Why? St. Kitts!

I’m ba-a-a-a-ck. Literally at 1:30am today. And here I am, writing to you all. That’s true love, right?

Also, I figure the window on me talking about my vacation is closing, so here we go…

It had been awhile since Mom and I had traveled just the two of us. In fact, the last “girls only” trip was when we went to Scottsdale a couple months before Jeffrey was born. So the chance to get away together was much appreciated.

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Which means right off the bat, I have to give mad props to Matthew for holding down the fort (seriously, the literal fort is still standing) and my dear friend Mariah for helping out too.

So, now to the trip: As you may remember, my dad owns a tire business (Tireman USA) and this trip was part of an incentive program with Goodyear. When we first got to St. Kitts, we spent a day with the other Goodyear folks and incentive-earners working on clean-up and building projects at a local school.

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The group built picnic tables, re-tiled a kitchen, cleaned up classrooms, painted playground equipment, did landscaping, and packed nearly 200 bookbags stuffed with donated school supplies.

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It was surely a different way to kick off a vacation, but so worthwhile!

We stayed at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort, which boasted amazing ocean and mountain views, beautiful pools, and delicious food and drink.

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Matthew and I honeymooned in St. Lucia and the topography of St. Kitts reminded me very much of that destination.

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Some of our favorite things we ate at the Marriott included the Chilean sea bass at Blu Seafood Restaurant, the St. Kitts BBQ Pizza from Pizza Shack, and the mushroom soup en croute at Royal Grill Steakhouse.

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We also explored St. Kitts and it’s neighboring island, Nevis, a bit. On St. Kitts, we went to a wonderful dinner at Marshall’s Restaurant.

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I had lobster jerk pasta and Mom had grilled local lobster tail, both of which were so fresh and delicious.

On Nevis, we saw the home where Alexander Hamilton lived as a child, which was a great piece of history and obviously much more popular because of the musical. They were actually playing the soundtrack at the house!

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We also had lunch at the world-famous Sunshine’s Bar.

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The walls are covered with celebrities who made their way to this beach shack restaurant for the Killer Bee cocktail, a rum punch that packs quite a sting!

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Nevis is a much quieter island than St. Kitts, with a smaller population and tons of wild monkeys running about.

We also went on a snorkel catamaran cruise off St. Kitts, which was a gorgeous way to see the island. The Caribbean waters are so clear that we could see tons of fish and turtles and coral, too!

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We ended the trip with a party on the beach with live music, a huge fire pit, and lots of fun!

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It was an amazing chance to get away, relax, do some good, and see a new place in the world! I am so glad to have gone, but also so glad to be back home in CLE!

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Why? Weekends!

Hey, hey, it’s March! We welcomed the new month with a fun weekend out and about in Cleveland.

Home Cooking

But before we were out and about, we were in and cozy. On Friday night, I made BBQ chicken mac ‘n cheese (recipe here).

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Before I made the mac, I cooked the chicken wrapped in foil packets at 250 degrees for 2 hours. This made the chicken tender and perfect to fork shred, which was the exact right consistency for the mac ‘n cheese.

Pair this with Matthew’s homemade Old Fashioned and you have a perfect little Friday evening meal!

Children’s Theater Series

On Saturday, we had the third of four shows in the Children’s Theater Series at Playhouse Square. This one was “Emily Brown and the Thing,” about a little girl and her stuffed rabbit who have many adventures after bedtime.

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We didn’t know the story going in and found the show to be engaging and funny. I love taking Jeffrey to see live theater, especially in the incredible theaters at Playhouse Square!

Lunch in Ohio City

From there, we headed over to Great Lakes Brewing Company for lunch. I always enjoy going to the brewpub because, while you can find Great Lakes beer all over, there’s always something special on tap at the pub.

I tried the Imperial Buzzcut Nut Brown Ale, brewed with honey and hazelnuts, and Matthew had the same. We both really enjoyed this smoothy, nutty beer!

To eat, I had the Fitzgerald burger, with bacon, smoked cheddar, Edmund Fitzgerald BBQ sauce, and onion straws.

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Flavorful and juicy, this was one delicious burger! The fries were particularly good, too!

Matthew had the Sweet & Salty Pork pizza, with smoked pulled pork, cucumber, green pepper, onion, mozzarella, goat cheese, garlic oil, and orange lavender honey.

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He ate the entire pizza (!), so my guess is that it was quite tasty!

