Why? Apple Harvest Pairing Dinner!

Since it was finally feeling like fall this weekend, it was the perfect time for the Apple Harvest Pairing Dinner at the Lake Metroparks Farmpark.


Our evening started with a horse-drawn carriage ride to the beautifully-refurbished machinery barn, which was decked out in rustic elegance, setting the tone for the event.


While we nibbled on appetizers and enjoyed the first of our Debonne Vineyards pairings (a nice Riesling), we also had the opportunity to try pressing apple cider or take a stroll through the Farmpark’s apple orchard and learn more about apple trees.

Then it was time for the sit-down dinner. Our first course was pumpkin soup, with yummy notes of sweet potato and butternut squash, which paired nicely with Debonne Vineyards’ Pinot Grigio.


Our main course from J&J Catering was pork osso bucco braised in apple and served with layered white and sweet potatoes with candied pecans.


I was blown away by this dish. The pork was fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth tender. The flavors of fall delighted your palate in every bite. It was truly an incredible course. It was paired with a Rose Pinot Noir from Debonne Vineyards.

And finally, we ended our evening with an apple dumpling with peanut butter sauce, paired with Debonne Vineyards Chardonnay.


I would eat these apple dumplings every day! And the apple and peanut butter combination was so comforting and delicious!

It was a truly lovely and seasonal evening. The setting was filled with rustic charm, the food was extraordinary, and the wine was nicely paired. All of this for only $45 per ticket, which is an incredible deal!

And if you’re looking for more fall fun at the Farmpark, check out the Corn & Pumpkin Festival happening October 7-8!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Apple Harvest Pairing Dinner. In exchange, I received two complimentary registrations for the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***



Why? Weekends!

There was so much going on around town this weekend! We were busy bees, going here and there and everywhere. Friday evening, I met up with my lovely sister-in-law Elizabeth for dinner and drinks. I happened to hear about a winery down in Wadsworth and she lives down there, so this seemed like a perfect way to discover Filia Cellars.

We started with a wine tasting, catered to our individual preferences (dry for me, sweet for Elizabeth). My favorites were the Hannah, a blend of Petit Sirah, Syrah, and Grenache, and the Isabella, a blend of Cab and Cab Franc.


Not only were the wines tasty, but the atmosphere at Filia was great! The winery has taken over an old house and filled it with cozy and adorable decor, plus utilized the backyard as a patio with live music and a local food truck.

Filia also allows you to bring in your own food, so we picked up take-out from The Galaxy Restaurant. I had the Toscano pasta, with shrimp, langostinos, and cherry tomatoes, served over cheese-filled pasta.


This paired really well with my wine choices! It was a lovely evening, discovering a great winery, as well as having some wonderful girl time to catch up.

On Saturday morning, we took Jeffrey to the Mentor CityFest for the parade. He had fun seeing all the trucks and bands and whatnot, but he also loved getting lots of candy! he tried his first sucker and I think he might be hooked!

I think he was mad the band didn’t hand out suckers 

That afternoon, we headed over to the Cleveland Garlic Festival for some fragrant fun. My first stop was the Cafe Avalaun stand for garlic fries. These were SO tasty! And I love all the high-quality, all-natural ingredients they use there.


We headed to the Mighty Locavores area next to let Jeffrey run around and have fun with push tractors, hay bales, and lots more fun.


Then it was time to eat! We got our dinner from Zest Cleveland, where Matthew enjoyed the Zest Melt (pulled pork, slab bacon, egg, cajun potato, and smoked mozzarella) and I had the Gumbo Ya-Ya. Both were delicious! Of course we couldn’t pass up Mitchell’s ice cream for dessert and a stop at the craft beer tent for some garlic beer from The Brew Kettle.

And we couldn’t leave without some garlic to use in our home culinary adventures. We picked up a variety pack from Thaxton’s Organic Garlic, with a handy cheat sheet as to the varieties and their flavors. Plus, the folks from Thaxton’s are so great!


