Why? Bin 216!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win lunch for two from Provenance? Today is your last day, so check it out! Remember, you can tweet daily for additional entries.

Also, congrats to Christina (Comment #20), randomly-selected winner of my blogiversary giveaway. Please check your email for more details. And thanks to everyone who suggested other cool local makers for me to check out. Stay tuned in 2015 as I pay them visits!***

Last week, I met up with some fabulous ladies at a fabulous location to have a fabulous evening.


Stephanie, Kimberly, Amanda, and I gathered at Bin 216 at Playhouse Square. This wine bar from the Driftwood Group is the perfect spot for an after-work gathering with girlfriends. The atmosphere is intimate and comfortable, with couches and chairs arranged in lounge-like fashion.

Bin 216 also features live jazz music every Wednesday evening, which just happened to be when we were there.


Bin 216 is primarily a wine bar, but they also have a nice selection of creative and tasty cocktails. The food menu focuses on small bites and desserts, which makes sharing and sampling among your companions easy.

Many of the small bites are recognizable from the menus of other Driftwood restaurants, which I personally love. I can get some of my favorites from various Driftwood spots all in one place! I chose the Devils on Horseback (dates stuffed with chorizo and wrapped in bacon with a maple glaze) and the seared scallop with Mexican street corn.

PicMonkey Collage

This was the perfect amount of food to leave me feeling not-too-full, but happily satisfied. It also left room to share the Gran Marnier chocolate fondue among the table. My favorite element of the fondue plate were the soft pretzel bites…salty + sweet gets me every time!


The s’mores for dipping weren’t too shabby either!

Bin 216 offers a lovely setting for a girls night out, a date night, or a pre- or post-theater libation. Happy hour runs Tuesday through Friday from 4-7pm and all day Sunday. Live jazz is on Wednesday evenings. And great wine and small bites are available anytime Bin 216 is open (Tuesday through Friday from 4-11pm and Saturday and Sunday from 12-11pm).

Where is your favorite girls night out spot?


Why? Provenance Giveaway!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win a slew of cool gifts from local makers in my blogiversary giveaway? Check it out!***

In all the hustle and bustle of the season, do you ever feel like you just need to grab some time for yourself to relax? Maybe linger over a long lunch in a beautiful setting? Well, do I have the answer for you: I’m giving away a gift card good for lunch for two at Provenance, the restaurant at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Image Source - clevelandart.org

Image Source – clevelandart.org

Chef Doug Katz has created a delicious lunch menu that includes seasonal offerings such as seared butternut squash, local lamb lollipop chops, and a poached pear salad. You can also enjoy the prix fixe exhibition-inspired offering. Currently, Provenance’s prix fixe offering is inspired by Maine Sublime: Frederic Church’s “Twilight in the Wilderness” and includes a lobster cake, pan-seared venison, and blueberry crumble or whoopie pie.

Provenance is open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday from 11am to 3pm. Lunch, plus a stroll around the museum, is the perfect reset button during this busy time of year! Here’s how to enter to win a gift card for lunch for two up to $60 (you can do one, two, three, or all four entries, just leave a separate comment for each):

1. Check out the Provenance lunch menu and tell me which item you most want to try.

2. Leave a comment if you like the Cleveland Museum of Art and Why CLE? on Facebook, letting me know you like both pages.

3. Follow @clevelandart 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 win lunch for two from @phireman’s Provenance at @clevelandart thanks to @WhyCLE: http://wp.me/p1fb9r-2d1

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

The giveaway will close on Thursday, December 18 at 11:59pm and the winner will be announced the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Provenance to help promote their Holiday High Tea, which sold out (surprise!) before this post. In exchange, I will receive complimentary High Tea for two and a gift card for lunch for two to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win some cool items from local makers in my blogiversary giveaway? Check it out!***

I feel like there’s always one week in December that has all the pre-holiday madness crammed into it. This past week/weekend was it for us! So busy, but so fun! On Friday night, Matthew and I got all fancied up to attend my company’s holiday party.


I love any excuse to get dressed up! The event was held at Lorain County Community College, which I did not know had an event space, but really did a lovely job with venue and food. It was a fun night celebrating a great year for the company and enjoying drinks, laughs, and even some dancing with my coworkers.

Saturday morning, I needed some detox to be able to keep up all the holiday plans, so I met up with my friend Chrissy at Evolution Yoga for Alicia‘s Sweet Heat Flow class. The class was the perfect kickstart to my day! I’m being reminded more and more how much even a semi-regular yoga practice enhances my life. Definitely adding that to the New Year’s resolution list!

