Why? Weekends!

This past weekend involved more than just good BBQ. My dear friend Jen stopped for an overnight visit on her way to a friend’s wedding, so we of course had a fabulous girls’ night out to celebrate her visit (and a bit of my upcoming birthday). We started our night at The Velvet Tango Room.

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A couple of fabulous cocktails and some wonderful music (including a serenade of Happy Birthday) made for the perfect start to our evening. The Velvet Tango Room is always a classic cocktail spot, but I really like starting my evening there. It’s less crowded than later in the evening and it just starts the night on the right note.

From there, we met up with Alicia and Amanda at Lolita, which is my favorite Michael Symon restaurant and one of my go-to Cleveland restaurants overall. I love the relaxed atmosphere and foodie, but still accessible menu.

We started with some Prosecco, as all fabulous girls’ nights should include bubbly.

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We also shared the crispy chicken livers, served on top creamy polenta with mushrooms and bacon. Such a great mix of earthy, rich flavors!

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I had the tagliatelle with lamb, continuing the theme of rich, delicious flavors.

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We somehow saved room for the peanut butter brownie gelato, a sweet end to an even sweeter evening! There’s nothing like time with girlfriends to leave me feeling relaxed, happy, and loved!

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Before Jen left on Saturday, we grabbed breakfast at Original Pancake House. There was definitely a fruit theme at our table: Matthew had the cherry crepes and I enjoyed the gigantic and fall-like apple pancake.

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On Sunday, we took Jeffrey to another Touch a Truck event, this time at the Parma Community Health Education Center. We got to see a life flight helicopter, which was a neat addition to the event. But sitting in the fire truck was still Jeffrey’s favorite!

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From there, we took my parents to a Grandparents Day dinner at Antonio’s, where we stuffed ourselves with good food and good family time. And I didn’t take any pictures!

It was a great weekend! How was yours?

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Why? Weekends!

Well, it finally felt like summer this weekend! We had lots of outdoor plans, so the sunny, warm weather was just what we wanted! Friday morning, Jeffrey and I met up with our Kindermusik friends for a play date at Patterson’s Fruit Farm. While there is no apple-picking yet, we all enjoyed some apple cider donuts and some real apple cider to take home.

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DONUTS!

We also enjoyed their outdoor play area, with swings and tractors and slides. Any playground is a good playground!

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I definitely can’t wait to go back for Patterson’s Fun Fest, with a corn maze, slides, wagon rides, and more, starting in September!

From there, we grabbed a quick lunch at Kirtland City Tavern. My recommendation? The soft pretzel appetizer with queso dip. Dive bar deliciousness!

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Friday evening, Matthew and I went on a date night to see the Minions movie. Yes, we’re adults. Yes, we went on a date to see the Minions movie. And yes, I laughed so hard I snorted. It was pretty perfect!

On Saturday, Matthew was part of a team from AECOM competing in the AIA Cleveland Beach Day sand castle building competition at Edgewater Beach. Jeffrey and I went up to cheer the team on and to “help” with the building.

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Jeffrey loved the beach! Playing in the sand and starting to explore the waves made him so happy!

Matthew’s team, which built the Lake Erie lighthouse and monster, won both the Judge’s and People’s Choice Awards, which netted them $600 in scholarships from AIA to distribute to interns. Their sandcastle was really awesome and I’m so proud of all the work that went into it!

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Sunday was one of the hottest and most humid days of the summer, so of course it was also the Taste of Tremont! My parents and I braved the heat and crowds to enjoy food and drink in one of Cleveland’s best neighborhoods! We started with some refreshing sangria at Wine & Design, which is always a favorite stop.

We also munched on cabbage and noodles from Pierogies of Cleveland, jambalaya from Bourbon Street Barrel Room, ribs from Dante, a lobster roll from The South Side, and Jeffrey ate a meatball from Dante and carrot cake pancakes from Grumpy’s Cafe.

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It was another great (and hot!) year at Taste of Tremont!

How was your weekend? Did you head out to Taste of Tremont? Were you at Edgewater and happen to see the cool sand castles?

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Why? Weekend of Festivals!

There’s nothing I love better than a summer festival. I will drag Matthew (and now Jeffrey) all over the Greater Cleveland area to stand elbow-to-elbow with other Clevelanders, drink overly-sugared lemonade, and eat funnel cakes. This weekend, two fabulous festivals are on tap to keep you busy and happy and well-fed.

On Saturday, July 18, St. Malachi Parish is hosting its Homecoming Festival from 2pm-8pm at the St. Malachi campus at West 25th and Detroit.

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There will be live music, food trucks, and a cornhole tournament and other games. There will also be history displays and church tours, as St. Malachi is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year!

