Category Archives: Holidays

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.

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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!

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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? 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.

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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!

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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? 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.

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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!

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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!

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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)!


Why? Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving, dear readers! Each year, I think I’ve reached my peak capacity for thankfulness and each year I’ve been proven wrong. As we gather around the table this year with Jeffrey, on his sixth-month birthday no less, my heart is fuller than ever with love and joy and hopefulness.

It is extraordinary how love builds upon itself. First, way back before a lot of you “knew” me, I learned to love myself (although that’s certainly a continually evolving process). Then, I learned with Matthew how to truly love another person. And then multiply that by Jeffrey. It’s all a process, it’s all a journey. And it’s one for which I could not be more grateful.

Photo Credit - Lane Baldwin Photography

Photo Credit – Lane Baldwin Photography

So, as you sit around wherever your Thanksgiving table may be, with whomever you may be sharing it, I wish for you a profound sense of gratitude for whatever your journey may be, wherever it has led you so far, and wherever it may take you next.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Why? Weekends!

My pre-Thanksgiving weekend was already stuffed (haha) with food and family time! On Friday night, Matthew and I went out for a quick date night dinner at Olivor Twist in downtown Willoughby. This is a longstanding favorite spot, thanks to their extensive and creative martini list and tasty food.

Since the place was packed, we grabbed a seat at the bar. You can still order the full menu there and we’ve always had great service regardless.


We started with the stuffed peppers appetizer, filled with chorizo sausage and cheese and topped with tomato sauce. These had just the right amount of heat and were a great start to our meal.


For our entrees, Matthew chose the mac ‘n cheese with lobster, which put him in a bit of a food coma. The bites I snagged were really good…packed with lobster meat and a delicious creamy sauce.

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I had the pan seared scallops, topped with apple mango chutney and served with rice pilaf and broccoli. The scallops were perfectly cooked and I really enjoyed the sweetness of the chutney. But the sides left me wanting more in terms of flavor and texture. They didn’t take away from the scallops, but they didn’t add to them either.

For dessert, we shared a slice of chocolate tort in all it’s dense, rich deliciousness.


It was a great date night!

On Saturday, we attended our niece Leila’s fourth birthday party, which of course was adorably themed around the movie “Frozen.” It’s hard to believe Leila is four already! The only picture I managed to get was with Leila’s sister, as the birthday girl barely sat still all day, but that’s to be expected!


On Sunday, we celebrated my Dad’s birthday with good food, good wine, and good company. Mom made an excellent dinner and we ended the evening with cassata cake from Dad’s favorite bakery, Baraona’s.


It was a great weekend, although I was hoping for a few less calories heading into the Thanksgiving week! I’m off this entire week and am so excited to get ready for the holiday and spend some time with my little man! How was your weekend? How is your pre-Thanksgiving week shaping up?


Why? Winterfest!

There are so many ways to get in the spirit of the upcoming holidays in Cleveland! Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing with you some of my favorite holiday events around town so that you can get all merry and bright, too!

On Saturday, November 29, the Downtown Cleveland Alliance is putting on Winterfest, presented by Huntington.

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This event has a special place in my heart. As a child, my Mom and I would go down to Public Square every year for the lighting ceremony. I can remember my sense of awe and wonder at how beautiful downtown Cleveland looked all lit up for Christmas.

And now Winterfest has grown into an event that runs down Euclid Avenue and encompasses even more of downtown Cleveland, with lots to do for all ages and interests. This year, Playhouse Square is serving as the home base for Winterfest, as Public Square is under construction.

At Playhouse Square, there will be a Holiday Pop Up Shop, with great gift items from local artists and makers; family-friendly entertainment with Popfusion; team mascot appearances; gourmet food trucks; choral music from the Old Stone Church Choir; the Festival of Trees at the Allen Theatre; a photo op with the #thisisCLE sign; and, to top it all off, the lighting ceremony, with accompanying concert and fireworks.

But the fun at Playhouse Square is only part of Winterfest! There will be free horse-drawn carriage rides stepping off from the Cleveland Public Library. Also at CPL, there will be a toy train depot, a performance by the River Valley Ringers hand bell chorus, stories and crafts, live reindeer, ice scuplting, and carols and cookies.

