Why? Mecklenburg Gardens!

For New Year’s Eve this year, my friend Anne invited me to take a road trip with her to Cincinnati to ring in the new year German-style.

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Anne’s friends Chris and Allison own Mecklenburg Gardens, the oldest restaurant in Cincinnati. Mecklenburg Gardens was established in 1865 and is still serving up delicious German food and beer, with the distinction of being named America’s Best Beer Garden by Travel and Leisure Magazine.

While it was too chilly to enjoy the outdoor gardens, we did get to experience the bier hall, which was filled with old-world charm.

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Mecklenburg’s Midnight in Munich party included a champagne toast at 6pm (midnight Munich time); a delicious buffet of German favorites like sauerkraut balls, a whole roast pig, and German chocolate cake; live music; and lots of fun.

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Seriously, all New Year’s Eve celebrations should happen at 6pm. I was in my PJs on our hosts’ couch before midnight.

While our trip to Cincinnati was super short, I was absolutely delighted with Mecklenburg Gardens and the hospitality we received. I definitely want to head back down south soon to explore more of the city, so let me know if you have any recommendations of where to go!

And if you find yourself in Cincinnati, check out Mecklenburg Gardens for a delicious taste of old-world Germany!

How did you ring in the New Year?

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Why? Happy 2020!

Happy New Year! Happy New Decade! There’s been so much talk, even more so this year, about recaps and resolutions. And I’ve been thinking about what to write…what my recaps and resolutions are…

While I certainly have both, they aren’t formed enough yet as thoughts to share here. So I’m sharing something from a writer who has become one of my absolute favorites this year: Amy Turn Sharp.

She is a poet who lives in Columbus and writes just beautiful, inspiring, makes-me-feel-like-she-knows-me things. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Here’s what she had to say about the end of 2019/beginning of 2020:

“The problem with this year-end look back sort of thing is that we are all trying to relive it and recall it while it’s December and we’re exhausted and emotionally fragile. We think it was much worse than it was. We can’t exactly remember the beautiful moments as strongly as the ones that broke our hearts. We compare our life to others without realizing that nearly everyone had time in 2019 that tried to break them. That probably most of us cried alone some. And we also all felt some joy, somewhere.

 

Very capable people hide pain. There are friends of yours who have money but not love. Some people in your life are struggling with secret addictions and mental health and still look so cool in the internet. There is a time bomb happening in someone’s life right now. You are filtering things through you so quickly. Take a moment to think collectively about the humans in your circle. Go beyond that even.

 

And if you weren’t brave this past year you get to be in 2020. And if you weren’t kind to yourself, you get to be in 2020. And if you didn’t put all of your effort into love and magic, well you know what to do. And maybe you can cultivate a new little habit of journaling and looking back each month. It’s how to get real with yourself. It’s how to sit in a chair in December 2020 and be calmer, less worried about the always coming future.

-ATS”

 

Wishing you peace in your reflections of the past year and strength in your convictions for the coming one, friends.

Happy New Year,

jenclesig_pur

Why? Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and yours joy, magic, warmth, and happiness in this season.

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May these days land softly on your heart and may you know peace, love, and contentment.

Merry Everything, Happy Always from The Land,

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

There was lots of time with family and friends this weekend, which is just how a pre-holiday weekend should be…

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On Friday night, Alicia, Amanda, Kimberly, and I got together for my favorite grown-up holiday tradition: TWC Christmas (the name is a long story.)

We usually meet up at someone’s house, but everyone was feeling cooking-and-hosting overwhelmed this year, so we instead opted for dinner out at one of our favorite restaurants: Dante.

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From fabulous cocktails to delicious food, Dante is always a perfect spot for an evening out. I had the Wild Boar tenderloin, with honey roasted rutabaga & Brussel sprouts and chorizo potato hash.

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This dish was tender, flavorful, and plate-licking good.

We all shared desserts, but the favorite at the table was the Caramel Apple Walnut Blondie, with apple jam filling, streusel, cider caramel sauce, and vanilla ice cream.

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After dinner, we walked over to The Spotted Owl for a Christmas nightcap.

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They have a special menu of holiday-themed drinks that are all guaranteed to make you merry. I had the Ginger All The Way and it was creamy, spicy perfection.

What a perfect night of fabulous food, drinks, and, most importantly, friends!

The Magic of Lights

On Saturday night, Jeffrey and I checked out The Magic of Lights at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds.

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There is a drive-through component, where you make your way through millions of dazzling Christmas lights, with themed areas like “Nativity,” “Twelve Days of Christmas,” and “Joy to the World.”

There is also Santa’s Holiday Village, where you can park and walk through the village with a light selfie tunnel…

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…inflatables…

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…”ice” bumper cars…

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…and lots of festive fun.

