I grew up with going shopping on Black Friday. My Mom and I would head out into the madness, mostly just to observe the craziness, with liberal amounts of food, laughing, and shopping for ourselves sprinkled in.
While I’m not knocking those who choose to spend this day in consumer-driven mayhem, there’s also a great retail “holiday” happening tomorrow: Small Business Saturday!
This is a great chance to get out and support our hometown entrepreneurs and business owners who are truly the creative backbone of Cleveland’s economy.
Need some inspiration as to where to spend your Small Business Saturday?
As part of Winterfest, stop at the Cleveland Bazaar at the 5th Street Arcades or the Holiday Pop-Up Shop at Playhouse Sqaure.
As long as you’re downtown, pop over to smallbox in the Warehouse District for pop-ups from Banyan Tree, Wandering Wardrobe, and the Cleveland Browns.
No matter how or where, get out and support Small Business Saturday! You’ll love knowing your dollars are making an impact close to home, plus you’ll inevitably end up with great gift items (and maybe even a treat or two for you)!
***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to jimbaumgartner (Comment #123), randomly-selected winner of 2 general admission tickets to the Greater Cleveland Foodbank’s Taste of the Browns fundraiser! Please check your email for details. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets to Taste of the Browns online.
Also, today is your last chance to enter to win 2 weekend passes to the Cleveland Garlic Festival. Check it out! Remember, you can tweet daily for additional entries.***
It’s been a great holiday weekend so far! On Saturday, Matthew and I hosted our third annual cook-out. We always have such a great time having friends and family over for hamburgers, hot dogs, beer, cornhole, and general summer fun and relaxation.
As hostess, I completely failed at taking pictures, but it was a wonderful group of people from all parts of our lives, from Matthew’s high school friends to my college roommate and her new husband to newer but no less dear friends.
As more and more of our friends start their families, we’ve noticed a change in the cook-out though. Three years ago, we were kicking people out well after midnight, after many rounds of drinks and lots of stories by the outdoor fire pit. This year, the last guests left around 9pm, giving us time to clean up, get Jeffrey into bed, and even get a decent amount of sleep ourselves. No less fun this year, just a different way of doing things!
On Sunday, I decided I needed an evening to hang out with my two favorite boys. I had plans to go to a yoga class and while I definitely need to find time to get back into my flow, I decided what my soul needed more than downward dog was time with my family. We ended up checking out the Cleveland Scene Pig and Whiskey event.
There was tons of tasty BBQ, whiskey and beer, live music, and other vendors. Before we got our BBQ on, I popped into The Wandering Wardrobe for a bit of shopping. I’ve been following the shop on Instagram and loved all the cute clothes available. Stepping inside the truck is like being in a mini boutique and I scored two very pretty tops for very reasonable prices.
You can follow the truck around while the weather is still nice and then from November until January, Wandering Wardrobe will have pop-up space in the Warehouse District.
Of course, you can’t go to Pig & Whiskey without enjoying some of both, which Matthew did. Since I’m not a fan of whiskey, I stuck with just the pig.
I had the pork belly sandwich and smoked mac ‘n cheese from Smoke Ring BBQ. My only regret was not going for the hot sauce, as the medium didn’t pack much of a punch. But the food was tasty and it was nice to have pork options other than ribs or pulled pork.
This was the inaugural year for Pig and Whiskey, but hopefully it will be back next year! While the beer distributors were local, it would be nice to see some hometown beer options in the beer tent and some lower-priced whiskey (most were between $7-$10 for a shot). Overall, we all had a great time!
***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Julie Peck, Lisa @ WellDressedPeanuts, and Jessica Zehel! You each were selected as a winner of a 4-pack of admission tickets to the Marc’s Great American Rib Cook-Off! Please check your email for more details. If you didn’t win, tickets are still available. Click here for more information.***
It was a lovely weekend in Cleveland! On Friday evening, Mom and I went out to dinner at Blue Point Grille, a long-standing favorite spot for delicious seafood and great people watching, if you’re lucky enough to score a window seat.
We each chose the crab legs, which were sweet and tender and just perfect. I also have to give mad props to our server and the Blue Point kitchen staff, who de-shelled and weighed the crab meat for me, so I didn’t go over my pregnancy-mandated seafood ounce limit. That was truly above and beyond the call and much appreciated!