The Cleveland Garlic Festival is a fundraiser for North Union Farmers Market, but it’s also just a really fun summer festival!

Sunday, it was time for Alicia‘s flamingo-themed baby shower! From the decor to the favors to the delicious and adorable cake from Michael Angelo’s Bakery, everything was just perfect to help get ready for the new arrival.

Plus, Kimberly came up with the brilliant idea to find flamingo outfits to wear for the shower! I can’t wait to wear this fun dress again!


I’m so excited for my dear friend and her growing family! And from all the fun at the shower, I know that feeling is shared by many!

So, that was our weekend! How was yours?

***Disclosure: I was asked by North Union Farmers Market to help promote the Cleveland Garlic Festival. In exchange, I received two complimentary weekend passes to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Happy Anniversary!

Today is Matthew’s and my second wedding anniversary. We pretty much agreed that remembering to say “Happy Anniversary” to each other was a victory and that we’d have to make time to celebrate once we have an older-than-six-day-old baby.

Matthew and I tend to have all of our milestones around this time of year:

June 6, 2010 – First Date

Not from our first date, but close enough

June 3, 2011 – Engagement


June 2, 2012 – Married

Image Credit - New Image Photography
Image Credit – New Image Photography

May 27, 2014 – Birth of our son


It’s been a whirlwind four years and there is absolutely no one else I would rather take this journey with. I love you with all my heart, Matthew, and can’t wait to see what our next Junes (and every other month) bring.


Why? Anniversary!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win 2 tickets to Dishcrawl Cleveland’s Neighborfood event? Today is your last day, so check it out! Remember, you can tweet daily for additional entries.***

Yesterday was Matthew’s and my one year anniversary. It’s hard to believe a year has gone by since our wedding! It’s cliché, but time really does fly.

Photo Credit: New Image Photography

I couldn’t have known how different being a wife would feel from being a girlfriend and being a fiancé. It’s not really quantifiable or explainable, but it’s there.

I couldn’t have known how much I’d love saying “my husband”or hearing Matthew say “my wife.”

I couldn’t have known how this first year would strengthen us, challenge us, nurture us, and delight us.

I couldn’t have known that June 3, 2012 (the day after we got married) and every day that followed it would be genuinely more important than June 2, 2012.

I couldn’t have known how much my love would grow in a year.

I couldn’t have known all these things, but I feel like I should have known them. Because sharing this life with Matthew is the only thing that could have made all these things true.

Photo Credit: New Image Photography
Photo Credit: New Image Photography

I love you more than anything, babe. Thanks for an amazing year one! Here’s to innumerable amazing years to come.


Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Today is the last day to enter to win a $25 gift card to B. Lux Boutique! Check it out! Remember, you can tweet daily for additional entries.***

For every crazy, Jump-Back-Ball-type weekend, there is the low-key, mostly-relaxed weekend. Balance is a good thing. This weekend, I found myself back in the flow at Harmony Yoga. I was away from my regular studio for a couple weeks, taking workshops at Nishkama Yoga and Pink Lotus Yoga. While I enjoyed my workshop experiences, it felt good to get back to Harmony, which is how I know I found a studio I like.

Plus, our teacher on Saturday morning dropped this yogi knowledge bomb on us:

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So true!

Saturday evening, Matthew and I met up with my parents for the John Carroll Cleveland Alumni Chapter‘s first Mass and a Meal event. The idea of these events is to pick a neighborhood to both attend Mass and share a meal with other John Carroll alumni. We attended Mass at Holy Rosary Church in Little Italy, followed by dinner at Trattoria on the Hill.


For dinner, most of our table chose the chicken marsala, which had a delicious, dark brown gravy packed with mushrooms.


Mass and a Meal was a great chance to connect with other alumni, while spending an evening in a wonderful Cleveland neighborhood! If you’re a JCU alum, check out the Alumni Calendar for other great upcoming events!

On Sunday, Matthew and I spent most of the day visiting with his sister, brother-in-law, and their adorable girls. They’re growing up so fast, that even a few weeks seems to make a huge difference in them!