Jeffrey loved his chicken fingers, too! The brewpub atmosphere for a weekend lunch is wonderful for kids, too!

From there, we had to stop to get dessert at Mitchell’s Ice Cream!

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The Buckeye Sundae was the perfect sweet treat. Jeffrey is pretty much all of us when it comes to Mitchell’s…

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What a fun family day!

***Disclosure: I received a gift card from Great Lakes Brewing Company as part of my partnership with Lyft. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Sprinkle

On Sunday, I attended a Sprinkle for my dear friend Mariah, who is expecting a little girl in May. While Mariah has two boys already, it was so fun to fete her new arrival with lots of pink clothes and toys.

I also had to snag her this adorable onesie from Anne Cate!

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We had a great ladies lunch, with bellinis, homemade pesto and chicken, salad, fruit, and pastries from Luna Bakery & Café.

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It was a lovely way to celebrate a lovely lady!

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So that was our weekend! How was yours?

jenclesig_pur

Why? Jump Back Ball!

Saturday was the annual Jump Back Ball put on by Playhouse Square Partners. This year’s theme was Jump Back Across the Pond and the guests came decked out as everything from royalty to musicians to wizards.

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The VIP Party had the royal family make an appearance…

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…including the Queen’s corgi (in reality, Murray, who belongs to Beard and the Broad).

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We also enjoyed specialty cocktails from Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Pope’s Kitchen, high tea inspired appetizers from The Driftwood Group, and music from North Coast String Quartet.

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Then it was off to the main event, with more great food and drinks, music from Abby Normal & the Detroit Lean on the main stage and Faction on the late night stage, and tons of fun British-themed photo opps, all created by Playhouse Square Partners members.

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This was our eighth Jump Back Ball and I’m amazed how, every year, we have such an incredible time at this truly unique, fun, epic event!

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Oh, and did I mention it’s all to benefit Playhouse Square’s community outreach and education initiatives, such as the Dazzle Awards and the Disney Musicals in Schools program?

What a bloody brilliant evening! Stay tuned for next year’s theme announcement and ticket sales kickoff in Fall 2019!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Playhouse Square to help promote Jump Back Ball. In exchange, I received two complimentary VIP tickets to the event. I am also the co-chair of the Communications Committee for Playhouse Square Partners. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Cru Uncorked!

For Valentine’s Day, Matthew and I decided to enjoy a special, romantic dinner at a restaurant we’d been wanting to check out: Cru Uncorked.

Cru Uncorked is a French restaurant in a lovely chateau setting. The restaurant has multiple rooms, fireplaces, and a cozy, unique ambiance. For Valentine’s Day, Cru Uncorked had a special limited menu of appetizer, entrée, and dessert.

We started with cocktails: Different Light (sparkling wine and cranberry shrub) for me and Vixen’s Heart (Cynar, Glenlivet Nadurra, Amaretto, smoked grapefruit oil, and salt tincture) for Matthew. The cocktails were deliciously crafted!

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For our first course, I chose the Crab and Shrimp Louie with avocado, tomato and horseradish glaze, mustard crème, petite greens, and citrus red pepper oil.

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Light and fresh, this was a lovely way to start my meal.

Matthew went with a classic: Steak Tartare, with Parmesan fondue and salsa verde.

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For my entrée, I had the Heritage Pork Chop with lentil ragout, sunchoke, savoy cabbage, and sauce chasseur.

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Perfectly prepared, with lots of earthy, autumnal flavors, I really enjoyed this dish!

Matthew had the Sea Scallops Grenobloise, with brown butter, lemon, capers, parsley, butternut squash, and maitaki mushrooms.

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The delicate flavors all complimented each other perfectly on this dish.

With our entrees, we both enjoyed amazing glasses of wine: Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon for me and Cakebread Chardonnay for him. Cru Uncorked has a fantastic by the glass and by the bottle wine list and knowledgeable servers to help you pick the perfect pairing.

For dessert, I had the Mocha Crème Brulee, with was light, creamy, and so good!

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Matthew had the Baked Alaska, with pistachio ice cream, raspberry sorbet, and Chambord chocolate sauce.

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The meal, the service, and the atmosphere were truly something special from top to bottom. While the portions were small, everything was spot on in terms of preparation and we left feeling satiated without being overly full.

For a truly special experience, check out Cru Uncorked!

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Why? Weekends!

It was a low(er)-key, family-centric weekend for us, which is always a nice break, especially after a super busy weekend previously.