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The Magic of Lights takes place every day through Saturday, January 4. Tickets for a car are $20 in advance. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote The Magic of Lights. In exchange, I received a complimentary car ticket. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Platform Pub Yoga

My Sunday started out on a funday note with Platform Pub Yoga. We enjoyed a great hour-long vinyasa flow taught by Alicia, then headed downstairs for a beer, a bagel sandwich, and lots of laughs.

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It’s so nice in this busy season to take a time-out for something that totally made me feel invigorated! Plus, part of the proceeds from the event benefited Providence House! The next Platform Pub Yoga happens on Sunday, January 26.

Neil Diamond Christmas

On Sunday night, Mom and I attended Neil Diamond Christmas at Music Box Supper Club.

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The Diamond Project Band did a fantastic job, playing both Christmas tunes and classic Neil Diamond hits.

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Mom and I had a blast singing along! What a fun way to end the pre-holiday weekend!

How was your weekend? Are you ready for the holiday week ahead?

jenclesig_pur

Why? Cleveland Holiday Events!

As we head into the home stretch toward Christmas, you might be thinking you’ve missed the boat on all the seasonal fun, but there is still time to catch some great holiday events around town…

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We’ve entered the day and age where we have “Instagram museums,” and WinterWonderCleveland is a magical one!

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Make your way through 12 interactive, visually stunning exhibits perfect for photos. You can also solve challenges, try ice curling, and just generally step into a world of wonder.

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WinterWonderCleveland is open through January 17. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

***Disclosure: I attended a complimentary media preview of WinterWonderCleveland, courtesy of Destination Cleveland. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Wild Winter Lights

Take a stroll through a magical lights display throughout the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (read more about our experience here), happening on Thursdays through Sundays and Mondays, December 23 and 30 through January 5.

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Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

***Disclosure: I was asked by Cleveland Metroparks Zoo to help promote Wild Winter Lights. In exchange, I received complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Glow

The Cleveland Botanical Garden sparkles with holiday magic with trees decorated by local garden clubs, gingerbread houses, an indoor play area, crafts, a train ride through the outdoor gardens, and more. This year’s theme is Holiday Hollows and focuses on the warmth and comfort of home, especially at the holidays.

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Photo Credit: Nick Brilla 

The Garden is open Tuesdays through Sundays and Glow is happening through January 4. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

The Magic of Lights

Why drive around a bunch of different neighborhoods, when you can experience the magic of a picturesque car ride through beautiful holiday lights at the Magic of Lights, taking place at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds through January 4.

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Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Magic of Lights to help promote the event. In exchange, I received a complimentary ticket. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Whether sneaking in a visit before Christmas or filling up the days of holiday break, there are plenty of festive happenings yet to enjoy in Cleveland!

jenclesig_pur

Why? Local Stocking Stuffers at Legacy Village!

I feel like my Christmas shopping MIGHT be winding down, but I’m always on the hunt for stocking-stuffer sized presents to add to what I’ve already bought. Or maybe there’s that gift exchange or co-worker or the like for whom you need a last-minute small gift.

Legacy Village has you covered in the stocking stuffer department, with not only lots of great options, but lots of great local products to choose from.

My first stop on my hunt for stocking stuffers was Banyan Tree, which always has pretty, locally-made gift items for guys, gals, and kids.

From these Furbish & Fire candles that look as good as they smell…

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…to these awesome hand-crafted wood keychains, trays, and coasters…

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Banyan Tree delivers on your Cleveland-themed stocking stuffers.

Then I popped over the Merchant’s Mrkt for a bonanza of local makers.

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From apparel to home goods to tea to popcorn to candy, Merchant’s Mrkt offers a plethora of stocking-stuffer sized presents, all made by talented Cleveland makers.

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Also, for the sweets lover on your gift list, C’est Macaron offers delicious pastries to add a hint of French elegance to any stocking!

For local stocking stuffers that will make your gift recipients feel loved and happy, look no further than Legacy Village!

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

jenclesig_pur

 

Why? Weekends!

It was a busy weekend filled with holiday cheer, so let’s get right to it…

Country Lights

On Friday night, we went to Country Lights at the Lake Metroparks Farmpark. Country Lights quickly became one of our favorite holiday traditions.

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From the wonderful decorations both inside and out…

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…to the unique magic of building a toy with an elf helper in Santa’s workshop…

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Country Lights always delivers on the Christmas fun!

This event sells out quickly every year, so stay tuned for when tickets go on sale next fall!

Tannenbaum Trail

On Saturday, my friend Anne and I hit the Tannenbaum Trail, sponsored by the Ohio Wine Producers Association.

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For $65 per couple, you receive a small Christmas tree, as well as 2 wine tastes, a small bite, and an ornament at each of several Geneva-area wineries. You can even travel the Tannenbaum Trail over three weekends!

Anne and I were able to get to seven wineries on our adventure: Urban Vintner, Cask 307, Silver Crest Cellars, Stonegait Winery, Grand River Cellars, Debonné Vineyards, and South River Vineyard.

