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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Why? Weekends!

It was another fun, festive weekend! Here’s what we were up to:

Brewnuts

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.

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Yum! Brewnuts also has a large selection of craft beer and options to make your coffee or hot chocolate boozy.

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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.

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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!

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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.

Goodyear Blimp Toys for Tots Drive

On Saturday, Matthew, Jeffrey, my parents, and I drove down to the Goodyear Blimp hangar to participate in their annual Toys for Tots drive.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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The calm before the toddler storm 

 

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).

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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!

So, that was our weekend! How was yours?

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Why? Recess on Detroit!

Last night, members of Playhouse Square Partners and friends took to the Gordon Square Arts District for Recess on Detroit. The “recess” theme started last year with Recess on 25th. The event is a scavenger hunt through local businesses that not only puts you in touch with some of the cool places in a neighborhood, but also raises money for the Playhouse Square Bus Fund.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.***

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Why? Weekends, Part 2!

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!

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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!

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I tend to be a donut traditionalist, so the chocolate crème sticks from Madsen Donuts and Jubliee Donuts were big favorites for me.

We’re all big chocolate lovers, but Matthew, Jeffrey, and I all loved the raspberry donuts from Peace Love and Little Donuts (raspberry coffee cake to be exact) and Holey Toledough (what a great name, too).

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Brewnuts had the cutest table set-up (plus a yummy and not overly sweet Salty Malty donut),

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and Red the Steakhouse and Moxie were clearly having fun.

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The Judges’ Choice winner was Peace Love and Little Donuts and the Crowd Favorite went to Jack Frost Donuts.

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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).

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After the flow, we settled in with the ladies from Rock Your Bliss for a mini version of their Seven Weeks to Bliss curriculum.

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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.

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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?

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Why? Best of 2016!

So, I think a lot of us are feeling like 2016 was long and filled with a lot of negativity. But here’s the thing…like any year, there was both good and bad. And frankly, while I think there’s a lot to learn from some of the not so good things that happened this year, I’d much rather focus on the good for now.

I wanted to share my personal Best of 2016, Cleveland-style:

Best Trend

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People catching on to Cleveland’s fabulousness. The RNC, the NBA Finals, and the World Series shined an almost perpetual spotlight on our town this year. And we shone right back.

Best New Hangout

Cleveland Public Square is back this year and is an absolutely amazing gathering space! From the summer fountains and colorful critters to the Christmas tree and skating rink, it’s all happening in the Square!

Best Perpetual Hangout

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Oh, Mitchell’s Ice Cream, you have my heart. It has been suggested that I live there. I do not. But I would.

Best Sports Moment(s)

It’s honestly a toss-up for me between the Cavs winning the NBA Championship and Game 7 of the World Series, which might not have had the outcome we wanted, but had everything you could ask for in terms of excitement.

Best New Restaurant(s)

So many great additions to our dining scene in 2016! Mabel’s BBQ is everything a Cleveland restaurant should be: hearty, meaty, casual, and unpretentious, with just a bit of “yeah, an Iron Chef cooked this, you gotta a problem with that?” And The Plum Cafe and Kitchen is inventive and delicious and as pretty as it is tasty.

Best New Attraction

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The Rosebrough Tiger Passage at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo opened in June 2016. It is really beautiful and allows for an amazing, up-close experience with the tigers. Our Zoo just keeps getting better and better!

Best Staycation

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We went to Kalahari this past February and had a great time! If you’re looking for somewhere close by to get a splash of summer, I highly recommend it!

Best Vacation

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Obvs.

Best Photo Opp

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I love the script Cleveland signs that popped up around town this year! Instagram away!

Best Birthday Party

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The Cleveland Museum of Art celebrated its centennial year in 2016 with a lot of fanfare, including (my first) Solstice that packed this incredible Cleveland institution.

Best Birthday Party Runners-Up

Jeffrey’s second birthday and my thirty-fifth were both memorable and fun and wonderful!

Best New Business(es)

I love everything about GroundSwell Collective, from the practice space to the instructors to the philosophy to seeing it’s backstory on “Cleveland Hustles.” It’s been an awesome addition to Gordon Square this year! And Merchant’s Mrkt is just a great concept: local small businesses coming together to share space and sell their wares collectively.

Best Volunteer Opportunities

I’ve been honored to work with Playhouse Square Partners, the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter, and the Autism Speaks Cleveland Chef Gala Committee this year.

Best Thing I Never Thought I Would Do

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When Be Studios invited me to come in for a pole dancing class, I did what any girl would do: I rounded up some of my favorite ladies, threw on my glitter booties, and went for it! But I think the bigger part of that was feeling that I’ve grown a lot this year in my self-confidence and my ability to show that.

