Why? HaylieStory in Motion!

Awhile ago, I met up with Haylie from HaylieStory and Zak from Zak Films to film a City Surge video all about Cleveland.

From the West Side Market, to East 4th Street, to Playhouse Square, we checked out some of the best that Cleveland has to offer.

I tried to pick places that really highlighted the culture, food, and people that make Cleveland so awesome!

And now, I’m so excited to share the final product with you.

For more awesome City Surge videos, along with thoughts on travel, life, and fun, follow along with #HaylieStory! Thanks to Haylie and Zak for spending such a fun day with me around Cleveland!

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Why? GrooveRyde!

On Friday night, a group of fabulous Clevelanders gathered at GrooveRyde Downtown, brought together by one of my favorite Cleveland movers and shakers, Alicia. The evening was called “Cleveland Connects,” which we did, not only with GrooveRyde, but with each other!

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Anjua and Zosimo, the husband and wife team behind GrooveRyde, welcomed us to their new downtown location and took us through shortened versions of three of their signature workouts. And thanks to the awesome attendees, the energy in the room kept us going through all three!

We started with Beat Box, a boxing/boot camp combination that got your heart pumping and your muscles burning. What a way to work out the week’s aggressions!

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Next up was Groove Cycle, a to-the-beat cycling class that combined sweat and motivation for an awesome ride!

Finally, Anjua introduced us to Buti Yoga, which combines yoga with tribal dance and natural, sensual movement.

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That’s the description, at least. I’m pretty sure my Buti Yoga didn’t look that natural, but Anjua assured us that it’s something that takes practice to both understand the movements and let go of inhibitions.

After the scorching workouts, we had a chance to refuel and refresh with goodies from Raw Trainer (OMG, their notcho cheese is the best thing ever)…

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The RefreshinQ Co., whose muscle cream definitely got me through a sore day-after…

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…and NOOMA, The Beauty Room, and Lululemon Crocker Park.

Anjua also talked to us about GrooveRyde’s “Heart and Hustle” philosophy.

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The idea is to find what it is your heart wants and then put in the hustle to make it happen. It’s still going to be work, but you’ll enjoy it! And it’s clear the GrooveRyde crew enjoys where they’re putting in their hustle!

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For an awesome workout from a passionate group of people, whether you like boxing, spinning, or yoga, check out GrooveRyde, either Downtown or Woodmere. And stay tuned for their new location coming to the Van Aken District.

***I was invited to attend the complimentary Cleveland Connects event at GrooveRyde. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

One of the things I love so much about summer is that every weekend feels like a marathon of fun! On Friday evening, Matthew and I met up with my parents, Amanda, and Scott for the Billy Joel concert at Progressive Field.

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Before the show, we had dinner at Mabel’s BBQ, which never fails to deliver amazing meats. I also tried the rye bread stuffing this time, which was moist, flavorful, and delicious. And I can never resist the cracklins!

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The concert was awesome, with so many hits, as well as deep cuts. Billy Joel even played a 5 song encore! One of my favorite moments of the show was when he honored crew member Larry Doby, Jr., whose father Larry Doby played for the Cleveland Indians and was the first African-American to play in the American League.

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Cleveland has quite the amazing line-up of concerts this summer and we’ve been able to enjoy so many great artists at a variety of venues.

On Saturday, we attended our friends Kevin’s and Sarah’s wedding. After the sweet ceremony, we enjoyed even more sweetness with a donut bar! (Seriously, this should be a must for all occasions.)

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The reception was held at Mahall’s with plenty of retro bowling fun, plus the other kind of bar every occasion should have: a taco bar.

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The wedding and reception were relaxed, fun, and so true to Kevin and Sarah. Congrats and best wishes to the happy couple!

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After the reception, I swung by the St. John Vianney church festival with Jeffrey. This is one of our favorite summer festivals. There are a ton of great kids games (most of which are only 25 cents to play!,) plus putt-putt, some rides (not traveling carnival rides,) really good food (funnel cakes,) and the piece de resistance: the Euclid Beach Rocket Car.

It was the perfect end to a lovely summer day!

On Sunday, we met up with Amanda and Scott again, this time for a fun-filled day at Cedar Point. Amanda and Scott are one set of Jeffrey’s godparents and they are so wonderful with him!

From rides to the arcade to ice cream, Jeffrey got to do everything he loved, with people he loves so much!

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I think it’s safe to say that Cedar Point is currently Jeffrey’s favorite spot on earth!

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So that was our weekend! How was yours?

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Why? American Heart Association Cleveland Heart Ball!

When you combine an event I’ve never been to before with a place I haven’t been to yet, you get one excited blogger!

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Which is why I was feeling so excited to be attending the American Heart Association Cleveland Heart Ball, held at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown. This gorgeous hotel with sweeping city views made for the perfect location for the black tie gala. (Also, I kind of cried sending back my Rent the Runway dress.)