Monster Jam Triple Threat Series

Saturday afternoon, Jeffrey got to experience his first Monster Jam when the Triple Threat Series roared into Quicken Loans Arena.

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Jeffrey was excited to not only see the big trucks, but also wear his noise-cancelling headphones (seriously, that might have been the bigger excitement for him).

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The Triple Threat Series featured crowd voting after each round, so it was fun to pick and cheer for our favorites.

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This is definitely one of those “boy mom” experiences that I never thought I’d be doing, but when I saw how much fun Jeffrey had, it made it worth it! This was a great, family-friendly activity!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Monster Jam Triple Threat Series. In exchange, I received three complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Mom’s Birthday Dinner

On Saturday, I made a three-course birthday dinner for my mom. She’s usually the one having us over to eat, so it was nice to be able to make a fancy meal for her instead.

Our first course was Tomato Basil Crab Bisque (recipe here). Slightly spicy, thick and creamy, this was a great first course for a winter meal.

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For the second course, I made Veal Osso Buco (recipe here) and Creamy Parmesan Polenta (recipe here).

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The osso buco smelled so delicious while it was cooking and came out very tender and flavorful!

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For the polenta, I would suggest cooking it slightly longer than the recipe suggests or giving it a little time before serving to set up. But it was the perfect flavor complement to the osso buco.

For dessert, Jeffrey helped me make a Raspberry-Fudge Fantasy Torte (recipe here).

 

I love the combination of chocolate and raspberry! And the whipped cream frosting is a nice, light change of pace.

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It was a fun night celebrating our wonderful mom/grandma!

Family Yoga

On Sunday, we took another Family Yoga class at the Mandel Jewish Community Center.

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These have quickly become a favorite family activity, with a great mix of activity, meditation, and breath work geared to Jeffrey’s ability and attention level.

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The next class is on Sunday, March 17, with sessions at 10am and 11am. The class is free for Mandel JCC members and $10 for non-members. You can register here.

Winking Lizard

After yoga, we went to lunch with friends at a favorite for all ages: Winking Lizard.

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From a great beer selection for the grown-ups to a tasty kids menu to bowls of popcorn for group munching, everyone can find something to enjoy!

What a great Sunday Funday!

So, that was our low(er) key weekend! How was yours?

jenclesig_pur

Why? Greatroom!

Have you been inside the newly-renovated Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Tower? From the lobby to the M Club to Armando’s barber shop and the Public Square Market to Trilogy Fitness Spa and Salon, the hotel has a fresh, open, modern new look and lots of new amenities.

Part of the new look and feel is Greatroom, a casual dining restaurant and bar that is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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Greatroom offers yummy food, crafted cocktails, a welcoming atmosphere, and tons of fun special events (like Wine Down Wednesdays, specials related to concerts and sports events, and more).

We had a chance to get a taste of Greatroom’s dinner menu last night and it was diverse and delicious! My drink of choice was the After Midnight, with bourbon, vanilla, and cinnamon. Smooth, warming, and oh-so-good!

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I started with the Maple Hickory Glazed Brussel Sprouts, which would make anyone want to eat their veggies!

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Matthew had the Edamame Hummus, with pita and vegetables for dunking. Fresh, tasty, and with a nice smooth consistency, this was a great shareable starter.

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For my entree, I had the Veal Short Rib, which was served with a warming, filling stew that had Moroccan spices, chickpeas, and roasted vegetables. This was a unique twist on a short rib dish!

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Matthew chose the salmon, served with Brussel sprout pesto and roasted vegetables: a simple dish that was very well executed.

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For dessert, I had the salted caramel apple cheesecake tart. A cross between cheesecake and apple crumble, this dessert struck a great balance between the two and was quite delicious!

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Matthew had the hot chocolate cake, a mini bundt cake with traditional hot chocolate toppings. Just like it’s namesake, this cake was warm and comforting.

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Greatroom is a great (haha) option not only for guests of the hotel, but also for downtown workers in Key Tower and beyond. From starting your day with a satisfying breakfast (I want to go back for the Broken Egg Sandwich) to grabbing a good lunch to winding down with a cocktail, there’s something for everyone at any time of day.

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a complimentary dinner at Greatroom with a guest. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

It was a super busy weekend in the CLE, so let’s get right to it…

Partner Yoga

On Friday night, Matthew and I took a Partner Yoga workshop at Yoga Roots. Both of us have practiced for a long time, but never like this!

