Why? The Corner Alley!

Matthew took the week in between Christmas and New Year off, so we were on the hunt for fun things to do as a family. We decided to go to The Corner Alley in Uptown for bowling, beer, and burgers.

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It was pretty crowded with other families who had the same idea of holiday break fun, so we killed some time waiting for our lane in The Corner Alley’s arcade. Jeffrey enjoyed playing air hockey and more, but I think he’s spent too much time at Chuck E Cheese, because he kept checking the machines for prize tickets!

We were there during happy hour, which is every day from 2-6pm at the Uptown location. That meant $2 off beers and appetizers, as well as free shoe rental for bowling. An hour of bowling fun during happy hour only cost $15!

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Jeffrey had a great time and we all benefited from the bowling bumpers. Even with the bumpers, my 3.5 year old still beat me at bowling!

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We stayed for dinner after bowling. Jeffrey and Matthew both enjoyed cheeseburgers and I had the fried chicken sliders with honey mustard and slaw, served on cheddar-jalapeno biscuits. Matthew and I also shared the Wild Turkey sweet potato bourbon fries.

All the food was really good! And while there were some hiccups in the service on that busy evening, The Corner Alley made it right by picking up the pace and then taking 20% off our bill.

For a fun family or date night, with legit food and a nice selection of local craft beers, head to The Corner Alley in either Uptown or Downtown. And if you’re in the medical services profession, take advantage of the Medical Discount at the Uptown location!

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Why? Weekends!

It was a pretty quiet end to 2017 over here. Here’s the weekend recap:

Yoga Roots and barre3

I ended 2017 and kicked off 2018 with my two favorite workouts in my two favorite places to do them: Yoga Roots and barre3. Yoga Roots helped me send out 2017 with a fabulous flow in their studio with marvelously heated floors. And barre3 started my 2018 with their “b3 All In” kick off.

It’s definitely an evolution for me to want to end one year and start another centered around workouts. But I’m committed to keeping both fitness spots part of my new year!

New Year’s Eve Party

On New Year’s Eve, we all went to a party hosted by our friends Jason and Patty. This casual, kid-friendly New Year’s Eve gathering let everyone from kids to grown-ups ring in 2018 together.

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I made Buffalo Chicken Dip for the party (similar recipe here) and we also munched on some really tasty pizza from Longo’s. Jeffrey actually stayed up until midnight to yell “Happy New Year!” and pop some confetti poppers. It was a fun way to ring in 2018!

The rest of the weekend was spent staying warm…

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…visiting family…

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…and getting ready to resume a regular, post-holiday routine this week. Jeffrey feels the way all of us do about that.

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How did you ring in 2018?

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Why? New Year’s Cleveland Resolutions!

OK, let’s get real: I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Eve. Or should I say, I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Eve celebrations, which is so strange since glitter and champagne top my “Things I Love” list.

All that said, I do appreciate the chance to take stock as the year comes to a close and think about the year ahead.

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So, I have some Cleveland resolutions I want to make for 2018:

Finally Eat and Drink At…

Cleveland has so many great restaurants and so many new spots that it can be hard to keep up. Here are some that have slipped through the cracks, but I want to make sure I hit in 2018: Cru Uncorked, Saucy Brew Works, Salt+, Hook & Hoof, and Marble Room Steak and Raw Bar top the list.

Fully Utilize Our Memberships

I’m a big fan of museum memberships, so we belong to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Children’s Museum of Cleveland, Lake Metroparks Farm Park, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, the Great Lakes Science Center, and the Western Reserve Historical Society. While we get a lot of use out of memberships through regular visits, I want to take more advantage of special events, exhibit previews, and the like this year!

Listen to More Live Music

We had a pretty full concert schedule this past year, but I’d like to check out smaller venues, music festivals (hi, Brite Winter), and the Cleveland Orchestra both with and without Jeffrey.

What are your Cleveland resolutions for 2018? Hope your 2017 closes out with sparkles and bubbles, too!

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Why? The Harlem Globetrotters!

Yesterday, Jeffrey, Matthew, and I got to watch some fun and fantastic basketball action when The Harlem Globetrotters took over Quicken Loans Arena.

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Before the game, we checked out the Magic Pass event, which is part meet-and-greet, part activity fair, and all fun!

Jeffrey got to meet Globie, the Globetrotters mascot…

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…as well as several players from both the Globetrotters and their opposing team, the Washington Generals.

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Jeffrey was also able to get his Harlem Globetrotters basketball (newly-purchased by Mom and Dad) autographed. Although I think the concept of autographs eludes him at this age, since he asked why the players didn’t write HIS name on the ball!

