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!

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?

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Why? Weekends, Part 1!

We had a busy weekend, so I decided to split it up into two posts. On Thursday and Saturday evenings, we attended wonderful fundraising events, so I’ll fill you in on those first…

Red & White on Thursday Night

On Thursday, we headed down to Akron for Red & White on Thursday Night, a fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation, Ohio.

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I always enjoy this event because it gives me a chance to experience so many of Akron’s great restaurants in one spot!

We noshed on delicious short ribs and parsnip puree from Crave

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…artichoke D’Agnese from D’Agnese’s at White Pond

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…mini Galley Boys from Swenson’s Drive In

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…lobster mac ‘n cheese from The Galaxy Restaurant and lobster rolls from Bistro on Main

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…and sweet treats from Chocolates by Erin and West Side Bakery.

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Everything was delicious and we washed it down with lots of wine! There were lots of great silent auction items up for bid, too, like a Baker Mayfield autographed football, jewelry from Kendra Scott, and more.

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Great food, great wine, and a great time, all for a great cause!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Arthritis Foundation, Ohio to help promote Red & White on Thursday Night. In exchange, I received two complimentary VIP tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Allison Rose Foundation Founders Event

On Saturday night, Mom and I attended the Allison Rose Foundation Founders Event.

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The Allison Rose Foundation was started after Allison Suhy’s life was tragically cut short due to anaphylaxis brought on by a food allergy. Out of this loss, Allison’s family decided to start a foundation to educate families about food allergies, help children transition to safe independent living with food allergies, and research new treatments and cures for food allergies.

The Founders Event was a celebration of how much Allison and her family mean to their community. The room was packed with family, friends, and fellow firefighters (Allison’s dad is the fire chief in Cuyahoga Heights).

Speaking of firefighter support, I got a chance to meet UFC Champ and Valley View firefighter Stipe Miocic, who was there to support the event.

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There were tables packed with awesome raffle prizes, plus a silent auction and 50/50 raffle.

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We also heard from Dr. Sandra Hong of the Cleveland Clinic, who spoke about developments in treatments and potential cures for food allergies.

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What really struck me about this event was how many people have been touched both by Allison and her family and the issue of food allergies. The Allison Rose Foundation may just be kicking off, but they are starting with a huge amount of community support. I can’t wait to see the impact they’ll make for food allergy families.

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Allison Rose Foundation to help promote the Founders Event. In exchange, I received two complimentary VIP tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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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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