Why? Puerto Vallarta!

We’re back! And I can’t wait to tell you all about our fabulous vacation in Puerto Vallarta. Our friends Justin and Nick invited us to join their group staying in Puerto Vallarta and we left with a tan and a ton of new friends, too!

Playa Fiesta

We stayed at this gorgeous, boutique hotel called Playa Fiesta.

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Playa Fiesta specializes in weddings and small groups and provides a beautiful, intimate, service-focused vacation. We’re used to staying at larger resorts, so staying at a 28-room hotel was a shift for us. But what I loved was how we got to know everyone from the staff to the guests and how the entire time felt like one big party with friends.

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The food at the resort was amazing, too. Unlike the bigger resorts, Playa Fiesta has one restaurant, but the offerings at breakfast, lunch, and dinner were diverse and delicious. The French toast became a morning favorite and the pesto chicken salad at lunch was not to be missed.

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And whether it was a fajita bar or ordering off the menu at dinner, we were never disappointed in the quality of the food.

Downtown Puerto Vallarta

Playa Fiesta is close to downtown Puerto Vallarta, which allowed us the opportunity to go into town and explore.

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The boardwalk area in Puerto Vallarta is lovely, with tons of restaurants and shops and a beautiful pier.

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We had dinner one night at La Palapa, a restaurant with tables right on the beach so that you could watch the sunset. The food was delicious! The seafood was so fresh: grilled octopus and shrimp to die for!

Between the sunset and strolling mariachi players, it was a perfect Valentine’s meal!

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But it’s not just fine dining that you can find in Puerto Vallarta. A favorite spot among our group was Blondies, an alcoholic slushie bar that was fun and breezy and the perfect cocktail spot.

After a few Blondies, Matthew decided to try strapping a jetpack to his feet and levitating over the ocean. He had a blast!

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We loved going down into Puerto Vallarta! The city has a lot of charm and character!

Rock Star Sailor

We spent an entire day sailing around the Bay with Rock Star Sailor charters. Captain Rick was awesome, making the day relaxed, fun, and filled with great sailor stories.

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We spent the entire day out on the boat. Not only did we get to see an incredible sunset, but we also got an amazing show from the humpback whales living in the Bay.

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That splash is a whale! We got to see them play and splash and have a great time. It was incredible!

We also had some amazing food on the boat, from mahi mahi ceviche to grilled skewers to avocado stuffed with shrimp. And don’t get me started on the margaritas!

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What a perfect day out on the water!

We both feel so lucky to have been able to have the chance to get away, make new friends, and experience such a beautiful place in the world!

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Why? Hook & Hoof!

There is definitely a foodie renaissance happening in downtown Willoughby, with new, more chef-driven restaurants opening in the area. One of these is Hook & Hoof, which offers cocktails and food that are thoughtful and interesting and delicious!

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I had the Bardstown Fire cocktail, with Buffalo Trace bourbon, Pierre Ferrand dry curacao, hickory smoked salt, Geauga County maple syrup, black walnut bitters, and oak barrel stave smoke. This drink was rich and warming, with just a hint of smokiness.

Our group shared the smoke kissed clams and mussels to start.

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The broth, with lager and coconut milk and chorizo, was drinkably delicious. We definitely requested extra toasted baguette to soak it all up!

For my entree, I chose the caramelized scallops, after much debate over all the yummy-sounding options.

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Served with butternut squash risotto, black truffle pate, and blood orange reduction, this dish was packed with delicate flavors that didn’t overpower each other. The scallops were perfectly cooked and the risotto was fabulously creamy.

Matthew got the Butcher’s Cut, which was elk that night. Served with boursin smashed potatoes, lemon zest roasted broccolini, and tomato burgundy demi.

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Our dinner companions, Nick and Justin, both got the tomahawk pork chop, which was so good that it’s forgivable that they double up on the order.

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Served with sweat tea brine, crispy fried fingerlings, demerara sugar and bacon brussel sprouts, local apple and green tomato chutney, and horseradish crema. There were a lot of elements to this dish, but they all combined so well!

We all split the creme brulee cheesecake and bourbon bread pudding for dessert.

What a decadent end to a fabulous meal!

Hook & Hoof has amazing food and cocktails in a cozy, modern bistro setting. Downtown Willoughby has upped it’s food game and Hook & Hoof is worth a stop to see what’s going on!

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Why? Weekends!

