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…
…I yoga-ed and barre-d…
…we got cultured…
…and we got to the Point.
And my kid grew into even more of an extraordinary, funny, smart, inquisitive human.
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
It was a busy and fun weekend in the CLE! Here’s what we were up to:
John Carroll University Alumni Awards Dinner
On Friday night, I was honored to receive the Rev. William M. Bichl, S.J. Alumni Volunteer Service Award from my alma mater, John Carroll University.
I served on the Cleveland Alumni Chapter Board for six years and was so humbled to receive this award as I completed by board term. John Carroll means so much to me and has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. My mom received her Masters in Education from Carroll, so being able to share the Awards Dinner with her was particularly meaningful.
The dinner itself was lovely, with good food and good conversation with the other award winners and their families. The other award recipients were so deserving and have accomplished so much that it was truly amazing to be mentioned in the same breath.
I am so grateful for the chance to give back to John Carroll, to receive the award, and to get to share it with the people who mean the most to me and who supported the time and effort I put into my volunteer work.
We got to enjoy a thirty minute train ride on Thomas himself, along with lots of other train-themed fun, including train tables, model trains, and the chance to ring a real train bell!
One of my favorite parts of Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad events is that they are volunteer-driven. The volunteers care so much about making the experience fun for the kids, which just adds to how special the memories made are.
Tickets are still available for this weekend’s Day Out with Thomas events, happening Friday, May 25 through Sunday, May 27. Click here to purchase tickets.
You can keep our family happy with the food at Happy Dog! We popped in for a quick lunch after our Thomas adventure for hot dogs, tots, and craft beer for Matthew and me. I highly recommend Masthead Falling Fruit!
Matthew and I both got Chef Symon’s Favorite, with alien pickle relish, chunky peanut butter, and Sriracha drizzle. So good!
On Saturday evening, I attended the third annual Dazzle Awards at Playhouse Square. The Dazzle Awards celebrate high school theater in a Tony Awards-style event, handing out awards for everything from set design and costumes to acting. The winners of the Best Actor and Best Actress awards get to travel to New York City to compete in the National High School Theater Awards on Broadway!
I was so impressed with the talent up on stage and with Playhouse Square’s commitment to celebrating these young people. Playhouse Square Partners helps to support the Dazzle Awards, among other Playhouse Square Education and Community Outreach initiatives, so it was cool to see what our donation dollars support.
***Disclosure: I am the co-chair of Playhouse Square Partners. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***
Moms, Manis, and Mimosas
Sunday, I hosted a little brunch party to celebrate my lovely mom friends. I’m so lucky to have women who are supportive and understanding and funny and caring. I’ve really found my mom tribe!
So, what better way to celebrate these fabulous friends than with brunch (I made this almond French toast and this crab strata) and Prosecco sangria and manicures?
We had time to eat and chat and pamper ourselves and it was just lovely! It’s so important to celebrate our friends and I’m glad I had a chance to do it!
It was a great weekend with family and friends! How was yours?
I hope you all had lovely Mother’s Day weekends! Here’s how we spent ours:
Thrive Arts Center
On Saturday, we attended a birthday party for one of Jeffrey’s friends at Thrive Arts Center.
Thrive Arts Center opened after Jeffrey finished up with Kindermusik, so this was our first chance to check it out. It’s an impressive space that is bright, fun, and imaginative, with space for Kindermusik, instrument and voice lessons, dance classes, and birthday parties too.
We got to participate in a Kindermusik class before making birthday crowns and enjoying cake and snacks. It was a fun way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon! If your kids are interested in music, dance, or arts, check out Thrive Arts Center’s class offerings!
My Mother’s Day started with a present that Jeffrey made for me at school. It’s pretty fun now that he’s old enough to participate in making/picking out gifts. He was so excited to present me with my hand-painted letter!
After a fabulous vinyasa flow at Yoga Roots, we met up with my parents for brunch at The Capital Grille. The Capital Grille has quickly become a favorite special occasion spot, so I couldn’t wait to indulge in their Mother’s Day brunch.
When we arrived, my mom and I each received a sparkly red rose to commemorate Mother’s Day.
The dinner menu was available, but we chose to order off the three-course brunch menu. I chose the field greens salad, the lobster frittata, and the crème brulee.
The lobster frittata was so rich, with a fluffy, creamy egg frittata on top a hash brown cake, served with lobster tail meat and Hollandaise sauce. This was brunch perfection!
