Why? 2018!

2018 was, well, a year. To be completely honest, I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s Eve on a good year and this year was more challenging than most. I’m having a hard time separating the bad from the good, so I’m mostly just ready to welcome a new beginning.

But when I look back on it, there were certainly fun moments in 2018, along with a lot of growth, strengthening of relationships, and deepening of commitments.

In 2018, we ate…

…we drank…

…we traveled…

…I yoga-ed and barre-d…

 

…we sported…

 

…we got cultured…

 

…and we got to the Point.

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We loved…

 

…and lost.

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And my kid grew into even more of an extraordinary, funny, smart, inquisitive human.

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It’s been a hell of a year and while I’m honestly not sad to see it go, I do hope the lessons, the growth, and the friendships stay with me into 2019.

May the New Year land softly, however you may feel about 2018. XO

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Why? Weekends!

It was a fabulous holiday weekend, filled with family, food, and fun! Here’s the recap…

Sugar Pines Farm

I love Thanksgiving and we had a fabulous run of back-to-back dinners with family, but on Friday, I was ready to kick off the Christmas season. Step one was to get a Christmas tree.

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We headed to Sugar Pines Farm for a cut-your-own tree experience. It was so fun to pick our tree, cut it down, and haul it back ourselves!

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Sugar Pines Farm also has a bonfire and s’mores, wagon rides out to see Santa, and a snack shack with yummy things like funnel cakes, roasted nuts, and hot chocolate. More than just getting a tree…it was a total experience!

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Plus, the tree is just beautiful and looks fantastic all decorated!

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Holiday CircleFest

On Friday evening, we all headed to University Circle for a little preview of Holiday CircleFest, which happens this coming weekend.

Holiday CircleFest includes a Polka Skate with the Chardon Polka Band on Friday night; a holiday market, horse-drawn carriage rides, and live music on Saturday; and free admission to museums, live music, horse-drawn carriage rides, ice carving, and photos with Santa on Sunday.

This weekend, we checked out the Rink at Wade Oval, which is a centerpiece of the Holiday CircleFest events. Unfortunately the Rink wasn’t frozen enough for skating yet, but we can’t wait to go back and let Jeffrey have his first ice skating experience!

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The Rink is open through February 18. The lights around the Rink make it just a lovely holiday spot!

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We then headed over to the Cleveland Botanical Garden for Glow. Glow is a wonderland of Christmas trees decorated by garden clubs…

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…gingerbread houses created by talented and creative Clevelanders (Jeffrey and I had the tough task of judging these houses)…

…the Garden Express train…

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….and delicious holiday treats and fantastic live music.

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Glow is happening at the Cleveland Botanical Garden every day except Mondays through January 5 and is a lovely holiday tradition!

***Disclosure: I was asked by University Circle to help promote Holiday CircleFest. In exchange, I received three complimentary tickets to the Rink at Wade Oval and Glow. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Tannenbaum Trail

On Saturday, my mom and I checked out the Tannenbaum Trail put on by the Ohio Wine Producers Association.

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A ticket for the Tannenbaum Trail gets you a wine sample, small bite, and ornament at 13 different Geneva-area wineries, as well as an 18-inch tree to put your ornaments on.

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Mom and I started Ferrante Winery and hit six other wineries too: Laurello Vineyards, South River Vineyard, Red Eagle Distillery, the Winery at Spring Hill, Maple Ridge Vineyard, and Grand River Cellars.

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We had a great time exploring the wineries and getting some fun souvenirs to take home with us! The Tannenbaum Trail is a yearly happening and for a small price, you can check out lots of wineries, get a cute Christmas decoration, and you have three weekends to complete the trail!

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So, that was our weekend! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

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Why? Walt Disney World!

We’re back after a fantastic vacation in Walt Disney World. This was a great time to go, not only because the weather was a lot warmer than it was in Cleveland, but also because Disney was completely decked out for Christmas.

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We stayed at the Polynesian Village Resort. Located right on the Monorail, it was easy to get to all the parks, plus the hotel’s theme was fun and beautiful.

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We took advantage of the holiday proximity and attended Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, with dessert stations, a Christmas parade, and snow on Main Street (seriously, the most magical thing ever.)