I got to spend lots of time in kitchens, both helping make dinner in the actual kitchen and helping my niece “cook” in her play kitchen.


It was a perfect, low-key weekend! How was your weekend?

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


Why? Honeymoon!

Hi, dear readers! I’m back! I hope you enjoyed the guest posts while I was away. It feels like forever since I’ve blogged and while there’s lots of Cleveland goodness coming up on the blog this week, I wanted to recap one last wedding-related thing: the honeymoon!

Matthew and I had a couple requirements for our honeymoon destination: 1. It had to be someplace neither of us had been before. 2. It had to be tropical and beachy and relaxing.

We found the perfect spot at Anse Chastanet resort in St. Lucia. We had a room with an open-air sitting room with a panoramic view of both the mountains and the sea. Waking up to this view every morning isn’t too shabby…

We went on some excursions as well. We toured St. Lucia’s volcano, which is not in danger of exploding, thank goodness! However, all the rocks are still steaming and the pools of mineral water are at boiling temperatures.

We also got to tour the plantation where the fruits and vegetables for the resort are grown. It was like The Culinary Vegetable Institute gone tropical! We got to taste okra, sour fruit, and raw cocoa beans, right from the plants.

My favorite excursion was the half-day sail on the resort’s sailboat.

We’re on a boat…with rum punch!

We got to see more of the beautiful island and do a bit of snorkeling. The waters in St. Lucia are crystal clear and the island is known for fabulous snorkeling and diving.


Matthew also took a beginner’s SCUBA course while we were there (I chickened out). Anse Chastanet is a five-star diving resort, so what better place to do it?

Anse Chastanet also had daily yoga classes, which we went to almost every day we were there. Our instructor was great and I actually felt like I maintained a good practice while we were gone.

And since this is me, I can’t forget to tell you about the food! The resort had four restaurants, onc of which changed its menu every night, so there were a lot of delicious options. Some of our favorites included curried goat, mushroom mac n’ cheese topped with a poached egg, and any of the locally-caught fish.

In between all the excursions and yoga-ing and eating, there was plenty of time for lounging on the beach drinking tropical drinks…

…playing in the Caribbean Sea…

…and just generally having a perfect honeymoon!

Not only are we so glad we took a honeymoon trip, but we’re so glad we went right away. It was the perfect chance to unwind, unplug, and have time to just be us. And while that solitude bubble might be burst, real life is pretty amazing too! We’re happy to be back and excited for a fun summer as newlyweds in CLE!

Why? Wedding Recap!

***A bit of blogkeeping: While I’m off on my honeymoon, I’ve lined up some fabulous Cleveland bloggers to give new Why CLE? perspectives. Today we have Alicia from Poise in Parma. Much thanks to Alicia for recapping the biggest day in my life…no pressure, right? Seriously, I’m blessed to have one of my best blogging friends writing this.***

As an event planner and a Cleveland blogger, I’m lucky to attend parties of all sizes, all around Greater Cleveland, on a pretty regular basis. But there was one event I’ve been looking forward to: Weddingpalooza 2012 featuring the #WhyCLEWedding & the marriage of our favorite CLEgirl and her CLEguy.

As Jen is one of my closest friends, I knew just how excited the entire WhyCLE Team was for this special occasion. The happy couple spent countless hours planning all the details, meeting with so many vendors (check out this and this post for details on whom they used for what) and gathering all the pieces to ensure one very happy day. Blog post spoiler: they had just that.

On Saturday, June 2nd, guests gathered at at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Mentor for a beautiful 11AM ceremony. While plenty of tears of joy were flowing when Jen walked down the aisle, this blogger was jumping for joy: I was SO excited to see her so so happy!


After her entrance with her beautiful (both inside and out) mom, Jen met her handsome soon-to-be husband at the altar.

…and after one traditional Catholic mass, the priest presented them as Mr. and Mrs. WhyCLE!