For dessert, I had the s’more, with a graham cracker crust, chocolate ganache, and toasted housemade marshmallows. Ridiculously decadent, but also ridiculously good! Luckily I don’t have a chocolate ounce limit!
We also got to check out the face painters, balloon artists, magician, and musicians who were all part of the outdoor action.
From activities on Star Plaza to theater performances to the Luminarium, there was so much for the kids to see and do!
While I know we’re a few years away from being able to attend an event like this with our little one, I love knowing that such great educational and cultural opportunities exist!
Saturday afternoon, I treated myself to a prenatal massage at The Womb Wellness Center, which specializes in pre- and postnatal massage. It was so relaxing and worked out a lot of kinks in my back and shoulders. I definitely recommend them for all you moms-to-be!
For Mother’s Day, we had our parents over for dinner. Matthew and my Dad made a pork roast on the grill, seasoned with Dijon mustard, honey, dill, and lemon zest. While I think just about anything tastes great on the grill, the seasoning on the roast was particularly tasty!
After dinner, my Dad took the baby for a ride in the Corvette, which of course meant I got to go too. Since he won’t be able to go for a ride in Grandpa’s cool car for quite a long time, this was the best work around to car seat rules.
All in all, it was a great weekend! How was yours? Did you do anything special for Mother’s Day?
***Disclosure: Matthew and I are members of Playhouse Square Partners. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***
Since Downtown has so many areas of its own, I decided to highlight 2 happy hours from a variety of Downtown neighborhoods: East 4th Street, Euclid Corridor, Playhouse Square, and the Warehouse District.
The Drinks: Half-off domestic drafts, well drinks, and house wines
The Eats: Daily specials, including $2 tacos on Tuesdays and $5 one-topping pizzas on Thursdays
The Catch: None
These are just some of the great places to get a great happy hour deal in Downtown Cleveland! Where are your favorite Downtown spots to happy hour? Which neighborhood should I happy hour holla in next month?
Whew! It was a whirlwind weekend in the CLE! I’m just going to jump right in. Friday night, Matthew and I attended International Partners in Mission’s Namaste benefit. Namaste raised money for IPM’s projects both abroad and at home, mainly focused on empowering and assisting women and children.
The event was held at the Ariel International Center, which is a beautiful location with sweeping views of the Cleveland skyline and Lake Erie. We were treated to a gorgeous sunset that evening, too.
Clark Pope Catering, who creates many of my Fresh Fork bag favorites, provided the food for the evening. The food represented the different areas of the world where IPM has missions and projects, with everything from West African peanut stew to Native American fried bread to smoked pork and roasted yams. Everything was delicious and culturally on-the-mark.
With a room filled with global music and people committed to helping a wonderful organization, Namaste made for a great evening!
To find out how you can help IPM’s mission efforts, click here.
I ended my Friday and started my Saturday with Namaste, as I grabbed a class at Harmony Yoga to help center me for a busy day ahead. Saturday was full of pre-wedding events for my friend Chrissy’s wedding in June. I am honored to be one of Chrissy’s bridesmaids. The day started with her bridal shower, held at the Middleburg Heights Rec Center.
It was a lovely ladies afternoon celebrating the happy couple and stocking up their home with lots of great presents.
Saturday evening was Chrissy’s bachelorette party. Part of my bridesmaid duties involved planning the party and I wanted to incorporate a little bit of all the great things downtown Cleveland has to offer. We started with dinner at Hodge’s.
We even had a party crasher while we were there! Note Alicia‘s smiling face in the picture above.
Everyone loved their meals! A popular choice at our table was the shrimp and grits. I loved every bite of this entree, particularly the spicy tomato and banana pepper ragu.
Hodge’s kicked off the night on the right foot: delicious cocktails and food, in a fun, relaxed, and a little saucy atmosphere. Big ups to our server, Mark R., for being absolutely spot-on with the service!
From there, we headed to the new Society Lounge for a classy craft cocktail or two.
Society oozes sexiness and sophistication and is a wonderful addition to East 4th Street. I recommend the Moscow Mule: made with ginger puree and soda, rather than ginger beer, it is hands-down the best I’ve had in town!
The cocktails were flowing and the live music was perfect: I could have sworn Michael Buble was singing! We were so enamored with Society that our plans to go elsewhere faded as we sipped our drinks and snuggled in the cozy booth.