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The Magic Kingdom remained the favorite of our parks, with tons of rides for all of us to enjoy.

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Jeffrey also loved the newly-opened Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, with bright décor, fun rides, and character meet-and-greets from the movies.

 

If you go, get lunch at Woody’s Lunch Box!

 

And Matthew and I had a lot of fun at Epcot, where we picked one food or drink item from each country for a great around-the-world experience!

 

My mom came with us, which made for great family bonding time! It also gave Matthew and I the chance to sneak in a date night at the Spirit of Aloha luau dinner, with great food and a high-energy hula show.

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Matthew even got chosen for part of the audience participation dancing!

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I loved seeing how excited Jeffrey was to meet his favorite characters, go on roller coasters, and just generally have a magical experience!

 

And now it’s great to be home and gear up for the holidays in Cleveland!

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Why? The Macaron Tea Room!

Yesterday, three generations joined together to raise our pinkies and enjoy a delightful spot of tea!

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Mom, Jeffrey, and I enjoyed lunch at The Macaron Tea Room in Broadview Heights. Mom and I marveled at their large selection of teas, from specially-blended black teas, white teas, traditional black teas, and fruit teas.

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I particularly enjoyed the Blueberry Wildchild. I also love the adorable cups and teapots at The Macaron Tea Room. Even Jeffrey’s lemonade came in a teapot!

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Mom and I shared the High Tea for Two, which included three tiers of delicious nibbles.

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The first level included tea sandwiches: cucumber with cream cheese and chive; tuna salad; shredded egg with garlic spread; roast beef; and avocado and bacon.

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It’s hard to pick a favorite of the sandwiches! All the breads were delicious. I really liked the horseradish on the roast beef sandwich and you can never go wrong with avocado and bacon!

The next tier included a scone with clotted cream and fresh jam, a petit four (ours had apple butter), a Victoria spongecake, and a tea biscuit.

The top tier included a Nutella waffle cake (yum), a mini pecan pie (yum), and a macaron (yum).

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Jeffrey got the Nursery Tea, with grilled cheese and ham and cheese sandwiches cut out like airplanes (so cute), grapes, and a macaron.
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We had fun with the dress-up corner and the paintable cookie, too!

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We all just generally enjoyed a lovely and relaxing lunch! The Macaron Tea Room takes time and care creating delectable, delicate food that is perfect for a ladies’ (and small gentleman’s) day out!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a complimentary lunch at The Macaron Tea Room with guests. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? University Circle Inc. CirclePass!

Cleveland is home to so many fabulous museums! It can be hard to choose which to visit or where to purchase a membership. The University Circle Inc. CirclePass is the perfect choice to allow you to check out a lot of museums for one price, making school breaks, staycations, or entertaining visitors a breeze!

CirclePass saves you 25% off adult admission to four University Circle institutions: the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Cleveland History Center, the Cleveland Botanical Garden, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland. For one price, you get a single admission to each museum. You must complete your CirclePass use within 10 days of your visit to the first of the museums.

Last week, Jeffrey, my mom, and I spent a day exploring all four of the museums included in CirclePass.

We started at a long-time favorite: the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

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And while Jeffrey refers to it as the “dinosaur museum,” the Cleveland Museum of Natural History offers a lot more than dinosaurs to explore. The geological area has captured Jeffrey’s interest lately.

 

The recently-remodeled Perkins Wildlife Center and children’s Smead Discovery Center are favorites as well.

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When we headed outside to walk to the Cleveland History Center, we of course had to take a picture with the iconic “Steggie” statue.

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Next stop was the Cleveland History Center, part of the Western Reserve Historical Society.

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From the awesome Cleveland Starts Here exhibit chronicling Cleveland’s storied past, to the airplanes and cars of the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum, there is a lot to see that captivates both adults and children.

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Of course, the Euclid Beach Park Grand Carousel is everyone’s favorite part of the Cleveland History Center, as you literally get to take a ride back into Cleveland’s past.

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We could easily walk between the CirclePass locations, getting to take in the sights in the Circle while we walked. We kept walking around University Circle until we reached our third stop: the Cleveland Botanical Garden.

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No matter the weather, it always feels like summer in the Garden’s glasshouse, with beautiful butterflies, turtles, and other native critters.

