Why? Weekends!

What a beautiful weekend in Cleveland! It was the perfect weather to take advantage of some winter festivals. But before I get into that…

On Friday, Jeffrey and I met up with some friends for a play date at Playground World. You’ve got to love being able to swing and slide at a “playground” even in the winter!

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After all that playing, we worked up an appetite, so we headed to Guido’s Pizza Haven. For delicious traditional Italian food, plus warm family service (Grandma came out from the kitchen to see us because she heard there were lots of babies in the restaurant), you can’t beat Guido’s. Try the baked ravioli. So good!

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Guido’s recently moved to a new building and is not making desserts there yet, which was the only disappointment in an otherwise yummy, nap-inducing lunch.

On Friday night, I practiced with my dear friend Alicia as she taught her last class at Evolution Yoga. I have been practicing with Alicia for a long time, both as a fellow student and then attending her classes once she was teaching. I have learned so much from her and always leave her classes feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

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I know that whatever is next on her yoga journey will be exciting and fulfilling and I will definitely be unfurling my mat there!

On Saturday, Matthew, Jeffrey and I attended Cleveland Kurentovanje, a traditional Slovenian festival with polka music, ethnic foods like haluski and Slovenian sausage, a parade with fuzzy kurents, crafts for kids, a market selling sausage and potica, and much more.

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Cleveland has the largest Slovenian population outside of Slovenia itself and it is truly great to see how the traditions are preserved and how many people turn out to celebrate. We spent our time at the Slovenian National Home, but there was also fun happening at Sterle’s Country House. We’ll definitely be back for this festival next year!

On Sunday, it was time for another festival (who says those are only in the summer?!). This time we headed to Frozen Fest put on by the Geauga Park District. With both indoor and outdoor activities, this festival was on our calendar regardless of the weather, but we had a perfect day to enjoy both.

Jeffrey loved meeting some of the sled dogs from the Siberian Husky Club of Greater Cleveland. He pretty much ran right into the field of puppies, at which point there was a cuteness explosion!

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We also got to meet Olaf (and Jeffrey danced with him when he sang for the crowd), check out the cool ice sculptures (haha), and go on the otter slide and tunnel approximately 840 times.

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This was a really fun event with lots for kids to explore! We all had a great time!

We spent Sunday evening watching commercials and Beyonce and getting ready for another busy week ahead. How was your weekend?

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Why? Animal Attractions!

***This report submitted by various critters at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo The RainForest.***

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Every year, we see it: a stampede of humans coming to feed and gather around various watering holes here at The RainForest for what they call Animal Attractions. We think perhaps they are stocking up for hibernation. They certainly seem to enjoy eating a lot!

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Two styles of mac ‘n cheese, plus chorizo-stuffed bacon-wrapped dates from Butcher and the Brewer and Tremont Tap House

From my underwater vantage point, I noticed the humans eating many braised beef tacos from AMP 150. Yes, I know what all those things are. I love me a nice braised fish taco, personally.

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Perched in the trees, I noticed the humans taking a lot of pictures with these signs. They’re all #wildaboutcle. I’ll tell you what, I’m wild in CLE.

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I had a perfect vantage point to observe the evening and teach my little one about the humans!

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The humans loved to listen to talks about how we mate here at the Zoo. One of them volunteered to be part of the discussion and dragged her mate along with her. I understand how that goes. I’m always finding the good bananas and having to point them out to my man. But anyway, the one who volunteered had very sparkly shoes. I think it’s some sort of human signal to her mate.

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Also, the humans seemed to love this picture. I think it’s what you call a #selfie.

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We found it interesting that some of the smallest pieces of food were the most coveted by the humans. Notice the hoarding of the small pieces here. Clearly a sign of impending hibernation.

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Mini cupcakes from Cleveland Cupcake Company

From my post in the lobby, I could see all of the comings and goings and can report that all the humans had a wonderful time and we enjoyed our chance to observe their feeding and pre-mating rituals once again.

