Why? Well…

I’m not sure about you, but to me, this week has been nothing short of surreal. Jeffrey is going to be home from school for three weeks. Plans are being canceled left and right. Events that I was so looking forward to have been postponed. And no one seems to know what’s going to happen next.

Photo credit: @fitnfreephotography

All of those things definitely fall under the category of First World Problems, though, right? No one I love is sick with COVID-19. I’m not on the front lines of health care or government or reporting, all of whom are just bombarded with ever-changing and unknown circumstances. Minor inconveniences and rescheduling can be managed.

Obviously, there will be less content here as we navigate closures. As a blog that thrives on being out and about, those options are severely limited. That said, you will see me posting about being out, supporting the businesses that are open. That is a personal choice and one you have to evaluate and make for yourself.

If you love where I’m going, but need to stay home right now, do that. Support that business when you feel comfortable. Let’s treat each other with kindness and understanding as we navigate our own comfort levels in these uncertain times.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and let’s turn out in force to show our Cleveland love as best we can now and completely once our city is back up and running at full speed.

Why? Bomba Tacos!

Is there anything better than a night of tiki drinks, tacos, and trivia? Last night, I met up with my friends Robin and Amy at Bomba Tacos in Beachwood for all three.

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We started with an order of guacamole with roasted garlic, pico de gallo, and goat cheese. I love the variety of chips at Bomba, with plaintain, malanga, and tortilla chips.

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I had the charred pineapple margarita, which is the perfect blend of sweet and savory and a great way to toast an almost complete work week!

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For dinner, I had the Wild Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl, with chile-lime cucumbers, avocado, sesame seeds, soy-marinated jalapenos, cilantro-yogurt sauce, and mango-coconut rice.

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Amy ordered a selection of Bomba’s diverse and delicious tacos and Robin had the Grilled Adobo Chicken Bowl.

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For dessert, we shared the churro ice cream sandwich and the seasonal donuts and honestly couldn’t decide which we loved more!

While we ate, we played trivia, which happens at Bomba Beachwood every Thursday night, with a round at 7pm and another round at 8pm.

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The questions were general knowledge, fun and challenging, and our team ended up winning! Our prize was a $30 Bomba gift card!

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So, check out Bomba the next time you’re craving tiki drinks, tacos, and trivia! And so you can be a winner too, hop over to my Instagram page for a chance to win a $50 Bomba gift card!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Bomba Tacos. In exchange, I received a complimentary meal. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Proof Craft Bar-BQ and Cocktails!

This past weekend, I got a sneak peek at a new barbecue restaurant slated to open in Tremont later this month: Proof Bar-BQ and Cocktails.

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Tucked in the ground level of prime Professor Avenue space, Proof is warm and cozy, while paying homage to Tremont’s industrial roots.

Sharing building space with Crust and Visible Voice Books, Proof is set to capitalize on its location, particularly once patio season hits, as the patio will offer a combined menu of Crust and Proof offerings.

So, let’s talk about the food. Proof is unique in the competitive Tremont restaurant market, as it is the only barbecue-focused place in the area. The brisket is the star of the show, smoked behind the restaurant with great care and technique.

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From the brisket mac ‘n cheese to the brisket tacos, the meat was tender, flavorful, and played well in these tasty dishes.

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I also sampled the delicious burnt ends, served both Texas and Kansas City style. Proof is making all their sauces in-house and will offer something to suit everyone’s barbecue taste, from spicy to sweet.

The chicharrons were the perfect crispy snack!

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And the pork and portabello tacos offered nice, non-beef options, as did the pulled pork sliders.

On the cocktail front, Proof served up some tasty concoctions, with a lot of bourbon, honey, and sweet tea influences. Southern sipping for sure!

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Proof is slated to open on Saturday, February 29. Stop by and get your BBQ on at what is sure to be a new Tremont hot spot!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a complimentary tasting at Proof Cleveland with a guest. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

Despite the rain, we had a fun weekend! Here’s what we were up to…

Grapes and Ale

On Friday night, Matthew and I attended the 20th annual Grapes and Ale fundraiser to benefit Our Lady of the Wayside.