Best Cleveland Day

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It was hot and long and crazy and worth every minute to attend the Cavs Championship Parade. And even more than seeing the players and the trophy, I loved seeing how everyone came together and how happy and kind we all were to each other. And the confetti. The confetti was cool.

Best Jeffrey Day

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Jeffrey’s first day of school was really hard, but also really wonderful. I can’t believe how he’s grown in confidence and independence and how proud I am of him! Every day with him contains wonder and happiness, but this is the biggest stand-out from 2016.

Just the Best

What would make your Best of 2016 List? Take a moment to acknowledge the best of the year almost gone by! Here’s to an even more fabulous 2017!

***Disclosure: I am the vice co-chair of Playhouse Square Partners and the President of the John Carroll Cleveland Alumni Chapter. I have been invited to complimentary events mentioned in this post at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and Be Studios. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Stone Mad Pub!

I love me an Irish pub. It’s one of my favorite things. And one of the best ones in Cleveland is Stone Mad Pub. Tucked on West 65th Street in Gordon Square, Stone Mad has a great beer selection, delicious pub food, and an indoor bocce court.

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When we were there last night, we got to take advantage of happy hour, which included discounted Guinness pints, domestic bottles, wine, and vodka drinks. We also snagged some of the $6 appetizers: pub spuds (a bowl of potatoes with cheese, bacon, and sour cream) and mussels.

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I’m not a big fan of mussels, but I will say that the white wine garlic broth was delicious and I snagged every bite of garlic bread soaked in it that I could!

I also had my first taste of Great Lakes Brewing Company Christmas Ale for this season. I have to say that this Cleveland favorite is tasting better than ever for this holiday season!

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It had been way too long since I hit up this cozy, friendly Irish pub. Whether you’re enjoying a burger by the fireplace, sipping a pint at the bar, or playing a game of bocce, this is a spot not to be missed!

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Why? Weekends!

Aside from all the fun with Cocktail Week Cleveland, there were lots of other good times this weekend. On Saturday morning, Alicia and I met up for a “mom date.” I let the momma-to-be decide what we did, so she picked a yoga class at GroundSwell Collective, followed by brunch in Gordon Square.

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It was a chilly morning, but Mike’s flow got us warmed up very quickly. GroundSwell boasts beautiful views of Cleveland, as well as yoga classes that good for both the body and the soul.

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I’ve enjoyed watching GroundSwell’s development on Cleveland Hustles and I can’t wait to see what’s next for them. The classes are moving indoors to a temporary location after this week, but you can stay up to date on the schedule and all the happenings on GroundSwell’s website.

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Then we were off to brunch. Through happenstance, we ended up at Latitude 41n, which ended up being the perfect spot to sit and catch up. My brunch was pure fall: an apple cider mimosa (with a cinnamon sugar rim) and apple cinnamon pancakes.

And Alicia had the egg plate with turkey sausage and grits, which looked like a whole lot of traditional breakfast goodness.

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It was a perfect morning to spend some time doing favorite things with a favorite friend!

On Sunday, we met up with Amanda and Scott to go to the Great Pumpkin Fest at Cedar Point.

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I loved this event with Jeffrey last year, but it’s even better now that he’s older and can participate more.

He went trick-or-treating through Kiddie Kingdom, rode some of his favorite rides, visited the Magical House at Boo Hill, went through a corn maze, and even got to see a parade with favorite characters like Snoopy, Linus, and Sally.

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It was such a fun day and a great way to start to get into the Halloween spirit!

How was your weekend? Can you believe it’s October?!

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Why? An Evening in Gordon Square!

On Wednesday, I had dinner plans with some fellow Playhouse Square Partners in Gordon Square. I decided to get down there a bit early and do a little progressive tour of the area. My first stop was Old City Soda.

Even before their appearance on Cleveland Hustles, I had heard of the brand and enjoyed their tasty collaboration with Platform Beer Co. But after watching Cleveland Hustles, I was even more excited to check out the finished storefront.

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Old City Soda is actually sharing open retail space with Fount, a unique way to attract varied clientele to both locations. Old City’s space is light and airy, with a bar, some high top tables, and couches too. There are board games for entertainment and hot pretzels for nibbling, but the focus is on the craft soda cocktails.

I ordered the Cleveland Roots, with Old City root beer, vodka, and spiked whipped cream (this is an option, but do not pass it up). The drink itself was good, but mixing in the spiked whipped cream gave it a melty root beer float taste that combined the childlike and adult aspects of the beverage perfectly.

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The staff was friendly and knowledgeable. And I found a few more drinks on the menu that I’m anxious to try. For a before or after dinner drink, this is a perfect spot. Be sure to grab a shot with the very Instagram-able citrus wall, too!

