Why? Weekends!

You gotta love when your birthday falls on a Friday, giving you an entire weekend to celebrate! I took Friday off from work and spent the day with Jeffrey, which was a perfect way to begin a birthday weekend. Especially when he laughed for the first time on Friday! Coolest sound ever!

On Friday evening, Matthew planned a wonderful celebration that started with dinner at the brand new Adega in The 9. The vibe of Adgea, and The 9 in general, is very different for Cleveland. I would say it almost feels more like New York or Miami. Very chic, very modern, and very exciting!

IMG_0480We started our meal with the Crispy Polenta Mozarella, with fresh mozarella, polenta, tomato sauce, and parmesan.

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You really can’t go wrong with me and polenta, so this was a great start! For my entree, I had the pork tenderloin medallions, served with corn risotto and and sherry-braised kale.

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As you can see, the medallions were quite substantial! They were also tender and flavorful. A bite of the pork, risotto, and kale together was a great mix of flavors. I think this is the first time I’ve really enjoyed braised greens!

Matthew had the Plancha scallops, with basil pesto, corn and mushroom fricasee, and cauliflower puree.

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These are some of the best scallops either of us have ever had!

For dessert, I had the apple fritter donuts with berry and cream sauces and Matthew had the chocolate hazelnut bar.

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While the donuts were very good, Matthew’s dessert was truly a stand-out. We were so impressed with the food, service, and atmosphere at Adega. Chef Eddie Tancredi stopped by our table and chatted a bit about how The 9 is such a new feel for Cleveland, but something really exciting too. We certainly agree!

From dinner, we headed to the Phillip Phillips concert at Playhouse Square. Matthew got amazing seats and I really enjoyed the show. I had no idea Phillip Phillips and his band could jam as well as they did!

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It was a perfect birthday celebration!

On Sunday, Alicia, Amanda, and Kimberly had another perfect birthday celebration planned. We started out at Yoga Rocks the Park.

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Not only did we get a great practice in from Tammy at Inner Bliss, but we also got to hear some beautiful music and savasana chanting from our dear friend Ylonda. While practicing outside can have its challenges (half-moon on the grass can be tough), it’s also a really beautiful experience!

From there, we headed to Dante Next Door for a delightful brunch on the patio. You can read my full thoughts on Dante Next Door here, but suffice to say it was completely delicious! From there, we went to the Cleveland Flea’s outdoor market in Hingetown, mostly to score some ice cream from Mason’s Creamery, who may just be the nicest folks in the ice cream business.

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We popped into the new, adorable Jukebox for a beverage and to catch some of the Browns game. I love this cozy, friendly bar!

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Another perfect birthday celebration! I am a very lucky girl to be able to spend my weekend with my favorite people experiencing so many wonderful things in my favorite city! Thank you all so much for making it so special!

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jenclesig_pur

Why? Birthday Reflections!

So, today is my birthday. I’ve been terrible at birthday suggestions this year, as life is feeling pretty complete at the moment. Although, you know, the iPhone 6 does drop today…

Last year, I got a pretty amazing birthday gift: we found out I was pregnant with Jeffrey. Kind of hard to top that one (and no need to be repeating it, at least not yet). But in reflecting on that a year later, I started thinking that sometimes the universe (AKA, fate or God or whatever you believe in) hands you exactly what you need exactly when you need it.

Sometimes that’s something big, like your life going in the direction you hoped it would.

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Sometimes it’s as simple as a day off from work.

Image Source - digitalmomblog.com

Image Source – digitalmomblog.com

Sometimes it’s the people that come into your life at just the right moment and are exactly who you need them to be.

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Sometimes it’s getting to start and end each day with the person who makes you whole.

Photo Credit - J.A.S. Photography

Photo Credit – J.A.S. Photography

So, what I want for my birthday this year is for the universe to keep up it’s grand plan for me. It’s been going pretty well so far! And I want the chance to slow down and appreciate the grand plan as it’s happening. That will make this year even better than the last.

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Why? Taste of the Browns!

There a few culinary events in Cleveland where you know you don’t need to eat for the whole day leading up to the event and pretty much for the whole day after. Taste of the Browns is one of those events!

There are so many great restaurants serving up so many tasty treats! Because my brain seems to like categorizing things lately, here are some favorites in various categories:

Fish/Seafood

Pier W‘s Maine lobster casserole and Blue Point Grille‘s lobster bisque both brought warm, rich, sweet lobster goodness. There were two tuna tartare options (XO Prime Steaks and Players on Madison) and Matthew gave the win to Players.

