Why? Weekends!

It was a busy, fun weekend-plus (I’m throwing an event from Thursday, too), so let’s get right to it…

Eat Like a Kid Again

On Thursday, my friend Melissa and I attended the Eat Like a Kid Again event to benefit Children’s Hunger Alliance.

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Held at the Children’s Museum of Cleveland, the event brought together chef-inspired takes on favorite kids’ foods and drinks, along with a DJ, silent auction, and wine pull to raise funds for the Children’s Hunger Alliance mission of providing nutritious food to children across Ohio by partnering with local community organizations.
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We nibbled on mac ‘n cheese from Melt Bar and Grilled (did you know they have mac ‘n cheese varieties on their menu now?); spaghetti-o’s from Nora; sloppy joe’s from Saucisson; and s’mores from Annie’s Signature Sweets.

I snagged a nice bottle of sauvignon blanc from the wine pull and Melissa scored a Vitamix from the silent auction!

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Plus, it was fun to spend an evening in a place where we often take our kids to play. I’m reminded how lucky we are to be able to provide as we do for Jeffrey and how important it is to help those less able to do so.

***Disclosure: I was asked by Children’s Hunger Alliance to help promote Eat Like a Kid Again. In exchange, I received two complimentary general admission tickets. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Put on Your Boogie Shoes

Friday night, Matthew and I transformed ourselves into a classic Cleveland couple for the Charles Bowlus Charities Put on Your Boogie Shoes fundraiser.

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This annual event was held this year at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown and featured some delicious food stations (build your own mac ‘n cheese FTW), delightful drinks, and one of our favorite local cover bands: Faction.

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Everyone in attendance went all out with their costumes! Some of our favorites included the Scooby Doo group, the Handmaid’s Tale handmaids, and the Chipotle burrito.

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The event raised funds for the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center. Every year, Charles Bowlus Charities chooses a non-profit to donate this event’s funds to, always focused on women and children.

It was a spook-tacular party for a great cause!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Charles Bowlus Charities to help promote Put on Your Boogie Shoes. In exchange, I received two complimentary general admission tickets. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Children’s Theater Series

Saturday kicked off our third season as season ticket holders for the Children’s Theater Series at Playhouse Square with a Light Wire Theater performance of “The Ugly Duckling.”

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We all really enjoy these shows! They introduce children to live theater in a setting that is accessible. Children can talk quietly during the performances, attend pre-show workshops, and the shows are all around one hour long.

We’ve found the performances to be thoughtful, engaging, and fun!

While season tickets are sold out for the 2018-2019 season, you can purchase individual tickets for the remaining shows, which include “The Rainbow Fish,” “Emily Brown and the Thing,” and “Junie B. Jones.”

Grossology and Spooktacular Science

Since Sunday was rainy and cold, we decided to spend time indoors with two of Jeffrey’s godparents: Amanda and Scott (follow their super fun adventures on Tow for the Road!)

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The Great Lakes Science Center was hosting their Halloween party, Spooktacular Science, with monster dance parties, glow-in-the-dark slime, and exploding pumpkins.

We also got to check out the newest exhibit: Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body.

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Grossology teaches visitors the facts and science behind farts, burps, pimples, mucus, and a host of other, well, gross functions of our bodies.

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It’s fun, colorful, and super hands-on, all of which Jeffrey just loved!

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Grossology is now open and included with your admission to the Great Lakes Science Center.

So that was our weekend (plus). How was yours? Did you have some pre-Halloween fun?

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Why? Weekends!

It was a busy weekend filled with lots of pre-Halloween festivities. Let’s get right to it!

Haunted Hayrides

On Friday, we attended one of our favorite Halloween traditions: the Haunted Hayrides at the Lake Metroparks Farmpark.

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We boarded the wagon and wound our way through a not-too-scary forest filled with fun decorations and enthusiastic actors.

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Once we departed the wagon, we could choose from the scary or not-scary path for some Halloween festival fun. We chose the not-scary path and enjoyed playground equipment, tasty food vendors like Corbo’s, and a glow-stick dance party.

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The Haunted Hayrides sell out quickly every year, so stay tuned next year for information on ticket sales!

Fall Fest

On Saturday, we attended the Fall Fest for the Early Childhood grades at Hathaway Brown School. Jeffrey got to debut his awesome T-Rex Halloween costume (from Pottery Barn Kids)…

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…pick a pumpkin to decorate and play fun Halloween-themed games.

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Plus, there was cider and donuts from Patterson Fruit Farm…a fall classic! We always enjoy these school parties that let the kids (and parents) connect outside of glass and have a great time!

