Category Archives: Charity

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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Image Source –

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!

It’s not often that my weekends start on Thursday evening anymore (who misses college sometimes? *raises hand*), but this weekend I got to start to unwind before 5pm on Friday. I met up with a handful of other hearty souls who braved the weather to attend the JCU Alumni social at Willoughby Brewing Company.


Over beers and pizza, we warmed up and chatted all things JCU and beyond. We also collected donations for The Labre Project, in which students prepare meals and distribute needed personal items for the homeless.

I of course took home a crowler (Willoughby Brewing’s genius 32-ounce take-home can) of our favorite Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter, along with a baked potato pizza, both of which were perfect for a cold and blustery evening.

The JCU Alumni Office has a ton of great holiday events coming up, including Breakfast with Santa and a swanky grown-up Christmas reception. You can find out more and register for these events online.

On Saturday evening, I met up with Alicia for a special yoga class taught by one of my favorite yoga teachers, Ylonda at Inner Bliss Yoga Studio. I used to take Ylonda’s classes regularly when she taught at Nishkama Yoga and have always found her to be challenging and inspiring (and a lot of fun).


Saturday’s class not only involved a tough vinyasa flow, but also began and ended with chanting and included Ylonda’s amazing cello skills. It was an intense 75 minutes and the energy in the room at the end of class was palpable. It made me realize that I need to prioritize getting back to my mat, both for my body and my mind!

After class, a bunch of us headed over to Sweet Melissa for dinner. I started with the soup-of-the-day, cream of asparagus, and a Breckenridge Brewery Christmas Ale, a seasonal favorite.


Both were perfect warm-me-up starters. For my entree, I chose the pulled chicken risotto, with butternut squash and dried cranberries.


This was a really tasty dish and all of the flavors shone through individually. The portion size was perfect too! Since we were at Sweet Melissa, I couldn’t pass up dessert, but got it to take home and split with Matthew. The cassata cupcake was a good choice, although I would have liked a bit more filling.

IMG_0948Overall, it was a perfect evening that nurtured my body and my soul in a lot of ways! I’m never disappointed when I make time for yoga (or my favorite yogis)!


Sunday was spent mostly around the house, although we did take Jeffrey to a fun Kindermusik Thanksgiving party (no pics, as I refuse to spoil his Turkey day outfit before the big day). I love how Kindermusik also has holiday-themed events in addition to the regular classes!

Matthew and I did a ton of cooking with our Fresh Fork items, including a Brussels sprout, potato, and ham hash with egg white and Hollandaise on top for breakfast; a delicious apple cake; and roasted Brussels sprouts and salmon for dinner (recipe here).


All in all, it was a lovely weekend! How was yours?

***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? Jump Back Ball 24 Kickoff!

Last night, Playhouse Square Partners kicked off the fun, excitement, and ticket sales in preparation for Jump Back Ball 24, happening on Saturday, February 28, 2015. The theme for the upcoming Jump Back Ball is Jump Back to the Future.


In keeping with the theme, there was a surprise for the attendees of the kickoff happy hour last night: a DeLorean parked just next to the Hofbrauhaus was available for photo ops and general ogling.

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The DeLorean will also be on display at Jump Back Ball, so you will have another chance to see this fine machine up close and personal!

It was a packed house inside the Hofbrauhaus, with many people taking advantage of the early ticket discounts and grabbing their tickets before a sure-to-be sell out. There were also plenty of tasty appetizers (pretzels FTW), massive mugs of beer (I seriously had to have Matthew carry mine for awhile), and raffle prizes for those who donated personal care items to the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland.


Matthew and I continued our ridiculous streak of good luck at Partners events by winning two tickets to this Friday’s Melissa Etheridge concert! The kickoff to Jump Back Ball always gets me excited for the main event. When you see how many people turn out to buy tickets and the amount of energy in the room, you know it’s only going to get bigger and better at Jump Back Ball itself.

So, if you missed the kickoff, but still want to get in on the Jump Back Ball fun, what can you do? Tickets are now on sale online. VIP admission is $250 and general admission is $180. Tickets sold out in 10 days last year, so don’t delay in purchasing!

If you already scored your tickets, but want to continue feeling the excitement up to the event, you can join the Jump Back Ball committee, which meets regularly to plan everything from decorations to activities to raffle for the event. You can also volunteer at any (or all) of the Shop Nights, at which all the decorations for Jump Back Ball are created. I was on the committee last year and I’ve attended Shop Nights for the last three years and both are a lot of fun! Click here for more information on how to help with the planning of Cleveland’s hottest party.

And, of course, you can also join Playhouse Square Partners, which puts on Jump Back Ball, but does so much beyond just this annual party!


Did you get your Jump Back Ball tickets? Are you already getting excited to Jump Back to the Future?