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There were also two shrimp and grits options, from Hodge’s and Peachtree Southern Kitchen. While both were tasty, Hodge’s shrimp and grits was by far my favorite dish, not only in this category but of the entire event. The grits were creamy, the shrimp tender, and the chorizo sausage added just the right bite.

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I’ve had this item off the menu at Hodge’s and you just can’t go wrong with it.

Italian

There were a lot of Italian offerings this year! Lago’s veal meatball was substantial and delicious! Matthew raved about Corleone’s Ristorante’s calamari steak. And Georgetown‘s pasta bolognese and Stino da Napoli‘s lasagna were solid traditional choices.

Casual Eats

We were in First Energy Stadium, after all, so of course there were some stadium-style eats. Urban Farmer Cleveland Steakhouse brought house-made mini hot dogs with black truffles (so, casual, but still fancy).

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B Spot‘s Thin Lizzy sliders, hot off the grill, were a win for me, as was Market Garden Brewery‘s chorizo and potato pierogi with beer cheese sauce. Momocho‘s chicken tacos were another fun, casual bite full of big flavors.

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Dessert

There are always plenty of sweets to enjoy, from a chocolate cheesecake truffle from Deagan’s Kitchen and Bar to a salted caramel cupcake from the Cleveland Cupcake Company to Pierre’s ice cream.

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Wine

Lots of great choices to taste, although an old standby of Apothic Red gets our vote for favorite of the night.

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Fundraiser

Of course, the entire evening is a fundraiser for the Greater Cleveland Foodbank, with every dollar raised providing 4 meals, but I particularly liked this year’s addition of a wine and craft beer pull!

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Overall, there were 1,000 attendees and $180,000 was raised for the Greater Cleveland Foodbank, beating last year’s totals!

Company

I can’t complain about the company for the evening at all!

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Overall, it was another fantastic night at Taste of the Browns. The only thing marring the evening at all was the long wait to get into the event (it took us nearly half an hour and we arrived promptly at the start), but I suppose the fact that so many people came out the support the Greater Cleveland Foodbank is the more positive way to look at it!

Did you attend Taste of the Browns? What were some of your favorites?

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Taste of the Browns. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary general admission tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

Another busy weekend in the CLE! On Friday night, Playhouse Square Partners hosted a tailgate-themed Season Kickoff Party, in order to drum up new membership and unveil the much-anticipated theme for Jump Back Ball 2015.

Image Source - playhousesquare.com

Image Source – playhousesquare.com

That’s right: this year’s Jump Back Ball we’ll be Jumping Back to the Future! The ticket kickoff happy hour will be on Monday, November 10 at the brand new Hofbrauhaus. Stay tuned for more details on how to get your JBB tickets at the lowest price!

Sunday morning, Matthew and I checked out the friends and family preview of the new brunch menu at Prosperity Social Club. We happened to run into Amanda and Scott, which made the morning even better!

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Prosperity’s brunch menu offers mostly savory entree options, but still satisfies your sweet tooth with fried cherry pies and apple bread pudding, which is moist and seasonally delicious!

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There are also plenty of fun brunch cocktails, from a Sriracha bloody mary to a grown-up blueberry lemonade for your Sunday Funday pleasure.

For my entree, I chose the fried chicken and biscuits, with sausage gravy and smoked cheddar cheese, served with a side of savory potato hash.

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This was a hearty meal and, while the potato hash was tasty, I would have had plenty without. You can also get this dish topped with an egg. For a brunch that will carry you through the whole day, I certainly recommend this dish!

Matthew chose the Morning Glory mac ‘n cheese, with breakfast sausage, a variety of peppers, and smoked cheddar, topped with a fried egg.

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This is an interesting twist on mac ‘n cheese and a nice way to bridge the breakfast/lunch gap.

Overall, the brunch menu at Prosperity offers a lot of tasty, homey, not-too-fancy choices for a brunch that can be easy like Sunday morning. Brunch service begins this weekend on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30am to 3:30pm. Come for the brunch, stay for the relaxed and fun atmosphere!

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How was your weekend?

***Disclosures: I am a board member of Playhouse Square Partners. I was invited to attend the brunch preview at Prosperity Social Club with a guest. Our meals were complimentary, but our alcohol was paid for ourselves. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Chefs Unbridled!