 

You can also explore acres of outdoor gardens when the weather is right! The Hershey Children’s Garden is a whimsical stop, even if you don’t have a child!

We were able to walk between three of the four CirclePass museums, but we hopped in the car to head over to the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland.

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Not only is the outside of MOCA stunning, but the artwork housed within is thought-provoking and interesting.

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Through September 30, MOCA is hosting exhibitions as part of Front International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. So, it is the perfect time to get to MOCA and see these unique exhibitions!

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After all that culture, we worked up an appetite. Luckily the Uptown area, where MOCA is located, offers plenty of options. We landed at Happy Dog at Euclid Tavern and enjoyed some delicious and creatively-topped hot dogs in a fun, dive-bar atmosphere.

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CirclePass gave us the opportunity to explore four of Cleveland’s coolest cultural attractions for one great price. While we were familiar with most of the institutions already, the savings on admission made it easier for us to not have to choose which to go to. Plus, any chance to hang out in University Circle just makes for a cool day!

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And while we chose to make a day out of our CirclePass adventure, you can spread out the culture over a 10-day time span if that better suits your schedule.

CirclePass can be purchased online for $35 for adults age 13+ and $19.50 for children ages 3-12. This is a great way to experience a lot of culture for one low price!

***Disclosure: I was asked by University Circle to help promote CirclePass. In exchange, I received one complimentary adult and one complimentary child CirclePass. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Why? Weekends!

As of today, we have two weeks left of Jeffrey’s summer break. Just two weeks! So, we’re going to get in every bit of summer goodness we can. Here’s what we were up to this weekend…

Lake Metroparks Farm Park

On Friday, we met up with friends Lane and Nolan for a play date at the Lake Metroparks Farm Park.

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Jeffrey is so sweet with Nolan! The Farm Park was the perfect way to bridge the age gap between the boys by giving them things to see and do that they could both appreciate.

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Photo Credit: Lane

It was a lovely little summer Friday afternoon!

First Watch

Saturday morning, Mom and I met up for brunch at First Watch. I really love the food at First Watch, plus any place that brings me a pot rather than a cup of coffee is speaking my language!

I ordered the Elevated Egg Sandwich, with bacon, Gruyere, avocado, mayo, and lemon-dressed arugula.

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I loved the freshness of the avocado and lemon paired with the richness of the bacon and Gruyere. So good!

Mom chose the seasonal Elote Mexican Street Corn Hash, with seasoned potatoes, roasted sweet corn, chorizo, Cotija cheese, and chipotle crema.

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Spicy, sweet, and satisfying! First Watch is a great breakfast spot!

Buckeye Beer Engine

Then it was off to our friend Kevin’s 40th birthday party at Buckeye Beer Engine. While Buckeye Beer Engine is known for their craft beer selection, I found myself enjoying their bourbon cocktails, including the bourbon ginger mimosa.

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We also chowed down on their boneless wings (the spicy garlic Parmesan are on point), crab cakes, and pierogi. It was a fun afternoon of good drinks and good food to celebrate a good friend!

Cedar Point

On Sunday, we found ourselves at Cedar Point once again, this time for our annual trip with Amanda and Scott.

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As Jeffrey’s godparents and huge Cedar Point enthusiasts, Amanda and Scott are the perfect folks for a day at the amusement park. They love going on the rides with Jeffrey and I can see their relationship with him deepen each time we go.

 

It was a beautiful day to be up at the park too! We’re squeezing in as many Cedar Point trips as we can before the summer is through!

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So, that was our weekend. How was yours? Are you feeling the back-to-school blues too?

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Why? Coastal Taco Bar & Chill!

If you’re looking for the perfect summer spot, with a laid-back vibe and fabulous food, then look no further than Coastal Taco Bar & Chill.

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Located on the East Bank of the Flats, with a fabulous on-the-water patio, Coastal Taco has a beachy, open air aesthetic that transports you to an island bar instantly. The margaritas do a pretty good job of that, too! The Perfect Margaritas is, well, perfect and the pineapple habanero packs a satisfying heat.

Speaking of a nice heat, the salsas at Coastal Taco bring lots of flavor, with just the right amount of heat. My favorite was the pineapple salsa!