The best part of the brunch was the bottomless mimosas or bellinis! The service, food, and drinks all made this a truly indulgent Mother’s Day treat!
So, that was our weekend. A little quieter than our usual, but that was really nice. I enjoyed the chance to soak up family time on Mother’s Day weekend! How was yours?
It was a wonderful holiday weekend, filled with family and friends! Here’s what was hopping:
Dyeing Easter Eggs
On Friday, Jeffrey and I had our friends over to dye Easter eggs. We dye eggs every year and I love how Jeffrey has gotten more interested in it as time goes by.
Check out his masterpieces!
Cleveland Botanical Garden Easter Egg Hunt
Speaking of annual traditions, on Saturday we went to the Cleveland Botanical Garden Easter egg hunt. This is one of our favorite holiday events!
You ticket includes an Easter egg hunt in the Hershey Children’s Garden, which is filled with tons of candy-filled eggs, as well as fun spring decorations.
There were also crafts and outdoor games like bean bag toss and giant tic-tac-toe to enjoy. Plus there was a visit from a very special bunny in a very special bunny car!
You also got admission to the Cleveland Botanical Garden to check out their Spring Blooms event. Spring Blooms replaced Big Spring and has all the bright spring colors and flowers you’ve come to expect, but fewer children’s play elements.
We really enjoyed our morning at the Easter egg hunt! For an event that draws around 1,000 people, it is very well organized and always a lot of fun!
Dante and Justin Timberlake
On Saturday night, I celebrated my dear friend Kimberly‘s birthday with dinner at Dante, followed by the Justin Timberlake concert.
Our meal at Dante was perfect, from the aptly-named Something Fun cocktail…
…to the honey-roasted Brussel sprouts with goat cheese and polenta with pork belly (OMG, both were life-changing!)
From there, it was off to an awesome night of music with Justin Timberlake, with a special guest appearance from LeBron James, too!
I love how bright, open, and engaging the new Museum is! And I’m not the only one…the Museum was packed on Friday! From building cars to making crafts to caring for cats…
…Jeffrey had a great time and burned off a lot of that stuck-inside winter energy.
After the Museum, we headed for lunch at a spot that makes both kids and adults happy: Mama Santa’s in Little Italy.
Pro tip: if you’re at any of the museums with your kiddos and heading there, give them a call and they’ll have your pizza ready to eat when you arrive!
New Year, New Beauty at The Beauty Room
Saturday afternoon, I popped into The Beauty Room for a blowout and some bubbles at their New Year, New Beauty open house.
Aside from getting a killer blowout, there was a photo booth, snacks, skincare consultations, and lots of fun gifts and prizes. It was a great event to thank current clients and introduce new people to this fabulous finishing salon.
The event combined an hour-long pilates class with the chance to play with some adorable, adoptable pups from the Parma Animal Shelter.
You could also sign an anti-puppy mill petition, purchase dog treats and clothes, and make donations to the Shelter. If you’re interested in getting fit with the fuzzes, Soza Fitness and Wellness is hosting another Puppies and Pilates class on Sunday, March 4. Cost to attend is $17.
…to a visit with Santa Claus, of course. I think Santa got a lot of requests for another Cavs championship!
It was a fun morning and a great benefit of Cavs Wine & Gold Nation membership, which is definitely focusing on families and experiences outside just the games themselves. Cavs Wine & Gold Nation has memberships for all age levels that make great Christmas gifts!
***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Cavs Wine & Gold Nation membership. In exchange, I received a complimentary Cavalittles membership for Jeffrey. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***
Mapleside Breakfast with Santa
Because why wouldn’t you go to two breakfasts with Santa in one day? We are insane(ly festive). Our next Sunday stop was at Mapleside Farms for their first annual Breakfast with Santa.
We enjoyed a full breakfast buffet in the beautiful and rustic Mapleside Barn, with visits from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Grinch.
After breakfast, we boarded a decorated wagon for a short ride over to the sweet shop to decorate (and eat) cupcakes…
…and take a dunk in the chocolate fountain.
Then it was another audience with Santa. Jeffrey is in this sweet spot of really understanding all the things that Christmas can mean, but also fully believing without question. It’s pretty magical this year!
Our day ended with the create-your-own caramel apple bar, which is how days should end more often!
It was such a fun, festive weekend! How was yours?
