Why? Weekends!

It was a relatively low-key weekend, which is great because it feels like the next couple weeks are completely packed! On Saturday afternoon, Matthew, Jeffrey, and I went to visit baby Nolan, the new arrival for our friends Nathan and Lane.

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Nolan is just precious and we couldn’t be happier for Nathan and Lane! Since you always take the new parents food when you visit, we stopped to pick up lunch at On the Rise Artisan Breads.

From my curry chicken salad to Matthew’s pork bahn mi to Lane’s burrata sandwich, everything looked, smelled, and tasted just delicious! There’s such care put into the food at On the Rise. And we couldn’t pass up the amazing chocolate chip cookies!

On Saturday evening, Mom and I headed to another John Carroll University Founders Day celebration, this time with the newly-founded Akron Canton Alumni Chapter. We went to a restaurant that’s long been on my list: Trattoria Vaccaro.

We enjoyed a sampling of flatbreads and cheese before settling in for a huge and delicious meal. We had a limited menu to select from, which didn’t skimp of the flavor. I chose the lasagna bolognese.

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It’s honestly rare that I can’t (or don’t) finish an entree, but my goodness, this was gigantic! And so good! The bolognese was so flavorful and there was so much meat and cheese in each layer of the lasagna.

Mom selected the vegetable risotto, with zucchini, squash, and mushrooms. It was lighter than most risotto I’ve had and filled with flavor!

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For dessert, we had our choice between a selection of decadent and delicious mini parfaits.

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I’m so glad I was able to not only celebrate Founders Day with even more alumni, but also finally get to Trattoria Vaccaro! I will definitely be back to this warm, welcoming, traditional Italian spot.

Sunday, we had plans to attend a charity 5K at Jeffrey’s school in the morning, but Jeffrey was unfortunately feeling under the weather. So, a relaxing day at home was what was called for. With a little help from Heinen’s prepared foods on the potatoes, we made a delicious grilled chicken dinner (I am obsessed with Cidergeist Bubbles, FYI) and we wound down the weekend quietly.

Also, this weekend I shared my first post as a blogger for Northeast Ohio Parent. I’m so excited to have the opportunity to share our great Cleveland adventures on their site. I have found them to be required reading since having Jeffrey, so being a part of their team is truly an honor. You won’t see any changes here at Why CLE, but I’ll give you a heads up when I’m posting there (and if you’re not already familiar with the site, check it out!) 

How was your weekend? Are you feeling the oncoming busy-ness of spring in Cleveland?

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Why? Recess on Detroit!

Last night, members of Playhouse Square Partners and friends took to the Gordon Square Arts District for Recess on Detroit. The “recess” theme started last year with Recess on 25th. The event is a scavenger hunt through local businesses that not only puts you in touch with some of the cool places in a neighborhood, but also raises money for the Playhouse Square Bus Fund.

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Our evening kicked off at Old City Libations, where we enjoyed signature cocktails made with Old City Soda, as well as the chicken paprikash pierogi (OMG, so good).

From there, it was next door to the Near West Theatre, which moved into it’s beautiful new space in 2015 (I know that because it was a question on our scavenger hunt). While we weren’t able to go inside, we did get a fun photo opp in front of the marquis.

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Next up was Superelectric Pinball Parlor. This bright, fun, retro establishment boasts tons of pinball games to enjoy, as well as cool artwork to take in while you play.

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Finally, we ended our hunt with a sweet treat at Sweet Moses Soda Fountain and Treat Shop. Matthew and I shared the Bob Feller Sundae. While I’m not usually one to share ice cream, this sundae was large and rich and definitely good to split.

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Salted caramel ice cream is drenched in hot fudge and topped with Spanish peanuts, caramel corn, whipped cream, and a cherry. It’s the baseball classic Cracker Jack in ice cream form!

The scavenger hunt also encouraged to pick one other Gordon Square business to patronize, so we popped into the fun and funky Land of Plenty: Vintage and Modern, where I picked up an adorable postcard (watch your mail) and an equally adorable purple beaded bracelet.

It was back to Old City Libations to hear the results and while our team didn’t win the scavenger hunt, I feel like we’re all winners for having a fun night in a cool neighborhood for a great cause!

