Why? The Fairmount!

This week, I had a fun Moms’ Night Out with the Gesu Young Families group at The Fairmount. Despite spending a lot of time around the Cedar-Fairmount District, I had somehow never been to this cozy, tasty spot.

Our group was in the bar area of The Fairmount, which is large, with plenty of seating both at the bar and at high-top tables and cozy couches. If that’s not your style, The Fairmount has a lovely, quieter dining area, as well as an adorable, secluded patio.

I ordered a bourbon cocktail, as has become my habit these days. The Blind Date has sage and allspice-infused Russell’s 10-year bourbon, date-infused vermouth, and bitters. Rich and flavorful, this was a fantastic drink!

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I am intrigued by The Fairmount’s shared cocktails, which serve 4-5 people, and come in Moscow Mule, Sangria, Scorpion Bowl, and Mimosa. I definitely will be rounding up a group to try these soon!

To nosh, I ordered the Cast Iron Brussels, a popular choice with our group. Tossed in balsamic vinaigrette, these make eating your veggies a piece of cake!

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I also ordered the Kung Pao Chicken Fritters, with crushed peanuts, pickled peppers, green onions, and yum yum sauce. Lightly breaded and with just enough spice, these were a perfect nibble.

The Fairmount has an expansive happy hour menu, offered Monday through Friday from 4-7pm. Seriously, you can save on everything from craft cocktails to tacos. Check it out!

For a restaurant with a neighborhood-bar feel and delicious food and cocktails, give The Fairmount a try!

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Why? Weekends!

What a beautiful weekend in CLE! Here’s what we were up to:

Lola Bistro

On Friday night, Mom and I met up for dinner at Lola Bistro. It was the perfect night to sit outside and take in the great weather and the game night crowds on East 4th Street.

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Lola Bistro is in the process of unveiling a new menu. Our server told us Chef Symon was recently in town to help develop the new dishes. For our appetizers, we selected one new dish and one classic one.

The Beef Cheek Pierogi, with mushrooms and horseradish crème fraiche, is still on the menu and is so delicious!

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We also enjoyed the seasonally-perfect Tomato Salad, with fresh and pickled tomato, peaches, almonds, dill, and farm cheese.

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Mom had the Strip Steak, with stilton au poivre, frisee, pickled shallots, and chives. The steak was perfectly done, simple, and delicious.

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I had the Duck and Foie Gras Meatloaf, with celery root puree. The slices of meatloaf were thin, almost like terrine, and the flavor was smoky and rich, with just the right amount of foie gras.

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For dessert, I couldn’t pass up the 6am Special, another item I’m so glad stayed on the menu. This decadent dessert has brioche French toast, maple-bacon ice cream, and roasted apple.

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Mom had the My Dad’s Favorite Cake, with lemon cake, strawberry buttercream, lemon curd, raspberry jam, and vanilla bean ice cream. I love the combination of berries and lemon!

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It was a fantastic dinner! The new menu at Lola Bistro is definitely worth a visit or two!

House of Blues Foundation Room

Then we headed down the street to the Foundation Room at House of Blues Cleveland.

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The Foundation Room is a membership-based space at House of Blues, with a great menu of cocktails and food;

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a funky vibe, with lots of cozy spaces;

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and a gorgeous new flower wall from CLE Flower Walls on the patio overlooking East 4th Street.

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Foundation Room membership benefits range from food and beverage discounts to exclusive presale access to backstage tours. Click here to learn more about the various membership levels and elevate your House of Blues experience.

***I was invited to a complimentary event at the Foundation Room, with cocktails, food, discounted parking, and a swag bag. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Cleveland Garlic Festival

On Saturday, Jeffrey and I had a stinkin’ good time at the Cleveland Garlic Festival.

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This annual event is a fundraiser for North Union Farmers Market and supports not only the markets around town, but also their Access Programs, Mighty Locavores, and more.

I had the cool opportunity to be a judge for the beef competition of the Top Chef Garlic Grill-Off. Chefs from Nomad Culinary, CLE Kraut, and EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute presented their beef and garlic creations.

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I was blown away by the creativity, plating, and downright deliciousness of all the food!

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Congratulations to Nomad Culinary, who won the competition. It was a tough choice picking a favorite, for sure!

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We also checked out all the varieties of garlic for sale, the live entertainment, and the kids area! There is so much to do at the Cleveland Garlic Festival! This is definitely an annual tradition for us.