Saturday evening brought fall-like weather and one of my favorite fall events: Chefs Unbridled to benefit Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center.

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Set at the Chagrin Valley Hunt Club Polo Fields, Chefs Unbridled has live and silent auctions to benefit Fieldstone Farm, as well as live music from the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra and a wonderful tasting dinner from some of Cleveland’s finest chefs.

This year, Matthew and I decided to select our favorite appetizer, entree, and dessert from the tasting dinner to share with you.

Appetizer

Urban Farmer Cleveland Steakhouse brought our favorite appetizer of the evening: scallop chips with bacon jam and tomatoes.

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The scallop chips are a housemade variation on the classic shrimp chip. The bacon jam is deliciously salty and the tomato added just the right fresh notes. Don’t ask how many of these we ate.

Entree

I had two favorite entrees from the evening. The first, which was Matthew’s favorite as well, was the grilled hanger steak with salsa verde and creamed corn from Driftwood Restaurant Group.

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The steak was prepared perfectly, the salsa was spicy, and anything with Ohio corn is a win in my book.

My other winning entree came from Radius: pork belly with pickled onions and a small cornbread cake.

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This was some of the meatiest pork belly I’ve ever had, which also made it a win in Matthew’s book.

Dessert

Urban Farmer gets the win in this column as well with their devil’s food whoopie pies.

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Rich and decadent, with the playfulness I’ve come to expect from Urban Farmer, these were my favorite sweet treat of the evening and paired perfectly with my 14 Hands Hot to Trot red blend.

Fun Touches

And in a needed category, here were two of my favorite fun touches of the evening: Hodge Podge Truck and an Irish coffee station.

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Who doesn’t love to warm up with boozey coffee and tater tots?!

All in all, it was another fabulous evening at Chefs Unbridled! Did you attend? What were your favorites?

***Disclosure: I was asked by Fieldstone Farm to help promote Chefs Unbridled. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Baby Classes!

There are a lot of activities and classes to try with your little one, even when they’re at a very young age! Two classes that we’ve found are great both for Jeffrey and us are Kindermusik and Stroller Babes.

Matthew and I started taking Jeffrey to Kindermusik when he was only six weeks old. While this might sound like an incredibly young age, Jeffrey has always really responded to music and we thought this would be a great way to get him more exposure to music, as well as to other children.

The summer class, “Peekaboo, I love you,” was for children up to age one-and-a-half. While Jefferey was the youngest in the class, we found he really enjoyed the songs, instruments, and time with other kids.

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Each class is 45 minutes long and goes through various songs, paired with instruments, dances, and interactive time for parents and children. This is something Matthew and I can do together with Jeffrey, which is great. My Mom also takes Jeffrey to a Kindermusik class during the week, so he gets double the music fun!

I loved seeing how our inhibitions went away as we bounced and danced and acted silly throughout the classes.

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Our fall class, “Zoom Buggy,” starts tomorrow and I can’t wait to see Jeffrey’s reactions, especially as he becomes more aware and expressive every day. With each class session, you receive materials for home, including a CD of the class songs, a story book, and tips how to incorporate Kindermusik at home. I will say, singing along with the CD in the car has gotten a lot of smiles from Jeffrey! There are classes for various age ranges at locations around Cleveland, so check out the website if you’re interested.

I also signed up for Stroller Babes, after hearing about it from my friend Patty. I asked Missy, a Stroller Babes founder and instructor, to tell me in her words what Stroller Babes is all about:

We wanted to start Stroller Babes so that moms in our area could get a great workout without sacrificing time with their babies. It is also a great way to get moms connected with one another. It is tough to stay social when you have little ones at home, but Stroller Babes classes provide the opportunity for moms to make new friends who all share the same passion for fitness.

Image courtesy of Stroller Babes

Image courtesy of Stroller Babes

A Stroller Babes class combines walking/jogging/running with cardio and stretching exercises, along with time to play with your kiddo and chat with other moms. Personally, I’ve found that Jeffrey loves the time in the park and I love the chance to connect with women in the same spot in life, as well as get in a much-needed workout, so it’s a win-win(-win)!

Image courtesy of Stroller Babes

Image courtesy of Stroller Babes

Stroller Babes has classes 4 days a week, at various times and locations on the east side of Cleveland, so both working and stay-at-home moms can participate. Stroller Babes also schedules play dates, free introductory classes, and mom’s nights out for even more fun! To find out more and sign up for a class, click here.