Held at Progressive Field, the event brought together wine, beer, BBQ, and live music for a perfect summer evening.

My new summer sipper

We enjoyed BBQ-themed small plates from Element 41, Corleone’s, Smokin’ Rock ‘n Roll, Melt Bar and Grilled, Strip Steakhouse, and more.

The Sunrise Jones kept the crowd singing and dancing with awesome covers of everything from the Beatles to 80s yacht rock.

From the cool venue to the delicious food to the tasty libations, we had a wonderful time at Grapes and Ale!

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Plus, all of the fun was helping to support Our Lady of the Wayside’s mission of providing opportunity to those with developmental disabilities.

***Disclosure: I was asked by Our Lady of the Wayside to help promote Grapes & Ale. In exchange, I received two complimentary VIP tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Strawberry Picking

On Saturday, we snuck in some strawberry picking before the rain.

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‘Tis the season for pick-your-own strawberries in Northeast Ohio and none of us can resist both picking and snacking on these sweet berries.

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We went to West Orchards Farm Market and found really easy picking. In fact, we picked 13 pounds of strawberries for everything from munching by themselves to making strawberry pie.

It was a fun family activity!

Father’s Day

On Sunday, we celebrated Father’s Day with lots of good family time and home cooking. From time for Matthew and Jeffrey to hang out to time with our parents, we had lots of ways to celebrate the dads in our lives.

How was your weekend? Did you paddle out into the world to do anything fun?

Why? Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week!

Last night, Matthew and I attended the kick-off party for Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week. It was a chance to celebrate downtown’s All Stars in both sports and restaurants, as well as get a sneak peek of what’s in store for Restaurant Week. The gorgeous Hyatt Regency Cleveland at the Arcade provided an All Star backdrop for the event.

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From Slider and Chomps to the Cavs Girls and Cavs Scream Team, there was plenty of major league excitement!

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The participating restaurants also brought their All Stars for cooking demos and serving up small bites that gave you a taste of what you can expect from their Restaurant Week menus. Some of our favorite:

Peppercorn duck breast with cherry reduction from Johnny’s Downtown

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…the pot de crème and creative take on “steak and potatoes” from Jack Cleveland Casino

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…the garlic shrimp and paella from Mallorca

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…the Viking Gold Bread Pudding with Mitchell’s pistachio ice cream from Elements Bistro on Euclid

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…the fried chicken and cornbread from Pizza 216

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…and the shrimp and corn bruschetta from Murano.
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I was amazed at how many new restaurants there are in Downtown Cleveland, offering even more tasty cuisine in the heart of the city.

Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week starts today (March 1) and runs through March 10. Participating restaurants offer prix fixe lunch and/or dinner menus that offer not only a great deal, but a great chance to check out what these restaurants have going on.

You can view the participating restaurants and menus here. Get out and about to explore Downtown Cleveland during Restaurant Week!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week Kick-Off. In exchange, I received two complimentary general admission tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Hudec Dental!

Selecting health care providers for your kids can be challenging. Not only do they need to feel comfortable with the person, but you as a parent need to feel comfortable too. Jeffrey just had his semi-annual dental appointment at Hudec Dental and we both left feeling so comfortable and happy!

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I set up Jeffrey’s appointment through the Patient Care and Support Center. They made working around school, swimming, and social schedules a breeze to get the appointment scheduled.

We went to the office located within Lutheran Hospital, which is definitely a unique location. Even Jeffrey commented on the idea of a dentists’ office inside of a doctors’ office.

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Jeffrey’s hygienist, Sandra Pierce, is also a mom and knew exactly how to connect with both Jeffrey and me. From suggesting Jeffrey open his mouth wide like a dinosaur to counting his teeth using the letters of the alphabet, Sandra’s methods made the appointment not only effective, but also fun.

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Sandra answered my questions about tooth care at home and also indulged me showing her pictures of Jeffrey riding the Hudec Dental zamboni.

