Why? Il Rione Pizzeria!

You guys, I am just flying through my 2019 Blog Bucket List! This week, I finally got to Il Rione Pizzeria, which had so much hype, I was wondering if it could possibly live up to my high pizza expectations.

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Spoiler alert: It surpassed them!

I met up with Alicia and Amanda for a proper girls’ night. We started with aperol spritzers, which were light and delicious and perfect for warmer weather.

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We then shared the meat and cheese plate, with San Danielle prosciutto, coppa, and rosemary ham. Amanda proclaimed this was the best Italian bread she’d ever had and I concur. It was crispy, but still soft and chewy. So good!

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We shared the clam pie, with middleneck clams, pecorino, garlic, and oregano, and the sausage pie, with red sauce, mozarella, sausage, roasted peppers, sauteed onions, garlic, and parmesan.

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The pies had a thin, chewy crust and were loaded with thoughtfully-chosen, flavorful toppings. This was just damn good pizza!

Il Rione’s menu keeps it simple: the meat and cheese board, a few salads, and the pies. You can choose a “suggested pie” or build your own. I’ve learned my lesson after build-your-own flavor debacles to take the suggested route.

The restaurant is small and fills up quickly. Arrive early or prepare to hang out with a spritzer or two at the bar. Either way, you won’t be sorry you stopped in to this cozy, haute casual, thoroughly delicious spot!

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Why? Weekends!

It was another fun weekend, with checking out some small local businesses and catching some theater too…

Junie B. Jones

On Saturday, we had the last show in this season of Playhouse Square’s Children’s Theater Series.

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The show was “Junie B. Jones,” a musical version of the book series. The show followed the adventures of Junie B., an inquisitive first grader. The songs were fun and accessible for kids and the story was light-hearted with a lesson.

We love attending the Children’s Theater Series shows and are excited for next season!

Elegant Ice Creations

Saturday afternoon, we had a chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at Elegant Ice Creations workshop and handiwork.

Started by Aaron Costic, who began carving ice 25 years ago, the company has grown to an 8000 square foot studio that produces custom ice creations for special events, sports teams, business, and more.

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Aaron even won a gold medal for ice carving at the Turino Winter Olympics in 2006!

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Jeff Meyer, who gave us our tour, showed us some of the custom pieces waiting to be delivered…

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…as well as some of the custom ice cubes created there to make your cocktail just perfect.

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We also saw how the large blocks of ice are made…

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…and checked out a demonstration of the ice carving tools.

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What a cool (haha) local business!

Junker Fitness

On Sunday morning, I met up with a grade school classmate, Cindy, who invited me to check out a yoga class at Junker Fitness.

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Located in The Shoreway apartment building in Battery Park, Junker Fitness’s studio offers HIIT, yoga, and beach burn classes. They have a rooftop deck that overlooks Edgewater Park that is the perfect spot for summer yoga.

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Unfortunately, the weather kept our class inside on Sunday, but we still enjoyed a great flow, with lots of active stretching as well as vinyasa.

Junker Fitness also offers personal training that meets you where you are, both in terms of ability and location. Junker Fitness staff will travel to the gym close to you and work with you to build a program that suits your needs.

Plus, I had the opportunity to chat with the owners, Jack and his wife Stephanie, who are super personable, down-to-earth, and committed to becoming an active part of the community where the studio is located.

I can’t wait to head back to check out a rooftop yoga class…and I have some free class passes, so if you’re interested, hit me up in the comments!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a class at Junker Fitness. I received a complimentary class and class passes for a return visit. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Astoria

After our yoga class, I headed to brunch with the Junker Fitness team. We went to nearby Astoria, which was on my must-try list for awhile!

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While waiting for a table, we perused the market and wine shop and sipped mimosas, which is the best way to wait for a table ever!

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I had the seafood frittata, with a poached egg, potato and onion frittata, scallops, crab, and Hollandaise. Such a delicious brunch creation!