I loved the bridesmaid dresses: the sleek silver color paired beautifully with the pink accents throughout the day.

That evening, Executive Caterers at Landerhaven were ready to execute all that Jen & Matt had dreamed possible for their wedding reception.

Since Jen and Matt had the Landerhaven Grand Ballroom, guests had access to an outdoor tented cocktail hour appetizers and beverages.

I knew Matt had to be please with the deviled eggs, one of his favorites!

After enjoying the lovely June evening & adult beverages, it came time for guests to be seated at the beautifully decorated tables:

Everyone was ready to welcome to newly married Mr. and Mrs. WhyCLE!

After their grand entrance, it was time for dinner. To start, lobster bisque and a summer salad with lemon poppyseed dressing:


For their main course, the feast continued beef tenderloin with a red wine demi-glace, potato encrusted grouper with mango salsa, porcini mushroom cake and an asparagus & carrot bundle:

The EPIC dessert bar featured an array of Viennese Mini Pastries and one amazing flourless chocolate cake (gluten free FTW), and of course this beautiful wedding cake:


A huge PIP thank you goes out to SMITTEN…in Cleveland whom might have a hidden talent in food blogging she’s not fully using!

After the traditional dances and blush-inducing garter moments, the dance party began and the #WhyCLEWedding Social Media Committee took over the dance floor. The DJs from Selective Sound kept the dance tunes coming all night long so we could show off our moves. To help ensure Jen’s wedding had everything it possibly could, I even secured a last minute wedding crasher. Good thing I have members of the PIP team ready, in the appropriate dress & on call, at all times! Jen & Matt’s wedding officially had EVERYTHING they could possibly wish for!!

…and before we all knew it, it was midnight and their big day had come to a close:

That picture says it all: you can feel the love in the room, the gratitude from the happy couple and the potential of what their two lives now combined as one can bring.

LONG STORY SHORT: When Jen originally asked me to guest post, I jokingly offered my idea to event recap her wedding on the blog. As we do love our social media, it seemed only apropos to continue the blogging fun of our #WhyCLEWedding hashtag. But now, I feel like I could have shared an entire series of recaps: these highlights just don’t do it justice. I am so so honored to share their special day with you – even in my fun, light-hearted, blogging way. Jen & Matt have that look: the one when you know two individuals truly and deeply love and care for one another.  They OWN that look  – and I know they’ll be giving each other that look for the rest of their lives.

So here’s to the very happy couple: Mr. and Mrs. WhyCLE – may you have many years of happy marriage filled with plenty of exciting (sometimes blogged about) adventures to come!

Why? Getting Married!

So, Matthew and I are getting married tomorrow. I kind of can’t believe it’s here already, but at the same time, I’m so ready for it. Matthew will be toasting tonight at our rehearsal dinner and some of our fabulous bridal party will be toasting tomorrow night at the reception. I didn’t want to miss my chance to do a little “toast,” so grab a glass (or a mug of coffee) and indulge me for a moment…

Matthew, I am so excited to be your wife. Nothing makes more sense to me than spending my life with you. From very early on, I knew you were someone special…someone who would change my life…

Date 3

I never could have guessed in the beginning just how much you’d change my life, just how special you are. You are the kindest, most generous, best soul I’ve ever known. I am at once head-over-heels in love with you, but also grounded by your stability and your strength.

And we have a lot of fun, don’t we? Whether it’s traveling, going out or just staying in, there’s no one I’d rather have by my side, listening to me sing my crazy made-up songs and being my partner.

It’s funny…you spend 90% of your effort in planning a wedding on the reception and now 90% of my mind is focused on the ceremony: on walking down the aisle to you, on saying our vows, on becoming your wife. I love you more than words can say. The time that we’ve already spent together has been the best of my life and I’m so excited for all that is to come.


Why? Bachelorette Party!

Thank goodness for the Ohio Blogging Association blog swap yesterday! It gave me an extra day to rest up before telling you all about my bachelorette party on Saturday.