Image Source - stmalachi.org
Image Source – stmalachi.org

A lot of you know St. Malachi because of their charitable community work or their 10-mile race. The Homecoming Festival is a great way to learn more about this Cleveland faith institution, have some fun, and benefit the parish in the process. Admission is free.

Then on Sunday, July 19, is one of Cleveland’s biggest (and one of my favorite) summer festivals: Taste of Tremont. The festival takes over Professor Avenue from 12pm-8pm.

Image Source - https://www.facebook.com/events/1503340879884274/
Image Source – https://www.facebook.com/events/1503340879884274/

There will be entertainment; a beer and wine garden, including signature rum drinks from Portside Distillery; more amazing food than you could possibly eat from places like Lolita, Fahrenheit, Dante, Bourbon Street Barrel Room and more; shopping with Banyan Tree, Evie Lou, So CLE Tees, and more; and just the general happy, fun vibes of a crazy Cleveland street fair. Admission is free, food and drink purchases are on you.

I hope to see you out and about this weekend at one or both of these great festivals! What are your favorite Cleveland summer festivals?

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Why? Dog Days of Summer!

Summertime is great for getting the whole family out to play and that includes our furry friends. The pups had a busy week, with lots of time to get out and explore. On Tuesday, I took Tobey to Tremont for a fun evening with Anna, Cody, and furry friend Davey.

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We started at Tremont Scoops. The ice cream shop celebrated social media day with free scoops for tweets, which is the best deal I’ve head in a long time! I enjoyed the Buckeye Blitz and Tobey enjoyed some vanilla (mostly which he stole from Davey).

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Tremont Scoops has a dog house out front where you can secure your pup while you buy your treats, which is a really smart idea! They definitely make having your pup along with you an easy thing to manage.

From there, we headed to Yappy Hour at Tremont Tap House. On Tuesdays in the summer, furry friends are welcome on the patio at Tremont Tap House, so you can have man’s best friend along with a great beer selection and tasty food!

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It was a fun evening in a great neighborhood and it’s always nice when you can enjoy favorite spots with your pup along, too. Plus, I highly recommend having ice cream, beer, and french fries for dinner, in that order. That’s what being an adult is all about!

On Thursday, I took both Tobey and Fitz for a pup play date with our favorite part-dog, part-Muppet: Grady. Alicia and I met up in the Cleveland Metroparks Brecksville Reservation. This is the perfect spot for a play date, with walking trails for the pups, a picnic pavilion for lunch, and swings for Jeffrey to enjoy.

Image courtesy of instagram.com/poiseinparma
Image courtesy of instagram.com/poiseinparma

There’s something really relaxing about strolling along with 12 paws ahead of you. Alicia and I had a lovely chat and the pups had a great time, too!

So whether it’s to a park or to a bar, there are lots of pup-friendly locales to get out and about with your furry friends. They’ll love it and so will you!

Where’s your favorite dog-friendly spot in Cleveland?

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Why? Ginko Happy Hour!

There’s nothing I enjoy more than a good happy with girlfriends. Last night, Kimberly, Nadine, and I met up at Ginko for sushi, cocktails, and plenty of laughs.

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With Ginko’s fabulous manager, Quentin

Ginko not only has the best sushi in Cleveland, but the have phenomenal happy hour deals. From 4:30-6:30pm, Mondays through Fridays, you can get $5 select rolls and appetizers, half-priced specialty cocktails, and $5 beer and wine.

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We shared the edamame and the spicy scallop chips (not a happy hour special, but worth ordering regardless), which feature spicy scallop playfully served on top of Pringles.

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I enjoyed the spicy tuna roll, the vegetable tempura roll and the roll of the day, which yesterday was white tuna and cucumber. All of these rolls were only $5 during happy hour!

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The sushi at Ginko is so fresh and so well made…the fact that you can get it for only $5 is just the icing on the cake! Fabulous food, great service, tasty cocktails, and time with girlfriends, all with happy hour prices?! What a perfect evening! Definitely add Ginko to your after-work happy hour rotation!

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Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulation to amy guillaume linderman (Comment #1), randomly-selected winner of a $25 gift certificate to Just-a-Buck! Please check your email for more details.***

It was a busy pre-holiday weekend! On Saturday evening, Matthew and I attended the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter‘s Mass and a Meal event. We started with Mass at Holy Rosary church in Little Italy. The church just completed renovations and the over-100-year-old building is looking bright and beautiful.

After Mass, we headed across the street for dinner at Nido Italia. Our delicious coursed meal included breaded eggplant, salad, pasta with marinara sauce, chicken piccata, and cherry gelato.

