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…


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


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.


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.


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.***


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.

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.


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!


Why? Wild Winter Lights!

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


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



There are giant ornaments you can stand inside…


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

…great photo opps with a walkway of giant snowmen…


…a chance to visit with Santa…



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


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.


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.***


Why? Weekends!

It was a pretty low-key weekend around here, thanks to the weather. Sometimes Mother Nature makes us slow down and that’s OK!

Home Cooking

With being snowed in comes the opportunity to do some home cooking. I’ve been trying to find meals that everyone will like. Think: kid-friendly, but with enough flavor to keep the grown-ups happy too.

Friday night, I made baked chicken tenders with this recipe. What I really liked about this recipe was the batter incorporated Dijon mustard and mayonnaise, which gave the chicken more flavor than a standard egg wash.


I cheated a bit by using Heinen’s prepared foods for our potato side dish. But those stuffed twice-baked potatoes were hard to resist and Heinen’s prepared foods are so yummy!

Then on Sunday, we ventured out to my parents’ house. Jeffrey had been requesting to crack (not eat) crab legs and since the rest of us all enjoy the eating part, we figured we’d put him to work.


We did get Jeffrey to eat a couple bites of his handiwork too. The king crab legs were from Lobster Brothers and were sweet, tender, and delicious!

Family Yoga

On Sunday, we attended a family yoga class at the Mandel Jewish Community Center.


It’s tough to find a yoga class that allows both parents and kids to practice together (click here to read my post for Northeast Ohio Parent on where to find kids yoga classes.) So, Matthew and I were really excited for the chance to practice with Jeffrey.


The class incorporated yoga poses, breath work, and meditation, all in ways that were fun, engaging, and accessible for the kids.


The family yoga class is held once a month at the Mandel Jewish Community Center. Cost to attend is free for members and $10 for non-members. The next class is on Sunday, February 17, with sessions at 10am and 11am. Click here to learn more and register.

So, that was our quiet winter weekend. How was yours? Did you stay warm and snug or venture out?


Why? On the Rise Artisan Breads!

If you follow my Instagram stories, you know that you can usually find me at On the Rise Artisan Breads on weekday mornings. They have seriously the best flat white I’ve ever had: it’s an amazing combination of fantastic coffee, Hartzler Family Dairy milk (no fat-free here), and Ellen the barista’s gorgeous latte art.


It doesn’t hurt that On the Rise is filled with the most glorious smells of baking bread, croissants, the signature Jennifer cookie…even when I don’t indulge in a treat, just the smells of them make me happy.

On the Rise is offering some delicious holiday specialties to help you celebrate the season with local, artisan pastries.


The Panettone is the On the Rise take on a traditional Italian sweet bread, packed with candied citrus, raisins, and vanilla bean.


The Panettone is $13.50 and is the perfect hostess gift or additional to your Christmas breakfast table.

And the Buche de Noel cake is a gorgeous, decadent dessert centerpiece (and dessert should always be the centerpiece, if you ask me). Vanilla chiffon cake is wrapped around chocolate mousse, then topped with swiss chocolate buttercream, meringue “mushrooms” and “trees,” and a chocolate pistachio truffle.


The Buche de Noel is $50 and serves 10-12 people.

Beyond these signature specialties, the On the Rise holiday menu also includes Cranberry Walnut Levain, Chocolate Cherry Bread, Cranberry Open-Faced Croissant, Chocolate Ganache Pecan Tart, Caramel-Poached Apple Bread Pudding, and Pear Frangipane Tart.

For all your holiday treats, from an individual nibble before a day of shopping to a perfect addition to a party to a delicious breakfast for the family, head to On the Rise Artisan Breads. I’ll be there, with a flat white in hand!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote On the Rise Artisan Breads’ seasonal offerings. In exchange, I received a complimentary Panettone and Buche de Noel. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Punch Bowl Social Putt Club!