Dinner at Red and Eagles Concert

Saturday evening, my dad and I had tickets to see the Eagles at Quicken Loans Arena (thanks, Mom!) We started our evening with dinner at Red, the Steakhouse. Dad and I made our own surf and turf with a pound of king crab legs and a 22-ounce bone-in ribeye.

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Both were perfection! We also shared the stuffed hot peppers for an appetizer and the classic creme brulee for dessert. What a great meal!

Then it was off to the concert. This was honestly one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Vince Gill and Deacon Frey (Glenn Frey’s son) did an incredible job filling Glenn Frey’s shoes.

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The hometown crowd loved all the Joe Walsh numbers, of course. The Eagles played two and a half hours of solid music and sounded incredible!

But for me, the best part of the evening was the chance to connect with my dad. We share an appreciation for classic rock (and a good steak), but we don’t often get the chance to do things just the two of us. So the evening was really special and not just because the concert was so great!

Boo at the Zoo

On Sunday, we participated in another favorite Halloween tradition: Boo at the Zoo at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

From trick or treating…

…to a dance party…

…to the awesome new decorations, we love the classic Boo at the Zoo fun and there’s always something new to discover each year, too.

There’s still one weekend of Boo at the Zoo, happening Friday, October 26 through Sunday, October 28. You can purchase tickets online.

So, that was our fun, fall, festive weekend! How was yours?

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

We had lots of family-centered fun this weekend! Let’s get right to it:

Birthday Party at Greater Cleveland Aquarium

On Saturday morning, Jeffrey and I went to a birthday party for one of his school friend’s at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium.

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We’ve been to the Aquarium several times, but never for a birthday party. I was really impressed with everything the party included. There was a party room with a submarine the kids could play in, crafts for the group, pizza and cake, and even a visit from a turtle!

The party also included admission to the Aquarium for the kids to check out all the sea critters. What a fun morning!

Fall Flyer

On Sunday, we hopped aboard the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for their Fall Flyer trip.

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The Fall Flyer is a two-hour, non-stop ride that takes you though the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to take in the beautiful fall foliage.

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We rode on the Silver Lariat, one of the new California Zephyr cars. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad recently added four cars from the California Zephyr line which have dome seating; luxurious seats; tables; and more amenities.

 

We enjoyed taking in the fall sights, including changing leaves, the Cuyahoga river, lots of bikers and runners on the Towpath, and tons of people visiting Szalay’s pumpkin patch. We also enjoyed tasty snacks like hot dogs and popcorn from the dining car.

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Every time we take the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, I’m so impressed with the volunteers who work as Conductors, Trainmen, and more. They truly make the experience so enjoyable!

The fall colors will only continue to become more striking, which makes the Fall Flyer a perfect choice for a fall weekend activity. The Fall Flyer runs every Saturday and Sunday in October at 9:45am and 1:30pm from the Rockside Station and 11:30am and 3:30pm from the Akron Northside Station. Tickets start at $25 per person. Click here to learn more and purchase tickets.

***Disclosure: I was invited to take a ride on the Fall Flyer and received three complimentary tickets. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

That was our weekend, aside from watching lots of Cleveland sports, of course! How was yours?

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Why? Wildroots at Legacy Village!

On Saturday, September 22, Legacy Village will host Wildroots, an awesome artists marketplace, where you can not only find fabulous items, but also connect with artists and makers.

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From 10am to 6pm, you can peruse over 50 vendors from Northeast Ohio and beyond, with everything from home décor to vintage goods to jewelry to contemporary art.

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The event will also include yoga on the lawn from 12pm-1pm, live music, children’s activities, and more!

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Wildroots is a free event and is in it’s first year at Legacy Village. Don’t miss this chance to spend the first day of fall outside, enjoying some great local shopping!

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

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Why? Chefs Unbridled!

On Saturday night, Matthew and I attended one of our favorite foodie events: Chefs Unbridled to benefit Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center.

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This event brings together a collection of talented Cleveland chefs, all of whom prepare delicious small plates to be enjoyed while strolling the big tent on the Chagrin Valley Hunt Club grounds.

The weather was cooler and the chefs were thinking cozy, fall flavors. Chef Scott Kuhn and Chef Chris Hodgson of the Driftwood Group prepared seafood chowder and fried burrata, both of which were warm and satisfying.

Speaking of warm and satisfying, the tomato risotto from the Union Club of Cleveland fit that bill too! And the slightly spicy, totally tender pork ropa vieja from Sol was delicious!