That evening, Matthew, my parents, and I had an evening at Playhouse Square planned. We started with dinner at Hofbrauhaus.


The interest in Hofbrauhaus shows no sign of slowing down! We arrived at 5:30 and waited a bit over an hour for a table. But the line moved fairly quickly and the tents over the patio, plus the option to buy beer outside kept everyone warm and in good spirits.

We snagged a great table, right near the band, who played everything from traditional polkas to “Margaritaville,” which sounds a bit different on an accordion!


The patrons were loud and festive and the whole meal was a true experience. It’s definitely more than just the food when you go to Hofbrauhaus! That said, we did enjoy some very tasty schnitzel, pretzels, and sauerkraut balls.

PicMonkey Collage

Stuffed and happy, we headed on to see “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” at the State Theatre.


White Christmas is my must-watch-every-year Christmas movie and I expected to see the movie that I have memorized brought to life on the stage. While many parts were the same, there were story and song differences that surprised me.

While the show closed in Cleveland on Sunday, there are still lots of ways you can celebrate the season at Playhouse Square:

The theaters are beautifully decorated, as is the outdoor Playhouse Square area, so head on down and get in the Christmas spirit with a show and some pretty decorations!

Sunday morning, Jeffrey strolled through his first 5K at the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis.


We met up with the other members of #TeamGrinchPaws (Alicia, Hans, Grady, Drew, and Lisa) at Legacy Village for this fun event.


People were decked out in festive clothes, there was a merry elf working his way along the course, and we checked out some ice sculptures too!

PicMonkey Collage

Best of all, the festive fitness fun benefited the Arthritis Foundation! Thanks to #TeamGrinchPaws for getting us out and moving on a Sunday morning!

To wrap up the weekend o’ holiday busy-ness, we headed over to my parents’ house to celebrate my grandfather’s 90th birthday! What a milestone!


Happy birthday, Gramps!

How was your weekend? Are you feeling the pre-holiday busy-ness?


Why? Blogiversary!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Megan (Comment #9), randomly-selected winner of an admission to one of the December Balance & Brews events. Please check your email for details. If you didn’t win, you can still register for the December events online.***

So, dear reader, here we are again at another blogiversary! I cannot believe it’s been 4 years of writing Why CLE?. I was kicking around a lot of ideas of what I wanted to say for this year’s blogiversary. As always, I am so grateful to all of you for reading; for creating a space where I feel I can share so much of my life; and for continuing to make this a truly fun endeavor.

One of the best parts about blogging, to me, has been the connections with amazing people doing amazing things in Cleveland. I’m truly lucky to know some great makers and creators and I love the opportunity to give voice to their talents whenever I can. These people are using their time, energy, and talent to put things out in the community that are uniquely them and Cleveland is the richer for it.

Those of you who have read for awhile know that I do a giveaway on my blogiversary. This year, I wanted to focus the giveaway around some of these local makers/creators that I know and love. One lucky reader will take home each of the items listed below:


Maker: Lane Baldwin of Lane Baldwin Photography

Why she’s great: Lane is a wonderful photographer, whose photo-journalistic style has captured some great moments in my life and continues to take my breath away whenever I peruse her blog. Cleveland is her adopted home and she and her husband have truly embraced it, learning a lot about and showing her love for the city through the places she takes photographs. Plus, she’s one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet – you can’t help but smile at her! Oh, and she also recently added on a super fun Photobooth option to her services that she offers!

The giveaway: $25 off a photo shoot with Lane Baldwin Photography, donated by Lane Baldwin Photography

Image Source - popeskitchen.com

Image Source – popeskitchen.com

Maker: Clark Pope of Pope’s Kitchen

Why he’s great: Clark turned a side business into a thriving career because he took a leap of faith and followed his heart (like other makers on this list). His food is legit tasty and there is no one more passionate about supporting other local makers, which shows the true spirit of Cleveland and the maker community especially.

The giveaway: A bottle of Pope’s Kitchen’s Bloody Mary Mix, named to the Best of Cleveland list in 2014

Image Source - evoyoga.com

Image Source – evoyoga.com

Maker: Alicia Hansen of Evolution Yoga

Why she’s great: A lot of you know Alicia from her own blog or from her event planning days. While she’s fabulous at both those things, she heard the call to make teaching yoga the main focus of her career and, what’s even better, she listened to that call. Seeing her so in her element is a wonderful thing, plus she’ll give you a great workout and make your soul feel just as good as your body after her class. And she gives the best hugs ever, if hugging your yoga teacher is your thing.

