Why? Weekends!

It was another busy, fun, and festive weekend! On Friday, I had some of Jeffrey’s little buddies for a holiday play date (more on that later this week).

Saturday morning, I volunteered with other fellow Playhouse Square Partners members at Tinsel Town. The lobby of the Connor Palace Theatre was filled with Christmas crafts, hot chocolate, pictures with Santa and Slider, and lots of other festive fun.


There was also a Chinese raffle and silent auction to raise money for the Bus Fund, which helps make trips to Playhouse Square possible for school children.

My volunteer task was escorting Slider around the event. As a longtime Cleveland Indians fan, this was a perfect job!


Matthew and Jeffrey attended the event and had a great time! They got to decorate cookies and make candy cane reindeer…


…we had an audience with Santa…


…and perhaps my favorite was the balloon artist who made a dinosaur wearing a Santa hat to match Jeffrey’s sweater!


It was a great way to spend the morning, taking in the beauty of a Playhouse Square theater, getting to have some holiday fun, and helping raise money for the Bus Fund!

On Saturday evening, Matthew and I returned to Playhouse Square to see the Cleveland Play House production of “A Christmas Story” with the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter.


We started with Christmas Ale and cookies at Parnell’s Pub, then headed to the show. We also got to take in the Festival of Trees in the Allen Theatre lobby, which is open daily through December 24, and features beautifully-decorated trees from local designers and businesses.

A Christmas Story” was a charming rendition of the movie that we’ve all grown to love. I especially enjoyed the interactions between the narrator (adult Ralphie) and the child Ralphie. You can see “A Christmas Story” now through December 23.

And if you’re a John Carroll alum, the Alumni Christmas Reception is happening this Thursday, December 17 at the Dolan Center for Science and Technology from 6-8pm. This is truly one of my favorite events of the season. It’s free to attend, but you need to RSVP and can do so here.

On Sunday, I started my day with a little necessary zen at Evolution Yoga with Alicia‘s Sweet Heat Flow. Since my next stop was the mall for Christmas shopping, the relaxation was much needed.

In the afternoon, we celebrated my grandpa’s 91st birthday! What a milestone!

So, that was my weekend! Lots of festive, merry, good times! How was yours?

***Disclosure: I am the co-chair of the Education Committee of Playhouse Square Partners and the chair of the Educational/Cultural/Spiritual Committee of the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. These committees planned the respective events in this post. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***



Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Joanne (Comment #76), randomly-selected winner of two tickets to Our Lady of the Wayside’s Cleveland’s Finest Hors D’Oeuvre Contest. Please check your email for details. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets online.***

It was a great weekend and the perfect mix of relaxation and busy-ness. On Friday, Mom, Gramps, Jeffrey, and I went to one of our favorite fish fry spots: Ridgewood Inn. A dive bar, for sure, but also one of the tastiest fish fries you’ll find.


There aren’t many places that can keep 4 generations of customers happy at the same time. I ordered the beer-battered yellow lake perch and substituted potato pierogi instead of french fries. The fish was good, but it’s the pierogi that really steal the show at Ridgewood Inn. Pan-fried and smothered in onions, they are little pillows of Polish happiness. Gramps insists they taste like the ones his mother used to make, so you know they have to be good.

Saturday was a mainly around-the-house kind of day, with a little bit of yoga at Harmony Yoga thrown in the morning. That afternoon, we took Jeffrey up to Great Lakes Mall for his first visit with the Easter Bunny. As Jeffrey is starting to get to the “stranger danger” age, I wasn’t sure how it would go. Luckily, there were no tears and, after a couple minutes, he broke into his signature Jeffrey smile.


It was a great first visit with his new furry, floppy-eared friend! I was glad we were allowed to take pictures with our own cameras too, so we have the whole progression of settling in and making friends with the bunny.

On Sunday, Matthew and I enjoyed a date afternoon. We started out with seeing “Dirty Dancing” at Playhouse Square.


We got our tickets through the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. If you’re a local alum, the Chapter offers discounted tickets to various Playhouse Square performances throughout the season. Coming up on Sunday, April 25 is Beauty and the Beast and on Sunday, August 2 is Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.

I really enjoyed the production of “Dirty Dancing.” It was very true to the movie, in all its cheesy, romantic glory. And you could tell the audience were all fans of the movie, especially given the applause at classic lines like, “I carried a watermelon” and “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”

After the show, Matthew and I headed across the street for an early dinner at Cibreo.