It was a really fun night and I hope Chrissy had a blast!
Sunday morning, I needed a little detox at Nishkama Yoga with one of my favorite yoga buddies (and bachelorette party crasher), Alicia. The rest of the day was spent recuperating from all of the above.
How was your weekend, CLE? Where’s your favorite Cleveland spot for a bachelor/bachelorette party?
***Disclosure: I was asked by International Partners in Mission to help promote Namaste. In exchange, I received 2 general admission tickets for myself and 2 general admission tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***
***A bit of blogkeeping: While I’m soaking up the sun on vacation, I’ve asked some great Cleveland blogger pals to guest post for me. Today we have Katie from Call Me Trouble. Katie is one of the sunniest people you’ll ever meet and I so often find myself impressed by her maturity and great handle on what’s important in life. Enjoy her guest post and check out her blog for even more great stuff!***
When I travel to another city I visit the highlights. I eat at the best pizza place, take pictures of the coolest monument, walk through a unique museum, and frequent the most talked about bars. It’s no wonder when I travel other cities might seem more appealing than my very own Cleveland. I grew up near Cleveland and like so many things in life; I missed the pot of gold that was right under my nose.
Throughout college I daydreamed of where I would move and begin my life. Would I be sipping martinis in Manhattan? Two-stepping in Houston? Skiing in Denver? Clubbing in LA? Freezing in Boston? Teaching in China? The possibilities were endless in my mind…except one, being back in Cleveland, doing anything. Life, of course, has its own way about it at times, and post-graduation I slinked back to Northeast Ohio.
If I knew then, what I know now, I wouldn’t have been able to contain myself to be back in a city so full of life and opportunities. Promise I’m not working for the Cleveland tourism board. Every city is great for a weekend but for a city to be livable, it takes more than a crazy landmark. I’m a big believer in making the most of any situation and when I moved back to Cleveland I decided to try and make the best of it.
My first summer back was a hesitant one. The job I had came with tough hours, I was only getting a hint of Cleveland as a 21-year-old, but I was digging it. I went to a couple salsa nights, an Indians game or two, a few nights on West 6th with some people who saw it as the epitome of an awesome bar scene, and a concert at Blossom. I was happy in Cleveland, but I wasn’t thrilled yet. West 6th was grossly underwhelming now that I was out of school/micro-dresses. The Indians games were great though and Blossom will always be a favorite venue of mine; I wish it were closer to the city!
In the fall, everything came together. I went to Lakewood for the first time. I met new friends. I was tailgating with my family for Browns games. I got a new job with normal business hours. I went to Ohio City and Tremont. I moved to Lakewood. This is when my love affair with Cleveland began. I was blogging and meeting crazy-awesome people (like Jen at Why CLE!) through the social media scene.
People, not once, not twice, but multiple times now, have made references to my affinity for Cleveland. “Well, you obviously love Cleveland.” “You’re really happy in Cleveland.” It’s always a shocking yet pleasant surprise to hear this accusation, I couldn’t have predicted it, but I love it none the less. When asked why I adore Cleveland so much, my answer is Cleveland is a very accessible city. I wish I had a sexier answer, but I’m not surprised that my affection for Cleveland grows from a very practical place.
Cleveland is accessible because sports, food, parking, museums, events, are affordable. There’s not a lot of traffic. Local celebrities are reachable. When you meet someone somewhere, there’s a good chance you’ll see their familiar face again soon. No place is perfect, but it’s what you make of it. If I moved back to Cleveland and decided to not really go out, only hang out with the people I knew previously and only went to the places they went, I would have been miserable. I really believe Cleveland has something for everyone, you just have to know what you like and go after it. If there isn’t, it’s entirely feasible to start it in Cleveland- just another reason I love this place!
Let me guess: …I’m preaching to the choir here? I hope so. I just couldn’t help but express how happy in Cleveland I am. Whenever I see this quote by Douglas Adams a big smile spreads across my face because I am reminded of my Cleveland.
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” – Douglas Adams
Was Cleveland in your plans? How has Cleveland surprised you?