Both Kindermusik and Stroller Babes provide great ways for us to interact with Jeffrey and other parents, with fun activities that all of us can enjoy!

jenclesig_pur

Why? Ladies Who Lunch!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Eat*Drink*Cleveland (Comment #30), randomly-selected winner of a $25 gift card to Restaurant Trentina! Remember, Restaurant Trentina is now open for lunch service as well as dinner!***

While I was on maternity leave, I not only got to spend tons of time with my favorite little man, but I also got to be a lady who lunches. My mom and I would often meet up around an activity with Jeffrey, grab a bite, and then Grandma could spend some time with the kiddo.

One day, we found ourselves down in Hudson and lunched at the new Peachtree Southern Kitchen. Chef Matthew Mathlage of the former Light Bistro is at the helm, so I was expecting something tasty.

We started with an order of spicy chicken cracklins, served with hot sauce and honey.

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I had sampled the cracklins at the Veggie U Food and Wine event, so I knew we were in for a crispy treat. I loved the hot sauce and honey combo, which added just the right amount of kick.

For my lunch entree, I chose the daily special of mac ‘n cheese with pork belly and bacon jam.

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So decadent, so good. For those Light Bistro fans, you’ll remember the special mac ‘n cheese was always a good choice and it’s no different at Peachtree.

Dessert was a shared affair of beignets, served with powder sugar and honey.

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As someone who has traveled a lot in the southern US and adores the cuisine, Peachtree is spot on, from the taste to the decor. I felt like I spent an afternoon in the south and it was lovely!

From the south to Italy, another day we lunched at Flour Restaurant. We couldn’t resist sharing the Funghi pizza, straight from the wood-fired pizza oven. The crispy, slightly chewy crust was topped with roasted shallots, wild mushrooms, goat cheese, thyme, and white truffle oil.

We ate the entire pizza. So fast I didn’t even get a picture of it. Take my word for it, the pizza at Flour is not to be missed!

It’s just a short jaunt from Flour to Chagrin Falls, where we took a little stroll with Jeffrey.

When not distracted by pizza, I remember to take pictures

When not distracted by pizza, I remember to take pictures

We had to stop in Elementarie baby boutique, which has a gorgeous selection of clothes, toys, and gift items for the little one in your life. Plus, Jeffrey loved just being around all the bright colors in the shop!

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And no trip to Chagrin Falls is complete without a stop at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. I tried one of Jeni’s ice cream sandwiches, with a hazelnut macaron, dark chocolate ice cream, and chopped hazelnuts.

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The next time you want to be a lady who lunches, I highly recommend Peachtree Southern Kitchen and Flour Restaurant. Both have delicious menus and proximity to great shopping…what more could a lady who lunches need?

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win a $25 gift card to Restaurant Trentina? Check it out! Remember, you can tweet daily for additional entries.***

And just like that, the first weekend of September is in the books! Time is just flying by, isn’t it?! On Saturday, we went to my niece’s birthday party at the Kent State University Ice Arena.

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I’m not an ice skater, so luckily I could use “holding the baby” as an excuse not to get out on the ice. Jeffrey loved watching the skaters, though, and dancing with me to the great throwback ’90’s jams (Montel Jordan, what?!).

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It was fun afternoon with the family!

Sunday, we took advantage of the gorgeous weather to spend the afternoon outside at the Cleveland Garlic Festival. From live music to tasty food to garlic to purchase to wine, beer, and spirits tastings, there was something for everyone to enjoy!

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Our first stop was La Campagna, where we split a sandwich with portobello, roasted red pepper, pesto, mozzarella, and garlic. Delicious!

We then headed over to the wine, beer, and spirits tent. I tried a few different beers from The Brew Kettle and really liked the Oktofest and the Kitka Coconut Chocolate Milk Stout. There was also a Black Rajah IPA infused with garlic! Matthew got his Cleveland Whiskey on and is already coming up with things he can mix the Christmas Bourbon with.

We also stopped by Thaxton’s Organic Garlic and sampled some of their many varieties of garlic.

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We purchased the Khabar and Korean Red varietals to use at home.

Still graving some more garlic to eat, I grabbed a sandwich from Sterle’s Country House: chicken schnitzel with spicy kraut from Cleveland Kraut. The chicken was perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. And I could eat a vat of the spicy kraut!