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The newly-opened Polpetta was on hand with chicken meatballs with Thai peanut sauce over veggie fried rice. Yum!

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And Chef Demetrios Athenos’ stuffed dates wrapped in bacon were the perfect bite-sized nibble.

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All of this food and fun (and friends)…

 

benefited Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center, which helps children and adults with disabilities, PTSD, and other physical and emotional challenges, connect with horses and find comfort and growth through these relationships.

 

The live auction, which included two in-home dinners provided by Driftwood Group, raised over $60,000 for Fieldstone Farm!

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What a fabulous, fall-like evening for a wonderful cause!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Fieldstone Farm to help promote Chefs Unbridled. In exchange, I received two complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Yoga in the Village!

Fall in Northeast Ohio is such a wonderful time for outdoor activities! Which is why I’m so excited for Yoga in the Village: Flow into Fall!

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Head to the lawn at Legacy Village on Thursday, September 20 at 6:30pm to enjoy a 60-minute, all-levels yoga class taught by Alicia Hansen, one of my favorite yoga teachers. For $15, you get the yoga class, plus a $5 Legacy Village gift card and swag bag with goodies from Legacy Village merchants.

Plus, you’ll not only be doing something good for you, but for the fuzzes, too! A portion of ticket proceeds will be donated to the Geauga Humane Society’s Rescue Village.

I hope to see you at Flow into Fall. You know I can’t resist a yoga class!

***Disclosure: I have a standing agreement 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.***

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Why? The Burnham!

Hotel restaurants in Cleveland should no longer be called “hotel restaurants.” The name carries the connotation of unimaginative food that you’re stuck eating in some random city because you don’t know where else to go. Cleveland’s hotel restaurants, on the other hand, take food, drink, and ambiance to another level and turn into destinations in and of themselves, both for locals and visitors.

This is certainly true of The Burnham, located in the Hilton Cleveland Downtown.

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Named for one of the city’s original architects, The Burnham’s menu pays homage to Cleveland’s roots, while also celebrating the city’s status as a destination worthy of the most fervent foodie. You’ll find pierogi and kielbasa on the menu, but also gnocchi and pork belly.

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But I’m getting ahead of myself in my excitement. Let’s start with cocktails: a Sacre Bleu for me, with Watershed Vodka, St. Germain, lemon, lavender, and butterfly pea flower. And a Manhattan for him, because Matthew can’t resist bourbon.

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For our starters, we decided to share the lobster bisque with cognac whipped cream and puffed pastry and the buttermilk fried calamari with green tomatoes and key lime aioli.

Our server Jessica insisted we couldn’t pass up the Ohio City Pasta shitake mushroom and potato pierogi, served with caramelized vegetables (pictured above). All the starters were delicious, but my favorite elements were the unexpected ones, like the caramelized vegetables with the pierogi or the green tomatoes with the calamari.

And we definitely saved some of the lobster bisque to enjoy with our bread service from On the Rise Artisan Breads. Now would be a good time to point out that The Burnham sources from local businesses like On the Rise, Ohio City Pasta, Mitchell’s Ice Cream, and Watershed Distillery. And you know how much I love that!

For entrees, I chose the crispy skin salmon with Ohio City Pasta sweet pea and sun-dried tomato gnocchi, charred onion, and asparagus coulis.

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As with the appetizers, the accoutrements of this dish are what took a delicious, perfectly-cooked piece of salmon to another level of tastiness. The sun-dried tomatoes and sweet peas balanced each other so well.

Matthew chose the scallops and pork belly, with sweet potato puree, charred onions, and bacon jam.

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If you read that last sentence, you’ll know that there is literally nothing not to like in this dish!

Then came dessert. I blame Jessica, our server, for the fact that three desserts appeared on our table, but the fact that they all disappeared is all on us! Matthew and I chose the cherry crème brulee and the spiced caramel pumpkin tart, respectively.

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But then Jessica insisted we couldn’t miss the sweet potato cheesecake and, oh, was she right!

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I am not a cheesecake fan by nature, but this light and fluffy version, topped with toasted marshmallow and candied pecans and set atop a graham cracker crust had me cleaning the plate.

From the cocktails to the food to the service, our dinner at The Burnham was everything you’d want a downtown date night dinner to be. Don’t miss getting there while the fall menu is available. And order the third dessert…you’ll be glad you did!

Oh, and if you’re at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown before Saturday, be sure to check out the Hilton Passport Project.

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This traveling project, which aims to raise the number of Americans who have their passports (currently only 41%) is in Cleveland to help you get your free passport photo, fill out an application with help from a State Department representative, and check out some amazing Hilton properties you can then visit with your new passport.