If you’re interested in checking out a Playhouse Square Partners event, our always-popular Trivia Night is happening on Wednesday, May 24 at Kennedy’s Theatre at Playhouse Square. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

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

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Why? Weekends!

It was a busy and fun first weekend of April! On Saturday morning, Matthew and I took Jeffrey to see Sesame Street Live at Playhouse Square. We purchased “Sunny Seats,” which not only provide great seats for the show, but also a Meet-and-Greet beforehand.

Jeffrey got to meet Elmo, Grover, and Telly, with lots of hugs, fist bumps, and dancing (on both sides). Seeing his total excitement over getting to meet the characters was the best part of the day!

Then it was on to the show, which was themed “Make a New Friend.” From classic characters and songs to new ones, the show was bright and engaging and filled some sweet and heartfelt lessons.

 

We all had a great time and from the laughter and dancing from the rest of the audience, we weren’t alone in feeling that way!

Saturday evening, Matthew and I attended the fifth annual Mass and a Meal event put on by the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. This mainstay chapter event combines Mass at Holy Rosary in Little Italy with dinner at Nido Italia for a really nice evening! My favorite part of the event is getting to have dinner with other alums, usually people I didn’t know before, and sharing stories and memories of our time at John Carroll.

The food at Nido Italia is always so good, served family-style for our event. We enjoyed breaded eggplant, salad, bread, lemon chicken, cavatelli, and spumoni. We were stuffed! But we couldn’t be that close to Presti’s Bakery and miss a chance to take home a couple cannoli!

If you’re a John Carroll alumni looking to connect at an alumni event, click here for a list of upcoming happenings in Cleveland and beyond!

On Sunday, we hosted friends for brunch. We’ve found brunch is a great time to get people together, but since we wanted to include kiddos and all, it was easier to make brunch in and be able to linger over our bloody mary or mimosa and talk as long as we wanted.

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I made crab, roasted red pepper, and gruyere strata (recipe here) and baked almond French toast (recipe here). These two recipes made me not have to make the always difficult brunch choice of savory or sweet…just have both!

Beyond good food, the company was wonderful! I especially love seeing Alicia‘s daughter Brenna and Jeffrey playing together!

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Sunday afternoon, Jeffrey had his first race in the Healthy Kids Running Series. The program offers a five-week race series, open to ages from 2 through 8th grade. For Jeffrey’s age division, the kids run a 50-yard dash.

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Jeffrey did a great job! Beyond just the race, there’s pre- and post-race stretching and local businesses that provide healthy snacks.

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It’s such a fun activity and a great way to ease into an organized, group sport. I’m excited for next week’s race!

And to counterbalance the healthiness, we made a stop at Rosati’s Frozen Custard on the way home, which just opened for the season this weekend. The Higbee’s Chocolate Malted was calling my name!

So, that was our weekend! How was yours?

***Disclosure: I am the president of the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Mia Bella Restaurant!

In a town that is packed with amazing restaurants, it can be tough to get around to all the places you want to go. I consistently heard great things about Mia Bella Restaurant in Little Italy, but I had yet to eat there.

On Sunday, we met up with friends for dinner at Mia Bella. We all met when our kids were in the same class at Goldfish Swim School…who knew swim class would produce such great adult friendships too?!

Matthew and I started by sharing the crab bruschetta, a special for the evening. The flavors were light and citrusy.

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For my entrée, I had the veal ravioli with artichoke, marinara, and basil. This traditional Italian dish was done perfectly and I enjoyed every single bite!

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Matthew chose the cheese tortellini, with tomato cream sauce, peas, and prosciutto. He also added a chicken breast to his meal. Mia Bella’s cheese tortellini was named a Taste of Little Italy Award Winner and it’s not hard to see why. Creamy, spicy, rich, and delicious…this dish had it all!

Our tablemates branched out beyond just the amazing pasta selections. The Chef’s Favorite pizza, with pesto, chorizo, smoked mozzarella, onions, and peppers, received rave reviews.

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The ribeye steak with baked rosemary potatoes and asparagus was also devoured!

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For dessert, the chocolate decadence (a light and airy mousse with a ganache shell) and the sea salt caramel chocolate soufflé (more lava cake than soufflé, but still delicious) made sweet endings to a lovely evening.

I’m so glad I finally got to Mia Bella Restaurant and I’m sure we’ll be visiting again soon! What is a restaurant that you keep meaning to try, but not getting around to?