The theme of this year’s Heart Ball was “Hoops and Dreams” and everywhere you looked, basketball was part of the event, from a locker room celebrating the sponsors…

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…to the table decor…

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…to cheerleaders…

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…to famous basketball faces…

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…to the chance to shoot some hoops yourself.

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Amanda and I enjoyed the VIP room and the social suite before dinner, with nibbles, wine, and conversation.

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Then it was on to a delicious seated dinner, with seasonal salad, tender beef short rib, and decadent dessert.

During dinner, we also had the chance to participate in a live auction, as well as open donation time (which raised an amazing $202,000 alone.) We were inspired to bid to help the Cleveland American Heart Association by listening to event chairman Terry Fergus talk about his grandson, Ray, who suffers from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, but is still incredibly active, hopeful, and eloquent about his future.

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Ray’s story and learning how the research funded by the American Heart Association can benefit him and so many others gave an entirely new meaning to “Hoops and Dreams” and made the evening not just glamorous, but also so meaningful.

The mood lightened again at the Overtime Party put on by the Young Professionals Board, with a DJ, concession-style munchies, and more basketball fun.

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It was a truly great evening for such an important cause. The Cleveland American Heart Association hopes to make heart disease a thing of the past and that is a dream definitely worth shooting for!

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***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the American Heart Association Cleveland Heart Ball. In exchange, I received two complimentary VIP tickets, as well as two tickets to the Overtime Party. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

I feel like we packed a holiday weekend’s worth of fun into this weekend! On Friday, Jeffrey and I met up with friends at The RainForest at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

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This is always a favorite winter play date location. How can you beat getting to see zoo animals in a temperate 80-degree environment, even in February?! We especially loved watching the new baby orangutan swing and play. He was so active and his parents looked so tired…I guess that sort of feeling really is universal!

Friday evening, I was in the mood for comfort food with a kick, so I whipped up some chorizo and hatch chile mac and cheese. I used this recipe, which doesn’t call for chorizo, but really, isn’t chorizo always a good idea?!

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I paired it with this amazing Straffe Hendrick Belgian Quad, which was recommended to me by the beer guru at my Heinen’s (you can follow him on Insta for craft beer tips here). It was a perfect meal!

On Saturday morning, Jeffrey and Matthew had a dad/son morning with friends at another favorite play date spot: the Great Lakes Science Center. From the Polymer Play Area to Build It!, the guys had a blast!

I so often get to share these experiences with Jeffrey, so I loved that Matthew had the chance for some one on one time with him!

Plus, I can’t be mad at how I spent my morning while they were there: with a yoga class at Harmony Studios, followed by a smoothie from their smoothie bar enjoyed in the gorgeous sunshine.

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Later Saturday afternoon, I attended a baby shower for our friends Lane and Nathan, who are getting ready to welcome a baby boy in April.

Everything at the shower was lovely, from the food to the décor to the favors (little daffodils that held as much promise of spring as this weekend’s weather did). I’m so excited for Lane and Nathan!

Sunday was a day of eating! I met up with Alicia and Amanda for brunch at what has become our go-to brunch spot: The Flying Fig.

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I created my brunch entirely out of side dishes, thus confirming my belief that all restaurants should offer the “Boston Market side dish meal.”

I had the taleggio polenta, the smothered breakfast potatoes (because bacon and cheese should never be optional), and the apple crisp. This was honestly the best polenta I’ve ever had: smooth, creamy, and rich. Everything from the food to the service was spot-on and made for a great brunch with two of my favorite ladies!

Sunday evening, we had dinner plans with my parents at Mama Roberto’s, so I somehow made room for more food! I had the tortelloni special, with red pepper pesto and shrimp. It was delicious!

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And Matthew had the veal Roberto, with artichoke hearts, tomato, basil, and mozzarella.

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Both of us chose really well, and ended up with plenty of leftovers to take home (along with a couple of Mama Roberto’s gigantic and legendary cannoli).

It was a really fun weekend, filled with good times with some of our favorite people! How was yours?

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Why? #HolidaysWithHeinens!

Last night, I kicked off the holiday season at Heinen’s in Brecksville. And while it’s a bit early for holiday cheer and carols, listening to Bing Crosby while sipping wine felt like just the warm hug I needed.

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Have yourself a merry little Pinot. Let your Prosecco be light.
The evening’s event brought together bloggers and other social media folk for some nibbles, fellowship, and some good work, too. Heinen’s tasked us each with creating a basket to be auctioned to support Achievement Centers for Children. But rather than simply making a basket, there was a challenge element too.

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Each of us received a Heinen’s gift card of various denominations and had 15 minutes to go through the store and create a basket coming in under our gift card amount. I had a $15 gift card, so it was a real challenge, but I came in at $14.95 (hooray for using my iPhone calculator while shopping) and think I created a pretty nice basket, too.