The giveaway: A gift card for one class at Evolution Yoga (good for any class with any teacher, although I hope you’ll take Alicia’s class)

Image Source - toldstories.com

Image Source – toldstories.com

Maker: Dave Sabol of Told

Why he’s great: Dave started Told with the premise that everyone has a story to tell. Told is a communal storytelling evening that brings Clevelanders together and provides them with a unique forum to share their voices. Told events are fun, engaging, and a great chance to get to know someone new, as well as get to know yourself. And it all happens because Dave decided to start it.

The giveaway: Told events are free to attend and held at Market Garden Brewery, so a $25 gift card to Market Garden will hopefully give you even more incentive to attend

Image Source - terraverdehandmade.bigcartel.com

Image Source – terraverdehandmade.bigcartel.com

Maker: Melissa Klimo-Major of Terra Verde Handmade and Balance & Brews

Why she’s great: Maybe it’s a yogi thing (see: Alicia), but Melissa recognized where her talents and her passions intersected and created two awesome local businesses out of it. Her Terra Verde products are fabulous and her Balance & Brews events are capitalizing on the great trend of taking yoga out of the studio and into real world spaces.

The giveaway: A Cleveland Gray soap bar and Calm Balm

How to enter:

This is really simple. You don’t need to follow anyone or tweet anything. You can comment on either or both of the following (if you do both, please leave separate comments):

1. Tell me the name of a local maker you know and love. I want ideas of more people to go out and meet (and blog about) in the next year of Why CLE?.

2. Tell me which of these prizes you’re most excited about (even though you win them all).

The giveaway will close on Wednesday, December 17 at 11:59pm and the winner will be announced the following day. Good luck!

Again, thanks for an awesome four years and for evolving with me through a lot of life changes. I’m excited for what the next year will bring!


Why? Santacon!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win an admission to enjoy yoga and beer from Balance & Brews? Today is your last chance, so check it out! Remember, you can tweet daily for additional entries.***

Have you ever thought: this Christmas Ale would taste much better if I was dressed as Santa while imbibing it? Of course you have, which is why you need to get out to Santacon on Saturday, December 20, presented by Scene Magazine and Future Friends and Associates.

Image Source - santacon.info

Image Source – santacon.info

Santacon is actually a worldwide event, now in it’s 20th year. It’s based on a pretty simple premise: get a group of people together dressed like Santa. Be jolly. The end.

Because we’re Cleveland, our Santacon is a bar crawl, naturally. Cleveland’s Santacon will be taking over West 25th Street in Ohio City with a parade of jolly Mr. and Mrs. Clauses. Participants will meet at Bar Cento/Bier Markt between 3pm and 4pm on Saturday, December 20 to receive wristbands and maps of participating bars.

There is a $10 registration fee, which gets you a wristband, map, and access to drink specials at participating bars. If you pre-register online, you’ll also receive $10 off Cleveland Scene’s Whiskey Business event on Friday, December 19.

And to make this display of holiday merriment even better, proceeds from Santacon benefit the Greater Cleveland Foodbank.

There is a full list of Santacon “rules” that you can read here, but a couple of my favorites are reprinted below, so you have a sense of the fun spirit of Santacon:

3. Holiday apparel is mandatory. A Santa hat is not enough. Get a Santa suit. Buy a Santa suit. Make a Santa suit. Steal a Santa suit. If you don’t have any money, be creative. If you don’t have any creativity, slap yourself three times and ask your mom to help you. Glue cotton balls to red long johns. Make it purple. Make it pink. Make it plaid. Already have a Santa suit? Bring spare parts for the Santafication of strangers. Examples: Santa Claws, Santa Garcia, Santa’s naughty little helper, misfit toy, elf, Grinch, angel, Jesus, snowman, nutcracker, reindeer. So we’re pretty flexible here.

7. Memorize these answers to important questions that may arise:

Q: Who’s in charge? A: Santa.

Q: What organization are you with? A: Santa.

Q: What are you protesting? A: Sh*tty holiday parties.

Q: How did you get here? A: A sleigh and eight tiny reindeer

Q: Where are you going next? A: I’m only allowed to tell you if you wear this hat and buy me a beer.

Santacon sounds like a perfectly fun, merry, and Cleveland way to spend a pre-holiday weekend! Cheers!


Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win admission to a Balance & Brews event? Check it out! Remember, you can tweet daily for additional entries!***

It was another festive weekend in CLE! On Saturday morning, Matthew, Jeffrey, and I met up with my friend Tracy, her husband Luca, and their daughter Nina for a tour of Glow at the Cleveland Botanical Garden.