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Why? Weekends!

The weather has finally turned warmer and everyone was out and about everywhere this weekend. No kidding, any place we found ourselves from errands to dinners was absolutely jammed. And that made me so happy! Get out there and stay out there!

I indulged in two studio yoga classes at Harmony Studios this weekend (usually I’m happy to sneak one in to my schedule).

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That, plus a barre class at Barre 3 Solon on Friday morning, left me feeling all the strong, centered, and (good) sore vibes!

On Saturday afternoon, I headed up to John Carroll University to speak on an alumni panel as part of Celebration Day, which brought admitted students in the class of 2021 (!) up to campus to learn more about their potential school.

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I was so pumped to see the #ThisisCLE sign up on campus!

It was great to chat with these students and their families about the impact of John Carroll not only on your college years, but beyond. Obviously, John Carroll was and is still a huge part of my life and it’s exciting to see people at the beginning of this journey!

Saturday evening, Matthew and I met up with new friends James and Jamie (we all met at Jump Back Ball!) for dinner at Ginko.

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In my opinion, Ginko has the freshest, tastiest, and most creative sushi in town. I always have to order the spicy scallop chips, with scallop, tobiko, scallion playfully served on top of Pringles. We also shared the spicy and flavorful blistered shishito peppers.

Then it was on to the sushi. From unagi with foie gras (yes, just yes) to sea bass (my first time having this sushi style and it was amazing) to the specialty Eye of the Tiger, Zeppelin, and Ginko rolls, every bite was spot-on delicious.

As we lingered and chatted, we realized we needed dessert and a nightcap. So, we headed right upstairs to Dante for just that. The Chocolate Decadence, the Chai Creme Brulee with spiced cookies, and the unbelievably vegan and gluten-free Cherry Tart all made appearances at our table and were fantastic!

What a great end to a really fun and yummy evening! It’s hard to beat a progressive dinner done Dante-style!

Sunday, in an effort to use up some of our Girl Scout cookies, I whipped up a batch of Thin Mint Brownies (recipe here). They are rich and minty and really delicious!

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If you have some extra Thin Mints around, I definitely recommend this as a way to use them!

And stay tuned tomorrow for a recap of another delicious weekend dinner, this time at Mia Bella.

So, that was our finally-feeling-like-spring weekend. How was yours?

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Why? Pinot’s Palette!

Last month, my sister-in-law Elizabeth and I got together for a fun girls’ night at Pinot’s Palette. Wine and paint events are really popular, but what sets Pinot’s Palette apart is the fact that you’re doing your painting (and drinking) in studio space specifically designed for this type of experience.

From lots of trained artists helping you create your masterpiece to access to all the additional supplies, framing materials, and so on that you could need to the right space and lighting, Pinot’s Palette certainly makes sure you have the right environment in which to create your work of art. You can even go back during Open Studio hours to get some help making touch-ups if need be.

Of course, there’s also the full bar, in case you need some liquid artistic ability. From wine to beer to mixed drinks, you can find a nice selection of options to unwind while you paint.

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Elizabeth and I went on an evening featuring a painting of the Cleveland skyline as seen from Edgewater Park. From the buildings to the Cleveland script sign, this painting had it all. And while my finished product might not be a total masterpiece, I do think my love for Cleveland come through in it.

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Pinot’s Palette has two locations in Northeast Ohio: Olmsted Falls and Woodmere. The evening events are perfect for a girls’ night or a group outing (there was a corporate group in attendance when we were there). Evening classes are open to children 13 or older with a paid adult. Pinot’s Palette also offers “Little Brushes” classes that take place during the day and are designed for families with children ages 7 and older.

Both studios offer a variety of paintings, from artistic to playful to Cleveland-themed, so you can find the painting event that will let you create a picture that will look perfect in your home. I’m not a very artistic person, but I genuinely had a great time at Pinot’s Palette, thanks to the company and the great staff.

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Check it out next time you want to unleash your inner artist!

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Why? Weekends!

The luck o’ the Irish was with us for a fun weekend! On Friday morning, a leprechaun visited our house and left these adorable sugar cookies (from Luna Bakery & Cafe) as a more fun, festive breakfast option.