***Disclosure: I was invited by the Hilton Cleveland Downtown to tour the Hilton Passport Project and enjoy a complimentary (excluding cocktails) dinner at The Burnham. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Evercrisp Apples at Heinen’s!

One of the many reasons I love shopping at Heinen’s is the high-quality and unique selection of produce. Just in time for holiday baking, Heinen’s is now carrying EverCrisp Apples.

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EverCrisp Apples look like Fuji Apples and taste a bit like Honeycrisp Apples, with a crisp, firm, sweet taste. But the main unique characteristic is how long this apple will hold it’s firm texture, even when cooked. You don’t even need to store them in your refrigerator to maintain the quality!

I recently had the chance to pick up some EverCrisp Apples from Heinen’s and try out some recipes with them. First, I made Apple Skillet Cake, a warm and comforting fall treat.

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This moist cake incorporated ingredients such as sour cream, apple cider, lots of spices, and EverCrisp Apples. I loved the spongy texture of the cake and the unique crisp bite of the EverCrisp Apples. I definitely endorse adding a big scoop of Mitchell’s Vanilla Bean Ice Cream on top!

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This is the perfect thing for a fall dessert (and I definitely ate the leftovers for breakfast)!

Speaking of breakfast, I also made Apple and Gruyere Mini Frittatas with EverCrisp Apples. The recipe started with sauteed onion, wilted spinach, and apples divided into muffin tins.

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Then top this savory and sweet mixture with eggs, gruyere, and milk and bake.

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This made a delicious breakfast which was mostly savory, with a touch of sweetness from the still-crisp apples.

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And while I made this just for Matthew and me, this recipe would be perfect for a holiday breakfast for a group/family!

Don’t miss EverCrisp Apples, now available at Heinen’s through January and perfect for all your holiday baking and cooking!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Heinen’s to help promote EverCrisp Apples. In exchange, I received a Heinen’s gift card to purchase ingredients. As always, all opinions (as well as my choice of recipes) are 100% my own.***

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Why? Legacy Village Home District Showcase at Arhaus!

As we head into fall and start thinking about holiday entertaining, your home might need a little refresh. That’s where the Legacy Village Home District Showcase comes in. These events, which happen at LV Home District retailers on select Wednesdays, give you access to home design experts sharing their knowledge, plus light refreshments, prizes, and more.

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On Wednesday, October 25, Arhaus Furniture will present New Trends in Furniture and Color and Tabletop Displays. You’ll learn how to mix and match various patterns, styles, and colors in your home, as well as how to achieve a quick and easy design change using accessories.

There will be light refreshments from Legacy Village restaurants, as well as the chance to win Arhaus gift cards in various denominations. The event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is encouraged. Register for the event here. This is sure to be a great way to get ready for the new season with a home decor refresh.

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

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Why? Family Halloween Events!

Have you noticed that Halloween events are everywhere these days? It’s a fun holiday to celebrate and there are lots of ways to enjoy as a family:

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What: Hauntaquarium

Where: Greater Cleveland Aquarium

When: Fridays and Saturdays, October 20, 21, 27, and 28 from 6-9pm

What: Trick or treat stations, animal encounters, crafts and experiments, games, magician, face painters, costumed SCUBA divers, and more

Tickets: $12 for non-members, $10 for members, free for kids under 2. Buy here.

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What: Boo at the Zoo

Where: Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

When: Fridays-Sundays, October 20-22 and October 27-29

What: Trick or treat stations, carousel and train rides, a Monster Mash Dance party, Zoo admission, and more

Tickets/admission: $10.50 for non-members and $9.50 for members in advance (add $1 if purchasing at the gate). Buy here.

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What: Mall Trick or Treat

Where and When: 

Great Lakes Mall Trick or Treat is Wednesday, October 25

Eton Chagrin Boulevard Boo-Tique Trick or Treat is Thursday, October 26

South Park Mall Mall-o-Ween is Sunday, October 29

Great Northern Mall Mall-o-Ween is Sunday, October 29

What: Trick or treat around the mall stores

Tickets/admission: Free

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What: Owls & Howls

Where: Cleveland Museum of Natural History

When: Saturday, October 28 starting at 10am

What: Games, crafts, pumpkin decorating, animal enrichment, museum admission

Tickets/admission: Free for members, included with general admission for non-members ($15 for adults, $12 for children ages 3-18, $12 for seniors, free for children under 2). Buy here.

However you celebrate, have a fun, safe, and happy Halloween!