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I definitely want to go back and do a deeper dive into Astoria’s wine and charcuterie, too!

What a fun weekend! How was yours?

jenclesig_pur

Why? Flight Cleveland!

I’m just going on out lately on crossing things of my 2019 Blog Bucket List! This week, I met up with my friend Beth for drinks and nibbles at Flight Cleveland.

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Located in what used to be Latitude 41N, Flight has completely re-imagined the space. It is bright, airy, and comfortable. The bar area has funky vintage chairs and couches for lounging and the room off the wine shop has tables.

The wine shop is huge too, perfect for perusing the sips you fall in love with while at Flight.

Flight offers pre-made flights with every style from white to red to bubbly, as well as wines by the taste or glass. Beth and I each started with the Smooth and Easy flight.

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This is one box of wine I definitely liked! I tried some new wines and really enjoyed all the selections in the flight.

We also shared the “I Like Meat” and “I Like Cheese” boards because, well, we like both those things.

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The choices were interesting and tasty! Oh, and get an extra order of the “Try My Nuts.” The perfect salty/sweet snack!

Flight offers snacks, rather than full meal options, but we had plenty to nibble to keep us happy.

After my flight, I had to get a class of the M Cellars Brut Rose, which is a must-order for me anytime I see it.

Flight is not only a cute setting for drinks, but it offers an awesome and diverse wine selection, whether you’re getting a flight, a glass, or a bottle to take home.

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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? Spice Kitchen Whole Beast Feast!

There are events you just know are going to be amazing. When Spice Kitchen & Bar invited me to their inaugural Whole Beast Feast, I just knew it would be one of those events.

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First, Spice is known for thoughtful, delicious, locally-sourced, sustainable cuisine. Spice is also known for putting on fabulous events, such as the Plated Landscape Dinners and Dinner on the Train.

The concept of the Whole Beast Feast is a family-style, three-course meal served at Spice’s beautiful long dining table in the center of the restaurant.

Our first course was a salad of Spice Acres mixed greens, with sherry vinaigrette, Yellow House bleu cheese, and shaved Quarry Hill apples.

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This light, fresh dish was the perfect palate prep for the rich roasted meat to come.

General Manager Allison Pryce presented and carved the whole suckling pig tableside. The meat was tender and flavorful. I especially enjoyed trying different cuts and tasting the difference between them.

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The meat was served with a mustard cream sauce with ginger pork jus. The meat could easily stand on its own, but the gravy was outstanding with it, too. When asked what else I should put it on, one of my dining companions suggested simply a spoon!

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We also enjoyed roasted purple yams with miso butter, roasted cauliflower, and garlicky kale.

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It wouldn’t be the Whole Beast Feast if we didn’t eat the whole beast. We were presented with every part of the pig, including ears, eyeballs, and brains (to spread on toast, naturally).
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For dessert, we were treated to caramel apple pie, served whole to the table. I am a confirmed pie person and this was hands down one of the best apple pies I’ve ever had!

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Currently, the Whole Beast Feast is available with a whole roasted suckling pig, but Chef Ben Bebenroth talked to us about plans to expand to fish and vegetarian feasts as well.

The Whole Beast Feast is available on the weekends with 6pm and 8:30pm seatings by reservation only for groups of 8-10 guests. Cost is $75 per guest for three courses.

For a truly unique and delicious dining experience perfect for a group of friends, a birthday, or any occasion you want to celebrate, check out the Whole Beast Feast at Spice Kitchen & Bar!

***Disclosure: I was invited by Spice Kitchen & Bar to attend a complimentary Whole Beast Feast. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

This weekend still felt like summer to me! So, despite the appearance of pumpkins later on in my post, I’m hanging on to the end of summer…

Brewnuts

On Friday morning, while the kids were in school, I went with my friends Mariah and Ashlie to Brewnuts for their Harry Potter-themed donuts that were available this weekend only.

Brewnuts not only makes gigantic, creative donuts, but they come up with lots of fun theme days to sprinkle even more magic on the donuts. I opted for a Sorting Hat donut, whose yellow buttercream filling told me I was a Hufflepuff.