With the Magic Pass, Jeffrey was able to bounce like a Flying Globie…

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…then watch the real Flying Globies…

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Photo credit: Matthew

…and shoot baskets on the court…

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…then watch how the big guys do it.

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Jeffrey says, “He got stuck on the net” and laughs every time someone dunks. (Photo credit: Matthew)

The funny, silly, and athletic feats all delighted the fans.

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I also loved how sweet and welcoming the Globetrotters were with even their smallest, newest fans and appreciated getting to know a little more about their many community outreach programs, such as the ABCs of Bullying Prevention and S.M.I.L.E. It was a great family afternoon!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Quicken Loans Arena to help promote The Harlem Globetrotters. In exchange, I received three tickets and Magic Passes for myself and 4 tickets and Magic Passes to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

It was a wonderful Christmas weekend, filled with family and friends and presents and food!

Cupcakes and a Story

On Friday, Matthew and I met up with friends at White Flower Cake Shoppe for their Cupcakes and a Story event. We got to hear a sweet winter story, as well as see how to decorate 4 different Christmas cupcakes.

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While our decorated cupcakes never look quite as good as the originals, they sure are fun and tasty to make!

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Cookie Baking

From cupcakes to cookies, we spent most of our day on Saturday baking cookies and wrapping presents. I try to make everyone in the family their favorite type of cookie, so we had lots of varities from shortbread to thumbprints to double chocolate peppermint.

And Jeffrey was my best helper…or taste-tester, I should say!

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Christmas

We’re lucky to have both of our families in town and to be able to split the time between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with everyone.

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We all got lots of great presents under the tree! Jeffrey loved his sled (and then we got enough snow to actually use it)…

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And my mom continued her tradition of buying Jeffrey musical instruments (and then sending them home with us).

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Jeffrey also scored big with some of his favorite character toys: PAW Patrol and Cars. His excitement for Christmas this year and his enthusiasm as he opened each present was really wonderful to see!

Matthew got a couple beer-themed gifts, which is perfect in such an awesome beer city! We both can’t wait to read “Cleveland Beer” and this Cleveland wooden six-pack holder from Wood ‘n What Knot (available at Merchant’s Mrkt) is perfect for parties!

My mom loved this custom cutting board that I got from Lovely Paperie & Gifts. It has a handwritten recipe from my great grandmother laser cut on it. These cutting boards are such a unique and touching way to showcase a recipe!

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Speaking of cutting boards, check out this awesome board from my brother-in-law!

And I of course got a little sparkle…

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…and a little Cleveland, which is always the perfect combo for me!

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Is it Opening Day yet?! 

Hope you all had an amazing holiday weekend and enjoy a nice week before round two of holiday celebrating!

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Why? Black Box Fix!

A brand-new sandwich spot just opened at Legacy Village with a great menu of tasty offerings: Black Box Fix.

Black Box Fix interior

This bright and inviting location features some seating, but is also great for a grab and go sandwich.

The menu of unique, gourmet sandwiches was developed by Chef Eric Rogers, who you might recognize from “Guy’s Grocery Games” on the Food Network. The sandwiches range from a variety of Philly sandwiches to burgers to chicken, many of which have a Creole inspiration.

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All of the sandwiches are served with fresh cut fries available in 4 different varieties: garlic Parmesan, Cajun, Creole butter, and plain.

Jeffrey and I stopped in earlier this week for lunch. He enjoyed a classic cheeseburger and fries. I had the Mr. Martin, a gigantic sandwich with buttermilk fried chicken breast with house made agave BBQ and sweet onion vinaigrette slaw. Juicy, tender, and a perfect balance of sweet and tangy.

I also definitely want to try Black Box Fix’s signature sandwich: the Famous OMG Philly, a chicken philly topped with Creole grilled shrimp. OMG is right!

Black Box Fix is now open on Main Street in Legacy Village from 11am-10pm on Monday-Thursday, 11am-11pm on Friday, 12pm-11pm on Saturday, and 12pm-6pm on Sunday.

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

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Why? Heck’s Cafe!

For years, Heck’s Cafe has been my favorite burger restaurant in town. Their cozy and cute cafe in Ohio City makes delicious burgers and recently expanded their reach to a second cafe in Avon.

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But Heck’s Cafe is a lot more than just burgers, as I found out last night. I was invited to a tasting event that sampled not only Heck’s Cafe burgers, but also some of their most popular appetizers, dessert, and drinks.

Our drink choices were the Cranberry Sparkler, with vodka and house made cranberry syrup or the Hot Cider, with house made cider, brandy, and Grand Marnier. Both were seasonal and so good! And I loved how the main features in the drinks were made in-house!