So, it’s officially become “we don’t go outside” season in Cleveland. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up all your favorite activities. Punch Bowl Social just opened an indoor miniature golf course that will keep you swinging through the winter months.


Punch Bowl Social Putt Club is the only one of it’s kind across all the Punch Bowl locations nationwide. Manager Mike Mauser told me that the reason for that is twofold: Cleveland’s weather is the perfect testing ground for indoor activities (but we love CLE anyway) and Cleveland boasts the largest Punch Bowl square footage across the country.


The course is 1,800 square feet of miniature golfing goodness on the first level of Punch Bowl Social. The course features 9 holes of fun, with a Nordic Woodland theme. The decor is spot-on and features local artists Charley Francis and Cleveland Blacksmithing.


We tried out the course and found it to be both challenging and fun! Jeffrey loved it, but Matthew and I found it tricky enough to make for a good game for us too.


There are drink stations at each hole, so you can properly secure your delicious Punch Bowl beverage while you play (the Orchard & Oak is my forever favorite there).


After our round of golf, we grabbed dinner. Matthew and I were both feeling the fried chicken vibes, with the Chicken ‘n Waffles for him and the A La Bama Chicken Sandwich for me. We also shared the Sriracha Peanut Fries with pork. So delicious!

Punch Bowl Social Putt Club is open daily and does not accept reservations. Stop in to add a little breath of summer to your winter months!


Why? Holidays at Legacy Village!

‘Tis the season to enjoy Legacy Village even more than you usually do! There are so many ways to enjoy this festive time of year, while also being in the perfect spot to get your holiday shopping done, too!


Snap a picture in front of Legacy Village’s beautiful tree and create your own personal joy!


This fun, interactive photo stop is a must-have for your Instagram feed! Plus, when you share your picture on social media with the #CreateJoy hashtag and tag Legacy Village, you will have the chance to win a Legacy Village gift card!


Follow Legacy Village on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more contest details!

Free Photos with Santa

On Saturdays and Sundays from now through December 23, you can stop and see the big man of the season! Santa will be available for photos from noon to 4pm.

"Night of Lights', Legacy Village, Lyndhurst, OH.

Your first photo with Santa is free, courtesy of Legacy Village, Q104, and L.L. Bean. Additional photos and packages are available for purchase.

Your Santa visit also helps a great cause. For every free photo taken, $5 will be donated to Cleveland Clinic Children’s. Portions of photo packages purchased will also be donated. And your kids can make a greeting card to be sent to children in the hospital.

Santa will be located at Guest Services on Main Street, between Starbucks and Janie & Jack.

Holidays in the Village

Adding to the merriment at Legacy Village, it’s the return of Holidays in the Village. On Saturdays and Sundays from December 1 through December 23, there will be live music, children’s activities, gift card giveaways, costumed characters, ice carving demonstrations, and more.

Family-friendly activities will be held on Saturdays from 1-3pm and live musical performances with local choirs and bands will be held on Sundays from 1-3pm. For a full schedule of activities and performances, click here.

This is the perfect season to enjoy not only all the great food and shopping that Legacy Village has to offer, but all the holiday joy too!

***Disclosure: I have an ongoing relationship with Legacy Village to promote their events. In exchange, I receive compensation in the form of Legacy Village gift cards. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Weekends!

It was a fun and busy weekend, as I got the chance to show off more of Cleveland to my friend Jen, who was visiting from DC. Here’s what we were up to…

Laurentia Winery and The Pompadour

Jen arrived on Saturday and we decided to have a fabulous evening out and about on the town. On past visits, I’ve taken Jen toward downtown for dinner, so I decided we should head in a different direction and try the wineries instead.

We started at Laurentia Winery, which was packed on a snowy Saturday night. There was live music, a fire in the fireplace, and a lively crowd. We enjoyed the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon for me and the Gewurtzraminer for Jen, along with a charcuterie and cheese board to share.