As we jet off today for vacation, I’m reflecting on what a fun weekend we had to send us off from Cleveland!

The Beauty Room

On Friday, I headed to what has quickly become my favorite pampering spot: The Beauty Room. Seriously, mimosas and manicures get me every time!

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I got my vacation manicure and pedicure looking perfect, plus Jeffrey had a chance to hang out with one of his fairy godmothers: Kimberly.

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It was a win-win!

Zen at the Zoo

On Saturday morning, I met up with my friend Katie for Zen at the Zoo, hosted by the Cleveland Zoological Society‘s Ambassadors Circle.

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We enjoyed an hour-long yoga class in the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo‘s Primates, Cats, and Aquatics Building. The monkeys seemed particularly interested in our antics once we started to flow!

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I love practicing in unique locations and the Zoo definitely made for a great environment for the class! Plus, we got to stick around after class to enjoy more of the Zoo’s animals.

Ambassadors Circle is the young professionals group associated with the Cleveland Zoological Society. They help raise money for the Cleveland Zoological Society and host lots of fun events, including their signature Zoo Clues and Brews scavenger hunt, scheduled for August 30.

Donut Fest

For the second year in a row, Donut Fest brought a sweet party to Red Space, with a selection of 11 amazing local donut purveyors.

Donut Fest is definitely a pace-yourself event, because you could easily over sugar yourself on all the delicious donuts. Pro tip: make lots of stops at the Hartzler Family Dairy table for their milk to wash down the donuts.

The crowd favorite award was handed to Brewnuts, whose peanut butter Nutella donuts were pretty dang amazing.

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I also have some awards to hand out (completely made up and without any trophies):

Best Traditional Offering: The creme stick from Madsen Donuts

Freshest: Peace, Love, and Little Donuts was serving their donuts warm, including these tasty raspberry zingers

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Best Fruit Donut: The apple pie donut from Circles on the Square

Best Vegan Donut: the vegan peanut butter and jelly from Holey Toledough

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Most Unique: This foie gras-filled creation topped with pistachio and bacon from Urban Farmer Cleveland

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There was a ton of donut deliciousness on display at Donut Fest from traditional to truly unique! Tickets sold out in a day, so keep your eyes open for next year’s event!

Yoga at Nature Center at Shaker Lakes

Continuing my quest to down dog all over town, I attended a free yoga class on Sunday at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes. The class was taught by teacher trainees from Yoga Roots, so it was not only a great flow, but a great chance to help the teacher trainees get some experience.

If you’re interested in attending, there are two more opportunities: Saturday, February 17 at 10am and Sunday, February 25 at 2pm. Click here for more information.

It was a great weekend! I have posts scheduled for the week, so you’ll still get more Cleveland goodness here. And if you enjoy a little peek at warmth and sunshine, I’ll have plenty of that for you on Instagram this week!

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Why? Annie’s Signature Sweets Tart Class!

While I love to cook and bake, there are certain items I don’t generally take the time and effort to make. Tarts are definitely one of those precision treats that I love to eat, but don’t often make.

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So when my friend Ann of Annie’s Signature Sweets said she’d be teaching a tart-making class, I immediately signed up!

The class was held at the commercial kitchen where Annie’s Signature Sweets shares space in the Hildebrandt Provisions Company building. This building is a great example of making use of existing space to give up-and-coming small businesses a place to work their craft.

Ann took us through how to make the perfect tart dough.

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And then we got to roll it and shape it into 4-inch tart pans.

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While the shells were baking, we all helped make three different tart fillings: chocolate ganache, lemon curd, and sauteed apples with brown sugar.

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Then we got to pick our fillings and our tasty additions. I added raspberries and chocolate-covered espresso beans to my chocolate ganache tart, blueberries to my lemon curd tart, and oats and caramel to my apple tart.

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Everyone had their own spin on adding to the fillings, which were delicious even on their own. I took home 4 homemade tarts, as well as a ton of knowledge on how to make these tasty treats for myself.

Ann made learning how to make pastry fun and relaxed. Everyone in the class worked together and we all felt like friends by the time we left. If you want a hands-on experience that gives you a tasty take-home gift, Annie’s Signature Sweets is offering another tart class on Sunday, February 11 from 11:30am-1:30pm. Cost to attend is $45.