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Coastal Taco’s elote bites are also not to be missed! Think of hush puppies, with lots of flavorful corn, queso fresco, and lime.

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There are a ton of tasty tacos and bols to choose from at Coastal Taco. I tried the short rib taco, with crispy onion and candied carrot, and the fried avocado taco, which is vegetarian and gluten free.

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Both were so flavorful! The short rib basically melted in your mouth and the onion straws and candied carrot were delicious, playful touches.

My mom ordered the Burning River chicken taco, with house-made hot sauce, pico, cheese, and ancho ranch.

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So flavorful and delicious! We also both ordered bols too: the crispy shrimp for me and the steak for Mom.

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With Spanish rice, black beans, and lime crema, my bol was both flavorful and filling! You can also build your own bol. Jeffrey loved his kids beef taco, too!

We somehow found room for the apple empanada with cinnamon ice cream, which was the perfect sweet finish to our meal!

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Chef George told us that Coastal Taco is committed to seasonal, sustainable ingredients that keep the tacos tasty and delicious, but also priced in a friendly way (only $4 per taco)! Ultimately, Coastal Taco is focused on a total guest experience of delicious food in a friendly and relaxing atmosphere. Make this your next Taco Tuesday (or any day) destination!

***Disclosure: I was invited to enjoy a complimentary lunch at Coastal Taco with a guest. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

It was a busy and fun weekend in the CLE, so let’s get right to it!

Cedar Point

On Friday, Jeffrey, my mom, and I took the first of what will surely be many trips to Cedar Point this summer. We have season passes, so we go up there as much as we can. Jeffrey not only loves going on the rides, but also watching the big roller coasters.

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This year, Jeffrey is tall enough to go on rides by himself, which gives him even more of a thrill!

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Jeffrey is also tall enough to ride (accompanied) one of my favorite rides from when I was a kid: Ocean Motion. After his first ride, during which he laughed and screamed happily the whole time, he immediately demanded to go again. Luckily, I convinced that the limit for consecutive rides is two…I can’t ride the way I used to!

We got to catch up with some favorite friends and visit the Melt Bar and Grilled there too.

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So, all the way around, it was a great day!

Cleveland American Heart Association Heart and Stroke Ball

On Saturday, Matthew and I got to get all dressed up and have a swanky night out for our sixth anniversary at the Cleveland American Heart Association Heart and Stroke Ball.

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Held in the beautiful atrium at the Cleveland Museum of Art, the event celebrated the $1.3 million fundraising success of this year’s Heart and Stroke Ball committee in grand style.

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Over 750 people attended the event, which featured a cocktail hour with tasty drinks, such as this watermelon, lemon, vodka creation.

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During the cocktail hour, there was a lot to take in, from performers to artists at work.

Guests could also mingle in the Social Suite, sponsored by Citrus Social, which I staffed during the event.

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We then enjoyed a delicious dinner that included salad, short ribs, and chocolate tart.

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We also heard from AHA staff, the event chairperson, and a sudden cardiac arrest survivor with inspiring messages of hope and thanks. There was surprisingly no auction portion of the evening, but rather drawings for giveaways to attendees as thank you gifts.

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After the presentations wrapped up, it was time to dance to the sounds of Shout!, an impressive 11-piece band that kept guests moving and grooving well into the night!

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It was a fabulous evening for a great cause! As I mentioned in one of my posts from the evening, my grandfather recently suffered a stroke, so the cause really struck close to home, as did the beautiful tribute walls created by family and friends.

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To see such success for an organization working to alleviate heart and stroke conditions really meant a lot!

***Disclosure: I attended the Cleveland American Heart Association Heart and Stroke Ball as part of my working relationship with Citrus Social. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Rosewood Grill

On Sunday, we tried a new-to-us brunch at Rosewood Grill. I enjoyed the champagne sangria and Matthew had a bacon bloody mary, complete with a mini Miller High Life to accompany it!

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We shared the monkey bread (pull apart cinnamon rolls) and deviled eggs to start.

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For my entree, I chose the prime rib hash, with roasted red peppers, potatoes, and sunnyside-up eggs. The hash was flavorful and delicious!