***Disclosure: I was asked by North Union Farmers Market to help promote the Cleveland Garlic Festival and to judge the Top Chef Garlic Grill-Off. In exchange, I received four weekend passes to the Garlic Festival. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

We actually had a few other things this weekend, including another festival, stopping by Matthew’s regatta, and a baptism, so you get the picture…it was a busy weekend!

Since Jeffrey starts school this week, I’m glad we squeezed in so much fun! How was your weekend?

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Why? Weekends!

It was a busy weekend of celebrating the start of Jeffrey’s summer break and our seventh anniversary. Here’s how we acknowledged those special occasions:

Cedar Point

On Friday, Jeffrey and I kicked off his summer break by taking a trip to our favorite summertime spot: Cedar Point.

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This is the third year we’ve gotten season passes (Jeffrey has the awesome Pre-K Pass, which is such a good deal). I love the ability to go up there as many times as we want, stay as long as we want without feeling pressured to do everything in one trip, and save on food and merchandise purchases and parking.

Jeffrey loves the spinny rides and I did my best to hang in there with him!

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We also checked out the special Monster Jam Thunder Alley area, which is happening through June 30.

You can climb up into some of the trucks and even take a ride in a monster truck!

It honestly felt like summer as soon as we arrived and we can’t wait for lots more trips to Cedar Point this season!

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Art in the Village

Saturday morning, Jeffrey and I met up with friends to check out Legacy Village‘s annual Art in the Village.

We strolled through all the talented vendors from Northeast Ohio and beyond, listened and danced to live music, and let the kids run around the lawn. All in all, a pretty nice way to spend a couple hours!

***Disclosure: I have an ongoing relationship with Legacy Village to promote their events, for which I receive compensation in the form of Legacy Village gift cards. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

An Evening in Coventry Village

On Saturday, Matthew and I had a date night in Coventry Village. We started with dinner at Pacific East. We shared the massive and delicious Sushi Bridge, with sashimi, nigiri, a California roll, and a spicy tuna roll.

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We also shared the roti canai appetizer. Pacific East has a huge menu with both Japanese and Malaysian cuisine, so everyone can find something to suit their tastes.

From there, we headed to Grog Shop to hear my dear friend Melissa and her School of Rock classmates rock out in an awesome performance.

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Melissa started taking drum lessons at School of Rock earlier this year and she’s already a total pro on the drums! I was so proud of her for learning a new skill and totally killing her gig.

And if you haven’t been to Grog Shop, it is such a cool, funky place to see live music (with a killer local craft beer selection), so check it out!

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Seventh Anniversary

On Sunday, Matthew and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary.

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Photo Credit: New Image Photography

We spent the day doing yoga, playing with Jeffrey in the backyard, and making dinner at home, so it was pretty perfect!

I made this delicious paella (recipe here), which was packed with everything from chorizo to chicken to shrimp to clams to lobster.

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It was a lovely, relaxed day and a wonderful way to celebrate seven great years!

How was your weekend?

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Why? Weekends!

It was a low-key weekend, which is exactly what I needed after just returning from a trip (and traveling again this week!)

Yoga Roots 30+ Social

On Saturday evening, I attended a social for everyone who reached 30 or more classes in the Yoga Roots fall challenge. Of 186 people who participated in the fall challenge, 27 of us reached 30+ classes!

Held at the home of studio owners Scott and Kim, the social was a great chance to celebrate reaching 30+ classes, meet other yogis, and see each other in something other than yoga pants! I was surprised how many of us didn’t know each other, just from being on different class schedules!

There were delicious nibbles from the studio’s neighbors: Gigi’s on Fairmount and On the Rise. I could eat Gigi’s bruschetta and On the Rise’s raspberry bars all day! And there were custom cookies from Sarah, one of the Yoga Roots teachers.

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I’ve talked before about really finding a home at Yoga Roots and Saturday night was just another example of why that is so true. Yoga Roots is genuinely a community, not just a studio, which is what keeps me coming back (and has me geared up for the spring challenge, too)!

Family Yoga

Sunday morning, we attended the monthly Family Yoga class at the Mandel Jewish Community Center. This has become one of our favorite family activities. Each month, the class is a bit different, but always explores mindful movement, breath work, and meditation in a way that’s fun for all ages.

This month, the kids participated in an obstacle course that involved my friend Robin and I being bridges in both down dog and plank as the kids crawled under us!