I enjoyed the 1921 cocktail, with Prosecco, St. Germain, and local honey, which was sweet without being overly sweet. Matthew and I shared the bruschetta, with wild mushrooms, marsala, and Pecorino.


Both the taste and the presentation were fantastic! For our entrees, I had the ricotta gnocchi, with duck, brodo, candied carrots, greens, parsnips, and Pecorino. The gnocchi were light and a great compliment to the rich flavor of the duck.

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Matthew had the chestnut ravioli, with leek cream, prosciutto, and cherry gastrique. The pasta dishes at Cibreo are smaller, meant to be part of a coursed meal. With an appetizer and dessert, I think they are the perfect size.

Which brings me to dessert. Matthew had the chocolate panna cotta, with white chocolate shavings and candied orange. I had the classic tiramisu. Both were delicious and great ends to a very tasty meal.

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We’re so lucky to not only have world-class theater in Cleveland, but a thriving neighborhood surrounding it that allows you to make the perfect date afternoon all in one place.

How was your weekend?

***Disclosure: I am a member of the boards of both the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter and Playhouse Square Partners. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win some cool items from local makers in my blogiversary giveaway? Check it out!***

I feel like there’s always one week in December that has all the pre-holiday madness crammed into it. This past week/weekend was it for us! So busy, but so fun! On Friday night, Matthew and I got all fancied up to attend my company’s holiday party.


I love any excuse to get dressed up! The event was held at Lorain County Community College, which I did not know had an event space, but really did a lovely job with venue and food. It was a fun night celebrating a great year for the company and enjoying drinks, laughs, and even some dancing with my coworkers.

Saturday morning, I needed some detox to be able to keep up all the holiday plans, so I met up with my friend Chrissy at Evolution Yoga for Alicia‘s Sweet Heat Flow class. The class was the perfect kickstart to my day! I’m being reminded more and more how much even a semi-regular yoga practice enhances my life. Definitely adding that to the New Year’s resolution list!

That evening, Matthew, my parents, and I had an evening at Playhouse Square planned. We started with dinner at Hofbrauhaus.


The interest in Hofbrauhaus shows no sign of slowing down! We arrived at 5:30 and waited a bit over an hour for a table. But the line moved fairly quickly and the tents over the patio, plus the option to buy beer outside kept everyone warm and in good spirits.

We snagged a great table, right near the band, who played everything from traditional polkas to “Margaritaville,” which sounds a bit different on an accordion!


The patrons were loud and festive and the whole meal was a true experience. It’s definitely more than just the food when you go to Hofbrauhaus! That said, we did enjoy some very tasty schnitzel, pretzels, and sauerkraut balls.

PicMonkey Collage

Stuffed and happy, we headed on to see “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” at the State Theatre.


White Christmas is my must-watch-every-year Christmas movie and I expected to see the movie that I have memorized brought to life on the stage. While many parts were the same, there were story and song differences that surprised me.

While the show closed in Cleveland on Sunday, there are still lots of ways you can celebrate the season at Playhouse Square:

The theaters are beautifully decorated, as is the outdoor Playhouse Square area, so head on down and get in the Christmas spirit with a show and some pretty decorations!

Sunday morning, Jeffrey strolled through his first 5K at the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis.


We met up with the other members of #TeamGrinchPaws (Alicia, Hans, Grady, Drew, and Lisa) at Legacy Village for this fun event.


People were decked out in festive clothes, there was a merry elf working his way along the course, and we checked out some ice sculptures too!

PicMonkey Collage

Best of all, the festive fitness fun benefited the Arthritis Foundation! Thanks to #TeamGrinchPaws for getting us out and moving on a Sunday morning!

To wrap up the weekend o’ holiday busy-ness, we headed over to my parents’ house to celebrate my grandfather’s 90th birthday! What a milestone!


Happy birthday, Gramps!

How was your weekend? Are you feeling the pre-holiday busy-ness?


Why? Jeffrey’s Baptism!

Sunday was a big day as we celebrated Jeffrey’s baptism. The ceremony was held at St. John Vianney by the same priest who performed Matthew’s and my marriage ceremony.


We were so lucky to have both sides of our family able to attend this special day.

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Jeffrey did really well throughout the whole ceremony and didn’t cry one bit when the water was poured over his head! All the practicing in the bath paid off!