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The two tastes were just enough wine to allow us to experience the wineries, but still be able to get to a lot of different places. And the small bites were just the right amount of food!

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We ended our day at M Cellars, which was not on the Tannenbaum Trail, but is one of our favorite spots when we’re at the wineries.

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This is the second year that I’ve done the Tannenbaum Trail and I love growing my ornament collection and trying new wineries, plus seeing all the beautiful decorations in this festive season!

Kids Holiday Parties

On both Saturday and Sunday, we had kids’ holiday parties, with lots of Christmas crafts…

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…a Santa visit…

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…and lots of holiday cheer!

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It was a fun and festive weekend as we get ever closer to Christmas! How was your weekend?

jenclesig_pur

Why? Wild Winter Lights!

This holiday season, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo introduced a new, sparkly holiday tradition: Wild Winter Lights presented by NOPEC.

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Over one million lights illuminate the Zoo in a winter wonderland of holiday magic.

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There are giant ornaments you can stand inside…

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…interactive light exhibits where you control the timing of the lights…

…great photo opps with a walkway of giant snowmen…

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…a chance to visit with Santa…

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…or take a spin on the Circle of Wildlife Carousel, guarded by a giant teddy bear.

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There are games, refreshments for both kids and adults, holiday music, and lots of sparkle!

Wild Winter Lights takes place from 5:30-9:30pm on Thursdays through Sundays until Sunday, January 5. There will also be select Monday opportunities to visit on December 23 and December 30.

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Tickets are $15.50 for Zoo members, $18.50 for non-members, and $50 for a four-pack of tickets if purchased in advance (up to 3:30pm on the date of attendance.) Children under 2 are free.

Wild Winter Lights is perfect for family fun or a twinkly date night, so head to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and add some wild sparkle to your holiday season!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Cleveland Metroparks Zoo to help promote Wild Winter Lights. In exchange, I received complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

When your weekend recap is essentially three blog posts, you know it was a good time!

John Carroll Alumni Breakfast with Santa

On Sunday morning, the John Carroll Alumni Relations Office hosted their annual Breakfast with Santa on campus.

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The Breakfast with Santa includes a Mass in St. Francis Chapel, a buffet breakfast in the Dining Hall, crafts, a donation drive for Bellefaire JCB, and of course a chance to visit with Santa.

Jeffrey made a list before we went and presented it to Santa, who promised to take it back to the North Pole with him!

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We also had a chance to visit with the President of the University, Dr. Johnson, and his wife Jill, who are such wonderful assets to the university.

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I always love this event because I can catch up with college friends and see how our kids have now become friends, too!

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It was a fabulous holiday morning!

Mean Girls

On Sunday night, Alicia brought me as her guest to see “Mean Girls” at Playhouse Square. Before the show, we grabbed cocktails and appetizers at Republic Food and Drink.

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We both love their selection of bourbon cocktails (I had the rye old fashioned). We also devoured the Warm Bavarian Pretzel Sticks with cheddar-beer sauce and the Warm Street Corn Dip, with sweet corn, white cheddar, cilantro, and lime, served with corn tortilla chips.

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Then it was over to the show. Alicia and I both had the chance last week thanks to Playhouse Square to interview the actors portraying “The Plastics,” so it was especially fun to see them in action after getting the chance to know them a bit off-stage.

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The show is energetic and hilarious and has all the best lines that you love from the movie version, plus updated jokes for 2019. And boy, can the cast sing and dance! I absolutely loved the performance! “Mean Girls” is at Playhouse Square through Sunday, December 22, so don’t miss your chance to get in on the fun!

So, that was my weekend in (three) nutshells. How was yours?

jenclesig_pur

Why? Legacy Village Sip, Shop, & Stroll!

On Saturday night, Jeffrey and I stopped up at Legacy Village for a holiday Sip, Shop, & Stroll. Legacy Village is festive anyway, with the big tree and the “Create Joy” sign, but they added even more merriment on Saturday night.

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There was an ice carving demonstration from Elegant Ice Creations

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…complimentary s’mores supplies, with fires for roasting the marshmallows…

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…Christmas carols playing and great photo opps, including the iconic #TheLand sign from Destination Cleveland.

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You can also grab a festive beverage from BRIO or Bar Louie in a to-go cup and then walk around the Lawn and shops with it!

I tried the Santa’s Reindeer Fuel from Bar Louie, with Bulleit Rye, maple syrup, lemon, apple puree, and candied bacon. Yummy!

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The next Sip, Shop, & Stroll happens on Saturday, December 21, just in time to help you get your last-minute shopping done! From 5-8pm, enjoy all the fun mentioned above, plus special discounts at select retailers like L.L. Bean, LOFT, White House Black Market, Banyan Tree, Merchant’s Mrkt, Lilly Pulitzer, and more.

There’s no better place for seasonal shopping (and sipping) than Legacy Village!

***Disclosure: I have an ongoing relationship with Legacy Village, 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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