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Led by Yoga Roots teachers Sharon and Nick, the workshop put you and your partner in poses together, from feet touching in child’s pose to planking on top of each other!

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The room was filled with lively conversation and laughter. It was a great way to not only connect with your partner, but to build connections within the Yoga Roots community too. After class, we grabbed some wine and snacks for a little picnic on our mat.

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This was a fun and unique date night and a cool way to expand our practice!

Donut Fest

Saturday, we continued our annual tradition of attending Donut Fest.

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Held at RedSpace, this event brings together 12 donut purveyors to offer samples of their tasty treats, along with local coffee vendors to help wash it all down.

This year, some of our favorites included the chocolate strawberry creme stick from Jack Frost Donuts

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…the chocolate clementine donuts from Fiona’s Coffee Bar and Bakery

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…and the sour cream donuts from Goldie’s Donuts & Bakery.

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While Donut Fest is definitely a sugary overload, I feel like the bakeries have moderated the sample size from the first year, so you can actually enjoy something from each of the shops. Plus, who doesn’t love the chance to taste test so many different types of donuts under one roof?!

Anne Cate Studio Opening

Saturday night, my friend Mariah and I attended the grand opening party for Anne Cate‘s studio space in Mentor.

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This space is part office, part production studio, which can also sell some of the skyline merchandise. It’s sleek, modern, and perfectly pretty in Anne Cate’s signature pink and black!

I can’t wait to see what fabulous things Anne Cate has in store (haha) for this space!

Partners Brunch Around

On Sunday, I joined some of my fellow Playhouse Square Partners for brunch in Tremont. We had groups at 4 different Tremont restaurants and I was lucky enough to land at Fat Cats.

As one of Tremont’s longest standing restaurants, Fat Cats has stood the test of time and remains a delicious spot to eat. I had the Williams Wake Up Breakfast Sandwich, with egg, avocado, bacon, and slaw.

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Served on lightly grilled bread and with a side of sweet potato fries, this was a perfect brunch item: sort of breakfasty, sort of lunchy, and totally yummy!

After our brunches, the groups from the various restaurants all met up for a drink at The Flying Monkey Pub.

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What a great Sunday Funday!

Bright Ideas

After that, I headed to The Brecksville Theatre to see my friend Wes in their production of “Bright Ideas.” This show is a campy and fun look at parents trying to get their kid into a very exclusive preschool.

We definitely laughed a lot and found some very relatable moments in the show. It’s playing February 15, 16, and 17 and you can purchase tickets online.

So that was our busy weekend! How was yours?

jenclesig_pur

 

Why? Weekends!

It was a fun, family-centric weekend! And how about this warmer weather?! We were definitely ready to get out of hibernation!

Hathaway Brown Heritage Dinner

On Friday evening, Jeffrey’s school hosted what has become one of our favorite traditions there: the Hathaway Brown Heritage Dinner. It’s essentially a giant potluck dinner, where people bring an appetizer, entree, or dessert representing their heritage.

We brought kielbasa, pierogi, and sauerkraut because Ancestry DNA confirmed I’m just as Eastern European as I thought I was!

But we also enjoyed hummus, samosas, cornbread, Mongolian beef, lasagna, and lots of other delicious dishes.

One of our favorite parts of the event is the selection of cookies and candies from around the world that you can take home. There are these delicious chocolate shortbread Scottie dogs that we just adore!

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There are also crafts, games, and music from different cultures, so the Heritage Dinner is about more than just good food. The students get to experience a little bit of the world and the different backgrounds of the student body.

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What a fun Friday evening!

Bowling Birthday Party

Saturday, we went to a bowling birthday party for one of Jeffrey’s friends at North Woods Lanes.

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Jeffrey loved the bumper bowling and got some strikes and spares!

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It’s so fun to see the kids grow up and get into different birthday activities.

Great Big Home and Garden Show

On Sunday, we stopped by the Great Big Home and Garden Show at the I-X Center.

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From testing out hot tubs…

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…to kids’ power tools…

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Jeffrey was definitely having fun checking out all the different booths.

We all loved the Garden Showcase, which gave us a real taste of spring.

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The gardens are all themed on fairy tales this year, with things like “Alice in Wonderland,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and a Magic Treehouse.

Jeffrey and Matthew also rode the giant ferris wheel, which is a must at the I-X Center!

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The Great Big Home and Garden Show continues through Sunday, February 10. You can purchase tickets online and save $3 with code CLE19.