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The food was delicious, traditional Italian goodness. We enjoyed our dinner with my freshman year roommate, Sonia, and her husband, Chris. I’m so glad we’ve stayed friends all these years and the alumni events give us a great chance to catch up!

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There are some great upcoming alumni events, including the third annual Derby Day Celebration on Saturday, May 2, so stay tuned to the JCU alumni site for more details.

Sunday morning, I got to spend a relaxing morning enjoying brunch with my favorite ladies in our favorite brunch spot: Dante Next Door.

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I ordered the fabulous crab cakes Benedict with a side of the duck fat potatoes. So, so rich and good!

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And while we’ll take any excuse to get together, Sunday’s brunch was all about wishing Kimberly the happiest of birthdays! A leisurely and delicious meal with wonderful friends…what more could a girl ask for?!

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And while that would have been enough to make a fantastic day, we also had an early Easter celebration with Matthew’s family to attend. I always have such a nice time with his side of the family and I love seeing Jeffrey playing with cousins!

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All in all, it was a wonderful weekend! How was yours?

***Disclosure: I am a member of the board of the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Fahrenheit Happy Hour!

Last Monday, I met up with three of my favorite ladies for happy hour at Fahrenheit. Fahrenheit is a standard in Tremont, one of the first restaurants to open as the area was just starting to revitalize. I can remember friends taking me there for a “goodbye to Cleveland” dinner before I moved to DC for grad school in 2003. Since then, it’s always been a favorite spot.

The restaurant had undergone renovations since my last visit, so I was anxious to see the results. Most of the changes involve fresh paint and general brightening up, but the feel of the restaurant, bar, and menu are generally the same. I was happy to see many standard menu favorites, including the amazing pork shank, still on the menu.

We snagged seats at the bar and immediately dove into the freshly-cooked bacon provided as a bar snack.

IMG_1745This is my kind of bar snack! Happy hour libations include $4 red and white wines, $4 red and white sangria, a $5 tequila cocktail, and a $4 beer selection. I had the red wine, a Malbec, and found it particularly good, especially for the price.

Happy hour food selections range in price from $4 to $7 and include shrimp tacos, a burger with herbed goat cheese, a Cleveland cheesesteak, chicken wings, and more.

We started with the crisp (read: raw) vegetables with green goddess dressing, then proceeded to get a bit less healthy. I ordered the happy hour pizza, topped with Brie, Parmesan, goat cheese, maple and chives.

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It’s not just the camera angle, it was a huge pizza and only cost $7! I ended up with some to take home. The pizza was really tasty, too, with the maple adding a nice sweetness to the rich cheeses.

My happy hour compatriots enjoyed the cheesesteak and tacos and all were full and satisfied with such good food for such small prices. Happy hour at Fahrenheit is available in the bar area only from 5-7pm, Monday through Friday. The bacon and cheap red wine alone will have me coming back for more!

Where are some of your favorite places to happy hour?

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Why? Weekends!

I told you it was a weekend chock-full of holiday fun, from Holiday High Tea to lots of other celebrations. On Friday, Matthew did some scout blog reporting from his work holiday lunch at Bourbon Street Barrel Room in Tremont.

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He enjoyed the pretty decor and tasty NOLA food at this new spot. His meal was the Jean Lafitte, which is a combo of shrimp, catfish, and hush puppies, with citrus slaw and bistro sauce.

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Bourbon Street Barrel Room is open for lunch and dinner and, in true NOLA fashion, has an extended happy hour from 2-7pm every day! I can’t wait to get my hands on some of their Cajun cuisine!

On Saturday evening, we had the third annual TWC Christmas celebration, which is by far one of my favorite holiday traditions! I always enjoy spending time with these lovely ladies and their husbands and we are especially merry at the holidays.

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We’ve established the dinner menu over the last three years and it’s always a treat: lots of good appetizers, lamb, pork tenderloin, savory bread pudding, Brussels sprouts with bacon, and some sweet indulgences too. This year, Kimberly brought some bubbly from Dante, with a special holiday wish for all of us from one of the group’s favorite chefs!

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From dinner to the White Elephant exchange to Cards Against Humanity to general perfect times with best friends, we couldn’t have asked for a better TWC Christmas!

Sunday brought another holiday tradition, this time from Matthew’s family: the annual cookie baking/exchange extravaganza. I always look forward to not only the time with family, but the tasty treats we get to take home.

It was a fun weekend, but by the end, I think Jeffrey’s reaction said it all:

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We’re definitely ready for that long winter’s nap!

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

You gotta love when your birthday falls on a Friday, giving you an entire weekend to celebrate! I took Friday off from work and spent the day with Jeffrey, which was a perfect way to begin a birthday weekend. Especially when he laughed for the first time on Friday! Coolest sound ever!