Glow combines twinkling lights, Christmas trees decorated by local organizations, gingerbread houses created by both professional and amateur entrants in the gingerbread contest, live music, a kids’ train ride, and more into a true holiday wonderland. This has become one of our favorite holiday events to attend!

PicMonkey Collage

I’m always impressed by the creativity of the trees and gingerbread houses! The Whoville gingerbread house was my favorite this year and the Mr. Jingeling tree brought back great Cleveland Christmas memories.

Jeffrey loved looking at all the lights and also really enjoyed walking through the Garden’s greenhouse, with the waterfall being a particular favorite.


Glow is great for couples or families and offers a nice way to get in the holiday spirit! Glow runs until Sunday, January 4 and is $16 for adults and $12 for children three and up. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

On Sunday, we attended the John Carroll Alumni Breakfast with Santa. There was a family Mass in St. Francis Chapel, followed by brunch in the dining hall (oh, the memories) and the opportunity to meet the Big Guy himself.


Jeffrey has a thing for Santa beards. It’s a good thing Matthew didn’t participate in Movember!

Breakfast with Santa also involved a toy collection for the children at Bellefaire JCB and it was heartwarming to see the generosity of the Carroll alumni community to help make Christmas more merry for the kids at Bellefaire.


If you’re a Carroll alum, there is still a chance to make merry on campus. This Thursday, December 11 is the Christmas Reception at the Dolan Center for Science and Technology. This is a really fun event, with tons of alums (400+ have RSVP’d so far) and great food and drink to celebrate the season.

It was a wonderful weekend doing holiday activities with my favorite guys! 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.***


Why? Balance & Brews Giveaway!

This Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending a Balance & Brews at Butcher and the Brewer. I was excited for a lot of reasons: yoga, beer, checking out a new event, and checking out a new bar!

We started our afternoon with a sixty-minute all-levels vinyasa yoga class. Alyssa, our instructor, did a great job making the class accessible to everyone from a newbie to the more seasoned yogis in the group. And it was a pretty intense core workout, with a lot of crunches, boat pose and the like. I definitely felt like I earned my beer!

Photo Credit: Balance & Brews

Photo Credit: Balance & Brews

I’m always so inspired by the energy created by yoga, not just in myself, but in the whole group that practices. The room was palpably changed and charged by the end of class.

Photo Credit: Balance & Brews

Photo Credit: Balance & Brews

We also got the chance to hydrate properly for class with a bottle of People Water. Balance & Brews has partnered with People Water, so that each class attendee receives a bottle of water. For each bottle of People Water that is purchased, an equal amount is given to help the nearly 3 billion people who live without clean drinking water.


After class, it was time for a different type of beverage, as we headed upstairs to grab one of Butcher and the Brewer’s craft beers.


Your $20 admission to a Balance & Brews event includes the one-hour class, as well as one house craft beer and a brewery tour, which is a great deal! For my beer, I chose the Fall & Oats, a Belgian Oatmeal stout. I’m not sure how they got my two favorite styles of beer to combine, but they did and it worked!


We also got a tour of the brewing operation at Butcher and the Brewer, from tasting some of the grains to smelling hops to sipping beer right out of the fermentation tanks.

PicMonkey Collage

It is clear that the folks at Butcher and the Brewer don’t just produce tasty beer, but they’re really passionate about their work and have a lot of fun with it, too. And you can see the same thing with the folks from Balance & Brews. They are in their zone, doing something they love, and creating something truly unique and fun.

One of the biggest things I noticed was that, while I attended Balance & Brews by myself, I never felt awkward or lacked for conversation. The energy and camaraderie just flowed through the whole group!

Balance & Brews has two more events coming up in December: Saturday, December 27 at Butcher and the Brewer and Tuesday, December 30 at Market Garden Brewery. Treat yourself to some you time after the craziness of the holiday season! And to help you do that, you can enter to win a single admission to your choice of one of the upcoming December events 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 how you (try to) keep balance in your life at this busy time of year.

2. If you like Balance & Brews and Why CLE? on Facebook, leave a comment letting me know you like both pages.

3. Follow @balanceandbrews 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 get my @balanceandbrews on thanks to @WhyCLE: http://wp.me/p1fb9r-2ca

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

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

***Disclosure: I was asked by Balance & Brews to help promote their events. In exchange, I received 1 complimentary admission for myself and 1 admission to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Holiday CircleFest!

As promised, I’m going to try to highlight a fun, festive holiday event once a week as we roll through December. There’s so much going on in Cleveland to celebrate the season! This Sunday, December 7, head on over to University Circle for the 21st annual Holiday CircleFest.