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I decided to construct a “take care of yourself at the holidays” basket, with hot tea, sparkling cider, lip balm, a scented candle, a candy bar, and cake mix. Heinen’s offers such a great selection of grocery essentials, as well as specialty items, treats, and tons of organic and non-GMO options. My fellow attendees made baskets themed on baking, breakfast, baseball, and chocolate and each one was packed with awesome choices!

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Not only were we able to get creative and explore Heinen’s selection of merchandise, all of these baskets will benefit Achievement Centers for Children! Cheers to that!

As I mentioned, we also got to enjoy some nibbles, including cheese, grilled vegetables, BBQ meatballs, and to-die-for sweets.

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Heinen’s prepared foods are second-to-none (I legit had some of their chicken pot pie for lunch yesterday too). And the cheese selection…Heinen’s employs a cheesemonger who discovers the tastiest cheeses, including ones air-shipped from Italy and France for ultimate cheesy goodness.

Heinen’s outshines other grocery stores in selection, quality, and service (the folks at my Heinen’s all know us by name), but they also give back to the community, such as through the baskets we made last night, their Teaming up for Education program, and other initiatives. For your holiday baking, cooking, and entertaining, you can’t do better than celebrating your #HolidaysWithHeinens!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Heinen’s Holiday Event, where we were provided with food and beverage, as well as a gift bag to take home. As always, all opinions (and slightly irrational love for a grocery store) are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

What a beautiful weekend in the CLE! We just can’t take weather like this for granted, right? So, of course we had a jam-packed weekend to enjoy it all!

On Friday night, we went out to dinner with friends Elizabeth and Andrew and their daughter Mia to Lure Bistro & Sushi Bar. Jeffrey and Mia had a great time cracking each other up through the meal and in between toddler jokes, the grown-ups got to catch up too.

I love Lure’s sushi, but after looking at the menu, I knew what I needed to order: the duck pappardelle, with a light cream sauce, duck confit, cranberries, and mushrooms.

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What a perfect fall dish! The duck was rich and the cranberries added a nice brightness to the meal.

The rest of our table stuck with Lure’s sushi and seafood dishes, with a selection of vegetarian sushi for Elizabeth and Andrew and the seared tuna for Matthew.

Jeffrey had a cheeseburger and Mia had mac ‘n cheese (Lure has a nice kids menu). And everyone was happy with their meals! Lure is always one of my favorite spots in downtown Willoughby and Friday’s dinner didn’t disappoint.

Saturday morning, we took Jeffrey to a Pumpkin Party at his school. The kids loved running around the playground (hooray, beautiful weather!), as well as enjoying cider and donut holes and decorating pumpkins.

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I loved the foam stickers for decorating the pumpkins…so much neater than paint and the result was so cute!

Saturday evening, Matthew, Amanda, Scott and I attended our friend Gina’s wedding. We all met Gina through blogging for the Cleveland Zoological Society events, where she works. It was such an honor to be able to attend her big day!

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Gina and her husband Todd are really into video games and they had tables with video games to play during the reception. But the coolest part of the video game theme was the cake, which had various classic video games (Pacman, Donkey Kong) projected on the white frosting.

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The ceremony and reception were held at LaMalfa and the food was really good, especially the wide selection of appetizers during the cocktail hour. I’m a sucker for fried ravioli!

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Good food, good friends, and a lovely special occasion…what a great way to spend Sweetest Day with my sweetie!

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Amanda and Scott spent the night at our house after the wedding, which gave me a good excuse to make a real breakfast. I made some of my favorite Fresh Fork Market breakfast patties, as well as homemade waffles (recipe here, I added 1 teaspoon of vanilla too).

Then we were off to our niece Hannah’s fourth birthday party at the Riverfront YMCA. The kids had a great time running around the gym and eating pizza and cupcakes. But more than that, I love seeing the developing relationships with Jeffrey and his cousins!

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So that was our weekend! So much fun with friends and family, with a sprinkling of fall festivities too. How was yours?

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Why? Zippity Zoo Doo!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to arnoldtd (Comment #44), randomly-selected winner of 2 Big Kahuna tickets to Luau on the Lake to benefit Shoes and Clothes for Kids. Please check your email for more details. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets online.***

On Friday night, Matthew and I got to enjoy one of our favorite fundraisers, Zippity Zoo Doo, put on by the Cleveland Zoological Society to benefit the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The theme of this year’s event was Serengeti Sunset and from sunset-colored martinis to delicious African-inspired food, it was an evening that transported you.

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As always at Zoo fundraisers, there were adorable critters out to play, like this baby owl and this fennec fox.

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But the stars of the evening were the giraffes, as we got a sneak peek at the brand new Ben Gogolick Giraffe Encounter.