Our wonderful godparents (all six of ’em!) were all in attendance and we’re so grateful for their already strong presence in Jeffrey’s life!


After the ceremony, we headed to Match Works Tavern for Jeffrey’s first official party. We had a room off their patio and the staff made it a lovely afternoon for all of us. We enjoyed strawberry spinach salad, grilled veggies, cheese, hummus, and chicken salad croissants.

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We also had a delicious white and chocolate layer cake with chocolate mousse filling from Cakes to You. And my Mom added to the sweetness with personalized M&M’s as party favors!

IMG_8299All in all, it was a truly lovely afternoon celebrating our wonderful little man! Thanks to everyone who helped make it so special!

PicMonkey Collage



Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win my blogiversary giveaway for a trio of Gordon Square gift cards? Check it out! Remember, you can tweet daily for additional entries.***

It was a snowy weekend in CLE, but I personally thought the snowfall was really beautiful! On Friday night, my Mom threw a surprise 89th birthday party for my Grandpa at Carrie Cerino’s. The guests included many of my Grandpa’s neighbors, who not only keep him company, but look out for him too.


We enjoyed a classic, delicious Italian dinner. I’ve been to Carrie Cerino’s many times, but I had never tried the calamari before. It is served as breaded strips of calamari that are incredibly tender and cooked just right. Matthew’s tenderloin funghetto was also quite tasty. I was less impressed with my scallops (they were small and overcooked), but the pasta side was still delicious.

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The cake from Cakes by Nadine was enjoyed by all and was the perfect end to a really wonderful evening of celebrating my Grandpa!


On Saturday, I had a much needed day of holiday productivity. I got some Christmas shopping done in the morning and then spent the evening preparing for the Ohio Blogging Association holiday party and cookie/beer swap that I’m hosting tonight. Tobey found my domesticity boring.


Matthew and his Dad had a more festive day, as they attended the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert.


They both enjoyed the holiday music and the impressive lights and 3D effects that are so much a part of a TSO show.

On Sunday, we attended an adoption party for two of our nieces, Evian and Raylynn. You’ve heard me talk a lot about my nieces on the blog, but you’ve only seen pictures of two of them (Leila and Hannah) up until recently. My brother-in-law Andrew and his wife Amanda were foster parents to Evian and Raylynn for two-and-a-half years. The adoption was just finalized last month and we are now able to permanently welcome the girls into the family!


I am so impressed with Andrew and Amanda’s dedication, love, and patience throughout the foster process! And I know we’re so happy to be able to officially call these girls our nieces!

How was your weekend?


Why? Blogiversary!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Happy 89th birthday to my Gramps who, bless his heart, has no idea what a blog is, but deserves all kinds of love from all corners.***

Three years ago today, I started Why CLE. I seriously cannot believe I’ve been scribbling on this little corner of the Internet for that long! I’ve said it before, but I honestly started this blog with no expectation of a readership beyond Matthew and Mom; no expectation of being able to meet so many amazing and passionate Clevelanders; no expectation of attending the fabulous events we’ve attended; no expectation of being even a small part of the dialogue about this wonderful city we all love.


This year, I find myself looking both retrospectively and prospectively. It’s been a great three years, shaped mostly by life and a little by the blog. I bought a house, got married, had a crisis of career, found a job I love, and am expecting a baby. That was all life. But I also look at the adventures that filled the gaps between the momentous things and know that a lot of those were occasioned by the blog.

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And I look at the three women who are truly my sisters and am somewhat mystified to think I never would have met them if not for Why CLE.

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Looking prospectively, I think of how my life will change in the coming months (not quite able to wrap my head around years yet). I know that my Cleveland experience will continue to be vibrant, as I discover new aspects and new ways to enjoy this town. While Cleveland is certainly evolving, so much of our lifelong experience with Cleveland involves our own lives changing and then us finding the places and things in Cleveland that have been there and now fit these changes.