***A bit of blogkeeping: Random.org has chosen: Congratulations to Sarah L. (Comment #1), winner of 2 tickets to Brauhaus in a Beer Garden! Check your email and reply before the end of the day or a new winner will be selected. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets to Brauhaus in a Beer Garden by clicking here.***
There are some restaurants in Cleveland that are “classic” favorites. Even if you don’t get there as often as you would like, you know whenever you get back there, a wonderful meal is waiting. Blue Point Grille is one of those places for me. In fact, Matthew had never been there, so I know it’s been awhile since I last went. Last week, Matthew, my parents, and I had a delicious dinner at Blue Point.
We started with cocktails from the inventive drink menu. Mine was a combination of campari, orange, and moscato. Matthew ordered the “Some Like It Hot,” which had curry powder in it. Spicy!
From there, we shared Blue Point oysters on the half-shell and cornmeal-crusted calamari.
I love the horseradish kick to the cocktail sauce for the oysters. The cornmeal breading for the calamari made the dish light and crispy and gave it a little something different from the usual calamari.
For his entree, Matthew chose the “My Blue (Point) Heaven:” a five-ounce lobster tail, shrimp and scallops, and lobster mashers.
This is a great way to get a little taste of everything, but it’s a lot of food and very rich and filling! Frankly, I could make a meal on the lobster mashers alone: there are huge chunks of lobster in there.
For my entree, I chose the day boat scallops, served on top creamy parsnips with wild mushrooms and truffle brown butter.
I loved this dish! The scallops were perfectly cooked and the accompaniments blended to create delicious earthy flavors that weren’t too heavy. Also, it was enough food without making me overly stuffed.
My parents went with classic choices – Alaskan king crab legs for Mom and filet mignon Oscar for dad – and were completely satisfied.
Not being one to ever pass up dessert, Matthew and I split the pumpkin bombe.
This dessert is light, fluffy pumpkin mousse on top a graham cracker crust, topped with whipped cream and pumpkin seed brittle and served with cranberries. This may be my new favorite seasonal dessert. The cranberries helped moderate the sweetness of the mousse and the pumpkin seed brittle is just playful and fun.
It was another fantastic meal at one of my long-time favorite restaurants. What’s a Cleveland classic restaurant that you haven’t been to in too long?
***A bit of blogkeeping: You have until Tuesday, July 31 to enter to win 2 tickets to the WGAR Dollar Bank Country Jam. Click here for more information and to enter!***
On Friday afternoon, I was already excited for a great weekend in Cleveland. And then this happened…
Yup, Richard Marx of 80’s ballads and the bada** mullet tweeted at me (and Renee and Renee). I may have shrieked loudly and scared Matthew. Sometimes I just love the Internet in all its random awesomeness.
The Dry Riesling was my favorite. It was crisp and easy-drinking. The “regular” Riesling is the best selling in the country and definitely earned that spot because of its wonderful taste. And the Harvest Select Sweet Riesling makes a great dessert wine. Thanks to John and the Chauteau Ste Michelle folks for an informative tasting!
One of the things we enjoyed most about the entire festival was the people pouring the wine were from the wineries and very knowledgeable and passionate about the wine. All of the wines at the Cleveland Wine Festival are available at Giant Eagle. It was a fun, albeit damp, evening!
Saturday was “Christina Day.” First, I went dress shopping with my friend Chrissy. She is getting married next June and I’m honored to be one of her bridesmaids. We met at Catan’s, which is quite the wedding wonderland. Chrissy tried on her absolutely gorgeous wedding dress, then we picked out the bridesmaids’ dress.
Saturday evening, Matthew and I went to a homestyle wedding party for our friend Christina and her new husband Eric. It was a fun, relaxed event celebrating the happy couple.
Sunday was the big event that I’d been excited about for a long time: the Brothers of the Sun concert at Browns Stadium. To pregame, Matthew and I met up with our friends Beth and Enzo at Map Room for beer and pizza, then headed over to the WGAR Saloon on West 6th Street.
We met up with friends, some quite randomly, at Barley House.
Then it was time for the concert. I loved all the acts! Grace Potter has such a cool, retro, rocking sound and her album has become one of my new favorites. And then, of course, Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney…
I saw these two the last time they toured together (in 2001, eek!) and have seen them on solo tours. I was also at the Kenny Chesney concert at the stadium the year of “bathroom-gate.” So, I was prepared for a good time, but also prepared for just about anything.
There is something about Tim and Kenny’s friendship that creates an amazing vibe at the show. We had a fabulous time! There’s nothing like a country concert in the summer!