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Add in a Butterbeer latte…

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and the cute, tiki-themed decor…

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and you have the makings of three very happy moms!

Bloggy Con

On Saturday, I attended Bloggy Conference, a conference for bloggers. Held at Cedar Point’s Hotel Breakers, the location was perfect for soaking in a bit more of summer.

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We heard speakers on everything from SEO to brand ambassadorships and had a chance to connect with other bloggers from around the country.

This was my first blog conference, despite how long I’ve been doing this, and I really feel like I came away with some valuable insights into things I can implement with the blog, as well as things that I don’t want to change.

Small City Taphouse

Since we were spending the night in Sandusky, I had dinner at one of my favorite restaurants out that way: Small City Taphouse.

This restaurant boasts 80 beers on tap, which obviously means you have to get a flight because it is impossible to choose just one.

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My two favorites from my flight were the Big Bad Baptist from Epic Brewing and the Haunted Hayride Pumpkin Ale from Masthead Brewing.

Small City Taphouse also has a full sushi and Asian cuisine menu. The TNT roll, with tuna and jalapeno was a great choice, as was the spicy egg noodles with beef.

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If you find yourself in Sandusky, definitely check out Small City Taphouse!

Cedar Point Halloweekends

On Sunday, my best guys joined me at Cedar Point for Halloweekends.

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From trick or treating through Kiddie Kingdom…

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…to trying out the new-this-year challenge course…

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….to catching the It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown parade…

…there was so much to do on top of the rides that Jeffrey always loves. It was a fall festival in summer-like weather!

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Halloweekends continue every weekend through October 28, so don’t miss this chance for some family-friendly thrills and treats!

So, that was my weekend! How was yours?

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Why? Local West!

A couple weeks ago, I met up with friends to celebrate my pal Robin’s birthday. We kind of worked the dinner backwards. Robin knew she wanted to go to Sweet Moses for dessert, so we wanted to pick a restaurant in Gordon Square.

Robin chose Local West, a casual burger and sandwich joint that served up some serious delicious sammies. Local West is all counter-service, but you can certainly sit and enjoy your meal there, along with beer or wine from their surprisingly expansive and diverse menu.

I was torn between about five different menu items (which means I have to go back), but ended up ordering the 50 Shades of Spice, a patty of 1/2 beef, 1/2 spicy pork, bacon, and orange peel goat cheese.

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This burger definitely brought the spice, but it was nicely balanced by the citrusy, creamy goat cheese.

Robin chose the mac and cheese burger, topped with a brick of mac and cheese (I got some as a side dish and it is delish), crumbled bacon, and (more) cheddar.

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Whoa! This is like two meals in one!

Our friend Amy chose the Italian Beef, with sliced local beef dipped in au jus and topped with peppers and onions.

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So tender and flavorful!

We pretended that we walked off our dinners on our way to Sweet Moses and then ate it all back and then some with our sweet, decadent desserts.

For a casual dinner or great take-out spot, Local West is a great choice! The sandwiches are thoughtfully crafted to be familiar, but chef-driven and elevated to a foodie level too.

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Why? Weekends!

It was a great weekend, with lots of wine drinking (stay tuned tomorrow for that) and lots of family time, too. Here’s what we were up to:

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

One of our favorite ways to spend the day is at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Jeffrey and I met up with one of his school friends for a play date on Friday.

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The new Asian Highlands exhibit was our first stop, but we also visited classic favorites like the Rosebrough Tiger Passage and African Elephant Crossing, as well as spent time playing in the Yagga Tree in the Australian Adventure area.

 

And while the weather was kind of gloomy, it didn’t stop us from enjoying all the animals. In fact, I think the cooler weather had both humans and animals alike feeling more active!

Greater Cleveland Aquarium

Saturday was spent with more critters as we checked out the renovations to the Greater Cleveland Aquarium.