The wines and food were delicious and the atmosphere was both fun and relaxing. Laurentia has quickly become a must-stop for me anytime I’m in wine country!

From there, we headed to dinner at The Pompadour Bar and Tapas. I seriously cannot get enough of this cozy, delicious spot. For my cocktail, I had the Pompadour Buck, with Knob Creek Bourbon, ginger shrub, ginger beer, and angostura bitters. Bourbon and ginger are a tasty match!


Jen had the Pineapple Upside Down Cake Martini, with cake vodka, Frangelico liquor, pineapple, and grenadine.

Jen and I have always enjoyed tapas restaurants because we get to have such a communal eating experience. So, we shared the chorizo and potato croquetas, with Spanish chorizo, potato, manchego cheese, and lemon garlic aioli…


…the marinated roasted vegetables with goat cheese and balsamic reduction…


…the turkey albondigas (turkey meatballs) with tomatillo mojo sauce, goat cheese, and cilantro…


…and the braised short rib with parsnip puree, ancho chili mojo sauce, and pickled chayote.


When (not if) you go to The Pompadour, you must order the short rib. All our other choices were also flavorful and fantastic! This place is spot-on with taste and presentation!


Even though Alicia has switched from Yoga/Brunch to Soul Flow Sundays, we decided to create a little throwback when we attended her class on Sunday morning, then headed to brunch afterwards.

The Soul Flow Sundays class was a classic Alicia mix of challenging poses (with plenty of modifications to keep beginners and advanced yogis happy), great stretching, and some soul and breath work too. So, an entirely perfect way to start a Sunday!


Alicia teaches her Soul Flow Sunday class every week at 9:30am at Elevated Dance Studio in Independence. Cost to attend is $15. Click here to reserve your spot!

From there, we headed to Burntwood Tavern for brunch. I had the Nashville chicken biscuit, with sweet and spicy chicken, eggs, American cheese, sausage gravy, and crispy potatoes. So good!


After lots of laughs and mimosas, we set about the rest of our days feeling full in body and spirit!

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Jeffrey wanted to show “Aunt Jen” one of his favorite places in Cleveland, so we took her to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Even though the weather was cool, there were still plenty of animals out and active, particularly in Asian Highlands, Wilderness Trek, and the Rosebrough Tiger Passage.


We also popped into The RainForest to warm up a bit after our trek around the outside of the Zoo!


Stay tuned to the Cleveland Zoological Society’s member magazine for my article on animals to see in the winter at the Zoo, but take it from me, there are plenty to see!

Brim Kitchen and Brewery

Since we let Jeffrey pick the location for our Sunday afternoon fun, we also let him pick our dinner spot. He chose Brim Kitchen and Brewery, which made all of us happy!

I had the General Tso Cauliflower, which is an unusual choice for me, but it was so flavorful and delicious! Served with kimchi fried rice, radish, sesame, and carrot, this is one vegan dish I would order again and again!


Matthew had the duck confit cavatelli and Jen had the mac ‘n cheese and both looked to die for, especially on a cold night.


Jen and I shared the apple hand pie, but inhaled it before any pictures could be taken of this fall deliciousness.

So, that was our weekend, aside from one very cute mermaid-themed second birthday party!


I’m reluctantly sending Jen back to DC this morning after a quick stop at Fiona’s Coffee Bar.

And then tomorrow, we’re off to Disney for the rest of the week! Stay tuned on Insta for all the Disney fun and here for all the Cleveland stuff I’ve prepared for you to read while I’m gone!



Why? red e vodka!

A lot of you are probably familiar with the wineries in Ashtabula, but did you know that there’s a distillery out there too? Red Eagle Distillery is creating craft spirits that make delicious cocktails.