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So, we got some exercise in too! The next Family Yoga class takes place Sunday, April 14, with sessions at 10am and 11am. Cost to attend is free for Mandel JCC members and $10 for non-members. You can sign up online.

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On Sunday, my dad took Jeffrey to the I-X Center for the Piston Powered Auto-Rama.

A love for cars is something Dad and Jeffrey have shared basically since Jeffrey was born and seeing the joy they both get from sharing car experiences is so fulfilling.

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Jeffrey got to sit in the world’s fastest car…

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…as well as see dragons and robots, so the afternoon was a total win for him!

St. Patrick’s Day

We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at my parents’ house, with plenty of corned beef and Great Lakes Brewing Company Conway’s Irish Ale.

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It was a lovely, quiet weekend! How did you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

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Why? Local Valentine’s Day Gifts!

Nothing says love to me like shopping local, female-owned businesses. So, since Valentine’s Day is coming up, I thought I’d round up some of great gift ideas, whether to help you complete your shopping or just round out your own personal wish list!

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Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Chocolates

Two of my favorite female-owned chocolatiers can be found in Lakewood: Fear’s Confections and Sweet Designs Chocolatier. You can also find Fear’s Confections at Merchant’s Mrkt at Legacy Village.

Flowers

As for flowers, Lush & Lovely Floristry makes unique and, well, lovely bouquets. Or stop in to Blossom Cleveland‘s flower bar and build your own personal bouquet.

Sweet Treats

If cookies or other dessert treats are more your speed, put in an order with Annie’s Signature Sweets (her lemon lavender cookies are unique and the perfect shape for Valentine’s Day) or stop in and check out the wide selection of dessert deliciousness at Luna Bakery & Café.

Jewelry

Want to give (or get) something sparkly this Valentine’s Day? Both Bombay Taxi Boutique and Oceanne Jewelry are local and female-owned with beautiful, unique pieces to choose from.

Wine

What lady wouldn’t like a little vino for Valentine’s Day? CLE Urban Winery is female-owned and makes award-winning wines (I really enjoy the C-Town Cabernet Sauvignon).

Bags

For a lot of gals, it’s all about the bag. So, where can you find a perfect purse from a local, female-owned business? Go for the modern classic leather bag from Fount or grab a city-pride wristlet or tote from Anne Cate.

This Valentine’s Day, there are lots of ways to get the presents you or your significant other want, while supporting local, female-owned businesses! You’ll be showing some creative Cleveland ladies the love too!

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Why? On the Rise Artisan Breads!

If you follow my Instagram stories, you know that you can usually find me at On the Rise Artisan Breads on weekday mornings. They have seriously the best flat white I’ve ever had: it’s an amazing combination of fantastic coffee, Hartzler Family Dairy milk (no fat-free here), and Ellen the barista’s gorgeous latte art.

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It doesn’t hurt that On the Rise is filled with the most glorious smells of baking bread, croissants, the signature Jennifer cookie…even when I don’t indulge in a treat, just the smells of them make me happy.

On the Rise is offering some delicious holiday specialties to help you celebrate the season with local, artisan pastries.

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The Panettone is the On the Rise take on a traditional Italian sweet bread, packed with candied citrus, raisins, and vanilla bean.

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The Panettone is $13.50 and is the perfect hostess gift or additional to your Christmas breakfast table.

And the Buche de Noel cake is a gorgeous, decadent dessert centerpiece (and dessert should always be the centerpiece, if you ask me). Vanilla chiffon cake is wrapped around chocolate mousse, then topped with swiss chocolate buttercream, meringue “mushrooms” and “trees,” and a chocolate pistachio truffle.

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The Buche de Noel is $50 and serves 10-12 people.

Beyond these signature specialties, the On the Rise holiday menu also includes Cranberry Walnut Levain, Chocolate Cherry Bread, Cranberry Open-Faced Croissant, Chocolate Ganache Pecan Tart, Caramel-Poached Apple Bread Pudding, and Pear Frangipane Tart.

For all your holiday treats, from an individual nibble before a day of shopping to a perfect addition to a party to a delicious breakfast for the family, head to On the Rise Artisan Breads. I’ll be there, with a flat white in hand!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote On the Rise Artisan Breads’ seasonal offerings. In exchange, I received a complimentary Panettone and Buche de Noel. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Boss Dog Brewing!

Cleveland has been experiencing quite the brewery boom! It can be hard to keep up, but I do it for you guys, right?! I had been wanting to check out Boss Dog Brewing Company in Cleveland Heights after hearing lots of positive feedback about both the beer and the food.