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Over the next year, the Greater Cleveland Aquarium is making $250,000 in mission-driven upgrades, including enhancements to exhibits and the introduction of a dozen new species.

 

The Ohio Lakes & Rivers Gallery has been renovated using repurposed materials and the Asia & Indonesia and Coastal Boardwalk areas have been renovated as well.

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The Imaginaquarium, a play area located on the second floor, has also been renovated and is a bright, fun place for kids to enjoy after exploring the Aquarium itself.

Of course, the shark gallery remains a long-standing favorite! There’s nothing like seeing a shark swim above your head!

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Check out the new and improved Greater Cleveland Aquarium with a regular visit or at one of their upcoming special events: Fun Before 4 on July 4th, Fin Fest, or Girls Night Out.

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a media preview of the renovations to the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. I received three complimentary tickets to the Aquarium. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Talespinner Children’s Theater

I love experiencing culture, particularly live theater, with Jeffrey. On Sunday, we went to see “The Princess and the Nightingale: A Tale of Thailand” at Talespinner Children’s Theatre.

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The show was colorful and whimsical with plenty to keep both children and adults engaged and laughing along with the characters. After the show, the cast was available for pictures, dancing, high fives, and more.

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The Princess and the Nightingale is playing through July 1, with shows at 7pm on Friday, 2pm and 7pm on Saturday, and 2pm on Sunday. Talespinner’s next show is “The Boy Who Stole the Sun: An Inuit Creation Tale,” playing September 15 through October 7.

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Talespinner is Cleveland-based and develops and produces its own original children’s theater performances, which is something worth celebrating and supporting, as they enrich our arts community in Cleveland and make theater accessible to young audiences.

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a performance of The Princess and the Nightingale and received three complimentary tickets to the show. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

So, that was most of our weekend. Stay tuned tomorrow for a recap of a fabulous wine event!

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Why? Weekends, Part 2!

So, here’s Part 2 of our busy and fun weekend around Cleveland!

Cleveland Orchestra PNC Musical Rainbows

Jeffrey is really interested in musical instruments and we’ve been doing everything we can to foster and expand this interest. The Cleveland Orchestra‘s PNC Musical Rainbows concert was the perfect way to do just that!

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The PNC Musical Rainbows concerts each focus on a specific area of the orchestra and are designed for ages three to six. The performance is interactive and only 30 minutes long, so enough to introduce the instruments without losing attention.

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Saturday’s concert focused on the percussion section of the orchestra. The Cleveland Orchestra’s percussionist Tom Sherwood led the kids through an introduction to a wide variety of percussion instruments and even performed familiar songs like “Old MacDonald” (changed to “Old McSherwood”) and BINGO.

At the end of the concert, the children could approach the stage and get to play one of the percussion instruments. Jeffrey was so proud to share that he’s playing a percussion instrument in a school concert and he was encouraged to just keep playing!

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This kind of hands-on, accessible introduction to instruments makes the orchestra less intimidating and can foster a lifelong interest in music! I’ve said it before, but we in Cleveland are so lucky that our children can not only experience culture, but experience it with the some of the best cultural institutions in the country!

PNC Musical Rainbows is finished for this season, but stay tuned for next season’s line-up!

***Disclosure: I received three complimentary tickets to the PNC Musical Rainbows percussion concert. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Sunday was perfect weather for a visit to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo! One of Jeffrey’s school friends had a birthday party there, so we started out with pizza, presents, and dinosaurs…

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…and then we headed into the Zoo to check out the critters. All of the animals were out enjoying the weather as much as we were!

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And while we get to the Zoo a lot, we couldn’t pass up waiting in line to feed the giraffes! This is always a favorite stop on any Zoo visit!

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Hooray for fabulous weather for us and the animals alike!

Talespinner Children’s Theatre Sundae Sunday

One of those places that’s been on my radar for awhile is Talespinner Children’s Theatre, so when I was invited to check out their Sundae Sunday fundraiser, I couldn’t pass it up!