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From there, I met up with my fellow Partners for dinner at Spice Kitchen & Bar. I can never resist the mushroom beignets, which have been on the menu since the restaurant opened. They are crispy on the outside and filled with creamy mushroom deliciousness on the inside.

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And the goat cheese creme fraiche for dipping is perfection! I also snuck a taste of a tablemates polenta and chickpea fries, which are similarly amazing!

I also ordered the sweet potato agnolotti, with wild mushroom, peach, pecan, and scallion ash.

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All the sweet flavors of late summer and early fall came together in this dish! The two appetizer-sized portions were plenty for my dinner, too.

As part of our Gordon Square Dine Around, we had Partners members dining at four different restaurants in the Gordon Square area, then we all met up for a nightcap at XYZ the Tavern. This is such a great, relaxed neighborhood bar with a nice craft beer list.

Part of the Cleveland Hustles narrative has been that Gordon Square is a neighborhood in need of revitalization. And while there are still empty storefronts, it’s wonderful to see “older” businesses like Spice thriving there, as well as newcomers like Old City Soda starting a successful run too.

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

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Why? Children’s Hunger Alliance Come out to Play!

Last night, Matthew and I got to relive a bit of our childhood mixed with some adulthood in a room filled with gigantic board games, delicious food, a DJ, and adult beverages. The Children’s Hunger Alliance Come Out to Play fundraiser combined all these things into a relaxed and playful evening at SmArt Space at 78th Street Studios (with some cool and quirky art to enjoy too).

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We kicked off the evening by receiving a game passport and collecting stamps as we played various games scattered around the room. There was Operation…

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…Connect 4, Jenga, cornhole…

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…checkers and Kerplunk!

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We also loved the free play on the pinball machines!

Mixed in between the playing, we nibbled passed appetizers like caprese skewers, mini sliders, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, and cocktail shrimp and enjoyed a mashed potato bar (my second favorite kind of bar), all provided by A Taste of Excellence.

There were also kid-like desserts with a grown-up twist, like hazelnut liquor “dirt cups,” PB&J cookies, and Fruity Pebbles treats.

We bid on auction items, as well as took home a nice bottle of wine from the wine pull, all to benefit Children’s Hunger Alliance.

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Children’s Hunger Alliance helps to provide food, nutrition education, and physical activity programs to the 1 in 4 children across the state who are food insecure. Their local office in Cleveland works directly with Cleveland schools and care programs to impact those who need it most.

The thought of any child waking up not knowing if they’ll have a healthy breakfast that morning just breaks my heart. We are so fortunate to be able to provide for Jeffrey in that way. I feel like we also have an obligation to help out organizations like Children’s Hunger Alliance where we can, too!

The theory behind Come Out to Play was to make you feel like a kid again so that you not only had a fun evening, but could better empathize with children who should worry about if Jenga is going to fall over and not if they’re going to have dinner that night. The event accomplished both goals and was both a fun and impactful evening out!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Children’s Hunger Alliance to help promote Come Out to Play. In exchange, I received two complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Children’s Hunger Alliance Come Out to Play!

Want to attend a fun and fabulous evening where you can eat, drink, dance, and play, all to benefit children in need? Then look no further than Come Out to Play sponsored by FirstEnergy, a fundraiser for Children’s Hunger Alliance.

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On Thursday, September 8, head out to the cool art gallery, smARTspace at 78th for this fun, networking-geared event. There will be a DJ, as well as life-sized Jenga, Connect 4, and more to provide plenty of entertainment for the evening and spark conversations with fellow young professionals.

You’ll also enjoy food and drinks (2 drink tickets included with your admission) and can participate in the wine pull to help Children’s Hunger Alliance raise even more money. Last year’s inaugural event was a fantastic time and I’m sure this year will be even bigger and better!

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Children’s Hunger Alliance works with child care providers, schools, and other programs to provide nutritious food, education, and physical activity  for kids in need. The organization works with communities across the state of Ohio, with a local office right here in Cleveland. CHA provides meals to sites in Cuyahoga County like Afterschool All Stars, the YMCA, and City of Cleveland Parks and Recreation and ensure these programs are meeting USDA standards to provide children with healthy options that keep them full, too.

Tickets for Come Out to Play are currently on sale for $75 per person (or $140 per couple). You can also upgrade to VIP status for an additional $25 per ticket, getting you access to additional appetizers, as well as a special bourbon tasting. You can purchase tickets online.

I hope to see you for what is sure to be a playful evening for a great cause!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Children’s Hunger Alliance to help promote Come Out to Play. In exchange, I will receive 2 complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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