Why? Brunch at Flour!

After a jam-packed Friday and Saturday, Matthew and I were ready to relax on Sunday. What better way to relax than enjoying a delicious brunch? We headed to Flour Restaurant for a blogger brunch preview, where we got to taste some of the best brunch menu items, from savory to sweet.

We of course started with Sunday Funday cocktails: a pomegranate mimosa for me and a “Moscow Intense” for Matthew.

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Chefs Matt Mytro and Paul Minnillo joke that they are a combination of “new school” and “old school.” Well, the combination works perfectly! Flour’s brunch takes classic breakfast favorites and gives them a gourmet Italian twist.

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Our first course featured the salmon pastrami with creme fraiche, argula, and crepes and truffled Parmesan tater tots with country gravy.

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Matthew really enjoyed the salmon, although it was a bit too strong for me. But we were in complete agreement on the deliciousness of the truffled Parmesan tater tots: crisp on the outside, moist on the inside, and packed with rich truffle flavors.

Next up, we got to sample house-made sausage, fried chicken, and a breakfast pizza.

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The sausage was spicy and not too fatty or greasy. The fried chicken was tender and juicy, served with buttermilk ranch and sriracha, which complimented each other well. The breakfast pizza featured pancetta and sunny-side-up egg. My favorite part of the pizza was the crisp crust made in Flour’s wood-fired pizza oven.

My two favorite dishes were the eggs Benedict and the Nutella-stuffed French toast.

IMG_4399The eggs Benedict had mortadella, perfectly-poached eggs, and just the right amount of Hollandaise to add flavor without making the English muffin soggy.

I usually have a tough time deciding between savory or sweet at breakfast and, on Sunday, I didn’t have to choose.

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The Nutella-stuffed French toast with peanut butter powder and stone fruit was sinfully decadent and would fulfill the most active breakfast sweet tooth.

Brunch is available at Flour from 11am to 2:30pm every Sunday. There’s a great variety of choices, from savory to sweet, best categorized as traditional with a twist. Kick off your next Sunday Funday at Flour…you’ll be glad you did!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a complimentary brunch preview at Flour with a guest. I also received a $25 gift card while at the brunch. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

It was a double wedding weekend! On Friday night, we attended our friends Emilie and Mike’s wedding. It was held at the Grand Pacific Junction in Olmsted Falls. If you’ve never been, it’s an adorable area of shops, restaurants, a hotel, and more.

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Emilie and Mike had perfect weather for their outdoor ceremony! After the ceremony, we walked over to the Grand Pacific Junction Hotel for the reception. I got to catch up with a lot of my college sorority sisters, which always makes for a fun evening!

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While our conversations now tend to center around buying houses and having babies, it’s great that we can still stay close after all these years!

The dance floor at Emilie and Mike’s reception was one of the most packed I’ve seen in a long time! Everyone had a blast and you can tell how happy this couple is just by looking at them. Congrats, you guys!

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Saturday brought the second wedding of the weekend, as my roommate from freshman year in college, Sonia, married her Prince Charming, Chris.

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The ceremony was held at the Church of the Gesu, which is a beautiful church. I have fond memories of singing in their choir loft for some of the larger John Carroll University masses. Yes, this was another John Carroll wedding, but a completely different group of friends than Friday night’s affair.

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We all lived on the same floor in Dolan Hall in our freshman year. I can’t believe I met these girls 15 years ago!

The reception was held at Severance Hall, which is of course a gorgeous setting! We even got a brief break from the rain and enjoyed wine out on the terrace. What a lovely date night!

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I’m so happy for Sonia and Chris, especially since Chris is now an official resident of “the CLE,” as he likes to call it!

I say so often that John Carroll is a special place, but when you can spend time in one weekend with groups of friends you’ve known for 15 years and feel like no time has passed at all, you know the bonds you created there are truly something unique!

Part of our Sunday was spent stuffing ourselves at Flour Restaurant‘s brunch, but stay tuned tomorrow for more on that! Also on Sunday, Jeffrey turned two months old.

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The time is just flying! He is such a sweet little man: so happy and expressive! And we couldn’t love him more!

How was your weekend?

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

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Why? Jingle in July!

There’s a lot of excitement surrounding Christmas in July and, for me, the same was true for Jingle in July! Jingle in July was the kickoff for the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis, happening December 14 at Legacy Village.

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Jingle in July was held at Lilly Pulitzer. Guests enjoyed small bites and sipped on “Beach House” cosmos, while listening to a presentation on the latest fall trends and shopping Lilly’s colorful and comfortable chic resort wear.