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I love how excited Jeffrey gets about holidays at this age! It makes celebrating them a lot of fun. And while our St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have changed from bar-hopping…

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Back in the day…

to cookies for breakfast and dinner with my parents, we can still have a good time (and corned beef, beer, and an Irish coffee for dessert).

On Saturday morning, my friend Tracy and I met up for a SkyFit class at SkyZone. This was quite a tough workout that combined cardio, strength training (thanks for the arm strength, yoga!), and stretching, all on the trampolines. While I’m not sure this will be a regular in my workout rotation, it was a fun way to spend an hour and I always appreciate a friend who’s willing to try something new!

Saturday afternoon, we took Jeffrey to his first Easter egg hunt of the season (already?) at the Broadview Heights Rec Center.

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The aquatic Easter egg hunt had plastic eggs floating in the pool that the kids could grab while splashing through the water (and since registration was divided by age, it was easy and safe for the kids). The eggs were traded in for a seasonal goodie bag with bubbles, stickers, and more.

Plus, after the egg hunt, we got to meet the Easter Bunny, enjoy juice and cookies, and make a craft, too.

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As I mentioned, Jeffrey is getting so much more excited about each holiday, so this was a fun way to kick off the Easter season!

On Sunday, Jeffrey’s weekend of fun and sweets-eating continued with his friend’s birthday party. The party was PJ Masks-themed. I definitely wasn’t up on this, but the characters are super cute, particularly my little super hero!

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We had a fun, family-centered weekend. Now we’re just ready for some warmer, dryer weather! How was your weekend? Did you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

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Why? Soul Connect Tribe!

One of my favorite parts of blogging is getting the chance to connect with passionate Clevelanders doing amazing things in our city. Soul Connect Tribe first caught my eye on Instagram, with inspirational quotes and lots of positive messaging. Seriously, this feed is like a warm hug.

From events like alternative girls nights out to a Galentine’s Day celebration, I loved the events I was seeing and I loved the vibe. I had to know more. Well, what’s beautiful about Katie, the founder of Soul Connect Tribe, is that she’s all about connection. Not just posting, but really connecting.

So, she didn’t think I was weird when I said we needed to grab drinks (or she didn’t let on) and when we sat for two hours at Humble Wine Bar the other night, it felt like I was there with an old friend.

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So, what is Soul Connect Tribe? It’s a little bit of everything soulful: coaching, Tribe gatherings, collaborative events,  and online community. Katie is a trained soul coach. My first question: what does that mean? Katie explains it herself here, but what really resonated with me was this explanation: she doesn’t get you through something, she gets you to something.

Soul Connect Tribe also puts on Tribe gatherings and collaborative events, from girls’ nights that give you the opportunity to connect with others in the Tribe to the new Sunday Soul Sessions, a walk and talk group coaching experience in the Cleveland Metroparks.

For me, Soul Connect Tribe’s mission is analogous to a lighthouse. It’s a beacon to like-minded ladies who want to connect in a safe space; who want to talk about their hopes and dreams and gain some guidance in finding the path that is right for them; who want to tap in to their inner power and inspiration, but maybe need a little push to find it.

And I can tell you that Katie is all heart, full of genuine caring and compassion, so easy to talk with, and super passionate about what she’s doing with Soul Connect Tribe. So whether it’s one-on-one coaching, a Tribe gathering, or just dipping your toes in the warmth of the social media feeds, you’ll gain so much by connecting with Soul Connect Tribe!

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Why? Weekends!

I went into this weekend feeling like we didn’t have much planned, but we certainly managed to fill the time! After school on Friday, I took Jeffrey to Playground World. Since last Friday’s unseasonably warm weather, he keeps asking to go play outside, so I figured an indoor playground was the next best thing.

He had a great time and burned off a lot of energy, so much so that he ended up just chilling in a hammock for awhile!

Friday evening, we stayed in and enjoyed a tasty dinner with shrimp and asparagus penne (recipe here) paired with the North Coast Syrah from CLE Urban Winery.

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The spicy Syrah was a perfect match with the pasta, which had a bite from red pepper flakes. I’m really impressed with CLE Urban Winery’s selection of wines (plus, I love the names and labels)!

On Saturday, we all bundled up and headed to the Lake Metroparks Farmpark. It’s the season at the Farmpark when there are lots of new lambs and kids. We even got to see some one-day old baby goats.

