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!
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.
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.
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).
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!
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.
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.
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!
We also enjoyed roasted purple yams with miso butter, roasted cauliflower, and garlicky kale.
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).
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!
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.***
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…
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.
Add in a Butterbeer latte…
and the cute, tiki-themed decor…
and you have the makings of three very happy moms!
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.
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.
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.
If you find yourself in Sandusky, definitely check out Small City Taphouse!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
***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.***
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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…
…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!
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!
Hooray for fabulous weather for us and the animals alike!
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!
There was also face painting, crafts, and fun selfies with costumes!
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?
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.
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!
Dessert that evening was a chocolate pot de creme, so who can resist that?
It was a perfect Friday night!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.***
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.
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?
It was another fun, festive weekend! Here’s what we were up to:
On Friday, my mom watched Jeffrey for the day, so that I could have my self-proclaimed “Mommy’s Holiday Get Sh*t Done Day.” The day included gift shopping, grocery shopping, party prepping, and some time for me, too.
I started my day at Brewnuts, which I had been dying to get to since they opened their storefront in Gordon Square.
The store is as adorable as the donuts are tasty. Brewnuts are HUGE donuts and a great balance of sweet frosting and not-too-sweet dough. I had a hard time deciding which to get, but I chose the mint chocolate coffee, made to look like a Frappuccino.
Yum! Brewnuts also has a large selection of craft beer and options to make your coffee or hot chocolate boozy.
Whether you stop for a morning treat or an after-work libation and donut, Brewnuts is an awesome, funky, tasty place to try!
The Beauty Room
From there, it was time to pamper my long-neglected toes with a pedicure at The Beauty Room in Tremont.
I met up with my girlfriend Kimberly, which meant that the pedicure was also good for my soul! Add in some pomegranate mimosas and you have the makings of a perfect morning!
The Beauty Room is bright, inviting, and has a wonderful selection of products and services (everything from massages and facials to blowouts to manicures) to make you feel, well, beautiful! And starting my day with so much relaxation guaranteed a productive, low-stress remainder of the day at the stores.
For a donation to Toys for Tots, you get to drive through the Goodyear Blimp hangar and see the hangar and blimp all decked out for Christmas.
Santa is also there to greet you, as well as Marine in full dress uniform to accept your donation.
Jeffrey loved getting to check out the blimp up close, as well as any chance to have even a brief audience with Santa.
What a cool thing to be able to see and a great way to drive donations to a wonderful cause!
Jeffrey’s Holiday Play Date
For the third year in a row, we packed our house on Sunday with Jeffrey’s friends and their families for a holiday play date.
We played winter carnival games, did a holiday book exchange, and generally had a fun, slightly chaotic, wonderful time.
And while the food at the party tends toward the simple pizza, cookies, and brownies, I did add in a new addition this year: spiced wine (recipe here).
This was the perfect cozy treat and I loved that I could leave it in the slow cooker to stay warm for the entire party! Plus, anytime the toddler count in your house climbs to double digits, you need wine too.
The holiday play date has become one of our favorite traditions and I love the chance for everyone to get together in this festive season!
Our evening kicked off at Old City Libations, where we enjoyed signature cocktails made with Old City Soda, as well as the chicken paprikash pierogi (OMG, so good).
From there, it was next door to the Near West Theatre, which moved into it’s beautiful new space in 2015 (I know that because it was a question on our scavenger hunt). While we weren’t able to go inside, we did get a fun photo opp in front of the marquis.
Next up was Superelectric Pinball Parlor. This bright, fun, retro establishment boasts tons of pinball games to enjoy, as well as cool artwork to take in while you play.
Finally, we ended our hunt with a sweet treat at Sweet Moses Soda Fountain and Treat Shop. Matthew and I shared the Bob Feller Sundae. While I’m not usually one to share ice cream, this sundae was large and rich and definitely good to split.
Salted caramel ice cream is drenched in hot fudge and topped with Spanish peanuts, caramel corn, whipped cream, and a cherry. It’s the baseball classic Cracker Jack in ice cream form!
The scavenger hunt also encouraged to pick one other Gordon Square business to patronize, so we popped into the fun and funky Land of Plenty: Vintage and Modern, where I picked up an adorable postcard (watch your mail) and an equally adorable purple beaded bracelet.
It was back to Old City Libations to hear the results and while our team didn’t win the scavenger hunt, I feel like we’re all winners for having a fun night in a cool neighborhood for a great cause!
If you’re interested in checking out a Playhouse Square Partners event, our always-popular Trivia Night is happening on Wednesday, May 24 at Kennedy’s Theatre at Playhouse Square. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.
***Disclosure: I am the vice co-chair of Playhouse Square Partners. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***
This past Sunday was so packed with fun that it deserves it’s own blog post! We started our day at the first annual Donut Fest in Cleveland!
Cleveland has joined the ranks of Chicago and New York City in hosting a Donut Fest. Your admission got you a donut from each of twelve vendors (mostly sample-size, thank goodness), plus three coffee samples (kudos to Hartzler Family Dairy for also offering milk as a beverage choice), a chance to vote for your favorite donut, a swag bag, and the chance to ride the wave of an epic sugar high and crash!
The Judges’ Choice winner was Peace Love and Little Donuts and the Crowd Favorite went to Jack Frost Donuts.
But from the crowd’s general happiness, everyone was a winner at Donut Fest! This event sold out in less than a day, so be sure to stay tuned for info on Donut Fest 2018 and get your tickets early!
In order to balance out all the donuts, I spent my Sunday evening at a yoga event! GroundSwell Collective hosted CLE is my OM, an awesome event that brought together yoga, live music, a mini retreat, food, and local makers at 78th Street Studios for a fabulous collaborative evening.
We started with a soulful and fiery flow led by one of my first and favorite yoga teachers, Ylonda (you can catch her classes regularly at Yoga Strong, as well as GroundSwell).
After the flow, we settled in with the ladies from Rock Your Bliss for a mini version of their Seven Weeks to Bliss curriculum.
It was a meaningful, open, and inspirational conversation! After that, we noshed on delicious wraps and cookies from Cleveland Vegan and continued the conversation and fun.
As good as yoga is for my body and soul, I loved taking the soul nourishment to an even higher level with this kind of combined yoga and bliss crafting event. I’ll definitely be on the look out for more GroundSwell Co. collaborations!
So, that was part 2 of an altogether wonderful weekend! How was yours? Do you agree that donuts are just as good for your soul as yoga retreats?