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Since Jeffrey is the proud “Zoo Parent” of a giraffe, I was especially excited to check out the giraffes’ new home. The Giraffe Encounter is beautiful and will allow visitors to get up close and personal with these gorgeous creatures.

To continue the giraffe theme, Matthew and I had to ride the giraffes on the Circle of Wildlife Carousel!

IMG_3198We also were the winning bidders on an awesome Step 2 silent auction package, with sent us home with great stuff for Jeffrey, as well as a happy feeling for donating to the Zoo’s education programs!

From food and drink to animal encounters to music and dancing to a table filled with blogger buddies and tweeps, Zippity Zoo Doo was a lovely summer evening for a great cause!

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The Cleveland Zoological Society has some upcoming events that will allow you to both donate to our wonderful Zoo, as well as have a fun time!

If giraffes are your thing, the Zoo is celebrating World Giraffe Day on Sunday, June 21, with special giraffe crafts and activities, “Giraffles” with great prizes, and more. Also, all donations made to giraffe conservation through the Zoo in June will be matched 4:1 (up to $5,000) thanks to the Leiden Conservation Foundation.

And in August, both Twilight at the Zoo and Date Night at the ZOOvies provide fun, adult evenings at the Zoo that can help you prove that you’re #wildaboutCLE!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote Zippity Zoo Doo. In exchange, I received one complimentary and one discounted ticket to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Told!

Awhile back, I wrote about Told, the very cool storytelling concept that has become quite the hit in Cleveland. It’s based on the concept that everyone has a story to tell and Told events provide a forum to tell those stories. You can read about my first Told experience here.

All Told events have audience volunteers, as well as two featured storytellers. Last week, at the eighth public Told event, I had the honor of being a featured storyteller on the theme of “Nice to meet you.”  I talked about meeting my various soulmates in life, from Matthew and Jeffrey to my dearest girlfriends to the city of Cleveland.

IMG_2539I loved being able to share my story, as well as hear the stories of the audience members and the other featured storyteller, City Club CEO Dan Moulthrop.

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Because I can’t get enough of Told, last night the Ohio Blogging Association hosted our own private Told event at Deagan’s Kitchen and Bar.

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Dave, the creator of Told, kicked us off on the theme of “I said that?!” The stories ranged from funny slips of the tongue to serious yoga life lessons. In a smaller setting, the storytellers can really interact with the audience and get immediate feedback (yes, I snorted during someone’s story I was laughing so hard).

We also got to enjoy some delicious food and tasty beer, too. I hadn’t been to Deagan’s since the new chef took the healm, so I was excited to check out the menu. Our wonderful server Memo recommended the duck leg confit, which was what I was eyeing since I don’t think I can ever pass up duck when it’s on a menu.

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Crispy skin, fall-off-the-bone tender meat, and caramelized root vegetables made this an incredible meal (the La Chouffe didn’t hurt either). I also couldn’t pass up the berry cobbler for dessert.

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Deagan’s gastropub fare is as tasty as ever and the staff as friendly, too. I’m never disappointed with an evening spent there!

You would think I’d have my fill of storytelling by now, but personally, I’m counting the days until the next public Told event, which will be on Thursday, June 18 at Market Garden Brewery with the theme of “Love in Cleveland.” I hope to see you there, maybe even sharing your own story!

And if you’re interested in the next Ohio Blogging Association meet-up, that’s happening on Sunday, April 26 at XHIBITION, where we’ll get a fashion preview and some tasty brunch nibbles from Jack Flaps. Click here for more details.

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Why? Lexus Shatter All Expectations!

On Wednesday night, Matthew and I attended the Lexus Shatter All Expectations preview event at Playhouse Square. Sponsored by Classic Lexus, Metro Lexus, and Lexus of Akron/Canton, the event unveiled the new Lexus RC Coupe and Lexus NX in style.

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Our evening started in the lobby of the State Theatre with hors d’oeuvres provided by Driftwood Restaurants and Catering and cocktails. We also got to meet @lexus1scott, a long time Twitter pal and employee at Classic Lexus, in person!

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We were then ushered into the State Theatre for the main event. The new cars were unveiled in a flurry of modern dance, strobe lights, and glitter.

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After the unveiling, guests were invited up on stage. You could check out the cars up close and even have a photo opp in one.

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There was also more tasty food from Driftwood, including a gigantic cheese board and some delicious pasta dishes.

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While we’re not in the market for a new car just yet, it’s always fun to look and these new Lexus cars are especially fun to see. Also, being on stage at the State Theatre started getting us all excited to be partying back there for Jump Back Ball in just over a month!

It was another fabulous evening at Playhouse Square. And if you’re looking for a great new car, contact one of these Lexus dealers about seeing the new NX or RC Coupe!

***Disclosure: I am a board member of Playhouse Square Partners, who were invited to attend this free event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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