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***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote Animal Attractions. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary tickets for myself, plus 2 tickets to give away. As always, all opinions and random choices of what I think will be an amusing way to write a blog post are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Cleveland’s Finest Hors d’Oeuvre Contest Giveaway!

One of my absolute favorite things to do is make a meal out of appetizers. Satisfying little bites of yummyness that give you lots of different tastes and flavors to explore. Which is why Cleveland’s Finest Hors d’Oeuvre Contest has become a much-anticipated event for me.

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Spanning two floors of the Terrace Club at Progressive Field, this event offers appetizers to sample from some of Cleveland’s best restaurants, including Hodge’s, Tartine Bistro, The Woods, Corleone’s Restaurant & Bar, the Zack Bruell Restaurant Group, and more.

There’s an interactive component to all this good eating, as attendees get to vote for their favorite hors d’oeuvre and see the winner crowned at the end of the evening.

Add in complimentary beer and wine samples, plus fabulous silent auction prizes, live music from Nate Jones and The One Hit Wonders Unplugged, complimentary parking, and desserts from Becker’s Bakery and you have a truly delicious event!

Plus, all this food and fun benefit Our Lady of the Wayside, which for nearly 50 years has been supporting children and adults with developmental disabilities through services such as group homes, transportation, employment, and the Pathways Program.

Cleveland’s Finest Hors d’Oeuvre Contest happens this year on Thursday, February 25. Tickets are now on sale for $80 and can be purchased online. Or you can enter to win two 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 your favorite hors d’oeuvre from a Cleveland restaurant.

2. Visit Our Lady of the Wayside and Why CLE? on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you visited both pages.

3. Follow @ourladyofthewayside on Instagram and leave a comment here letting me know you’re following.

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

I want to sip and nibble with #ClevelandsFinest2016 thanks to @OurLadyWayside and @WhyCLE: https://whycle.wordpress.com/2016/02/03/why-clevelands-finest-hors-doeuvre-contest-giveaway #giveaway

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

The giveaway will close on Sunday, February 7 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Our Lady of the Wayside to help promote Cleveland’s Finest Hors d’Oeuvre Contest. In exchange, I will receive 2 complimentary tickets for myself and 2 tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

It was an unseasonably warm weekend in the CLE and a fun one, too! Friday evening, I met up with my friend Katie for drinks, dinner, and dessert in Uptown. Every time I’m in Uptown, I’m amazed at how quickly this area has turned into a fabulous shopping and dining destination (and I always say I need to spend more time there).

We started with cocktails and dinner at Crop Kitchen. Katie had the pasta special, made with Ohio City Pasta linguine, chicken, and pancetta. Yum! And I had the beef udon noodle, which was packed with delicious beef, earthy mushrooms, perfectly-cooked noodles, and a smoky, flavorful broth.

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After a delightful dinner with lots of catching up, we walked down to Mitchell’s Ice Cream where a taster’s duo of tiramisu and fresh strawberry chocolate chunk capped off the evening sweetly.

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On Saturday, Matthew and I took Jeffrey to Groundhog Fun Day at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. We got to see a fun animal show featuring the Museum’s newest groundhog, Thistle, along with other critters who live in the Museum’s Perkins Wildlife Center.

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Jeffrey also had the chance to tunnel like a groundhog and then pop out and see his shadow (we probably could have spent all day here) for a stamp in his Hibernation Passport.

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We also spent a lot of time at the new Turtle Travels exhibit, which offers a ton of hands-on ways to explore what life is like as a turtle.

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The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is always a fun spot to visit, but I think they do a particularly good job with their special events, with activities that add a lot of value to your visit.

After all that groundhogging and turtle-ing, we spent a quiet Saturday evening at home. Matthew whipped up this delicious recipe for bourbon chicken and we caught up on the (new) X-Files episodes. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday night!

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Sunday was similarly quiet and homebody-ish, which is kind of the best way to end the weekend, I think! How was your weekend?

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Why? Red & White on Thursday Night!