Thank you all so much for the last three years: for the support, the friendship, and the listening ear. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

As a small token of my appreciation, I have a giveaway to let a reader enjoy one of my favorite neighborhoods in Cleveland: Gordon Square. The winner will receive $10 to Cleveland Cinemas’ Capitol Theatre, $30 to Spice Kitchen & Bar, and $20 to Sweet Moses Soda Fountain and Treat Shop ($10 and $10 from Sweet Moses, who generously offered to match the gift). Here’s how to enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post. Tell me whatever you want. Wax poetic. Write a freestyle rap. It’s your comment.
  2. Leave a comment if you like Why CLE on Facebook, letting me know you do.
  3. Follow @WhyCLE on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you do.
  4. Tweet the following phrase and leave a comment letting me know you tweeted:

It’s @WhyCLE’s third blogiversary and I want to win an evening in @GordonSquare gift card package: http://wp.me/p1fb9r-1OD

You can tweet once per day for additional entries, just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

The giveaway will run until Tuesday, December 17 at 11:59pm and the winner will be announced the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: Sweet Moses offered via Twitter to match my $10 gift card giveaway with another $10 gift card.***


Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Today is the last day to enter my giveaway to win 2 tickets to Market at the Foodbank. Check it out! Remember, you can tweet daily for more entries!***

It was a wonderful weekend of friends and family celebrations! On Friday morning, I went to a butt-kicking vinyasa flow at Nishkama Yoga. I don’t get to practice at Nishkama as much as I would like, so I was happy to take advantage of one of my days off before I start my new job to get to class there (more on the new job tomorrow).

I spent the rest of the day on Friday learning how to make nut roll and poppyseed roll with Mom. This is a traditional Eastern European holiday dessert and I’m all about tradition at the holidays.

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For my first try, I was pretty happy with the results and, from the way they were gobbled up, everyone else was, too!


Friday evening, Matthew and I met up with the usual suspects to fete our lovely friend Kimberly for her birthday. We started with the ridiculously well-priced Friday wine tasting at Wine and Design. Two delicious wines for $5? Yes, please!


Then it was off to dinner at Dante. Matthew and I decided to share a little bit of a lot of things on the menu. I love Dante’s options of tasting or appetizer-sized portions, which gives you a chance to taste even more dishes.

We thoroughly enjoyed everything we ordered: the wild mushroom and baked brie tartlet, the Hawaiian tuna tartare, the “chunky” soup with lobster, potato, and leeks, the green spaghetti, the three-cheese polenta, and the black squid ink risotto.


Since Kimberly and Chris are Dante regulars, Chef Boccuzzi treated us to quite the dessert spread on the house. I was so blissed out, I don’t remember the exact names of most of the dishes, but there was a chocolate and orange meringue, baklava with pistachio and cherries and cardamom ice cream, a chocolate banana crepe, and a heavenly s’mores-like sundae.


It was a fabulous evening befitting a fabulous friend! Kimberly is truly one of the sweetest, most caring, funniest people I know and I am so blessed to have her in my life! I hope this year is her best yet!


Saturday morning brought more yoga, this time at Harmony Yoga. Then, it was into holiday prep mode. I hosted my parents, grandfather, and Matthew’s father for a traditional Holy Saturday dinner of kielbasi and sauerkraut.


We got our kielbasi from Pinzone’s Market Fresh Meats, which is one of my go-to stands at the West Side Market. Tradition is tasty!

On Sunday, we went to Easter Mass and had dinner with my parents and grandfather.


I also broke my Lenten no-sweets fast (Friday night’s dessert bonanza excluded) with some yummy chocolate from Malley’s. All in all, it was a great weekend with some of our favorite people!

How was your weekend? Do you celebrate Easter? What are your traditions?


Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: There are no words to express the heartbreak I’m sure we’re all feeling in the wake of Friday’s tragedy in Connecticut. The local United Way in Newtown has established the Sandy Hook School Support Fund and I encourage you to contribute in whatever way you can.

This light, happy weekend recap is written with full knowledge of how blessed I am to be able to have a light, happy weekend.***

We’re in the last week before Christmas! Are you feeling the crazy, cheery, busy rush like I am? I had Friday off this past weekend, so I decided to take advantage by both being productive and taking a little time for myself.

I haven’t been practicing yoga as much lately. There are a number of reasons, some valid, some not as valid as to why. So, with a whole day free and the guilt of a lot of cookie eating hanging over me, I decided to get back to class. I checked out Harmony Yoga since it’s close to home. They have a new-student deal of $10 for 10 days unlimited, so I’ll be cramming in as many classes as I can over the next week or so.