On Friday evening, Matthew planned a wonderful celebration that started with dinner at the brand new Adega in The 9. The vibe of Adgea, and The 9 in general, is very different for Cleveland. I would say it almost feels more like New York or Miami. Very chic, very modern, and very exciting!

IMG_0480We started our meal with the Crispy Polenta Mozarella, with fresh mozarella, polenta, tomato sauce, and parmesan.

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You really can’t go wrong with me and polenta, so this was a great start! For my entree, I had the pork tenderloin medallions, served with corn risotto and and sherry-braised kale.

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As you can see, the medallions were quite substantial! They were also tender and flavorful. A bite of the pork, risotto, and kale together was a great mix of flavors. I think this is the first time I’ve really enjoyed braised greens!

Matthew had the Plancha scallops, with basil pesto, corn and mushroom fricasee, and cauliflower puree.

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These are some of the best scallops either of us have ever had!

For dessert, I had the apple fritter donuts with berry and cream sauces and Matthew had the chocolate hazelnut bar.

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While the donuts were very good, Matthew’s dessert was truly a stand-out. We were so impressed with the food, service, and atmosphere at Adega. Chef Eddie Tancredi stopped by our table and chatted a bit about how The 9 is such a new feel for Cleveland, but something really exciting too. We certainly agree!

From dinner, we headed to the Phillip Phillips concert at Playhouse Square. Matthew got amazing seats and I really enjoyed the show. I had no idea Phillip Phillips and his band could jam as well as they did!

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It was a perfect birthday celebration!

On Sunday, Alicia, Amanda, and Kimberly had another perfect birthday celebration planned. We started out at Yoga Rocks the Park.

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Not only did we get a great practice in from Tammy at Inner Bliss, but we also got to hear some beautiful music and savasana chanting from our dear friend Ylonda. While practicing outside can have its challenges (half-moon on the grass can be tough), it’s also a really beautiful experience!

From there, we headed to Dante Next Door for a delightful brunch on the patio. You can read my full thoughts on Dante Next Door here, but suffice to say it was completely delicious! From there, we went to the Cleveland Flea’s outdoor market in Hingetown, mostly to score some ice cream from Mason’s Creamery, who may just be the nicest folks in the ice cream business.

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We popped into the new, adorable Jukebox for a beverage and to catch some of the Browns game. I love this cozy, friendly bar!

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Another perfect birthday celebration! I am a very lucky girl to be able to spend my weekend with my favorite people experiencing so many wonderful things in my favorite city! Thank you all so much for making it so special!

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Why? Weekends!

Another busy weekend in the CLE! On Friday night, Playhouse Square Partners hosted a tailgate-themed Season Kickoff Party, in order to drum up new membership and unveil the much-anticipated theme for Jump Back Ball 2015.

Image Source - playhousesquare.com
Image Source – playhousesquare.com

That’s right: this year’s Jump Back Ball we’ll be Jumping Back to the Future! The ticket kickoff happy hour will be on Monday, November 10 at the brand new Hofbrauhaus. Stay tuned for more details on how to get your JBB tickets at the lowest price!

Sunday morning, Matthew and I checked out the friends and family preview of the new brunch menu at Prosperity Social Club. We happened to run into Amanda and Scott, which made the morning even better!

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Prosperity’s brunch menu offers mostly savory entree options, but still satisfies your sweet tooth with fried cherry pies and apple bread pudding, which is moist and seasonally delicious!

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There are also plenty of fun brunch cocktails, from a Sriracha bloody mary to a grown-up blueberry lemonade for your Sunday Funday pleasure.

For my entree, I chose the fried chicken and biscuits, with sausage gravy and smoked cheddar cheese, served with a side of savory potato hash.

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This was a hearty meal and, while the potato hash was tasty, I would have had plenty without. You can also get this dish topped with an egg. For a brunch that will carry you through the whole day, I certainly recommend this dish!

Matthew chose the Morning Glory mac ‘n cheese, with breakfast sausage, a variety of peppers, and smoked cheddar, topped with a fried egg.

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This is an interesting twist on mac ‘n cheese and a nice way to bridge the breakfast/lunch gap.

Overall, the brunch menu at Prosperity offers a lot of tasty, homey, not-too-fancy choices for a brunch that can be easy like Sunday morning. Brunch service begins this weekend on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30am to 3:30pm. Come for the brunch, stay for the relaxed and fun atmosphere!

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How was your weekend?

***Disclosures: I am a board member of Playhouse Square Partners. I was invited to attend the brunch preview at Prosperity Social Club with a guest. Our meals were complimentary, but our alcohol was paid for ourselves. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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