Why? Weekends!

It was a busy weekend, so let’s get right to it!

Designer Dress Days

On Friday, I attended the preview day for the Designer Dress Days sale, put on by the National Council of Jewish Women/Cleveland.

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This is the 50th anniversary of Designer Dress Days, which offers new and gently worn designer dresses, suits, jackets, handbags, athletic wear and more at ridiculously great prices.
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I scored 2 cashmere sweaters, a Burberry dress, a Burberry skirt, and a Bergdorf Goodman dress for under $300!

The event is volunteer-driven and supports the NCJW/Cleveland’s community service and advocacy initiatives. The sale continues today from 12pm-8pm and tomorrow from 10am-7pm, so check it out and score some designer duds for a great price and for a great cause!

***Disclosure: I was asked to by NCJW/Cleveland to help promote Designer Dress Days. In exchange, I received complimentary access to the Preview Day, as well as compensation. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Northeast Ohio Parent Blogger Meet-Up

On Friday evening, Jeffrey and I headed to Café o’Play for a meet-up with fellow Northeast Ohio Parent bloggers and their families.

We love Café o’Play because it’s a fun, safe indoor play area with lots to do, but still the ability to keep an eye on your child no matter where they might be (and the coffee and food are legit, too.) Apparently, Jeffrey had so much fun I didn’t even get a picture of him!

I really enjoy blogging for Northeast Ohio Parent and try to focus my blog posts on things to do with your kids around town or ways to incorporate Cleveland into your parenting, play dates, and whatnot. You can check out my latest post here.

Best of Cleveland Party

I had never been to the Cleveland Magazine Best of Cleveland Party before, which made me feel like I was missing out on one of the best parties of the year. After Saturday night, I know I was right to feel that FOMO.

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Held at the Rock Hall, the party was three levels of amazing Best of Cleveland winners with everything from beer to burgers to books.

I finally got to try Mama Mary’s Hummus and it was just as amazing as everyone says it is! Try the seasonal pumpkin hummus with a cinnamon graham cracker to achieve peak fall.

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The Gimme S’more mini beers from Boss Dog Brewing were a total win, especially because they took the time to do the sugar rim and toasted marshmallow at the event!

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Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream…I mean, you know my love for them is so deep.

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Polpetta deserves to be at Best of Cleveland because their table featured two of my great loves: meatballs and Kevin Love (holding a meatball.)

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And I got so excited to see The Pompadour, one of our new favorite spots, honored for Best Tapas!

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And from mascots to friends, there were so many of the best people to get to see, too!

 

We danced to Billy Likes Soda and DJ E-V and just generally celebrated these restaurants, breweries, businesses, and people who are making Cleveland the amazing place it is!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Cleveland Magazine to help promote the Best of Cleveland Party. In exchange, I received two complimentary tickets to the event and two tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

We also threw into the weekend a birthday party for one of our nieces, some yoga, and some time at home…phew! How was your weekend?

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Why? Weekends!

We had lots of family-centered fun this weekend! Let’s get right to it:

Birthday Party at Greater Cleveland Aquarium

On Saturday morning, Jeffrey and I went to a birthday party for one of his school friend’s at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium.

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We’ve been to the Aquarium several times, but never for a birthday party. I was really impressed with everything the party included. There was a party room with a submarine the kids could play in, crafts for the group, pizza and cake, and even a visit from a turtle!

The party also included admission to the Aquarium for the kids to check out all the sea critters. What a fun morning!

Fall Flyer

On Sunday, we hopped aboard the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for their Fall Flyer trip.

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The Fall Flyer is a two-hour, non-stop ride that takes you though the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to take in the beautiful fall foliage.

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We rode on the Silver Lariat, one of the new California Zephyr cars. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad recently added four cars from the California Zephyr line which have dome seating; luxurious seats; tables; and more amenities.

 

We enjoyed taking in the fall sights, including changing leaves, the Cuyahoga river, lots of bikers and runners on the Towpath, and tons of people visiting Szalay’s pumpkin patch. We also enjoyed tasty snacks like hot dogs and popcorn from the dining car.