PicMonkey CollageSo what is trending for Lilly in the fall? Bohemian styles, fringes and tassels, and tortoise shell, just to name a few! Lilly is also focusing on pieces that easily transition from season to season, allowing you to bring a bit of summer into your fall wardrobe.

Ten percent of all sales during the event were donated to the Arthritis Foundation, Great Lakes Region, Northeastern Ohio Chapter, the organization that sponsors and benefits from the Jingle Bell Run. It was a fun and fashionable evening!

As I mentioned, the Jingle Bell Run/Walk takes place on December 14. This is a festive event, with a costume contest for runners and the addition of a Family Fun Run this year. Registration is $25 and can be completed online. Through September 1, you can save 25% off your registration fee by using code LILLY when you register, so sign up soon and take advantage of the savings!

I hope to see you rockin’ the latest fall trends next season, as well as rockin’ some jingle bells on your running shoes in December!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Jingle in July event, which was a free event, open to the public. I did not receive any compensation for attending and my choice to blog about the event was my own. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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An Update on Gia Lai

***BLOGGER UPDATE: I have accepted Gia Lai’s apology and consider the matter to be closed. In my blog posts, the comments section, and on social media, I have said all I feel needs to be said on this matter. I understand there may be further opinions expressed in both support and disagreement, but I will no longer be replying to comments. ***

I just received this email from Gia Lai‘s operations manager. This is not the person I contacted, but rather someone who read the blog post. I’m reprinting the email in its entirety. I am not accepting their offer of a gift card, but am encouraged that they will be better training their staff as to how to handle these situations in the future.

This whole incident could have been avoided through better communication and knowledge on all parts. If I had known that the employees needed the booth, I would have moved. I was honestly trying to be as discreet as possible in my choice of where to breastfeed.

I’m hoping this closes the book on this. For my part, I am grateful for the apology and the staff training. I am also grateful for all the support from a lot of different corners of the Internet. We, as moms, do our best to take care of our babies. We’re not always perfect, nor are the situations and people we encounter. But at the end of the day, we’re all doing our best.

Dear Jen,

Please accept my sincerest apologies for the mistreatment of you and your son at our restaurant last night. We have no policy against breastfeeding mothers at the restaurant (nor should any public place of business!), so I was really surprised by your blog post this morning. What happened last night does not reflect the views of management of the restaurant and we are really disappointed by the behavior of our staff last night. It is our goal to accommodate all of our customers in any way that we can.

I don’t want to make excuses for our employees in anyway but perhaps explain our side of the situation. The booth were you sat we only use for employees to roll silverware and prepare table linens. The female shift leader who approached and asked if she could help you probably only came over to see if she could assist you, not knowing that you were breastfeeding. She turned away to give you privacy because it’s not what she expected when she walked over but in any manner should have said something kind to acknowledge your presence. I don’t think her intentions were to be rude but to give you and your child privacy that you and he deserve.

As for the second staff member, the dishwasher from the kitchen, came out to bring silverware to the table for the servers to roll. He did not go out to the table to approach you. He went out unknowingly only to do his job. He definitely should not have stood there.

We are all humans and sometimes our reactions are not what we intend them to be. Although this was an unfortunate situation for both parties, we will take this opportunity to better train all of our staff and make a pledge that it won’t happen to another mother at our restaurant. I’ve went ahead and refunded your money- you should see a credit in 5-7 days. I would also like to extend an offer to visit our restaurant again and if you are interested I will send you a gift card.

Again, my sincerest apologies. 

Sincerely,

Kelly Wherley

Operations Manager

Why? Gia Lai!

***BLOGGER UPDATE: I received a response from Gia Lai. Please click here to read it. Both sides of the story are important!

I have accepted Gia Lai’s apology and consider the matter to be closed. In my blog posts, the comments section, and on social media, I have said all I feel needs to be said on this matter. I understand there may be further opinions expressed in both support and disagreement, but I will no longer be replying to comments. ***

So, this is not your typical restaurant post. And this is absolutely not what I wanted my first real post about being a mom to be about. But, I have to share what happened to Jeffrey and me last night at Gia Lai in Legacy Village.

After finishing my dinner, I needed to breastfeed Jeffrey. I moved to an unoccupied back booth (which had extra napkins, silverware, etc. to make up for other tables, so it wasn’t going to be used for patrons), put on my nursing cover, and started feeding him. While breastfeeding while out can be a challenge with wiggly babies and trying to keep everything discreet, everything was going remarkably well.