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On a recent visit, I tried both the Put-N-Berry, a honey ale with a touch of blackberry, and the Gimme S’more Porter, which was served with a toasted marshmallow on top.

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I enjoyed both beers! The Put-N-Berry was perfect for summer sipping and the Gimme S’more was full of flavor and fun (who doesn’t love a toasted marshmallow?).

For my dinner, I chose the chicken fried duck, which is topped with maple chipotle drizzle. Oh my goodness, so rich, so flavorful, so good!

My friend Melissa got the Portobello mushroom sandwich, which she really enjoyed. She was pleased with all the vegetarian options on Boss Dog’s menu.

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Boss Dog is also part of the Cleveland Brewery Passport through Destination Cleveland. This passport includes 30 local breweries that you are encouraged to visit. After you make a purchase of beer, food, or merchandise at the brewery, you can receive a stamp on your passport.

Stop by Destination Cleveland when you hit 8 stamps for a Cleveland bottle opener or all 30 stamps for entry into a getaway drawing. You can grab your passport at the Destination Cleveland offices downtown or at any participating brewery. This is such a cool incentive to try new places and explore the great local beer scene in Cleveland! And if you’re looking for a place to start, I say give Boss Dog a try!

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Why? Taste Restaurant!

Last Friday, I met up with my friends Robin and Amy to take advantage of the end of Cleveland Independents Restaurant Week, which offered three-course, prix-fixe menus at the Cleveland Independents restaurants.

We scoured the menus and selected Taste Restaurant in Cleveland Heights. I had never been to Taste, but the Restaurant Week selections all looked great and were all part of the permanent menu, which means any favorite dish could be ordered again.

I started with the arancini, with three-cheese risotto, lemon pesto, fresh basil, and marinara.

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So good! These balls of happiness were crispy on the outside, but still retaining the creamy goodness of the risotto, with sauces that perfectly complimented each other.

My friend Amy got the mussels, with sauteed tomatoes and spinach and a lemon wine broth. I snuck a bite of broth with toast and was impressed with the delicate, delicious flavors.

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For my entree, I chose the crab-stuffed salmon. There were a lot of great carnivorous options, but #LentProblems took over. And honestly, I wasn’t at all disappointed with my choice.

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The salmon was served on top wild mushroom risotto (looking back, I ate a lot of risotto that night) and covered in a lemon Chardonnay cream sauce. The flavors were light and lovely!

Amy and Robin both chose the Burger du Jour, with white cheddar and bacon.

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I was definitely eyeing up those thin, crispy fries. Yum!

The deal going into Restaurant Week was that we’d each order a different dessert and share, because variety is the spice of sweetness!

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We shared the white chocolate and vanilla creme brulee, the chocolate lava cake, and the chocolate mousse with hazelnut ice cream. All the desserts were so good! I didn’t expect to like ice cream and mousse together, but it really worked!

I had never been to Taste, but now I want to go back to order some of these new favorites and try some other options, too! Have you ever discovered a restaurant through Restaurant Week?

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Why? Weekends!

It was a busy, fun-filled weekend in Cleveland, so let’s dive right in:

Fish FRYday

There’s nothing more Cleveland this time of year than a fish fry. Jeffrey and I met up with friends at St. Dominic Church for their Lenten Fish Fry.

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Do not pass up the hush puppies or the fried shrimp! Jeffrey loved his kids cheese pizza meal, but he also loved the crafts and balloon artist there, too. This was everything a fish fry should be: classic, tasty, well-run, and fun!

Children’s Museum of Cleveland

On Saturday morning, we took Jeffrey to a school friend’s birthday party at the Children’s Museum of Cleveland.

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We just love this bright, fun, imaginative space! But then you throw in the excitement of a birthday party on top of it…well, as you can see, a great time was had by all!

The Children’s Museum is also working to reach its capital campaign goal, with plans to open expansion exhibits, including Meadow (for children ages birth to 3 years), Music, and Theater.

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You can donate to the Museum’s capital campaign online now.

Ohio City Beer Crawl

From the party, Matthew and I headed to the craft beer mecca of Ohio City. We met up with our friends Denise and Ritch, who have the goal of hitting 40 craft breweries in the area before Ritch turns 40. Being the good friends we are, we agreed to help him accomplish his goal!

We started at Hansa Brewery, where we munched on superb potato pancakes and Bavarian pretzels, washed down with a beer sampler.