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Matthew enjoyed the crab cake Benedict, which is obviously the best kind of Benedict!

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Since I’ve decided brunch is my favorite meal, I always enjoy trying new brunch locales. Rosewood Grill will stay on the Sunday Funday list for sure!

So, that was our weekend! How was yours?

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Why? Weekends!

It was a busy weekend in Cleveland! And while I didn’t have the chance to attend the Rock Hall Induction or the first Cavs playoff game, I am so proud of how Cleveland put on a fabulous show on the national stage!

So, here’s what I was up to as Cleveland was rocking it out:

Providence House Luncheon

On Friday, Kimberly and I attended the Providence House Annual Luncheon at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel.

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Providence House is a crisis nursery that is committed to ending child abuse and preserving families in the Cleveland area. Providence House was founded by Sister Hope Greener in 1981. This year, Providence House turns 37 and its founder Sister Hope turns 90.

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Friday’s luncheon feted Sister Hope and raised $90,000 for Providence House.

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It also introduced a powerful new brand campaign designed by Twist Creative. This campaign showcases the impact of Providence House on its residents and volunteers.

The Providence House luncheon was a wonderful way to not only celebrate the organization’s history, but also look forward to a bright and exciting future for the house. If you want to be part of that future, you can find out more online about how to donate or volunteer.

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Providence House Annual Luncheon with a guest. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Children’s Theater Series

On Saturday, we attended the final show of this season’s Children’s Theater Series at Playhouse Square.

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The show, put on by the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia, brought to life the sweet story of “Guess How Much I Love You” and the imaginative story of “I Love My Little Storybook.” We’ve been reading “Guess How Much I Love You” since Jeffrey was born. It was so touching to experience it live on stage together!

The shows for next year’s Children’s Theater Series are “The Ugly Duckling,” “The Rainbow Fish,” “Emily Brown and the Thing,” and “Junie B. Jones.” Season tickets go on sale May 21. We love attending the Children’s Theater Series shows and experiencing culture together as a family!

Mass and a Meal

Saturday evening, we attended the sixth annual Mass and a Meal event put on by the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. We started the evening with Mass at Holy Rosary Church in Little Italy.

Then we headed across the street to Nido Italia for a delicious family-style dinner with breaded eggplant, cavatelli, and chicken piccata.

Of course, I can’t be that close to Presti’s and not stop for a cannoli, too!

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Mass and a Meal has become a Chapter favorite event and a yearly tradition for many alumni. If you’re a John Carroll alumni, the Chapter has some great upcoming events including our Founders Day Celebration this Thursday, April 19 at Market Garden Brewery. I hope to see you there!

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

Yoga Roots

Sunday evening, I met up with Mom for her first class at Yoga Roots. We took a restorative yoga class which was a great chance to recharge our minds and bodies before a busy week.

You know how much I love practicing, so I’m so excited to share that with Mom too. And I can’t think of a more supportive community than Yoga Roots to practice.

So, that was my weekend! How was yours? Did you get in on any of the Rock Hall excitement?

jenclesig_pur

Why? Luca West!

If you’ve been to Luca Italian Cuisine in the Flats, you know their delicious take on Italian food is not to be missed. Which was why I was so excited to hear about Luca West, the new restaurant from the couple that started Luca in the Flats.

We started with some of the to-die-for, eat-it-all Luca bread, served with oil, Parmesan, and garlic.

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Seriously, I cannot get enough of this bread. It’s amazing!

Mom and I then shared the truffled crab bisque, which is not overly creamy and filled with rich truffle flavor and large pieces of tender crab meat.

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Use the bread to dunk in the soup. Thank me later (or just steal me some of the bread).

For my entree, I chose the bucatini with Maine lobster tail. The handmade pasta was perfect and the spicy tomato and rose prosecco sauce was a nice compliment to the richness of the lobster.

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Mom chose the veal chop with shaved black truffle and truffle butter.

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The veal was spot-on! Who can resist the earthy flavor of truffles, too?

And of course we couldn’t resist dessert! We shared the cannoli, which were the perfect sweet treat to cap off all the Italian deliciousness.

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Luca West is just as tasty and welcoming and wonderful as the original! Don’t miss this western version of this fantastic restaurant!

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