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Great Big Home and Garden Show. In exchange, I received two complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

So, that was our weekend! How was yours? Did you get out and enjoy this mild weather?

jenclesig_pur

Why? Landmark!

Since Landmark opened in the former Diner on Clifton space 8 months ago, I’ve heard nothing but positive things, particularly about their smoked meats. So, I was so glad to have a chance to explore their delicious menu this week.

Before we dove into the food, we sampled some of Landmark’s own personal bourbon, created by Buffalo Trace. Landmark has an impressive bourbon selection for sipping or cocktails.

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Landmark has a wood smoker on site and smokes brisket, turkey, chicken, pork, and ribs with hickory wood or cherry wood, depending on the meat. We started with the Smoked Meat Sampler, with one pound of brisket, pork, and turkey, served with toast points, pickles, cole slaw, pickled onions, and BBQ sauce.

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The brisket literally melted in my mouth and was my favorite of the sampler, but all of the meats were tender, smoky, and delicious. None really even needed sauce, but the sauces offered nice variety: Kansas City, North Carolina, Memphis, and South Carolina styles.

We also got to try a new menu item: half a BBQ chicken, served with French fries and cole slaw. The crispy skin, tasty sauce, and tender smokiness made this chicken unforgettable. And there was something about those fries…really addictive!

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We tried the mac ‘n cheese, which was creamy, comforting, and with just a hint of sweetness.

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And we got a sample of Landmark’s truly unique menu item: the Montreal smoked sandwich, with twelve-day smoked cured brisket served on rye with yellow mustard. One of the most delicious “deli style” sandwiches I’ve ever had!

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Landmark offers more than just smoked meat, so we made room to try two of their bowls: the Thai peanut and Mediterranean.

The Thai peanut bowl has grilled chicken served over white rice with steamed broccoli and carrots, roasted red peppers, grilled pineapple, and Thai peanut sauce.

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The Mediterranean bowl has grilled chicken served over white rice with cucumber, tomato, hummus, chick peas, Kalamata olives, and tahini.

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Both bowls were flavorful and filling and offer healthy, non-smoky options.

We took home a couple of Landmark’s decadent homemade chocolate chip cookies, too!

Landmark is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week for dine-in or carry-out. The atmosphere is relaxed, friendly, and filled with the delicious aroma of smoked meat. For a truly elevated neighborhood eatery experience, stop in to Landmark!

***Disclosure: I was invited to a complimentary meal at Landmark with a guest. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends, Part 2!

The rest of our weekend was family-fun focused, so here we go…

Children’s Museum of Cleveland

Jeffrey had a parent/teacher conference day on Friday, so since he didn’t have school, we were looking for something fun to do. We went to the Children’s Museum of Cleveland to check out their two newest exhibits: Theater and Playlist.

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Theater and Playlist opened at the end of November and give children new ways to explore their creativity at the museum. Theater has everything you need to put on a play, from a ticket booth to a tech area that controls lights and sound effects to hair and makeup stations and costumes.

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Children can put on plays, musicals, puppet shows, or concerts. The creativity I saw in the different types of shows and costumes was awesome! What a cool spot for kids to explore!

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Playlist incorporates shadow walls and wooden “instruments” to let children express themselves in dance and instrumentation. Playlist has different musical themes, from Latin to African to Americana.

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Much like Theater, Playlist encourages individuality and creativity. It was so cool to see Jeffrey dance and perform (and not even want to leave those two areas).
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If you haven’t been to the Children’s Museum of Cleveland in a bit, you’ll find all the favorites you loved, plus new exhibits to spark the imagination!

***Disclosure: I received two complimentary passes courtesy of the Children’s Museum of Cleveland. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Children’s Theater Series

On Saturday, we enjoyed the next show in the Children’s Theater Series at Playhouse Square: “The Rainbow Fish.”

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Put on by the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia, this bright and engaging puppet performance was a wonderful way to enjoy a story that Jeffrey was well-familiar with from the children’s book.

Every time we take Jeffrey to the theater, I see him become more invested in the storytelling and it’s truly a wonderful experience for the whole family!

Open House

On Sunday, we took Jeffrey to an Open House to see where we applied for him to be in Kindergarten. I honestly can’t believe we’re at the Kindergarten application point!

He really enjoyed getting to see where his “big boy school” may be. Plus, we all enjoyed going out for pizza and pasta at Pizzazz on the Circle with his best friend afterwards.

 

So, a win-win all around!

That was our weekend, in two parts. How was yours?

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