Image Source - harmonyyogastudios.com
Image Source – harmonyyogastudios.com

The power vinyasa class gave me the kick in the yogi behind I needed. When you’re holding flipped dog for 10 breaths or flowing from one-legged chair to eagle to dancer to standing splits, you remember you haven’t done this in awhile. I definitely miss practicing regularly!

After class on Friday, I met up with Elizabeth from the Lake County Visitor’s Bureau to chat about blogs. We went to the recently-opened Melt Bar and Grilled in Mentor. The only times I’ve been to Melt, I’ve stuffed myself with enough bread and cheese for a week. This time, I chose a bowl of the soup of the day and Elizabeth (a girl after my own heart) had the pierogi appetizer.

photo 1I got a pack of Goldfish crackers with my soup and we were watching Scooby Doo during lunch: childhood perfection! The soup of the day was a sausage chowder with chorizo, smoked sausage, and banana peppers – spicy, hearty, and delicious! Those pierogi looked pretty fantastic too! Plus, I had a great time connecting with another local social media gal. Elizabeth and I have some collaborations in the works, so stay tuned!

Friday evening, Matthew and I had my family over for dinner to show off the Christmas decorations and have part of Grandpa’s 88th birthday celebration.

photo 4Aside from dinner and cake, we also whipped up some eggnog martinis with Hartzler Family Dairy eggnog, which I think is the absolute best you can find. The recipe is so simple too: 3 parts eggnog, 1 part Kraken Black Spiced Rum, and a sprinkle of nutmeg on top. Cheers!

photo 3Saturday was a mix of holiday shopping and a much-needed evening at home with dinner, Christmas Ale, and catching up on the DVR.

Sunday, Matthew and I went to the Straight No Chaser concert at Playhouse Square. I’ve loved a Capella music since college and Straight No Chaser has become one of my favorites. On stage, the group is playful and funny, but also incredibly talented!

The second half of the show was dedicated to holiday music. Seeing the theaters all decorated for Christmas, plus listening to the beautiful, fun, festive songs definitely put me in the Christmas spirit.


One of my favorite Christmas songs by Straight No Chaser is called Christmas Can-Can, which is light-hearted look at all the holiday craziness. It can make me laugh, even when driving through the crazy traffic near the malls. Since Straight No Chaser encouraged photos, video, and even took a Twitter break during the show, I figured I’d share a video of Christmas Can-Can I took at yesterday’s show:

After the concert, we met up with my family for Grandpa’s birthday part 2 at Carrie Cerino’s. This is one of those places I get to once a year for Grandpa’s birthday, but I always really enjoy it. I had the veal a la Tosca, which is pounded veal medallions with an egg and lemon breading, served with fettuccine alfredo. Very tasty, plus I have tons of leftovers for lunch during the week!

IMG_5019It was a great end to a lovely weekend full of family, food, and pre-holiday fun! How was your weekend, CLE? Oh, and have you entered to win my blogiversary giveaway? Today is the last day!

Why? Blogiversary!

It’s a very special day here at Why CLE! First, it’s CLEgrandpa’s 88th birthday, so cheers to him. Also, cheers to PIP Mom, as it’s her birthday as well!

But it’s also Why CLE’s second blogiversary!

Image Source - softandstiffpeaks.blogspot.com
Image Source – softandstiffpeaks.blogspot.com

I’m amazed at what this blog has grown into in the last two years. Over the past 378 posts, I’ve strengthened, changed, and truly found my voice, with the help of you and your 2,254 comments. But numbers only tell part of the story.

My early posts were decidedly less personal and more tour guide-ish, such as this one.

It took me five months to post a picture of myself, which I did for the first time in this post.

It took me a year to start using “Jen” instead of “CLEgal” to refer to myself, which I started in last year’s blogiversary post.

Over the last two years, I’ve shared things, not just about why I came back to Cleveland, but about my weight loss, my hard lesson in Internet safety, and even my wedding.

When I started Why CLE, the blog was going to be balanced between good and bad things about Cleveland. I soon realized that I just love this city and there is more than enough snark on the Internet, so I changed to fashioning every post into a reason why I love Cleveland, hoping that you could find the common threads in my experience to hold onto for yourself. I will always be honest with you about my experiences, but at the same time this blog will always err toward the positive.

Beyond just the changes in my writing, I’ve found my love and commitment to Cleveland strengthened, my social calendar filled, and my creative muscles flexed in ways I never could have imagined two years ago. I’ve also met some of the most amazing people, done some of the most fun things, and made some of the most wonderful friends.