How was your weekend, Cleveland? Did you check out the Wine Festival or Brothers of the Sun?
***Disclosure: I was asked by Chauteau Ste Michelle to help promote the Cleveland Wine Festival and The Reason for Riesling tour. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary tickets to attend the festival. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***
The Karen Foundation for MS is a local non-profit that works in conjunction with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Their NFL Draft Party Fundraiser is in its 12th year. This event features live entertainment throughout the day, including ESPN Radio Live post-draft analysis and musical performances from Light of Two Moons and Swamps of Jersey.
You can also meet current and former Cleveland Browns players, play casino-style games and Texas Hold ‘Em, indulge in massages and manicures, and more!
Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. Your ticket price includes your donation to The Karen Foundation for MS, hors d’oeurves, 2 drink tickets, valet parking, and a raffle ticket for the grand prize drawing. Why CLE? readers can save $5 on tickets purchased on-line by using discount code WHYCLE at checkout. You can buy your tickets by clicking here. This is sure to be a fun afternoon for a great cause!
Looking for the perfect Saturday Girls’ Night Out or Date Night? Wine and Cupcakes is it! Miss WineOH and Tuscany Distributors will be pairing 4 Italian wines with mini-cupcakes for a fun, tasty, and educational evening. Plus you get to check out the new and beautiful wine bar: The Wine Spot. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased by clicking here.
*Live Your Life* – A One-Year Anniversary Celebration
It’s been one year since Lululemon opened its doors at Eton and its time to celebrate! There will be a yoga/fusion class at 7pm, with food, drinks, and dancing to follow. Plus, you can spend that gift card that’s been burning a hole in your pocket (maybe that’s just me)! This is a fun and relaxing way to get some yoga and retail therapy at the same time! Click here for more details.
Lots of great options for your Saturday, so get out there and have some fun!
***Disclosure: I was asked by The Karen Foundation for MS to help promote the NFL Draft Party. In exchange, I was offered (and declined due to schedule conflicts) one VIP ticket to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***
If you’re last minute about making plans for the big evening, don’t worry! There are plenty of cool things going on that you can still be a part of! Here’s a sampling:
The Cleveland Indians are hosting Snow Year’s Eve! Your $99 ticket gets you a prime rib dinner buffet, 2 drink tickets, DJ and dancing, champagne toast, fireworks, and a breakfast buffet starting at midnight. Or you can skip dinner and just purchase party tickets for $49 per person.
The Greenhouse Tavern is hosting an End of the Mayan World dinner complete with nine (yes, nine!) courses and a DJ spinning tunes. Cost is $89 for the dinner, plus an additional $45 for drinks paired with all nine courses. Not a bad place for your last meal!
Touch Supper Club is hosting a New Year’s Eve bash, with a six course dinner for $65 (drink pairings are $20 extra). There will be a party, with DJ, following dinner.
The downtown club scene will be hopping on New Year’s Eve, with events at Velvet Dog ($35 at the door, $125 VIP), Drop Bar ($99 includes open bar), Cadillac Ranch ($25 general admission, $75 includes open bar), and Blind Pig ($25 includes open bar until 9pm).
Great Lakes Brewing Company is hosting Brew Year’s Eve. $60 admission gets you 3 drink tickets, heavy appetizers, dancing, a jazz trio, a magician, and a beer toast at midnight.
Willoughby Brewing Company will be featuring Abby Normal and the Detroit Lean as part of their New Year’s Eve live entertainment. Stop in for a beer and some great music!
Sarava on Shaker Square is offering a three-course dinner for $55 and/or a New Year’s Eve party with salsa and samba music for $15.
Match Works Tavern is offering a five course dinner for $45, including champagne and a take-home box of chocolates.
Around the Corner is hosting a cover-charge-free New Year’s Eve, with live music, a champagne toast, and hermit crab races (you read that right).
Dave & Buster’s is offering a New Year’s Eve Mystery Dinner theater. Tickets are $70 and include the show, dinner, games, and a champagne toast.
Chez Francois is offering three dinner seatings for New Year’s Eve. Dinner is $65 for the earlier seatings and and $85 for the latest seating, which includes music and dancing.
Wherever you end up this New Year’s Eve, please remember to be safe! Click here for a general list of Cleveland cab companies, just in case!