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Every time we take the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, I’m so impressed with the volunteers who work as Conductors, Trainmen, and more. They truly make the experience so enjoyable!

The fall colors will only continue to become more striking, which makes the Fall Flyer a perfect choice for a fall weekend activity. The Fall Flyer runs every Saturday and Sunday in October at 9:45am and 1:30pm from the Rockside Station and 11:30am and 3:30pm from the Akron Northside Station. Tickets start at $25 per person. Click here to learn more and purchase tickets.

***Disclosure: I was invited to take a ride on the Fall Flyer and received three complimentary tickets. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

That was our weekend, aside from watching lots of Cleveland sports, of course! How was yours?

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Why? Perplexity Games!

I love when we can find something to do on a night out with friends that involves an activity, not just drinks and dinner. It sparks conversation, encourages interaction, and just makes the evening more unique.

So, when Perplexity Games invited us to come in for an evening in one of their escape rooms, I jumped at the chance. Matthew and I teamed up with our friends Deborah and Kevin to try to crack the case of the Eliot Ness Escape Room.

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I love the Cleveland theme to this escape room! Set in the time of Eliot Ness’s tenure as Safety Director in Cleveland, the escape room challenges you to find the ledger of a crooked city commissioner.

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Through various clues, hidden doors, and fun surprises (and a couple clues from the watchful eyes), we had the chance to step back in time, work together, challenge our brains and our speed, and have a great time!

We were able to find the ledger with just a minute and a half to spare (you have an hour in the escape room.)

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But even if we hadn’t cracked the case, we would have had a wonderful time! The escape rooms at Perplexity Games are about challenging problem-solving, not feeling trapped or scared.

All the escape rooms are designed by the owner’s family, who share a love for gaming and found games to be a way to connect as a family. Along with the Eliot Ness Escape Room, there is the Clockwork Caper Escape Room and the T.I.T.U.S. Escape Room. Each room is priced at $30 per person and can hold different maximum numbers (Eliot Ness – 12, Clockwork Caper – 8, T.I.T.U.S. – 5.)

Perplexity Games is also in the process of building two holiday escape rooms called The Naughty List, which can each hold 10 people and will be perfect for holiday parties.

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Perplexity Games is family-owned and operated, creative, fun, and located in the perfect neighborhood for an evening out – Ohio City. For your next couples night out, team-building, or game night, check them out and see if you can crack the case too!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Perplexity Games and received complimentary admission for four to the Eliot Ness Escape Room. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Put on Your Boogie Shoes Fundraiser – Costumes and Cocktails!

Want a fun way to celebrate Halloween while benefiting a great cause? Well, then Put on Your BOO-gie Shoes and head to the Hilton Cleveland Downtown on Friday, October 26.

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This event is put on by Charles Bowlus Charities. Charles Bowlus Charities was established in memory of Charles Bowlus, CEO and founder of ECRM, who passed away in August, 2011 from lung cancer, with the intent of keeping Charlie’s philanthropy alive. Its mission is to provide support for local organizations, who assist those individuals and families dealing with cancer, health & wellness, women, and children.

The beneficiary of this year’s Put on Your BOO-gie Shoes is the Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center, which empowers individuals, educates the community, and advocates for justice to end domestic violence and child abuse.

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Put on Your BOO-gie Shoes will be a fun Halloween party with live music from Faction (one of our favorite local cover bands), food, beer, wine, raffles and silent auctions, and costumes galore with a costume contest too.

General admission tickets are $85 and include a beer and wine bar and food. VIP tickets are $125 and include the above, plus liquor, valet parking, and VIP section access. You can purchase tickets online.

Don’t miss this fun way to celebrate Halloween, while benefiting a great cause. Oh, and tell me what Matthew and I should dress like in the comments…

***Disclosure: I was asked by Charles Bowlus Charities to help promote Put on Your BOO-gie Shows. In exchange, I will receive two complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Urban Farmer!

Urban Farmer bills itself as Cleveland’s modern steakhouse, a title which fits it well. The vibe is more casual, cowboy punk than dark wood. There is a focus on locally-sourced, artisanal products. There is a playfulness at Urban Farmer that you don’t usually get from a steakhouse, particularly one that can deliver on taste in the way this restaurant can.