Daily, I am so grateful for and humbled by those of you who read along on this journey and for the opportunities and relationships blogging has afforded me. I’m also so in debt to Matthew and my family who allow me the time and give me the support and patience when I take pictures of everything or spend hours prepping posts.

As a small token of my affection, I’d like to give away something I saw at CLE Clothing Co. that caught my eye.

photo2whycleIt’s meant to be a Christmas ornament, although I think it could also be a year-round sun catcher. Here’s how to enter to win (leave a SEPARATE comment for each entry):

1. Leave a comment letting me know your biggest and best reason why you love CLE.

2. Tweet the following phrase: It’s @WhyCLE’s 2nd blogiversary and I want to win some CLE decor: http://wp.me/p1fb9r-19o

You can tweet once per day for additional entries, just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

The giveaway will close on Monday, December 17 at 11:59pm and the winner will be announced on Monday, December 18. Good luck! And thank you for an awesome 2 years…I know blogs have a shelf life, but I hope to keep entertaining you for at least a little while longer.

Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win some holiday glam products yet? Remember, you can tweet daily for more entries! Click here to enter!***

I hope you all had a fun, food-filled, relaxing Thanksgiving weekend! Mine was full of good family time and good eating, which is exactly how it should be, in my opinion.

On Thursday, Matthew and I hosted our first Thanksgiving in our new home. We moved into this house in February, so I’m really excited for our first holiday season here. We had my Mom, Dad, Grandpa, and Father-in-Law over for a Thanksgiving feast.

This year, we ordered our Thanksgiving turkey, as well as some other necessary items, from Fresh Fork Market. The turkey had a very different taste than your normal, every day Butterball. It was much fresher and a bit more gamy. It was also incredibly tender and juicy.

Almost every dish on our table had at least some Fresh Fork ingredients in them. One of the favorites was the streuseled sweet potato casserole, which had Fresh Fork sweet potatoes, maple syrup, egg, flour and butter in it. Click here for the recipe.

We also had a special bottle of wine to enjoy with dinner.

As a bridal shower gift, I received wines to be enjoyed on certain special occasions. So I was very excited to pop the cork on this bottle to toast our first Thanksgiving as a married couple.

It was a wonderful day of eating too much and spending time with family!

On Friday morning, Mom and I continued our 20-plus-year tradition of going out on Black Friday. Truthfully, we get very little gift shopping accomplished and we start later and later each year. But, we have a great time together, talking, browsing, and being a little bit silly.

As a respite from the craziness at the mall, we stopped for lunch at Rosewood Grill in Strongsville. I started with a very interesting cocktail: the 82 & Spicy. It has Hangar One Chipotle vodka, raspberry puree, lime, and bubbles. Sweet and spicy and really tasty!

We split a selection of appetizers for lunch, starting with the calamari and sushi shots.

I loved the breaded banana peppers that came along with the calamari! The sushi shots are phyllo cups, with mashed avocado and tuna, served with sriracha sauce. The sauce provides a nice kick, but these shots are good with or without the added heat.

We also shared the exotic mushroom and brie flatbread.

Brie and mushrooms are two of my favorite things and this combination was rich and earthy. The crisp sea salt crust on the flatbread added just the right texture to each bite. I definitely will be heading back to Rosewood Grill! In an area overrun by chain restaurants, it’s nice to have a foodie, independent option.

Saturday, Matthew and I loosened our belts for Thanksgiving, Round 2 with his family. Fresh Fork played a large role again, particularly in Matthew’s light, sweet apple cake dessert. This is from a recipe he found in the only English cookbook in his apartment in Italy when he studied abroad and it is one of my favorite things he makes.

It was another fun day with family, particularly catching up with our nieces who are growing up so fast and are ridiculously adorable.

Sunday was dedicated to decorating the house for Christmas. I always enjoy holiday decorating, but particularly with it being the first year in this house, I was really excited. First stop was picking out a tree.

This is only my second year having a live Christmas tree. I always had artificial trees and Matthew always had live trees. I’ve found I really like having a live tree: the smell just says Christmas! Then it was time to come home and decorate. The finished product blends Matthew’s and my holiday traditions and I know I will spend a lot of evenings snuggled up on the couch looking at the tree.

How was your Thanksgiving weekend, CLE?