Last night, Matthew and I had the chance to attend a new-to-us event that exposed us to a lot of new-to-us restaurants: Red & White on Thursday Night to benefit the Arthritis Foundation, Great Lakes Region, Northeastern Ohio Chapter. This event highlighted some of the best restaurants in the Akron area and we left with quite a few reasons to head to the 330 for dinner.

We started in the VIP room, with sushi nibbles from Chef Dante Boccuzzi’s dba.

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dba also was featured in the main event, with a fabulous and delicately-seasoned butternut squash cavateli topped with braised lamb and a pomegranate salsa verde. Dante could cook for me pretty much all the time…

But beyond great food from a chef we know we love, we got to try so many new restaurants too. Bistro on Main served up wonderful (and huge) scallops with toasted orzo.

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Cilantro Thai & Sushi offered a triple treat with fried rice, chicken satay with peanut sauce, and California roll.

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Chowder House Cafe offered a seared tuna with noodles reminiscent of the delicious ones we used to enjoy at Grovewood Tavern.

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And there were plenty of sweet treats, too, from Chocolates by Erin (our favorite was the hot peppper chocolate bark), West Side Bakery, and Melt Bar & Grilled.

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Of course, there were also fantastic wine selections to pair with all this fabulous food!

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Add in the chance to catch up with some friends and you have quite the lovely evening!

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The Arthritis Foundation always puts on a great event for a great cause. I’m so happy we had the chance to attend and find some new restaurants to enjoy in Akron!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Arthritis Foundation to help promote Red & White on Thursday Night. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary VIP tickets. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

 

Why? Videos I’m Loving Right Now!

Last week, two videos hit the Cleveland social media airwaves that I’m really loving. The first is this one:

In honor of the 25th anniversary of Playhouse Square Partners, this video shows you what Partners is all about and features some of our fabulous current members. I am so honored to have been asked to be a part of the video. Truly, the coolest part about shooting it was getting to be on the roof of one of the Playhouse Square buildings with the blade sign behind me.

Take a look and, if you like what you see, we’d love to have you join Partners!

The other video making the rounds is this one from Progressive Insurance:

This is a pretty great ode to Cleveland and I have to say that the end gets me a little choked up. For anyone who loves this town, but especially for natives, we’ve not just seen, but lived the progress, change, and determination the city has displayed.

Happy Hump Day!

***Disclosure: I am the co-chair of the Education Committee of Playhouse Square Partners. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

It was another fun weekend in the CLE (and the 330, for that matter)! On Friday, Jeffrey and I headed down to Lock 3 Park in Akron to check out the Akron Children’s Museum Pop-Up.

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This reminds me of Lite Brite! Who else had that toy?

While the Museum is raising funds for a permanent site, you can visit their Pop-Up at Lock 3 Park, featuring several mini-exhibits, from a toddler area sponsored by Little Tikes to a stage with costumes for play acting to an homage to the All-American Soap Box Derby, which takes place in Akron.

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The Museum Pop-Up is open through February 15 and admission is $3 per person over 12 months old. Click here for hours and more information. It was a fun way to spend the morning and I’m hoping the Museum raises sufficient funds to open a permanent location soon!

Friday evening was homemade pizza night. I made taco pizza for Matthew and me, which was messy and spicy and so good! I used chorizo sausage from Fresh Fork Market, as well as some Fresh Fork salsa. Add in some fresh tomatoes and jalapenos (and pair it with a Great Lakes Brewing Co. Edmund Fitzgerald Porter) and you’ve got a great meal!

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I also saved a bit of the dough and made Jeffrey his own personal pan pizza with Dante’s Simple Marinara and provolone, which was definitely a winner!

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On Saturday evening, we had two parties to attend! We started at Jeffrey’s friend Nina’s third birthday party. Nina’s mom, Tracy, and I went to college together and it’s been so wonderful not only to maintain our friendship for all these years, but to now see our kids playing together!