I got a chance to visit Red Eagle Distillery and chat with Eddy specifically about red e vodka, which is made from concord grapes that grow on vines you can see from the windows of the distillery. Talk about a hyper-local product!


red e vodka is so tasty in cocktails, like this peppermint concoction above. Matthew also whipped up a holiday beverage with pomegranate liquor, St. Germaine, and red e vodka.


red e vodka has a smoother mouth feel and sweeter taste than most neutral vodkas. I took a sip of it straight and didn’t make the “yuck, straight alcohol” face! While it’s sweetness doesn’t lend it to use in a drink like a bloody mary, red e vodka is surprisingly versatile and compliments a lot of cocktails.

The production of Red Eagle Spirits takes place right on site and ensures high quality and yummy spirits that are a great (and fun) way to shop local.

Red Eagle Distillery also makes bourbon, rye, brandy, and a very unique and delicious red maple spirit. If you stop in to Red Eagle Distillery, you can enjoy a menu of craft cocktails that incorporate these different spirits.


You can also find red e vodka at select stores and restaurants in Cleveland and Columbus, including Collision Bend Brewing and The Flying Fig.

And if you want to take a trip out to Ashtabula County this winter, there are plenty of things to enjoy:

The wineries aren’t just great for summer and Ashtabula County offers more spirits than just wine, too. Check it out!

***Disclosure: I was invited to tour the Red Eagle Distillery. I received complimentary tastes of spirits, as well as a bottle of red e vodka and glasses to take home. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Holiday Events!

Phew! We have been on a tear through holiday events this year. And while some get rounded up into weekend recaps, I wanted to give you a rundown on some of the others for both kids and adults.

Country Lights

One of our favorite holiday traditions is Country Lights at the Lake Metroparks Farmpark. This event incorporates so many different fun holiday activities from a wagon ride through extensive outdoor light displays…


…to model train displays in winter wonderland scenes…


…to cookie decorating (SO much frosting)…


…to Santa’s toy workshop. The workshop is by far my favorite part of Country Lights. Staffed entirely by volunteers, the elves help your child build and decorate a wooden toy of their choosing.


It’s such a neat, hands-on experience for the kids. And the workshop looks like I imagine Santa’s workshop would, with snow and singing and loads of glitter.

Country Lights is sold out for 2017, but definitely put it on your holiday list for 2018!

The Polar Express

I try not to play absolute favorites among holiday events, but The Polar Express on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad might be #1 for me. The ride brings the story from the book and movie to life. It is heart-warming and fun and everything you could want from a holiday event.


Each train car has an elf and a conductor who make the magical story of “The Polar Express” come to life. On your way to The North Pole (AKA Peninsula during the rest of the year), you hear the story of “The Polar Express,” drink hot chocolate, and eat cookies, in your PJ’s of course.


When you reach the decked-out North Pole, you are greeted by a cavalry of (volunteer) elves, reindeer, and other Christmas characters.


Santa boards the train here and visits with each child on the way back home, gifting magic bells to the kids too.



Jeffrey told me he could hear the bell ringing because he believes in Santa! It doesn’t get more magical than that!


On your return trip, you also sing carols and just generally arrive back home in the most festive mood you could imagine.

The Polar Express is sold out for 2017, but definitely put it on your holiday list for 2018.

Holidays in the Caribbean

On one of the coldest, windiest days of the year thus far, members and friends of Playhouse Square Partners were feeling quite tropical at our Holidays in the Caribbean happy hour at Margaritaville Cleveland.


We had the entire “5 o’clock Somewhere” bar area to ourselves to enjoy boat drinks and munchies and beachy tunes. We also each got a lei to add to our festive ugly sweater attire!


And my gift exchange gift seems particularly spot on, especially given that the theme of our upcoming Jump Back Ball is “2018: A Space Odyssey!”

Margaritaville was the perfect place to celebrate the holidays and dream of warmer days ahead!

Ugly Holiday Sweater Bar Hop

Imagine lots of people dressed up in their most, ahem, festive attire, heading from bar to bar at Legacy Village. Add in pictures with Santa, fun decorations, and a treat bag that included an insulated “Solo cup,” red and green sunglasses, and a jingle bell necklace.