Image Source - universitycircle.org

Image Source – universitycircle.org

The fun starts at Wade Oval. There will be free ice skating at the Rink at Wade Oval (skate rental is $3). In that area, there will also be gourmet food trucks, a s’mores bar from the students at Montessori High School (what? sign me up!), free horse-drawn carriage rides, ice carving demonstrations, and a performance by the Ohio City Singers.

Much like Winterfest, this event encompasses an entire neighborhood. All of University Circle is participating, giving you lots of options as to how to spend your day.

There are many ways to get hands-on at Holiday CircleFest:

There will be holiday shopping opportunities:

At almost all of these locations, there will be live musical performances and holiday snacks, as well as holiday music or theater performances at:

University Circle is at the heart of Cleveland’s rich cultural community and Holiday CircleFest promises to offer that culture wrapped up in a holiday bow! For more details on all things Holiday CircleFest related, click here.


Why? Weekends!

Are you emerging from your turkey comas? I don’t know about you, but it was a busy and wonderful holiday weekend over here! Matthew and I returned to hosting Thanksgiving for my family this year, after taking a brief hiatus last year. It was great to be back in the kitchen, making way too much food, way too many pumpkin martinis, and enjoying the day with family!

PicMonkey Collage

We had Thanksgiving Round 2 with Matthew’s family the next day. It was definitely a gobble til you wobble situation!

On Saturday, we had a full day of fun first Christmas activities planned with Jeffrey. It was also time to switch on the Christmas tunes on the radio. I always wait until Thanksgiving is over, but now New 102 and Majic 105 will be cranking in my car until Christmas!

First stop of the day was picking out a Christmas tree. Matthew’s family always had live trees and picking out the tree together was a family tradition.

10367580_10152507434428693_3806456355968438113_nAfter picking out the tree (and a nap), we headed downtown to take in some of the fun of Winterfest. There was so much going on, but we thought our best bet for Jeffrey was to go to Tower City. We enjoyed the Toy Soldier and Fairy Godmother holiday show, featuring performers from Olmsted Performing Arts.


The show features an amazing Toy Soldier, as well as ballerinas, Raggedy Ann and Andy, and lots more holiday fun!

We also went to Mr. Kringle & Company for Jeffrey’s first picture with Santa. We chose the Quick Snap option, rather than the full Inventionasium (which I can’t wait to check out once he’s a bit older).

I cannot say enough about what a truly magical experience this was! You get one-on-one time with Mr. Kringle, in a room with just your family and the big guy. And this Mr. Kringle was extraordinary…so kind and just wonderful with Jeffrey.


I am very guilty of building up moments in my mind to the point where reality will almost never meet my expectation. Jeffrey’s first visit with Santa was one of those moments in my mind and this experience exceeded everything I could have imagined. I left with my heart full of holiday joy and Jeffrey covered in Santa glitter. What more could you ask for?!

Saturday was just a great family tradition day. I’ll tuck the pictures away to show Jeffrey someday and I’ll certainly keep the memories in my heart. He has given new glow to a season I have always loved!

We spent most of Sunday decorating the house. We’re all done except for the tree, which I’m calling a win in my book. The best part was setting up Jeffrey’s own personal tree in his nursery. I had a small tree in my room when I was growing up and I wanted to carry on that tradition with him.


I think he likes it!

How was your weekend? Did you attend Winterfest? Are you brimming with holiday cheer?


Why? Small Business Saturday!

I grew up with going shopping on Black Friday. My Mom and I would head out into the madness, mostly just to observe the craziness, with liberal amounts of food, laughing, and shopping for ourselves sprinkled in.

While I’m not knocking those who choose to spend this day in consumer-driven mayhem, there’s also a great retail “holiday” happening tomorrow: Small Business Saturday!

Image Source - weheartlic.com

Image Source – weheartlic.com

This is a great chance to get out and support our hometown entrepreneurs and business owners who are truly the creative backbone of Cleveland’s economy.

Need some inspiration as to where to spend your Small Business Saturday?

  • Check out my Favorite Things list, which includes great gift items, all created by local makers.
  • Peruse some of my favorite Cleveland businesses for holiday shopping.
  • As part of Winterfest, stop at the Cleveland Bazaar at the 5th Street Arcades or the Holiday Pop-Up Shop at Playhouse Sqaure.
  • As long as you’re downtown, pop over to smallbox in the Warehouse District for pop-ups from Banyan Tree, Wandering Wardrobe, and the Cleveland Browns.

No matter how or where, get out and support Small Business Saturday! You’ll love knowing your dollars are making an impact close to home, plus you’ll inevitably end up with great gift items (and maybe even a treat or two for you)!