I was soon approached by the bartender, who said, “Can I help you?” When I explained that I was nursing, she turned and walked away without saying anything. A few minutes later, a member of the kitchen staff came out and said that this table was “the silverware table.” I’m still trying to figure how someone from the back of the house even knew I was at that table.

I explained that I was nursing and was trying to be as discreet as possible. He kept standing there, so I asked if I needed to leave. The closest patrons to the table even told him that I wasn’t bothering them, but to no avail. He said yes and walked away.

I was shocked and embarrassed. I stopped nursing (cue hysterical crying from Jeffrey…how would you feel having food ripped out of your mouth?) and immediately left, leaving my Mom to pay the bill and try to sort out what happened. I wandered down Legacy Village with my nursing cover still on and a sobbing baby…I was quite the sight! In the moment, I just wanted to get to a more comfortable spot, so I didn’t even think about protesting my eviction.

Luckily, Lilly Pulitzer, where I had been earlier in the evening, was gracious enough to provide a fitting room and be nothing short of completely wonderful and hospitable. “We love moms,” they explained.

When I caught up with Mom, she said that the bartender who first approached me was the manager on duty, but offered no explanation or accommodation, simply saying she would talk to the employee and that she wasn’t in charge. I have contact information for the manager who was not there and have sent an email to him. I’ll certainly update with his response.

Since Jeffrey has been born, I’ve taken him all over the place from Market Garden Brewery to Townhall to the Taste of Tremont. Up until last night, everywhere we’ve gone has been welcoming and comfortable. As important as it is to know where are “baby friendly” places, I can honestly say that everywhere we’ve been except Gia Lai is baby friendly.

The irony is that if GIa Lai was trying to avoid any sort of embarrassment or scene, what was more likely to cause that? A woman quietly and discreetly breastfeeding in a back booth? Or said woman having to stop nursing and leave the restaurant with a sobbing baby? Even if you don’t respect breastfeeding or the moms that do it, I would think the path of least resistance would have been the better choice.

I want to pass on my story, so hopefully other moms can avoid a similar experience. Hat tip to Amanda for passing along the links to where you can post reviews and comments about Gia Lai: http://www.opentable.com/gia-lai
http://www.urbanspoon.com/…/Gia-Lai-Restaurant-Lyndhurst
http://www.yelp.com/biz/gia-lai-lyndhurst

If this all seems wrong to you, let Gia Lai know with your comments and your dollars. Similarly, let Lilly Pulitzer feel the love for being so great and open! And thank you for all the supportive comments and tweets!

Breastfeeding is tough. It’s a commitment. While Jeffrey sometimes takes a bottle of breast milk, I prefer to directly breastfeed when I can. It’s better for him and for me (I’ll spare you all the details for those unfamiliar). I was just getting to a point of feeling comfortable breastfeeding in public. I stopped making sure my outings were scheduled to avoid feeding times or running to the car to breastfeed. I was never ashamed of breastfeeding, but I was worried about other people reacting badly. Then I told myself I was just being silly; that anyone I would encounter would understand and respect breastfeeding. And then I found out I was wrong.

I never want Jeffrey to be the object of derision. I know this is unrealistic, but at 8 weeks old, I can still make that happen. I can protect him. And last night, I was unable to protect him from other people’s ignorance and meanness. He doesn’t know it, but I do.

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Why? Weekends!

One of the things I missed the most while I was pregnant was practicing yoga. While I did prenatal yoga for a bit, I stayed away from my standard vinyasa flows. On Friday, I decided to get back on my mat at Evolution Yoga with my dear friends in tow, as Alicia was the teacher and Kimberly practiced next to me.

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Image Source – instagram.com/poiseinparma

Alicia’s Friday night “Sweet Heat Flow” was the perfect mix of strength, fun, and relaxation. It felt so nice to be back on my mat and I can’t wait to get my practice back to where it was pre-pregnancy.

After class, we treated ourselves to some hummus and hot sauce at Aladdin’s Eatery, along with something else I really missed while I was pregnant: a glass of red wine. This was my first girls’ night out since Jeffrey was born and I couldn’t have asked for a better one with yoga, wine, and two of my favorite ladies.

On Sunday, the entire Why CLE family went to one of the biggest summer festivals in Cleveland: Taste of Tremont.

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Our favorite spot for Taste of Tremont is always the parking lot at Dante, which has great food, beer and cocktails, and live music.