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From there, Matthew and I went to his work holiday party at The RainForest at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. When we arrived, we were greeted by my favorite zoo volunteer, Jim B. If you’ve had the pleasure of attending a Cleveland Zoological Society event or even just visiting the Zoo itself, you’ve probably seen Jim B. out and about with the animals. You can tell how much he loves them and takes joy in his volunteerism.

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I’m always so impressed by institutions that are supported not only by great staff, but also by committed volunteers!

Anyway, back to the party…since we ate at Nina’s birthday (Tracy’s parties always have legitimately the best food and wine around), we skipped the dinner buffet, although we did indulge in some of the mini desserts. We also had fun at The RainForest Selfie Station!

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I also got in some Jump Back Ball dancing practice once the DJ busted out some old school Whitney Houston. It’s much easier to dance up a storm when it’s not your own co-workers around you!

The RainForest made for a fun venue for the party. If conversation ever lagged, you could just turn your attention to a nearby monkey or porcupine!

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After all the partying, we spent a quiet Sunday at home, preparing for a busy week ahead! Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

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Why? Great Big Home and Garden Show Giveaway!

Are you dreaming of spring already? Maybe you want to work in your garden or you have a home improvement task that needs doing. Well, the seventh annual Great Big Home and Garden Show is coming to the I-X Center from February 5-14 to fulfill all your springtime home daydreams.

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Show highlights include:

  • Wolf Timbers Rustic Manor, a 2500-square foot Idea Home built by Blossom Homes and sponsored by Sherwin-Williams, Cleveland Magazine, and Ohio Magazine
  • The Garden Showcase (my favorite part) featuring beautiful gardens around this year’s theme of Celebration! While there, you can also relax and enjoy a delicious meal in the Cambria Bistro.
  • Great shows on the Main Stage and Loretta Paganini Cooking Stage, from Jason Cameron of DIY Network’s “Man Caves,” “Sledgehammer,” and “Desperate Landscapes” to Ursula Carmona of the blog “Home Made by Carmona” to The Beekman Boys from the Cooking Channel’s “Fabulous Beekman Boys”
  • The Petitti Gardening Stage and Floral Mart to inspire your own gardening adventures

Plus, you can peruse all the exhibitors and find not only ideas, but companies to help make them a reality.

Tickets are $12 for ages 13+, $5 for ages 6-12, and free for children under 6 if purchased online (a $3 per ticket savings over the box office). Tickets are now on sale online. You can also save an additional $1 per ticket with discount code CLE16.

You can also enter to win 2 general admission tickets, good for any day of the show, 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 here telling me what home project you’re hoping to tackle this spring.

2. Visit Home & Garden Events and Why CLE? on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you visited both pages.

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

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

I want to spruce up my home and win @GreatBigShow tickets thanks to @WhyCLE: https://whycle.wordpress.com/2016/01/22/why-great-big-home-and-garden-show-giveaway-5 #giveaway

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

The giveaway will close on Wednesday, January 27 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Great Big Home & Garden Show. In exchange, I will receive 2 complimentary general admission tickets for myself and 2 general admission tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Indoor Play Dates!

While I do find myself longing for splash parks and playgrounds, there are a lot of great indoor play date options around town to keep your little ones busy on these cold days. I thought I’d share some of my favorites:

Sky Zone Trampoline Park

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Hours: There is Toddler Time (up to age 6) offered throughout the week. Times vary by location.

Cost: $10 per child (you’ll need to purchase Sky Socks on your first visit, which are $2)

What Jeffrey loves: Running, jumping, balls, and foam blocks!

What I love: I get to bounce too. And Toddler Time burns a lot of kiddo energy!

The RainForest at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

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Look at how little he is!

Hours: 10am-5pm daily

Cost: $13.25 for adults, $9.25 for ages 2-11, free for children under 2 (includes admission to the entire Zoo)

What Jeffrey loves: Monkeys!

What I love: It’s the Zoo, but indoors!

Cafe O’Play

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Hours: M-Th – 9:30am-7pm, F-Sat – 9:30am-8pm, Sun – 11am-4pm

Cost: $8.50 per child M-F, $10.50 per child Sat-Sun

What Jeffrey loves: All of it, really, but the big slides are a particular favorite.