After the cleaning, we saw Dr. Jez, who also quickly connected with Jeffrey through “J names” and talking about his first just-starting-to-get-loose tooth. Sidebar: this momma is NOT ready for that.

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He also reassured me that we kicked the pacifier habit in time to not do any lasting changes to his alignment. Hooray!

Jeffrey got a goodie bag of dental care items, plus a prize from the prize chest to take home. And we both got a good feeling knowing that not only are his teeth healthy, but he’s got a team of professionals who are both competent and kind helping him keep them that way.

***Disclosure: I have an ongoing partnership with Hudec Dental. Jeffrey received a complimentary cleaning and exam in exchange for this post. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

Eek! Christmas is almost here! We had such a fun weekend of holiday merriment:

Country Lights

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

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The most unique part of Country Lights is Santa’s Workshop, with tons of volunteer elves helping kids build a wooden toy of their choice.

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Jeffrey chose a dinosaur this year, which he got to help build, then paint and glitter to his heart’s content.

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He also got to do the elf dance and see it snow in Santa’s workshop! So fun!

We took a wagon ride through the Farmpark to see all the lights and caught a glimpse of Santa, too!

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We also got to meet the Farmpark’s newest resident, a calf named Cider.

Country Lights always sells out really quickly, so stay tuned next year for when tickets go on sale!

TWC Christmas

On Saturday, we had our annual “TWC Christmas” party: a gathering with friends and food and booze and a White Elephant exchange and games.

Alicia and Hans hosted, which gave Alicia a chance to show off some fancy linens from her job at L’Nique.

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From crab dip to caprese salad to pierogi to chocolate eggnog cheesecake squares (recipe here), we had a veritable feast! We also had a great time exchanging some unwanted treasures with our White Elephant exchange!

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Scott scored a Ronald Reagan phone from my grandpa’s house and Matthew snagged a Sam Adams cutout that I’m pretty sure I’ve seen at a Cleveland Zoological Society event before!

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We played “What’s Your Meme?” (think Cards Against Humanity, but with memes as the prompt card) and just generally had a great time celebrating the season with friends who have become family!

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Scuba Claus and Seas’N of Play

On Sunday, we met up with friends from Louisville who were in town for the holiday. They have two boys, so we wanted to find something fun to do with the kids to burn off some of their endless energy.

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We took them to the Greater Cleveland Aquarium for their Seas’N of Play holiday fun. There were festive decorations throughout the aquarium.

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Unfortunately, we missed Scuba Claus, but we did get the chance to feed the stingrays and watch the shark feeding, so that made up for it with the boys!

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Everyone had a great time and were tired out enough to go to sleep right at bedtime, giving Mom and Dad time to finish building and wrapping presents!

I hope you had a wonderful weekend and that, if you celebrate, you have a very Merry Christmas with those you love! XO

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Why? Weekends!

I was able to get out and about a bit this weekend to enjoy some holiday events with Jeffrey. I’m definitely still taking it easy, but especially at this time of year, I don’t want to miss things with my best little buddy!

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical

On Saturday, Jeffrey, Mom, and I went to see “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical” at Playhouse Square.

Our morning started with a festive breakfast at Hofbrauhaus, with a breakfast buffet with reindeer pancakes…

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…Mrs. Santa Claus leading Christmas carols…

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…donut decorating with Jack Frost Donuts

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…and a chance to see Santa himself!

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Then it was time for the show, which was adorable and fun and engaging! Jeffrey loved it and came home with his own stuffed Bumble.

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I always love how beautiful the theaters look at the holidays and it was wonderful to see Jeffrey’s excitement at seeing the show!

John Carroll University Breakfast with Santa

Then on Sunday, we had another audience with the big guy of the season at the John Carroll Alumni Breakfast with Santa.

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The event is an annual holiday tradition that includes a Mass, a toy collection for Bellefaire JCB, and a breakfast with crafts and Santa, too.

My favorite part of this event is getting together with friends from college and seeing our kids have fun together, too!

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What a fantastic tradition!