Needing a sweet palate cleanser, we had some Mitchell’s Ice Cream to finish our day. I sampled the Roasted Garlic ice cream, which was surprisingly sweet, but I couldn’t imagine eating an entire scoop, so I stuck with a longtime favorite: Wildberry Crumble. Matthew had the Caramelized Chocolate, which is fast becoming another favorite.

As we were heading out, we got to see the Garlic Festival parade go by.

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What a fun and unique festival and proceeds benefit the North Union Farmers Market! Definitely put this on your calendar for next year!

How was your weekend? Did you get out and enjoy Sunday’s beautiful weather?

***Disclosure: I was asked by North Union Farmers Market to help promote the Cleveland Garlic Festival. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary weekend passes, which covered admission but not food and drink. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Trentina Giveaway!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to timzaun (Comment #10), randomly-selected winner of 2 shopping passes to Fashion Forward Giving Back at Beachwood Place. Please check your email for more details. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase shopping passes online.***

There is a new restaurant in town that everyone is talking about for its elegance, creative menu, and unique place in the Cleveland restaurant landscape: Restaurant Trentina. Awhile ago, Matthew and I had the pleasure of attending their family and friends preview of Trentina’s dinner service and loved every amazing bite.

Image Source - restauranttrentina.com

Image Source – restauranttrentina.com

Trentina is expanding its offerings to include lunch service, starting on Tuesday, September 9. Lunch at Trentina will not be a rushed kind of affair. Rather, Chef Jonathon Sawyer wants us “take back the lunch hour,” by enjoying a true dining experience in the middle of the day.

The a la carte menu combines Northern Italian-style cooking with local ingredients. The menu includes salad, crudo, pasta, entree, and dessert options. From perusing the menu, the Ravioli Charcuterie and the Chicken Boudino Bianco sound like must-orders for me. And the early reviews are quite positive! I definitely want to be a lady who lunches at Trentina!

Lunch service will be available at Restaurant Trentina on Tuesdays through Fridays from 11am to 2pm and reservations are encouraged. To help you take back your lunch hour at Trentina, I have a $25 gift card to give away! Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, or all four entries, just leave a separate comment for each):

1. Check out Trentina’s lunch menu and leave a comment letting me know which item you would most like to order.

2. Leave a comment if you like Restaurant Trentina and Why CLE? on Facebook, letting me know you like both pages.

3. Follow @TrentinaCLE 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 take back my lunch hour at @TrentinaCLE thanks to @WhyCLE: http://wp.me/p1fb9r-26g

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

The giveaway will close on Monday, September 8 at 11:59pm and the winner will be announced the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend the friends and family preview of Trentina’s lunch service. Sadly, I had to decline due to scheduling conflicts. I received a $25 gift card to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Playhouse Square Partners Season Kickoff Party!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win two shopping passes to Beachwood Place’s Fashion Forward Giving Back to benefit Cleveland Clinic Children’s? Check it out! Remember, you can tweet daily for additional entries.***

Playhouse Square Partners is kicking off another season of great events, volunteering, exclusive theater access, networking, and Jump Back Ball partying. To celebrate the new season, as well as introduce you to Partners, there will be a Season Kickoff Party happening Friday, September 12.

Image Source - playhousesquare.org

Image Source – playhousesquare.org

The Kickoff Party will take place in the Idea Center building at Playhouse Square starting at 5:30pm. Enjoy tailgating-style fun, including food, drinks (first round is on Playhouse Square Partners), a cornhole competition, and other tailgating games.

Plus, you can learn more about Playhouse Square Partners, including what our committees have planned for the year ahead and the big reveal of the Jump Back Ball 2015 theme! Partners memberships will also be discounted 20% for new members that night, if you’re interested in signing up.

After the tailgating, head outside to U.S. Bank Plaza for the free Summer Movie Series presentation of “Draft Day,” which was filmed in Cleveland and is all about our beloved Cleveland Browns!

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Image Source – playhousesquare.org

You do not need to be a member of Partners to attend and the party is free, too (there will be a cash bar beyond your first drink). Plus, who wouldn’t want the inside scoop on the Jump Back Ball theme?! I hope to see you there for some football-themed fun and games! RSVP to Sarah at sarah@playhousesquare.org.

***Disclosure: I am a board member of Playhouse Square Partners. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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