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The Wit Wit and Bye Felicia! were my favorites.

Then we walked over to Forest City Brewery to enjoy another sampler and their West Side Market chacuterie platter.

The St. Wendelin Wheat was my favorite here.

Then it was off to Bad Tom Smith Brewing, which I have to confess was completely unheard of to me before our crawl.

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But you should definitely stop by to try their wide selection of beers, plus you can order from their neighbor Ohio City Burrito while you’re there!

We ended our crawl at Nano Brew Cleveland, with more samplers, plus the Stoner Fries and fried mac ‘n cheese bites (both are pretty much necessary for life on stop 4 of a bar crawl).

Add in their DJ spinning epic 80’s music and you have the end to a perfect afternoon in Ohio City. I love how walkable, energetic, and diverse the neighborhood is. Whether you want a bar crawl or a nice meal, you can find it there!

Cleveland Orchestra Family Concert

On Sunday afternoon, we met up with Matthew’s family for the Cleveland Orchestra Family Concert of Scheherazade. Matthew’s brother and sister-in-law chose the concert as a family Christmas present and it was a great choice!

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Not only did Jeffrey get to experience the beautiful music and creatively-told story thanks to the Orchestra and the Enchantment Theater Company, but he also got to try his hand at playing some of the instruments before the show.

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The Meet-the-Instruments pre-show event allowed children to get hands-on with some of the instruments they would hear during the concert and certainly sparked interest in a lot of future musicians.

Matthew used to play the French horn, so we especially loved seeing Jeffrey try that out!

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How lucky we are to be able to experience not only one of the best orchestras in the world, but one of the loveliest venues too! I also love that the Orchestra offers family-friendly options to make music and culture accessible to all ages. Jeffrey can say he cut his teeth on music from the Cleveland Orchestra and that is pretty spectacular!

Dewey’s Pizza

After the show, we stopped by Dewey’s Pizza for a fun family dinner filled with laughter, catching up, and of course, yummy pizza. Dewey’s has a wide selection of creative pies, plus a window where the kids could watch their pizzas being made. It was a perfect dinner choice!

So, that was our weekend. Lots of great times with family and friends and lots of time at some of Cleveland’s finest neighborhoods and institutions. You can’t ask for more than that!

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Why? Weekends!

It was another busy, fun weekend in the CLE, with plenty to do and plenty of baseball to watch too! Here’s the round-up:

Iain McGovern Fundraiser

On Friday night, our whole family attended a fundraiser for a remarkable young man, Iain McGovern. We are fortunate to know Iain and his family. Iain has been a great “big” buddy for Jeffrey. But in the midst of that, Iain has also been battling going through major brain surgery.

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Iain has such a positive attitude and strong family support. So, we couldn’t pass up the chance to attend a fun evening that also helped to defray the cost of his still-accumulating medical bills.

We enjoyed BBQ from Stewart’s Smokin’ Backyard BBQ, cupcakes, carriage rides, and a live auction and Chinese raffle packed with fun prizes.

To see the room packed with so many people from all different parts of the McGovern family’s life was really heartwarming! If you’re interested in learning more or donating to Iain and his family, click here.

Nature Center at Shaker Lakes Hike, Run & Explore

Somehow I had never explored the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes and surrounding lakes, which is why I was so excited to attend the Hike, Run & Explore event on Sunday.

I participated in the 5-mile hike that took in all 4 of the Shaker Lakes, with lots of historical facts and anecdotes provided by our guides, Leo and Jane.

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They are lifelong Shaker Heights residents and so much to share about the area. Plus, the Shaker Lakes are beautiful and serene! If you haven’t been, you definitely need to take a hike of your own to check them out!

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Back at the Nature Center, there was lots more to explore, including tree climbing, archery, food trucks, a beer garden, and live music.

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Hike, Run & Explore was such a fun community event and it definitely got me keyed in to some natural beauty I didn’t even know existed in the area!

Dinner at My Parents’ House

Sunday evening, I earned back all the calories I hiked off with a delicious dinner at my parents’ house as an early birthday celebration. From seared tuna for an appetizer to perfectly-cooked scallops as our entree to a decadent cake from Michael Angelo’s Bakery to a wine bottle with my very own “J” on it, everything was fabulous!

It was a great weekend and a wonderful kickoff to birthday week!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes to help promote Hike, Run & Explore. In exchange, I received one complimentary registration for the event of my choice. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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