The rest of the weekend was spent in comfy pants, which is just generally a good idea for everyone. Balance, y’all! What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

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Why? Giving Tuesday CLE!

The Tuesday after Thanksgiving has come to be known as Giving Tuesday, a chance to support your favorite nonprofit(s). But with so many worthwhile causes, how do you choose which to support?

Good Cause Creative and WISH Cleveland are partnering to make your Giving Tuesday easier and more impactful.

#GivingTuesdayCLE takes place on Tuesday, November 27 and is a chance to benefit 36 nonprofits at once. WISH Cleveland selected these nonprofit organizations through an application process and all these organizations are providing needed services to the Cleveland community.

The organizations that will benefit from #GivingTuesdayCLE include The International Youth Leadership Foundation, ZENworks Yoga, Kidney Foundation of Ohio, Waterloo Arts, Policy Matters Ohio, The Haven Home, and Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless.

These nonprofits highlight the breadth and depth of Cleveland’s nonprofit network and serve a variety of communities in different ways.

From today, November 15, through Giving Tuesday on November 27, all donations received for #GivingTuesdayCLE will be split among the 36 organizations. Thanks to a partnership with Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, the donations are all tax deductible. Click here to donate.

Then, on Tuesday, November 27, join WISH Cleveland and Good Cause Creative for a party at Red Space celebrating these benefiting nonprofits and the spirit of giving engendered by Giving Tuesday. There will be happy hour fun, music, and more from 6-9pm. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online.

This Giving Tuesday, make a difference for 36 nonprofits at once and be a part of the #GivingTuesdayCLE movement!

Why? Saucy Brew Works!

Pizza and beer are a natural combination, right? But what’s great about Saucy Brew Works is that both the beer and the pizza are elevated to a craft level that make it more than just your everyday pairing.

Matthew and I had a chance to enjoy dinner at Saucy Brew Works this week and we had our fill of both great beer and delicious pizza. We started with a beer sampler, so that we could get a wide array of Saucy Brew Works’ craft brews.

Our favorites were the Haters Gone Gold, a Belgian strong ale made with Sauvignon Blanc grapes, and the Can You Milk Stout Me?, a double chocolate milkshake stout (it’s definitely getting to be the right weather for stouts and porters.) We also had our first Christmas beer of the year with the spicy Three Ho’s.

We got a tour of the brewery and production facility.

The brewery holds an impressive amount of tanks, as well as a canning line that can put out enough beer to keep us all happy!

While Saucy Brew Works is known for their pizza, Chef Jeremy also let us sample some of the Cleveland Beer Week specials of pierogi (a collaboration with Jukebox), pretzels and beer cheese,

and mac ‘n cheese, which will be sticking around on the menu.

All of these classic comfort foods had a saucy twist (see what I did there?). The mac ‘n cheese had a nice tang from the addition of cream cheese, the beer cheese dip stood out with the addition of garlic and anchovies, and the pierogi combined a classic Cleveland dish with Saucy’s pizza prowess.

Speaking of pizza prowess, we got to taste three of Saucy Brew Works’ original pies. The Bees Knees, which is now the best selling pizza at Saucy, has honey, spicy capicola, mozzarella, and red pepper flakes. Sweet, spicy, and delicious!

The Frittata pizza has sriracha, avocado, Boursin cheese, bacon, oven-dried tomato, bourbon maple syrup, egg, mozzarella, and Parmesan.

The Nashville Hot Chicken has BBQ, smoked cheese, hot crispy chicken, dill pickles, and Pecorino Romano.

The pizzas are thin-crust and packed with tons of delicious flavors. They are truly unique and pair well with the awesome craft beers!

You can also order delivery pizza and beer from Saucy Brew Works and their fleet of bikes can satisfy your craving!

Saucy Brew Works also has a cozy upstairs event space, perfect for your next after-work gathering!

For a classic combo of pizza and beer, elevated to craft level, head on over to Saucy Brew Works!

***Disclosure: I was invited to a complimentary dinner at Saucy Brew Works with a guest. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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