And if you need some professional tarts for a party, meeting, or just your average Wednesday, Annie’s Signature Sweets sells the same 4-inch tarts we made in the class for $6 a piece in pecan, chocolate, lemon, and cherry oat. Click here to order and to see the other offerings such as cookies, cheesecakes, and larger tarts. Support this sweet local small business!

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Why? Weekends!

Phew! It was a super busy weekend in the CLE! Here’s what we were up to:

Cleveland Goes Red Luncheon

On Friday, I donned a sassy red dress and headed to the Cleveland American Heart Association‘s Go Red for Women Luncheon.

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The event kicks off with a fun and educational expo, with health screenings, CPR training, heart-healthy Jeopardy, photo opps, silent auctions, and more.

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I brought my best little buddy and biggest motivator to stay heart healthy with me! He had a great time too!

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After the expo, we headed into the luncheon, which not only featured a tasty, heart-healthy meal, but also speakers sharing their personal heart health stories and doctors sharing information on how to be heart healthy and recognize signs and symptoms of a heart attack, which are very different in women than in men.

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The theme of this year’s luncheon was “Everyone Plays a Role,” which is really true. From donating to the American Heart Association to educating ourselves and others, we all can help to reduce heart disease as the number one killer of women. I know I want my heart to be strong and healthy so that I can enjoy life with Jeffrey!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Cleveland American Heart Association Go Red for Women Luncheon. In exchange, I received a complimentary ticket to the luncheon. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Vodka Vodka

On Friday night, Matthew and I went to Cleveland Scene‘s Vodka Vodka event at Red Space.

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The event included vodka cocktails from Skyy Vodka, Three Olives, Tito’s, and Amsterdam Vodka.

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I really liked the Skyy Pineapple Apple Spritzer and the Tito’s Cosmo, which was made with Cleveland’s own Pope’s Kitchen mixers.

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You could also grab tasty, vodka-soaked treats like strawberries and gummy bears.

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And enjoy truffles made with liquor from The Bom.

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The tunes were pumping with a great DJ and there was a fashion show featuring local boutiques like Whiskey Grade and Tres Sorelle.

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The atmosphere was clubby, energetic, diverse, and fun! I do enjoy a vodka cocktail and when you add in lots of local fun too, you have the makings of a great Friday night.

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Cleveland Scene’s Vodka Vodka. In exchange, I received two complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Hot Mommas at JBB

Playhouse Square Partners Jump Back Ball is right around the corner and this year, we are going with a group of friends who have never been to the event before. So, in order to fully chat dresses and jewelry and all the trimmings of the evening, we had a girls night in.

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We’ve dubbed our group “Hot Mommas at JBB” and you can see why, obviously. I can’t wait to share one of my favorite evenings in town with these fabulous friends!

Yoga/Brunch

I really love that Alicia has increased her Yoga/Brunch offerings at Dante Next Door, because it means I can enjoy this perfect way to kick off Sunday Funday even more often.

My friend Beth and I met up and practiced a strengthening, opening, Alicia-patented wonderful flow. Then we headed downstairs to Dante Next Door for mimosas and brunch. I couldn’t pass up the crab cake Benedict.

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The crab cakes are meaty, the eggs are perfectly cooked, and the Hollandaise adds just the right lemony tang.

The Yoga/Brunch events are a great way to spend a Sunday morning. $15 gets you an hour-long yoga flow, plus a complimentary mimosa or coffee afterwards. You have two more chances in February: the 11th and the 25th. Click here to register.

The rest of Super Bowl Sunday was spent vegging with the Puppy Bowl, Justin Timberlake, and “This is Us.” How was your weekend?

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Why? GrooveRyde!

On Friday night, a group of fabulous Clevelanders gathered at GrooveRyde Downtown, brought together by one of my favorite Cleveland movers and shakers, Alicia. The evening was called “Cleveland Connects,” which we did, not only with GrooveRyde, but with each other!

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Anjua and Zosimo, the husband and wife team behind GrooveRyde, welcomed us to their new downtown location and took us through shortened versions of three of their signature workouts. And thanks to the awesome attendees, the energy in the room kept us going through all three!

We started with Beat Box, a boxing/boot camp combination that got your heart pumping and your muscles burning. What a way to work out the week’s aggressions!

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Next up was Groove Cycle, a to-the-beat cycling class that combined sweat and motivation for an awesome ride!

Finally, Anjua introduced us to Buti Yoga, which combines yoga with tribal dance and natural, sensual movement.