It was another fun, festive weekend! Here’s what we were up to:
On Friday, my mom watched Jeffrey for the day, so that I could have my self-proclaimed “Mommy’s Holiday Get Sh*t Done Day.” The day included gift shopping, grocery shopping, party prepping, and some time for me, too.
I started my day at Brewnuts, which I had been dying to get to since they opened their storefront in Gordon Square.
The store is as adorable as the donuts are tasty. Brewnuts are HUGE donuts and a great balance of sweet frosting and not-too-sweet dough. I had a hard time deciding which to get, but I chose the mint chocolate coffee, made to look like a Frappuccino.
Yum! Brewnuts also has a large selection of craft beer and options to make your coffee or hot chocolate boozy.
Whether you stop for a morning treat or an after-work libation and donut, Brewnuts is an awesome, funky, tasty place to try!
The Beauty Room
From there, it was time to pamper my long-neglected toes with a pedicure at The Beauty Room in Tremont.
I met up with my girlfriend Kimberly, which meant that the pedicure was also good for my soul! Add in some pomegranate mimosas and you have the makings of a perfect morning!
The Beauty Room is bright, inviting, and has a wonderful selection of products and services (everything from massages and facials to blowouts to manicures) to make you feel, well, beautiful! And starting my day with so much relaxation guaranteed a productive, low-stress remainder of the day at the stores.
For a donation to Toys for Tots, you get to drive through the Goodyear Blimp hangar and see the hangar and blimp all decked out for Christmas.
Santa is also there to greet you, as well as Marine in full dress uniform to accept your donation.
Jeffrey loved getting to check out the blimp up close, as well as any chance to have even a brief audience with Santa.
What a cool thing to be able to see and a great way to drive donations to a wonderful cause!
Jeffrey’s Holiday Play Date
For the third year in a row, we packed our house on Sunday with Jeffrey’s friends and their families for a holiday play date.
We played winter carnival games, did a holiday book exchange, and generally had a fun, slightly chaotic, wonderful time.
And while the food at the party tends toward the simple pizza, cookies, and brownies, I did add in a new addition this year: spiced wine (recipe here).
This was the perfect cozy treat and I loved that I could leave it in the slow cooker to stay warm for the entire party! Plus, anytime the toddler count in your house climbs to double digits, you need wine too.
The holiday play date has become one of our favorite traditions and I love the chance for everyone to get together in this festive season!
Welcome to the time of year where every weekend is so packed with fun and festivities that they might burst. So, let’s get right to it!
Pajamas and Popcorn
On Friday night, Jeffrey’s school hosted Pajamas and Popcorn, a family movie night with pizza, popcorn, kids in PJs, and cookies.
The movie was “Horton Hears a Who,” so there were also cute Dr. Seuss photo opps. It was a really cute idea and a fun way to ease Jeffrey into the movie theater experience.
The Capital Grille
On Saturday night, we met up with my parents to celebrate my Dad’s birthday with dinner at The Capital Grille.
I started with the Blackberry Bourbon Sidecar, because apparently I like cocktails with bourbon now. I’m clearly growing as a person. Matthew and I also shared the lightly-breaded calamari with cherry peppers that give it a nice kick.
For my entrée, I decided to be the only non-red meat eater at the table because I just couldn’t resist the evening’s fish special: grilled swordfish topped with crab gratin.
Paired with a nice Sauvignon Blanc, this meal had lots of delicate flavors that were executed perfectly. Swordfish is one of my favorite fish and when you top it with crab…wow! My dad ordered the lamb chops, which received rave reviews!
For dessert, Matthew ordered the warm double chocolate cake with port-wine cherries and I had the apple crostada.
Each was the perfect compliment to our meal. We have never been less than totally impressed with the food and the service at The Capital Grille. And during the holiday season (until December 30), The Capital Grille will also be open for lunch from 12-3pm.
Breakfast with Santa
Sunday morning, we attended the John Carroll Alumni Breakfast with Santa. The event includes a Mass, a toy collection for Bellefaire JCB, breakfast, and of course a visit with Santa!
My favorite part of this event has been how my friends and I have used it as a chance to gather with our kids. I spent the morning with people I’ve known for 18 years (whoa) and got to see our kids forming friendships with each other too. It’s really special, especially being up on campus with our future Carroll students!