Talespinner Children’s Theatre is Cleveland’s only professional children’s theater company that produces original shows. At Sundae Sunday, we got to check out the theater and interact with some of the actors in a fun, creative environment.

Children could even play up on stage acting out stories and using their imaginations!

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There was also face painting, crafts, and fun selfies with costumes!

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And it wouldn’t be Sundae Sunday without ice cream, donated by Talespinner’s neighbor Sweet Moses Soda Fountain & Treat Shop.

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Proceeds from admission and a raffle all benefited Talespinner, to help them keep producing original children’s theater. After seeing the space and meeting the actors, I can’t wait to take Jeffrey to a performance at Talespinner! The next show is The Princess & the Nightingale, playing June 9 through July 1.

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend Talespinner Children’s Theatre’s Sundae Sunday with my family. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

So, that was our busy, fun, lovely weekend! How was yours?

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

Oh my goodness, we could not have crammed more into this weekend if we tried! So, let’s get right to it:

#HamilFlow and Ginko (hey, that rhymes)

Friday night, I watched as one of my favorite people paired two of her favorite things and, boy, was the result magical! Alicia taught a 75-minute yoga class with the music of “Hamilton: An American Musical.” Much like the musical itself, the class was inspiring, fun, and fast-paced. This class sold out fast, so stay tuned because Alicia has promised a sequel!

After class, we headed downstairs to Ginko for what is always the finest sushi in Cleveland.

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Ginko always has the freshest and most inventive sushi offerings. It’s so fun to sit at the bar and watch the chefs create, too!

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Dessert that evening was a chocolate pot de creme, so who can resist that?

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It was a perfect Friday night!

Seussical Jr.

On Saturday afternoon, we headed to St. Francis of Assisi School for their production of “Seussical, Jr.” My friend Melissa was the director of the show and I was so impressed with her work and the talent of the cast!

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Plus, it’s a great musical for kids to enjoy! Jeffrey especially loved seeing his friend Dean (Melissa’s son) in the cast as one of the Whos!

Cleveland Monsters Purple Game

From there, we headed downtown for the Cleveland Monsters Purple Game. The Purple Game focused on raising awareness and funds for the American Cancer Society.

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There were opportunities to donate, to learn about community efforts to help those with cancer, and just generally show your support for those battling cancer.

The game also took place during the Monsters and Cavs ongoing food drive for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank‘s Harvest for Hunger program, so there were lots of ways to do good while taking in the hockey action.

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This was Jeffrey’s first hockey game. From meeting the Monsters Girls and practicing his shot on the concourse to high-fiving the players before the game (check out my Insta for the video), he had a great time.

The Monsters games definitely have a family-friendly atmosphere, with lots happening on the ice in between the action and plenty to cheer about.

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They also have a more family-friendly price-point than some other sports, making it easy to take your whole family (and in our case, some of Jeffrey’s godparents, too). You can check out the Monsters upcoming games and promotions online to get in on the icy fun for yourself!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Cleveland Monsters Purple Game. In exchange, I received complimentary tickets to the game and the opportunity to participate in the pre-game high-five tunnel. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Playhouse Square Partners Brunch Around

Sunday Funday came and I decided to just keep the weekend fun going! I met up with fellow Playhouse Square Partners for a Brunch Around in the Gordon Square Arts District.

We had groups at 4 different restaurants in the area, then all met up for a cocktail together after our brunches. I had brunch at Luxe Kitchen and Lounge. Luxe has a Sunday happy hour from 11am-1pm with half-off bloody marys, mimosas, and bellinis. Talk about a Sunday Funday!

For my brunch, I chose the buttermilk fried chicken thigh, served with country gravy, braised swiss chard, and a biscuit.

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This was savory brunch perfection! It had been way too long since I had been to Luxe. Now, I just need it to be warm enough for their fabulous patio to open!

***Disclosure: I am the co-chair of Playhouse Square Partners. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

So, that was our weekend! Plenty to keep us busy for sure! How was yours?

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