On Friday night, Matthew and I enjoyed a delicious dinner at Urban Farmer. We started with a glass of M Cellars Brut Rose, a sparkling wine almost exclusive to Urban Farmer and a display of the restaurant’s commitment to showcasing local products.

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For our first course, we enjoyed the Rabbit & Duck Pierogi with onion, jus, citrus cream, and quinoa. This interesting twist on a classic Cleveland menu item was rich and satisfying, with just the right amount of smoky, gamey flavor.

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We also feasted on the Braised Octopus with tonnato, ‘nduja oil, fennel, and lemon vinaigrette. These meaty pieces of octopus were deliciously prepared and dressed. I’m so glad to see more local restaurants serving a dish we fell in love with on a trip to Miami.

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We also shared the Beet & Squash Salad, with arugula, citrus, chevre, pistachio, and beet meringue “croutons.” A really tasty and original approach to a beet salad!

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Of course, the steak is the highlight at Urban Farmer, with New York Strip, Filet Mignon, and Ribeye as the standard offerings on the menu, and with options from grass-fed to grain-fed.

Matthew chose the grain-finished, bone-in, twenty-one day dry aged New York Strip from New Creation Farm in Ohio. The steak was perfectly prepared, tender, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious!

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Not that it needed any accompaniment, but the Ohio Wagyu Tallow & Bleu Cheese Butter and the Roasted Foraged Mushrooms made fabulous compliments to the steak.

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I chose the Georges Bank Scallops, served with pea risotto, pancetta, carrot, and lemon. Fresh, delicious, and with flavors that perfectly paired, this was an elegant dish!

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We also enjoyed some of the seasonal Corn Elote with smoked jalapeno aioli, cotija, and scallion. Seriously, if you can get there before this off the menu, do!

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And then dessert…Matthew chose the Eight Layer Chocolate Torte, which looked like a giant Andes mint and tasted even better.

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My desserts were all set ablaze tableside, with the Cleveland Cassata Alaska…

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and the Café Cleveland, which has Watershed high-proof vodka and walnut nocino, Cointreau, Kahlua, and La Colombe coffee.

 

 

Such showmanship and such deliciousness!

This is one of the best meals we’ve had in a long time from top to bottom.

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The friendly service, the commitment to local products, and the sheer craftsmanship of the chefs make Urban Farmer a fantastic place for a meal!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a dinner at Urban Farmer with a guest. I received a gift card toward our meal, as well as some complimentary items from the kitchen. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Taste of the Browns!

The last few years that we’ve attended the Greater Cleveland Food Bank‘s Taste of the Browns fundraiser, the food has been terrific and the venue has been stellar and everyone has been excited about helping out those in need. But the energy about the Browns themselves…it might have been a little bit low.

But coming off the big win last Thursday and the announcement of Baker Mayfield as the starting quarterback, there was genuine sports excitement in the air on Monday night.

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Of course, the terrific food, stellar venue, and fantastic opportunity to help those in need still existed too.

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Every dollar raised at Taste of the Browns equals 4 meals for those with food insecurity. Chef Rocco Whalen, one of the honorary co-chairs of this year’s event, single-handedly raised $10,000 by donating two Fahrenheit food truck private parties during the live auction!

Of course, Taste of the Browns isn’t just about the Browns…it’s also about the taste! And taste we did!

We started out at B Spot Burgers with their Georgia Peach burger.

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Did you know that the B Spot in FirstEnergy Stadium creates a new burger geared to each of the Browns home opponents? This creation for the Falcons game is a winner for sure!

Check out this array of delicious nibbles, with an Asian pulled pork wonton from Pearl Asian Kitchen, tuna nachos from Heck’s Cafe, and steak with horseradish sauce from Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse.

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The miso-glazed pork belly from AMP 150 and the rosemary lamb chop with butternut squash from Johnny’s Downtown were both perfect for the now fall-like weather!

And we had a ball with these gigantic Salerno Family meatballs from Lago East Bank.

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Proving they’re more than just tacos, Barrio‘s sea scallop ceviche was a fresh, delicious treat!