We got to sample the popular tuna nachos, which feature light and delicious wonton crisps, pickled jalapeno, sweet soy, wasabi aioli, sesame seeds, and tuna.

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These are a great balance of sweet and spicy! We also sampled the tender calamari with two kinds of aioli: spicy and basil. Yum!

Of course, Heck’s Cafe’s famous burgers were on last night’s tasting menu, with slider versions of a plain cheeseburger and the Avon Burger, which has balsamic candied onions, bleu cheese, and baby arugula. These burgers are flavorful, meaty, and altogether delicious!

And to end the evening on a sweet note, Heck’s Cafe’s seasonal salted caramel soft pretzel bread pudding.

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Salty, sweet, and like a soft pretzel and a dessert had a decadent baby. The creme anglaise and caramel sauce just put it over the top!

Heck’s Cafes in Ohio City and Avon offer full menus of delicious appetizers, sandwiches, entrees, and desserts. The Ohio City location also boasts an adorable private dining area with a mini bar that is perfect for a party!

And the new Heck’s Express downtown offers everything from breakfast to pastries to juices to snacks to burgers. Plus, starting January 8, you’ll be able to save on your meals at any Heck’s location with your CLESeats app!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a complimentary tasting event at Heck’s Cafe with a guest. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Wild Ohio Brewing Co.!

One of the things I love about blogging is getting the chance to find out about unique local products and share them with you!

I recently had the chance to try Wild Ohio Brewing Co. tea beer.

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These beers are all gluten free, because they are made without hops or barley. They are moderately sweet and taste like a cross between tea, hard cider, and beer.

Wild Ohio makes five flavors of tea beer: Cranberry, Blueberry Lavendar, Black Cherry Bourbon, Mango & Hops, and Blood Orange Tangerine. I think the Black Cherry Bourbon is the least sweet of the bunch. And it might just be the time of year, but the Cranberry is my current favorite flavor.

Wild Ohio Brewing Co. is based in Columbus and is available at over 300 stores across the state. Click here to find a store near you that carries this unique, refreshing libation!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Wild Ohio Brewing Co. In exchange, I received samples of all of Wild Ohio’s tea beer flavors. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.***

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Why? Weekends!

Holy holiday festivities, Batman! What a busy, fun weekend! Let’s get to it:

TWC Christmas

One of our most-anticipated holiday evenings is TWC Christmas. “TWC” stands for the “Tri-County Wives Club,” a silly shorthand that Alicia, Amanda, Kimberly, and I came up with for our little group.

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Every year at Christmastime, we gather for way too much food, lots of bubbles and beer, a hilarious White Elephant gift exchange, and games.

It’s a relaxing night in the middle of a crazy time of year and a wonderful chance for all of us to see each other before we’re off to family commitments.

This year, we played a new game: What Do You Meme? (thanks, Jessa!). It led to lots of laughs, plus Amanda and I trying to create a new Obama-Biden meme.

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It was another merry TWC Christmas!

Cavs Wine & Gold Nation Breakfast with Santa – *sponsored*

On Sunday morning, Matthew, Jeffrey, and I went to the Cavs Wine & Gold Nation Breakfast with Santa at Quicken Loans Arena, a complimentary event for Wine & Gold Nation members and their families.

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There was so much to see and do, from visits with the Cavs Girls and mascots…

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…to crafts like making reindeer and snowmen…

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…to story time with the Cleveland Public Library to donuts and coffee to enjoy…

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…to a visit with Santa Claus, of course. I think Santa got a lot of requests for another Cavs championship!

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It was a fun morning and a great benefit of Cavs Wine & Gold Nation membership, which is definitely focusing on families and experiences outside just the games themselves. Cavs Wine & Gold Nation has memberships for all age levels that make great Christmas gifts!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Cavs Wine & Gold Nation membership. In exchange, I received a complimentary Cavalittles membership for Jeffrey. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Mapleside Breakfast with Santa

Because why wouldn’t you go to two breakfasts with Santa in one day? We are insane(ly festive). Our next Sunday stop was at Mapleside Farms for their first annual Breakfast with Santa.

We enjoyed a full breakfast buffet in the beautiful and rustic Mapleside Barn, with visits from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Grinch.

After breakfast, we boarded a decorated wagon for a short ride over to the sweet shop to decorate (and eat) cupcakes…

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…and take a dunk in the chocolate fountain.

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Then it was another audience with Santa. Jeffrey is in this sweet spot of really understanding all the things that Christmas can mean, but also fully believing without question. It’s pretty magical this year!

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Our day ended with the create-your-own caramel apple bar, which is how days should end more often!

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Yum!

It was such a fun, festive weekend! How was yours?

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