We also got to take advantage of Maple Sugaring Weekends. There are lots of special activities, from sampling maple syrup and maple candy to tapping a maple tree by hand. Jeffrey loved the sweet maple candy!

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Maple Sugaring Weekends continue March 11-12 and all the activities are included with your regular paid Farmpark admission.

You can also see tons of handmade, award-winning quilts at Quilts 2017, at the Farmpark through March 29.

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So, whether you like baby animals, maple syrup, or warm blankets (or all of the above), the Lake Metroparks Farmpark has something for you right now!

Since we came home with a quart of delicious maple syrup, it seemed only right to make breakfast for dinner on Saturday night. This was my first time making homemade pancakes (recipe here) and while my flipping skills need work, the result was quite tasty.

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I also made Fresh Fork Market breakfast patties (a delicious combination of bacon and sausage) and Pope’s Kitchen Bloody Mary’s. So much local goodness in one meal!

Sunday morning, I got up and out bright and early to meet up with my friend Abby for a class at Barre3 Legacy Village. It was the perfect start to my week, with a great workout provided by our teacher Kylie.

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Kylie incorporated a lot of familiar yoga postures into the class, so I felt right at home. And having a friend to shake and quake with made the tough parts of class much easier!

When I got home, I discovered Matthew and Jeffrey making macarons. Yup, you read that right. Well, I suppose I earned a cookie or two after the barre class, right?

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Sunday evening, we met up with friends Elizabeth and Andrew and their daughter Mia for dinner at Brim Kitchen + Brewery. This is our second time at Brim and I’ve yet to be anything less than fully impressed with both the beer and the food.

I had the Fe-BLUE-Larry beer, a fruit beer that wasn’t overly sweet. It was 8.3% ABV, but was deceptively easy-drinking. We all shared the Chips & Dip appetizer, with edamame hummus, avocado mash, and golden beet puree (my favorite of the three yummy dips).

For my entrée, I got the mac and cheese and added grilled skirt steak. The steak was perfectly done and added great flavor to the already tasty mac and cheese.

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Brim Kitchen + Brewery is quickly becoming a go-to spot for us. Their “Full Glass, Full Plate, Full Heart” motto comes through in everything they do!

So, that was our weekend! How was yours?

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Why? Jump Back Ball!

The 26th annual Jump Back Ball at Playhouse Square transported guests back to the 1920’s with glitz, glam, flappers, and speakeasies.

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We started our evening in the VIP reception and seated dinner. The cocktail reception featured performers from Cleveland Burlesque, passed appetizers, drinks, and fun photo opps.

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We then moved into the lobby of the Allen Theatre for a delicious dinner provided by The Driftwood Group that featured roasted chicken, potatoes, and vegetables.

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I love having a seated dinner option at Jump Back Ball to have a chance to both relax with friends and fuel up for the dancing and fun to come.

After dinner, we all headed to the State Theatre (with a stop to take in the sounds of Wesley Bright and the Honeytones). The decor was created by members of Playhouse Square Partners and was nothing short of gorgeous!

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On the State Theatre stage, there was tons of dancing and singing along with Faction, who did a phenomenal job playing a mash-up of everything from the 80’s to today, rock to pop. Of course there were plenty of friends with whom to enjoy all the music and dancing and cocktails too!

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I’m so grateful for all the wonderful people that Partners has brought into my life! They make everything from Jump Back Ball to board meetings a good time.

The one hiccup to an otherwise flawless evening came when one of my dress straps decided to stop working, right in the middle of the Cupid Shuffle (and the State Theatre stage, for that matter). Thank goodness for the prepared and helpful Playhouse Square Red Coats, who helped me out with a safety pin, and for fellow JBB-ers who helped fix me back up!

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Seriously, though, JBB 26 was a wonderfully fun and well-executed evening, all to support the Playhouse Square Foundation. After 26 years, Jump Back Ball remains one of the premier fundraising galas in Cleveland! If having fun was illegal, we would have been caught by the fuzz for sure!

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I can’t wait to see what Jump Back Ball 27 will have in store!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Playhouse Square to help promote Jump Back Ball. In exchange, I received one complimentary ticket when I purchased a ticket of equal value. Also, I am the vice co-chair of Playhouse Square Partners. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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