IMG_4340I loved the personal-sized pizzas straight out of Dante Next Door‘s oven, which were a very reasonable $5.

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Other favorites that our group grabbed included gyros from Dervish Grill, chorizo tacos from Barrio, and pork nachos from Porco Lounge & Tiki Room.

Taste of Tremont is always such a huge party and I love seeing how many people come out to eat, drink, and be merry in one of the best neighborhoods in Cleveland! We ended our day on a sweet note with a box of take-home chocolates from Lilly Handmade Chocolates. All three of us were exhausted from all the summer festival fun!

How was your weekend? Did you attend Taste of Tremont?

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Why? Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Jill (Lady Lazarus) (comment #6), randomly-selected winner of two tickets the Locavore fundraiser to benefit the MS Society’s Ohio Buckeye Chapter. Please check your email for further details. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets online.***

Saturday night, we went on a world tour of cuisine without leaving Cleveland at the Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration.

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Each participating restaurant created a tasty treat representing a different country or region. Our favorite bites took us all over the globe: Mexico with carne asada from Urban Farmer Cleveland Steakhouse;

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India with crab pakora from University Hospitals and Sodexo; Asia with pork belly from Hodge’s served with edamame, five spice, and Asian pear;

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the Southern United States with chicken cracklins from Peachtree Southern Kitchen; our own backyard with Lake Erie perch with corn pudding from Bacchanalia Cleveland (I can’t wait for them to open!);

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and France with crepes with berries, whipped cream, and candied kumquat from Tri-C Hospitality Management & Culinary Arts.

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Wines from all over the world were available to compliment the dishes. Matthew and I really enjoyed the Vina Bujanda from Spain: a spicy, bold red.

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Craft beer was on tap from Rockmill Brewery and Townhall, too. There were also two different bands providing live entertainment while we ate and drank the night away.

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The evening benefited the Veggie U Classroom Gardens program, a five-week program available to elementary school and special needs classrooms. The program helps children learn about healthy eating and where their food comes from through a science-based curriculum, including growing their own veggies!

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I loved the focus on local restaurants and the downtown Cleveland location of this year’s revamped Food and Wine Celebration. A delicious trip around the world to help kids close to home? What a perfect evening!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Veggie U to help promote the Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Told CLE!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win tickets to the MS Society’s Locavore fundraiser? Check it out! Remember, you can tweet daily for additional entries.***

One of the great things about blogging is that you often get to discover new and different events happening in town and, by extension, let others in on these gems. Last week, I discovered Told CLE, a live storytelling event founded on the premise that everyone has a story to tell.

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Told was founded by a friend of mine from high school, Dave. When I heard about Told, I was not only intrigued by the concept, but excited to support something cool a friend was doing in the community.

Each Told event is centered around a different theme. The event I attended, held at Market Garden Brewery (because storytelling is easier after a beer or two), was themed “Foreign Territory.” Audience members can submit their names to tell a true, personal story, no longer than six minutes, that touches on the theme. There are also featured storytellers scattered throughout the audience members chosen at random.

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Audience members told stories of studying abroad, switching places with a twin, and running a first 5K (told by the charming blogger behind The Year of the Phoenix), all as examples of feeling on foreign territory. The featured storytellers for the evening were Sarah Wilson-Jones, CEO of Phoenix Coffee Company, and Rory O’Malley, a native Clevelander who is a Tony-nominated actor for his work in Book of Mormon and co-founder of Broadway Impact.

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With Told creator Dave and featured storyteller Rory

Rory is also a high school friend and I’ve been so proud following his career and being able to say, “I knew him when…” It was wonderful not only to get to see him, but to hear him tell a story centered around his upbringing in the Irish pubs in Cleveland and his affection for his hometown. Rory will be starring in a new FX series called “Partners,” which premiers on August 4, so be sure to set your DVRs!

While I didn’t submit my name to tell a story, I found myself thinking about my own “Foreign Territory” experiences and relating to and laughing with the storytellers for the evening. After the formal storytelling is over, attendees are encouraged to stay, mingle, and informally tell their own stories. As Told CLE says, “A story heard is a story told.”

Told is collaborating with Literary Lots this summer for a kid-focused storytelling workshop and showcase, happening July 27 and August 3 respectively. The adult storytelling events will be back in September. Stay tuned to the Told website for more information. You can also hear recordings of past storytelling events online.

Told CLE gives Clevelanders a unqiue opportunity to come together, hear each other stories, and truly connect. I hope to both see and hear you at a Told event soon!

jenclesig_pur

 

Why? Locavore Giveaway!