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That’s the description, at least. I’m pretty sure my Buti Yoga didn’t look that natural, but Anjua assured us that it’s something that takes practice to both understand the movements and let go of inhibitions.

After the scorching workouts, we had a chance to refuel and refresh with goodies from Raw Trainer (OMG, their notcho cheese is the best thing ever)…

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The RefreshinQ Co., whose muscle cream definitely got me through a sore day-after…

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…and NOOMA, The Beauty Room, and Lululemon Crocker Park.

Anjua also talked to us about GrooveRyde’s “Heart and Hustle” philosophy.

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The idea is to find what it is your heart wants and then put in the hustle to make it happen. It’s still going to be work, but you’ll enjoy it! And it’s clear the GrooveRyde crew enjoys where they’re putting in their hustle!

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For an awesome workout from a passionate group of people, whether you like boxing, spinning, or yoga, check out GrooveRyde, either Downtown or Woodmere. And stay tuned for their new location coming to the Van Aken District.

***I was invited to attend the complimentary Cleveland Connects event at GrooveRyde. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

So, the theme for this past weekend is: “Staying in is the new going out.” It wasn’t even because of the weather…we just had a lot of plans to hang out at friends’ houses and it was pretty perfect!

Taco Bar Night

On Saturday, we hung out with friends Ritch and Denise and their kiddos. We had a build-your-own-taco bar and the kids had lots of fun playing their version of rock band…

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…and superheroes (I had some fun with that, too).

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I volunteered to bring dessert and made this delicious and easy apple crisp (recipe here).

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Top it with some Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream and you have the perfect sweet end to a fun evening!

Yoga/Brunch

The only thing more likely than yoga to pull me out of hibernation is the combination of yoga, brunch, and two of my best babes. I met up with Kimberly for Alicia‘s Yoga/Brunch at Dante Next Door on Sunday morning.

A perfectly-paced yoga flow centered on balance in the new year was followed by a perfectly chatty brunch.

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Alicia is such an inspiring and motivating teacher! And the chance for some good girl time and pancakes after class made this an even more wonderful Sunday morning!

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The berry pancakes at Dante Next Door are not to be missed! You can check out another session of Yoga/Brunch this Sunday, January 21 or Sunday, February 4, 11, or 25. Cost is $15 for an hour-long yoga class, plus a complimentary mimosa or coffee at brunch. Click here to register.

Pasta Perfection

Sunday evening, I stayed on the carb train with our friends Melissa and Tim. They make homemade pasta every Sunday and invited us over to not only eat, but help make the pasta!

 

I had never made pasta before and the process was really fun, especially sharing it with friends! And the end result was SO delicious!

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Melissa’s homemade sauce was the perfect compliment to the pasta. And after eating such fresh pasta, I don’t think I’ll ever eat boxed noodles again!

It was such a fun weekend and, except for the necessary yoga and mimosa, I’m pretty sure that staying in is the new going out! Who’s having us over next weekend?!

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Why? Weekends!

Other than our road trip to Columbus, there was plenty of other fun to keep us busy this weekend…

Duck Donuts

While we were down in Columbus, we took the recommendation of our fellow bloggers and made a stop at Duck Donuts. Duck Donuts makes hot, fresh vanilla cake donuts, to which you can add your choice of glazes, sprinkles, and drizzles.

They also make donut sundaes, which is what Matthew and I decided to order.

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The cake donut was moist and delicious, but what I learned is, much like Barrio or Happy Dog, I can’t be trusted to created my own delicious flavor combinations. I’m an order-from-the-menu girl.

Disney on Ice

Saturday night, we took Jeffrey to see Disney on Ice at Quicken Loans Arena. I can remember going to see Disney on Ice as a kid, so it was really special to be able to share the experience with Jeffrey.

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This year’s show is themed “Dare to Dream” and focuses on Disney’s strong female heroines, from Cinderella to Belle to Moana.

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Jeffrey loved the show! Disney on Ice is still at the Q for more performances from Thursday, January 11 through Sunday, January 14. If you click here and use code WHYCLE, you can save up to $10 on your tickets. It’s a fun family experience that’s full of magic!

Free Community Yoga with Awake to My Soul YTT

When I started practicing yoga, my first teacher was Ylonda, who spoiled me from the get-go by teaching an amazing blend of fired-up workout and soulful inspiration. Ylonda recently started her own yoga teacher training. And now her teacher trainees are offering free community classes every Sunday at Praxis Fiber Workshop in the Waterloo Arts District to help them gain teaching experience.

