raffles at Grapes and Ale benefit this mission, including the new home being built in Summit County. It was a great night for a great cause!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Our Lady of the Wayside to help promote Grapes and Ale. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary VIP tickets for myself and 2 general admission tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? American Heart Association Cleveland Heart Ball!

There are some amazing parties in Cleveland and the American Heart Association Cleveland Heart and Stroke Ball is sure to be a slam dunk. As we continue to celebrate Cleveland’s championship season, this year’s ball is themed Hoops & Dreams. The evening celebrates the work and mission of the Cleveland American Heart Association, as well as the volunteers and donors who advance the mission and the lives of those impacted by those efforts.

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The Cleveland Heart & Stroke Ball takes place on Saturday, June 10 at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown. The evening includes a cocktail reception, silent auction, dinner, and live auction.

Plus, you can keep the party going at the Overtime Party with the Young Professionals group, with open bar, concession-style food, and more. Tickets for the Heart & Stroke Ball are $500 and for an extra $50 you can join the Overtime Party fun! You can purchase tickets online.

So, how do you get ready for such an amazing evening? A black tie party takes lots of prep for a guest! Step one: find a great date!

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Matthew is out of town that weekend, so this pretty lady will be my perfect plus one!

Step two: Find a fabulous dress! Since it’s an American Heart Association event, I figured red would be the right choice. Rent the Runway has become my go-to for a black tie event. It’s easy to use, has great selection, and I can look fantastic without committing to a dress that I won’t wear all that often. I recommend getting the dress delivered on Thursday for a Saturday event. And the free second size is always a good idea, too!

My only problem is that I’m kind of in love with more than one dress! So, help me choose between this one, this one, and this one! Vote for your favorite in the comments!

 

Any of these dresses warrant some great bling! I love Bombay Taxi Boutique, Banyan Tree, and even Nordstrom for jewelry and will definitely be snagging something sparkly to compliment whichever dress I decide to wear.

Step three: Beautification prep. You want to look and feel your best for a big event! I love how barre3 makes me feel toned and strong, but it can also make me a bit sore, which is not ideal for a long evening in heels. So, I’ll stack those earlier in the week and then hit my favorite Harmony Studios class the morning of the event that will leave me feeling centered.

It’s always nice to have a facial, but make sure to leave enough time to allow any redness to fade before the big night. As for the day of, definitely a hair style and maybe a makeup application too. It takes the stress off, makes you feel lovely, and is just relaxing. That’s the best way to float into a magical evening!

Step four: Have a fantastic time! The best thing about events like the Heart & Stroke Ball is that it’s not just a great party, it’s for a great cause. You can feel good about your contributions to the cause and, if you follow the steps above, you can also feel good about how you look and feel for the night. Every girl needs a glamorous evening!

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I hope to see you at the Heart & Stroke Ball, fulfilling Hoops and Dreams!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland American Heart Association to help promote the Heart & Stroke Ball. In exchange, I will receive 2 complimentary tickets to the event and the Overtime Party. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

We didn’t let the rain slow us down this weekend, as there was lots to do and plenty of fun to be had! On Friday evening, Matthew and I took Jeffrey to a sneak peek of “Truck,” one of the shows that made up the International Children’s Theater Festival at Playhouse Square.

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The sneak peek was for Playhouse Square Partners Encore Society members and started with a cocktail and hors d’oeuvre reception, where Jeffrey caught up with some of his favorite Partners.

The performance was supposed to take place outside, but given the weather, the truck for “Truck” was relocated to a loading dock that made a pretty great makeshift theater. Bridgman Packer Dance put on a fun and interesting performance, all inside a U-Haul box truck, after which we had time to chat with the artists.

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They were even kind enough to let Jeffrey check out the truck and their cool video effects!

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The next morning, we were back at Playhouse Square for more International Children’s Theater Festival fun! While I volunteered at the craft room with fellow Partners members, Jeffrey, Matthew, and his dad went to see “The Moon’s a Balloon.”

While volunteering, I got to check out the imaginative, upcycled “The Junkyard,” a magical world made entirely of recycled materials.

The International Children’s Theater Festival has so many cool components, from theater performances to concerts to crafts to face painting and balloon artists.

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All of it opens the imagination to new worlds, both for adults and kids. Definitely put it on your must-do list for next year!

Saturday evening, Matthew and I met up with friends James and Jamie for dinner at one of my all-time favorite Cleveland restaurants: Momocho. We started with margarita and guacamole samplers, which are fabulous since I can never decide which margarita or guacamole I want to eat!

My margarita sampler had the red bell pepper, blood orange, and hibiscus margaritas, which were all fantastic (although the spicy mango remains my all-time favorite). Our guacamole sampler had the goat cheese, pickled corn and crab (my favorite), and smoked trout guacamole.

For dinner, Matthew had the scallops, with achiote creamed corn and cauliflower-hominy disco.

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All the elements of this dish work together so well! I had the Dos Equis-braised beef short rib tamales with red and green mole sauces.

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Smoky, tender, delicious perfection!

For dessert, we shared the Mexican chocolate pot de crème, which is a very sharable size and the perfect sweet and spicy way to cap off our Mod Mex dinner.

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The atmosphere, drinks, and food at Momocho are never anything short of fantastic and our dinner on Saturday was no exception!

On Sunday, Jeffrey had his final race in the Healthy Kids Running Series, a five-week program of races for kids from ages 2 through 8th grade.

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All the kids earned a medal at the end of this week’s race, which Jeffrey has been proudly wearing since. It was a great way for him to start an organized sport and have fun, too! The parents also had the chance to participate in a 1-mile Fun Run, which I did, mainly to earn this tasty Burger Fresh burger…

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…and some Mitchell’s Ice Cream after the race!

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Seriously, though, I’m really proud of Jeffrey for completing the series and think it’s a great way to get both kids and parents being active together!

So, that was our weekend! How was yours?

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

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