The Ugly Holiday Sweater Bar Hop was fun and festive! It also definitely got you chatting with your fellow  hoppers, as you compared attire (fashion note: holiday llama sweaters are big this year).

Various bars at Legacy Village offered discounted food and drink specials for the evening. Some of our favorites were the Candy Cane martini from The Melting Pot


…the calamari and specialty martinis from Bar Louie


…and the yummy pork nachos and “Jingle Bell Juice” (bourbon and blood orange) at Granite City Food and Brewery.


All this festive hopping was for a good cause, as a portion of proceeds benefitted the American Cancer Society. Cheers!

What holiday events have you been enjoying this season?

***Disclosure: I am the co-chair of Playhouse Square Partners. I was asked by Playhouse Square to help promote Jump Back Ball and will receive two complimentary VIP tickets for the event. I also have an ongoing relationship with Legacy Village to promote their events, for which I receive compensation in the form of Legacy Village gift cards. I purchased my own tickets to the Ugly Holiday Sweater Bar Hop.***


Why? Weekends!

Welcome to the time of year where every weekend is so packed with fun and festivities that they might burst. So, let’s get right to it!

Pajamas and Popcorn

On Friday night, Jeffrey’s school hosted Pajamas and Popcorn, a family movie night with pizza, popcorn, kids in PJs, and cookies.


The movie was “Horton Hears a Who,” so there were also cute Dr. Seuss photo opps. It was a really cute idea and a fun way to ease Jeffrey into the movie theater experience.

The Capital Grille

On Saturday night, we met up with my parents to celebrate my Dad’s birthday with dinner at The Capital Grille.


I started with the Blackberry Bourbon Sidecar, because apparently I like cocktails with bourbon now. I’m clearly growing as a person. Matthew and I also shared the lightly-breaded calamari with cherry peppers that give it a nice kick.


For my entrée, I decided to be the only non-red meat eater at the table because I just couldn’t resist the evening’s fish special: grilled swordfish topped with crab gratin.


Paired with a nice Sauvignon Blanc, this meal had lots of delicate flavors that were executed perfectly. Swordfish is one of my favorite fish and when you top it with crab…wow! My dad ordered the lamb chops, which received rave reviews!

For dessert, Matthew ordered the warm double chocolate cake with port-wine cherries and I had the apple crostada.

Each was the perfect compliment to our meal. We have never been less than totally impressed with the food and the service at The Capital Grille. And during the holiday season (until December 30), The Capital Grille will also be open for lunch from 12-3pm.

Breakfast with Santa

Sunday morning, we attended the John Carroll Alumni Breakfast with Santa. The event includes a Mass, a toy collection for Bellefaire JCB, breakfast, and of course a visit with Santa!


My favorite part of this event has been how my friends and I have used it as a chance to gather with our kids. I spent the morning with people I’ve known for 18 years (whoa) and got to see our kids forming friendships with each other too. It’s really special, especially being up on campus with our future Carroll students!

If you’re a John Carroll alum, you have another chance to celebrate the season on campus at the annual Christmas Reception this Wednesday, December 6. It’s truly one of my favorite events of the year, so don’t miss it!

Om for the Holidays Cleveland

While Jeffrey was napping away his Santa-induced exhaustion, I headed to Om for the Holidays Cleveland.

The rainbow in this pic. I just can’t. @namastenik led an awesome flow!

Om for the Holidays was the brainchild of Angela from Universal Architect and Scare Your Soul. It brought together not only some amazing merchants for holiday shopping…

…but also live music, coaching, community-building, and yoga.

What better way to kick off the busy holiday month than with an opportunity to not only accomplish some holiday gift-buying, but also a chance to nurture your soul with like-minded folks?


Merry Everything, indeed!

So, that was our weekend! How was yours? Is Christmas crazy starting to creep into your life yet?