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Praxis Fiber Workshop is an awesome, artsy space and it provided the perfect location for a Sunday morning sweat session. If you’re interested, the free classes are offered every Sunday at 10:30am and will be taught by a different Awake to My Soul YTT trainee. It’s an awesome way to get some yoga in your day and help a future amazing yoga teacher, too.

Sunday Funday

Sunday evening, we had the perfect staying-in Sunday Funday with some of our favorite friends.

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We had lots of delicious food from Café Melissa

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…lots of laughs and catching up time and just a great evening belatedly ringing in the new year.

How was your weekend? Are you ready for this week’s “heat wave?”

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Why? Weekends!

It was a pretty quiet end to 2017 over here. Here’s the weekend recap:

Yoga Roots and barre3

I ended 2017 and kicked off 2018 with my two favorite workouts in my two favorite places to do them: Yoga Roots and barre3. Yoga Roots helped me send out 2017 with a fabulous flow in their studio with marvelously heated floors. And barre3 started my 2018 with their “b3 All In” kick off.

It’s definitely an evolution for me to want to end one year and start another centered around workouts. But I’m committed to keeping both fitness spots part of my new year!

New Year’s Eve Party

On New Year’s Eve, we all went to a party hosted by our friends Jason and Patty. This casual, kid-friendly New Year’s Eve gathering let everyone from kids to grown-ups ring in 2018 together.

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I made Buffalo Chicken Dip for the party (similar recipe here) and we also munched on some really tasty pizza from Longo’s. Jeffrey actually stayed up until midnight to yell “Happy New Year!” and pop some confetti poppers. It was a fun way to ring in 2018!

The rest of the weekend was spent staying warm…

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…visiting family…

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…and getting ready to resume a regular, post-holiday routine this week. Jeffrey feels the way all of us do about that.

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How did you ring in 2018?

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Why? Weekends!

Holy holiday festivities, Batman! What a busy, fun weekend! Let’s get to it:

TWC Christmas

One of our most-anticipated holiday evenings is TWC Christmas. “TWC” stands for the “Tri-County Wives Club,” a silly shorthand that Alicia, Amanda, Kimberly, and I came up with for our little group.

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Every year at Christmastime, we gather for way too much food, lots of bubbles and beer, a hilarious White Elephant gift exchange, and games.

It’s a relaxing night in the middle of a crazy time of year and a wonderful chance for all of us to see each other before we’re off to family commitments.

This year, we played a new game: What Do You Meme? (thanks, Jessa!). It led to lots of laughs, plus Amanda and I trying to create a new Obama-Biden meme.

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It was another merry TWC Christmas!

Cavs Wine & Gold Nation Breakfast with Santa – *sponsored*

On Sunday morning, Matthew, Jeffrey, and I went to the Cavs Wine & Gold Nation Breakfast with Santa at Quicken Loans Arena, a complimentary event for Wine & Gold Nation members and their families.

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There was so much to see and do, from visits with the Cavs Girls and mascots…

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…to crafts like making reindeer and snowmen…

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…to story time with the Cleveland Public Library to donuts and coffee to enjoy…

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…to a visit with Santa Claus, of course. I think Santa got a lot of requests for another Cavs championship!

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It was a fun morning and a great benefit of Cavs Wine & Gold Nation membership, which is definitely focusing on families and experiences outside just the games themselves. Cavs Wine & Gold Nation has memberships for all age levels that make great Christmas gifts!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Cavs Wine & Gold Nation membership. In exchange, I received a complimentary Cavalittles membership for Jeffrey. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Mapleside Breakfast with Santa

Because why wouldn’t you go to two breakfasts with Santa in one day? We are insane(ly festive). Our next Sunday stop was at Mapleside Farms for their first annual Breakfast with Santa.

We enjoyed a full breakfast buffet in the beautiful and rustic Mapleside Barn, with visits from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Grinch.

After breakfast, we boarded a decorated wagon for a short ride over to the sweet shop to decorate (and eat) cupcakes…

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…and take a dunk in the chocolate fountain.

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Then it was another audience with Santa. Jeffrey is in this sweet spot of really understanding all the things that Christmas can mean, but also fully believing without question. It’s pretty magical this year!

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Our day ended with the create-your-own caramel apple bar, which is how days should end more often!

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Yum!

It was such a fun, festive weekend! How was yours?

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