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I also love when I find a new restaurant that I have to try outside of a tasting event. This year, that restaurant was Corktree Tavern, whose short ribs with goat cheese polenta and dried cherries was tender, flavorful, and an amazing amount of yum in a small bite.

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To the food, the cause, and the newly re-energized Browns, cheers!

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***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Taste of the Browns. In exchange, I received two complimentary VIP tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Legacy Village Birthday Staycation!

When I was thinking about how I wanted to celebrate my birthday this year, I decided I wanted to do a staycation that included my favorite people and my favorite things to do. So, naturally I landed on Legacy Village.

On Friday afternoon, Jeffrey and I checked in to the Hyatt Place Legacy Village for some swim time. There is nothing Jeffrey loves more than a hotel pool!

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The Hyatt Place Legacy Village is the perfect place to stay for a staycation or for out-of-town friends. The hotel is modern and comfortable, with lots of thoughtful touches (my favorite were the reading nooks in the lobby.) There’s free breakfast, a fitness center, and the aforementioned pool, too!

Plus the staff is very sweet!

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Once Jeffrey was dried off and on his way to Grandma’s house for the night, Matthew joined me for dinner at The Capital Grille, just a short walk from the hotel.

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I’ve written several times about how The Capital Grille’s food is just incredible and this dinner was no exception. Matthew and I shared the pan-fried calamari with peppers with our bourbon cocktails.

 

For dinner, I had the tomahawk veal chop with foie gras butter and Matthew had the bone-in filet. Everything was prepared to perfection.

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Beyond that, though, the service at The Capital Grille is always on point. The servers know exactly when to chat, when to leave you in peace, what wine to recommend, and so on. That made our dinner not only delicious, but utterly enjoyable.

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Saturday was all about the girls at Legacy Village. In the morning, I literally walked across the street to meet up with friends at Barre3 and start my morning with a great workout.

From there, we went to Bar Louie and met up with more friends for brunch.

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From extra boozy mimosas to fluffy peanut butter pancakes, brunch was just the right balance to the workout.

 

We were lucky enough to be at Legacy Village during the Wildroots market, so we got to check out some great local, artsy shopping in addition to all the every day fabulous Legacy Village shopping options.

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Then it was time for some straight-up pampering with manicures and pedicures at Anthony Vince Nail Spa. I love how many color options they have there and with a huge staff and tons of pedicure chairs, the service is always fast (and friendly.)

After grabbing a cup of coffee at Starbucks to give myself a boost of energy before heading home, I realized that I chose the perfect location for my birthday staycation. From fancy to casual dining, working out to being pampered, and of course, shopping, Legacy Village had it all (and a great place to stay while enjoying it!)

***Disclosure: I have an ongoing relationship with Legacy Village to promote their events, for which I receive compensation in the form of Legacy Village gift cards. I also received a complimentary one-night stay at the Hyatt Place Legacy Village. The idea for the staycation and, as always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

This weekend still felt like summer to me! So, despite the appearance of pumpkins later on in my post, I’m hanging on to the end of summer…

Brewnuts

On Friday morning, while the kids were in school, I went with my friends Mariah and Ashlie to Brewnuts for their Harry Potter-themed donuts that were available this weekend only.

Brewnuts not only makes gigantic, creative donuts, but they come up with lots of fun theme days to sprinkle even more magic on the donuts. I opted for a Sorting Hat donut, whose yellow buttercream filling told me I was a Hufflepuff.

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Add in a Butterbeer latte…

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and the cute, tiki-themed decor…

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and you have the makings of three very happy moms!

Bloggy Con

On Saturday, I attended Bloggy Conference, a conference for bloggers. Held at Cedar Point’s Hotel Breakers, the location was perfect for soaking in a bit more of summer.

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We heard speakers on everything from SEO to brand ambassadorships and had a chance to connect with other bloggers from around the country.

This was my first blog conference, despite how long I’ve been doing this, and I really feel like I came away with some valuable insights into things I can implement with the blog, as well as things that I don’t want to change.

Small City Taphouse

Since we were spending the night in Sandusky, I had dinner at one of my favorite restaurants out that way: Small City Taphouse.