If you’re a John Carroll alum, you have another chance to celebrate the season on campus at the annual Christmas Reception this Wednesday, December 6. It’s truly one of my favorite events of the year, so don’t miss it!
What a beautiful, fall-like weekend in Northeast Ohio! Here’s how we enjoyed our time:
One of our favorite indoor play date spots is Cafe o’Play, which offers a ton of fun things for kids to do from slides and climbing to basketball to video games to a dance party room.
But even more than the chance to run around and burn off energy, I love that Cafe o’Play is run by some of the kindest, most caring people you’ll ever meet. To that end, through the end of September, Cafe o’Play is collecting diapers, Pull-Ups, adult diapers, and wipes to donate to the Houston Diaper Bank.
We took our donation there on Friday and I think it’s a great way for even little kids to do something charitable in a way that they can understand.
Brunch at The Flying Fig
On Saturday morning, I met up with two of my favorite ladies at what has become our favorite brunch spot.
Alicia, Amanda, and I enjoyed a chatty and delicious meal at The Flying Fig. I ordered the French toast, served with a crispy chicken thigh, bourbon bacon jam, and berries.
A perfect balance, this solved my usual brunch dilemma of whether to order savory or sweet. Add a spicy bloody mary and time to catch up with my girls and you have a perfect Saturday morning!
Dinner at BRIM Kitchen and Brewery
Saturday evening, we met up with my parents for an early Grandparents Day dinner at BRIM Kitchen and Brewery. Every time we eat at BRIM, I’m impressed with the quality of the food and friendliness of the service.
I chose the pan-roasted duck, with sweet potato puree and truffle pierogi.
The duck was tender and flavorful and I loved the pairing with the pierogi and sweet potato!
My mom had the short rib gnocchi, which she is still raving about!
And of course we can’t pass up dessert. I had the churro pound cake with chocolate ganache and malted milk ice cream and Matthew had the carrot cake with marscapone ice cream.
We all enjoyed our dinners and had a lovely evening at this bright and bustling downtown Willoughby spot.
I wanted to hold off to do an evening edition of the Weekend Recap, so we could squeeze as much juice out of the unofficial end of summer as possible. So, here’s our weekend:
Memphis Kiddie Park
On Friday, Jeffrey and I met up with friends for a play date at Memphis Kiddie Park. This park is the perfect size for small kids, with just the right amount of rides to keep them entertained, but not overwhelmed.
Jeffrey’s favorite is the roller coaster, but I still managed to convince him to enjoy some of the “tamer” rides like the carousel and the train, too.
And we snuck over to Fiona’s after our dinner for some Mitchell’s Ice Cream (try the sundae with Fiona’s homemade mini donuts…yum!) The Corn Roast is in its early stages and still small, but I’m hoping it will grow bigger each year!
Good Home Cooking
Between Friday night at home and Sunday at my mom’s, we enjoyed some yummy home cooking! On Friday night, I made this Cheesy Ham and Gruyere Bake (recipe here) but added in some hatch chiles from Heinen’s for some extra kick.
My mom made way too much delicious food when she had us over on Sunday, but my favorite was this tomato tart, which looks complicated, but is easy to make and so delicious (recipe here.)
We got to see lots of critters, as well as take a wagon ride through the Farmpark.
We also enjoyed the birthday party classics of pizza and cake, although the dirt cups were my personal favorite!
The Farmpark is a great place for a birthday party (we had Jeffrey’s second birthday party there)! It gives your guests lots of things to do and see beyond just eating and opening presents and it makes a theme pretty fun and easy too (ours was Elmo on the Farm.) Stay tuned for some grown-up happenings at the Farmpark tomorrow…
Last year, Jeffrey saw some of the planes from a downtown parking deck and really enjoyed it. So, this year, I wanted to find a fun way for him to see the Air Show, but realizing that he’s not ready to sit out at Burke Lakefront Airport yet.
Which is why I jumped at the Great Lakes Science Center‘s Air Show Family Picnic. You got admission to the Science Center, lunch on their outdoor deck, and a great view of the Air Show. When there was a break in the action (or Jeffrey just needed a break), we could pop inside and explore the Science Center. Plus, there were experiments and bubbles set up outside to keep kids entertained too.
The Air Show views were outstanding (including quite a few flyovers of the deck we were on) and it was the best way to experience the Air Show with a three year old!
So, that was our weekend! I think we sent off summer in style! How was your long weekend?