First, four of my lovely bridesmaids got together at my house to decorate me for the occasion. This was the end result:

A pink feather boa, a sash, a crown with a mini veil, a light-up pin and a light-up ring and I was set! We then met up with the party bus for an afternoon at the wineries. Tammy from Miss WineOH was our tour guide and organizer for the day, along with my bridesmaid Beth.

Not only did Tammy lead us through all our tastings, she also kept track of 18 boisterous ladies, organized fun games for the bus, and handed out prizes. She did a great job!

Our first stop was Buccia Vineyard in Conneaut, which is not just a winery, but also a bed and breakfast. We got to taste 4 of their wines, plus have a quick bite for lunch.

Overwhelmingly, the favorite wine was the Reflections of Lake Erie white blend. It was perfect for sipping outside on a hot day, with just a bit of sweetness.

Oh, and if you make it out to Buccia, make sure you do the B&B tour and read the hot tub rules. You won’t be sorry…

Back on the bus and we were off to Ferrante Winery in Geneva. This is one of my favorite Ohio wineries, with fabulous wines, delicious food, and beautiful outdoor patios.

The group’s favorite wine seemed to be the Golden Bunches Riesling.

Pro tasting tip: pour these little shot glasses into your wine glass to appear classier. If you don’t like the wine, give it to the bride-to-be.

Our last stop was Grand River Cellars in Madison. We had more wine and some munchies, including a delicious baked brie and pear appetizer with blackberry jam. The Grand Red was a definite favorite wine here. We also got a tour of the Grand River wine cellar.

The winery tours were over, but the drinking was not! The bridesmaids and I headed for some dinner at Willoughby Brewing Company. Outside at the bar, we met Janet, who will be married 50 years this week. Janet shared some advice and we shared a shot too!

From there, we headed back to my house for more wine, food, girl talk, and chick flicks. Oh, and decorating the dogs…

It was the perfect day! The wineries made for great locations for relaxing with my friends and Tammy did a wonderful job planning our day. More than that, though, I’m overwhelmed by a bus-full of lovely ladies who came out to help me celebrate getting married (in less than 2 weeks!). From knowing people 13 years to knowing them for 6 months, everyone there is so special to me and helped make the day a truly memorable one! Cheers!

Why? Five Things This Friday!

It’s been a long week, CLE and finally the promise of the weekend and beautiful weather seems to be here. So, let’s keep it light and breezy with Five Things This Friday!

1. You’ve probably already seen it, but it bears repeating. Check out Michael Symon’s awesome love letter to the city of Cleveland. As a two-time boomerang, so much of this rang especially true for me!

Image Source – cleveland.com

2. Looking for something fun and inexpensive for your Friday night? Check out the FiveOne Experimental Orchestra tonight (May 18) at 8:30pm at The Sculpture Center on East 123rd Street. They will be performing “Like She Said, Everything’s Fine,” a psychoacoustic piece. Admission is only $3!

3. Mondays suck, but free cookies make even Mondays better! This Monday, May 21 the DoubleTree by Hilton “Little Things Project” is coming to Willard Park from 11am-5pm. There will be free cookies, free wi-fi, a laptop/cell phone charging station, and deals to CLE attractions.

There will also be a DoubleTree “Swarm Car” delivering requested little things to lucky folks who tweet to @doubletree using the hashtag #littlethings.

4. Tuesday, May 22, Pier W is hosting a Mad Men happy hour. Aside from the normal fabulous happy hour deals, there will be giveaways and prizes for the best dressed. So break out your 60’s attire and head on over! For more info, click here.

5. Tomorrow is my Bachelorette Party! Woo-hoo! I encourage you to take my tweets and Facebook posts tomorrow with this information in mind.

Image Source – umbrellagrouplv.com

What are your Five Things This Friday?

***Disclosure: I was asked by DoubleTree to help promote the Little Things event. In exchange, I was invited to ride along in the Swarm Car, but declined due to scheduling conflicts. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***