Are you a locavore? I know I am! What is a locavore you ask? A locavore is a person who makes an effort to eat food that is grown, raised, or produced locally, usually within 100 miles from home.

Locavore is also a fundraising event to benefit the Ohio Buckeye Chapter of the National MS Society. The event celebrates locavores with food, wine, and chocolates from Northeast Ohio.

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Held at Windows on the River on Thursday, August 21 and sponsored by Ulmer & Berne, this is an event that any locavore won’t want to miss. You’ll sample foods from great local restaurants, including Momocho, Lago, and Urban Farmer Cleveland Steakhouse.

There will be wines from Ferrante Winery, Valley Vineyards, and M Cellars. Lilly Handmade Chocolates will provide sweet treats. And you can try your luck at raffles and blind wine pulls, which also benefit the MS Society, which provides support, advocacy, education, and research for those living with MS.

Event tickets are $60, which includes unlimited food and wine. Patron tickets are $80 and include an exclusive wine tasting, in addition to the unlimited food and wine. Tickets can be purchased online. Or you can enter to win two Event tickets right here!

Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, or all four entries, just leave a separate comment for each):

1. Leave a comment telling me what you do to be a locavore (e.g., shopping at local farmers’ markets).

2. Leave a comment if you like the MS Society Ohio Buckeye Chapter and Why CLE? on Facebook, letting me know you like both pages.

3. Follow @nmssohiobuckeye and @WhyCLE on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you’re following both.

4. Tweet the following phrase and leave a comment letting me know you tweeted:

I want to celebrate being a #Locavore thanks to @nmssohiobuckeye and @WhyCLE: http://wp.me/p1fb9r-21A

You can tweet once per day for additional entries, just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

The giveaway will close on Sunday, July 20 at 11:59pm and the winner will be announced the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the MS Society Ohio Buckeye Chapter to help promote Locavore. In exchange, I will receive two complimentary Event tickets for myself and two Event tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to David Fearn (Comment #93), randomly-selected winner of 2 tickets to the sold-out Date Night at the ZOOvies put on by the Cleveland Zoological Society. Please check your email for further details. Thanks to all who entered!***

It was a lovely summer weekend in Cleveland! Friday kicked off the weekend right, with everyone in a great mood celebrating LeBron James’ return to the Cavs. Seriously, the excitement and general good vibes that came out of that announcement will keep Clevelanders smiling for awhile!

My Friday afternoon was spent with Mom and Jeffrey at Crocker Park. I started with a pedicure at Charles Scott Salon, while Mom strolled around with the kiddo. What a nice way to relax!

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After that, it was time for lunch at 87 West. I had the Devils on Horseback (chorizo-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon with sticky soy glaze), the vegetarian tacos, and the deconstructed s’more dessert.

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While I’m not a vegetarian (see, chorizo and bacon), the tacos were a really great choice, packed with flavorful fajita veggies, slaw, corn salsa, and edamame. They were surprisingly filling, too.

That evening, Matthew, Jeffrey, and I met up with Matthew’s dad for the St. John Vianney church festival.

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From games to funnel cakes to the Euclid Beach rocket car to live entertainment, the festival was the perfect family evening out.

On Saturday, Matthew and I had a date night planned so that we could enjoy the Luau on the Lake, to benefit Shoes and Clothes for Kids.

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Luau on the Lake is held at Wendy Park at Whiskey Island. Saturday was the perfect night to be there, with nice breezes off the lake and a beautiful sunny sky. We met up with some friends, including Kimberly and my giveaway winner Rachel, who was also enjoying a nice child-free date night.

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We sipped on island cocktails like pina coladas and margaritas (Matthew enjoyed the Kona Brewing Big Wave beer from Hawaii) and noshed on a tasty Caribbean-themed dinner courtesy of Aramark, with chicken, pulled pork, and rice. There was a cornhole tournament, sand volleyball, and a limbo contest. And I happened to recognize one of the limbo participants

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It was a fun night for a great cause! For every dollar donated to Shoes and Clothes for Kids, the organization can purchase $20 worth of new clothes and shoes for low-income children in Northeast Ohio. That’s a lot of bang for your buck!

As we were leaving and taking in the skyline view, I thought that not only does Cleveland have it pretty good right now, but so do I!

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How was your weekend? Did you celebrate LeBron’s return?

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Shoes and Clothes for Kids’ Luau on the Lake. In exchange, I received two complimentary Big Kahuna VIP tickets. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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