What I love: Tons of fun play options, plus a tasty and healthy lunch place all in one location!

The Cleveland Botanical Garden

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Hours: T, Th, F, Sat – 10am-5pm, Wed – 10am-9pm,Sun – 12pm-5pm

Cost: $11 for adults, $6 for children 3-12, free for children under 3

What Jeffrey loves: Butterflies, turtles, and waterfalls!

What I love: It’s like a touch of summertime in the cold!

Playground World

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Hours: PlayZone Hours vary by location

Cost: There are free play hours offered, but cost is otherwise $5 per child

What Jeffrey loves: Swinging and sliding!

What I love: Being able to let him swing and slide even when it’s freezing!

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History

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Hours: M-Sat – 10am-5pm, Wed – 10am-8pm, Sun – 12pm-5pm

Cost: $14 for adults, $10 for children 3-18, free for children under 3, $10 for students with ID and seniors with Golden Buckeye Card

What Jeffrey loves: Dinosaurs! And the Sesame Street Planetarium Show.

What I love: It’s both fun and educational. And the Zack Bruell Cafe is tasty!

Western Reserve Historical Society Cleveland History Center

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Hours: Tu-Sat – 10am-5pm, Sun – 12pm-5pm

Cost: $10.00 for adults, $9.00 for seniors, $7.00 for Veterans, $5 for children 3-12, free for children under 3

What Jeffrey loves: Cars and airplanes! And the Euclid Beach Carousel.

What I love: See above.

Lake Erie Nature and Science Center

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Hours: 10am-5pm daily

Cost: Free!

What Jeffrey loves: Critters and the Planetarium.

What I love: It’s a really fun place that is free!

Library Story Times

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Hours: Check your local branch for information.

Cost: Free!

What Jeffrey loves: Stories and a chance to play afterwards.

What I love: It fosters a greater love for reading and we can pick up some new books while we’re there!

So, those are some of our favorite ways to spend winter days! What are your go-to indoor activities?

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

Winter is really here, so this weekend lent itself to a mix of going out and staying snuggly inside. On Friday night, Matthew and I met up with our friends Sara and Ron for a lovely, leisurely dinner at Red the Steakhouse (read about the changes coming to Red’s location here).

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Matthew and I split the tuna tartare appetizer, which had both great taste and great presentation. For dinner, Matthew had the special bone-in ribeye and I had the king crab, which was helpfully served out of the shell. Pair these entrees with truffled whipped potatoes and asparagus and you have quite the delicious meal!

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Even better than the food and the perfectly-timed service, though, was the chance to relax with friends, laugh a lot, enjoy some wine, and just generally end the week on a perfect note.

On Saturday, Jeffrey and I headed to the Lake Metroparks Farmpark. While it was pretty cold, there was still plenty to do, especially as part of Winter Blast Weekends. Jeffrey’s favorite part seemed to be hanging out in the play room, checking out the train tables and warming his feet.

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Then we went to dinner with my mom at a favorite spot for traditional Italian food and warm, family service: Mario Fazio’s. Mom enjoyed the seafood risotto and I had the beef bracciole. Both were filling and so tasty!

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Jeffrey had the kids’ pizza, served with applesauce and peas. There’s nothing to keep Jeffrey happy quite like pizza these days.

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For dessert, we all shared the “cookies for the table,” which may have even surpassed pizza in making Jeffrey happy.

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Plus, Jeffrey got to pick a toy from the treasure chest and went home with a new little truck. While I think Mario Fazio’s does a great job at Italian classics (and their wedding soup is some of the best I’ve ever had), what really puts them over the top is that we can get a good meal in an environment that is so warm and welcoming to our entire family.

Sunday was spent at home, staying warm and watching the snow fall.

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I found time to enjoy some hot cocoa and work on my #15minutesofcolor. But we also bundled up and headed into the backyard for some sledding and general snow exploration.

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So, that was our weekend: a good balance of out and in, friends and family time. How was your weekend?

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