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Tower City Center will feature a Toy Soldier & Fairy Godmother Holiday Show at three different times throughout the day at the Grand Staircase, with meet and greets to follow. There will also be the Holiday Express Train Ride, Kringle’s Inventionasium, Bruce the Talking Spruce (a Cleveland classic!), and Chillin’ with Kringle at the Hard Rock Cafe.

5th Street Arcades will feature the Cleveland Bazaar for holiday shopping.

Tri-C Hospitality Management Center will host a free public after party for post-lighting cookies, hot cocoa, and Santa photo ops. There will also be Santa photo ops during the day at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

East Fourth Street will have hot cocoa and marshmallows available all day. Erie Island Coffee Co. is celebrating Charlie Brown Christmas with a 10% discount for anyone sporting Charlie Brown wear. For more adult-like beverages, stop in at Society Lounge, which will also have live Rat-Pack-style holiday tunes or Wonder Bar, which has created an exclusive Cleveland holiday beverage with Cleveland Whiskey. And Crossroads at House of Blues will feature live holiday music in the evening.

Horseshoe Casino will again feature the Holidays at the Higbee display, which hearkens back to Cleveland’s Higbee department store windows of old. The Ritz Carlton will continue their annual Gingerbread House display. And Winterfest kicks off Downtown in December Lolly the Trolley tours as well.

Phew! There is so much to take in with this year’s Winterfest and truly something for everyone! I can’t wait to attend and get in the holiday spirit in a particularly Cleveland way. For more details on times, locations, and everything Winterfest, click here.


Why? My Cleveland Favorite Things List!

Earlier this week, Oprah released her yearly list of Favorite Things to help you with your holiday gift-giving. Now, not every item on the list is crazy expensive or even just plain crazy, but it got me to thinking about a favorite things list of my own that would be a little more within reach.

So, here are local items that are on my Favorite Things list, fabulous for either giving or getting! All are from Cleveland companies, so you know you’re supporting the local economy, while still scoring really cool gifts!

Item: I Liked Cleveland Before it Was Cool Shirt 

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From: CLE Clothing Co.

Price: $25.00

Why: It’s cheeky, fun, and, in my case, completely true. Let everyone know you’re not a fair-weather Cleveland lover!

Item: Phoenix Coffee Company CLE Blend

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From: Phoenix Coffee Company

Price: $12.00 for 12 ounces

Why: Who doesn’t love waking up with something local in your cup?

Item: Sterling CLE Chic

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From: Banyan Tree

Price: $50.00

Why: I received this necklace from Matthew last Christmas and hands-down get the most comments on it than any other piece of jewelry. It’s adorable!

Item: Malley’s Milk Chocolate Rainbow Wafers

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From: Malley’s Chocolates

Price: $12.75 for 16 ounces

Why: There’s something about these classic discs of chocolate goodness that are childlike and easy and fun.

Item: Terra Verde Handmade Wine & Gold Soap Bar

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From: Terra Verde Handmade

Price: $8.00

Why: For the Cavs fan in your life, who also likes to be clean and smell great.

Item: Willoughby Brewing Company Crowler

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From: Willoughby Brewing Company

Price: $9.00

Why: A 32-ounce can that can be filled with any of Willoughby Brewing’s craft beers. It stays fresher and is a more manageable amount than a growler. What a cool concept!

Item: Pope’s Fig-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

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From: Pope’s Kitchen

Why: These are great as a an easy addition to any meal and taste delicious!

Item: Cleveland Museum of Art Membership

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From: Cleveland Museum of Art

Price: Starting at $55.00 per year

Why: Yes, the Museum is free, but membership gets you access to special exhibitions, events, and more! It’s the Art Museum “plus!”

Item: Vitamix Professional Series 750

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From: Vitamix

Price: $639.00

Why: Because there has to be at least one pricey item on a Favorite Things list, Oprah said so. Seriously, whether you go with the Professional Series, Classic Series, or Certified Reconditioned Series, you cannot go wrong with having this multi-purpose tool in your kitchen!

So, what would be on your Cleveland Favorite Things list?