This restaurant boasts 80 beers on tap, which obviously means you have to get a flight because it is impossible to choose just one.

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My two favorites from my flight were the Big Bad Baptist from Epic Brewing and the Haunted Hayride Pumpkin Ale from Masthead Brewing.

Small City Taphouse also has a full sushi and Asian cuisine menu. The TNT roll, with tuna and jalapeno was a great choice, as was the spicy egg noodles with beef.

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If you find yourself in Sandusky, definitely check out Small City Taphouse!

Cedar Point Halloweekends

On Sunday, my best guys joined me at Cedar Point for Halloweekends.

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From trick or treating through Kiddie Kingdom…

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…to trying out the new-this-year challenge course…

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….to catching the It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown parade…

…there was so much to do on top of the rides that Jeffrey always loves. It was a fall festival in summer-like weather!

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Halloweekends continue every weekend through October 28, so don’t miss this chance for some family-friendly thrills and treats!

So, that was my weekend! How was yours?

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Why? National Cheeseburger Day at Kalahari Resorts!

It seems there’s a day to celebrate just about everything nowadays. This Tuesday, September 18 is National Cheeseburger Day! To celebrate this all-American classic meal, Kalahari Resorts and Conventions is offering a special promotion.

If you order an adult entree burger at B-Lux Grill & Bar at Kalahari this Tuesday, September 18, you will receive a free waterpark pass to return for a future visit of splashtastic fun! This offer is valid for the first 500 customers at the Sandusky Kalahari Resorts location.

Matthew, Jeffrey, and I went to Kalahari last weekend and enjoyed some tasty burgers at B-Lux Grill & Bar. Matthew had the Black & Bleu Burger, with bleu cheese and stout steak sauce.

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And I had the Frenchie burger, with Brie, caramalized onions, bacon, and dijonnaise.

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Also, don’t skip the boozy milkshakes. It’s a drink and dessert all in one! I love me some multitasking.

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Jeffrey chose the cheese pizza and giant pretzel, which just goes to show that it doesn’t have to be a cheeseburger meal at B-Lux (but it IS a great spot to celebrate National Cheeseburger Day).

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Then we headed down to the waterpark for a ton of fun! Jeffrey is tall enough now to go on a lot of the slides, including the Zip Coaster, which is essentially a roller coaster and water slide combined.

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We all had a great time splashing and sliding the day away! And we definitely can’t wait to go back!

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So, head to Kalahari and grab a cheeseburger at B-Lux Grill & Bar to celebrate National Cheeseburger Day, so that you not only get a tasty meal, but a chance to return for even more family waterpark fun!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Kalahari Resorts’ National Cheeseburger Day promotion. In exchange, I received three complimentary waterpark day passes and a gift card to B-Lux Grill & Bar. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Chefs Unbridled!

On Saturday night, Matthew and I attended one of our favorite foodie events: Chefs Unbridled to benefit Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center.

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This event brings together a collection of talented Cleveland chefs, all of whom prepare delicious small plates to be enjoyed while strolling the big tent on the Chagrin Valley Hunt Club grounds.

The weather was cooler and the chefs were thinking cozy, fall flavors. Chef Scott Kuhn and Chef Chris Hodgson of the Driftwood Group prepared seafood chowder and fried burrata, both of which were warm and satisfying.

Speaking of warm and satisfying, the tomato risotto from the Union Club of Cleveland fit that bill too! And the slightly spicy, totally tender pork ropa vieja from Sol was delicious!

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The newly-opened Polpetta was on hand with chicken meatballs with Thai peanut sauce over veggie fried rice. Yum!

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And Chef Demetrios Athenos’ stuffed dates wrapped in bacon were the perfect bite-sized nibble.

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All of this food and fun (and friends)…

 

benefited Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center, which helps children and adults with disabilities, PTSD, and other physical and emotional challenges, connect with horses and find comfort and growth through these relationships.

 

The live auction, which included two in-home dinners provided by Driftwood Group, raised over $60,000 for Fieldstone Farm!

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What a fabulous, fall-like evening for a wonderful cause!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Fieldstone Farm to help promote Chefs Unbridled. In exchange, I received two complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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