***Disclosure: I am a member of the board of Playhouse Square Partners. Also, I was asked by Playhouse Square to help promote Jump Back Ball. I will receive one complimentary ticket to the event when I purchase a ticket of the same value. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Weekends!

It was a busy and fun weekend! Saturday afternoon, I stopped by the Entertaining by Design event at the Ohio Design Centre. The intricate and beautiful tablescapes designed by local interior designers were really impressive!

PicMonkey Collage

From Madame Butterfly to Red Hot Holiday to a Candyland Christmas, the designers really brought their unique ideas to life. If only my holiday table would look this nice! Even better, this year Entertaining by Design was a fundraiser to benefit the North Union Farmers Market‘s education and access programs.

On Saturday evening, Alicia planned a surprise birthday party for her husband Hans, centered around Hans’ favorite flavor: pumpkin!

1796645_10152469014293693_4466602890716165049_nThere was pumpkin chili, savory bread pudding, pumpkin chevre, pumpkin tortilla chips, pumpkin beer, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory’s recipe, and my go-to pumpkin cookies (recipe here).


It was a fun night filled with all things pumpkin and a great way to celebrate the birthday boy! I’m just happy we all managed to keep it a surprise, too!


On Sunday, I attended the John Carroll Alumni All Souls Mass and Brunch. It was held at St. Ignatius High School, which used to be John Carroll’s campus. I made sure to dress Jeffrey appropriately for the event in his mini St. Ignatius uniform of a blue blazer and khaki pants.


Nothing like a little indoctrination into Jesuit education at an early age!

If you’re a JCU alum, we have an Alumni and Friends Social coming up this Thursday, November 13 at Willoughby Brewing Company. We’ll be enjoying their great craft beer, as well as collecting donation items to benefit the JCU Labre Project (and you get entered into a raffle for Cavs tickets if you bring a donation). You can get more details and RSVP here. Hope to see you there!

All in all, a lovely fall weekend! Although I might be pumpkin-ed out for a bit after Saturday night! How was your weekend?

***Disclosures: I was asked to help promote Entertaining by Design. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary tickets to attend the table showcase. I am a member of the board of the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***



Why? Entertaining by Design Giveaway!

I can’t believe the holidays are almost upon us, which means lots of chances to have family and friends over for a meal. To give you some inspiration for your table, the Ohio Design Centre is hosting Entertaining by Design, an annual tabletop showcase, with tablescapes created by top interior designers.


New this year is a Patron Party and Gala on Thursday, November 6 to benefit North Union Farmers Market. Attendees will get a first look at the designs, as well as specialty cocktails, savory small bites, live music, and the chance to bid on unique auction items. Tickets for the Patron Party and Gala are $100.

Then, on Friday, November 7 and Saturday, November 8, the sprawling Ohio Design Centre showrooms will be open to the public to take in these beautiful table designs and get inspired for your own holiday (and beyond) entertaining.

There will be the opportunity to vote for the People’s Choice Award, as well as see how your own personal choices match up with the winners chosen by a celebrity judge panel, including Brandon Chrosotowski from EDWINS restaurant and Charity D’Amato from i heart cleveland.

The showrooms will be open from 11am-7pm on Friday and 10am-4pm on Saturday. Tickets are $10 at the door to peruse the beautiful designs and proceeds similarly benefit North Union Farmers Market’s education and access programs. Or you can enter to win two tickets to the public table viewing good for either Friday or Saturday 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 for which holiday you need decorating inspiration.

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

3. Follow @ohdesigncentre 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 inspired at @ohdesigncentre #entertainingbydesign to benefit @NUFarmersMarket thanks to @WhyCLE:

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

The giveaway will close on Monday, October 27 at 11:59pm and the winner will be announced the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Ohio Design Centre to help promote Entertaining by Design. In exchange, I will receive 2 tickets for myself and 2 tickets to give away to the public table viewings. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? L’Amour du Vin!

Last night, Matthew and I attend the Arthritis Foundation‘s L’Amour du Vin fundraiser. We met up with these fine folks for an evening of wining and small-bite dining.


I seem to always find a new must-try restaurant at this event. Last year, it was Bistro 83 (who kept it up this year with some tasty spicy salmon cakes). This year, it was 41 North. Offering food in both VIP and the main room, 41 North brought delicious dishes that were as good to eat as they were nicely plated.


In the VIP room, 41 North offered pork belly and swordfish. In the main room, they offered shrimp and grits and short ribs served on top apple risotto. After all these bites, I’m convinced I need to head out to Vermilion for a full meal there!

Other favorites of the evening was the gnocchi from Gatherings Kitchen, the smoked trout salad with apples and pumpkin seeds from AMP 150, the pulled pork sliders from Parker’s Grille and Tavern (loved the added jalapeno slices), and the lamb from Taki’s Greek Kitchen.

PicMonkey Collage

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the wonderful desserts, including oodles of Snoogles (and other pastries) from Kiedrowksi’s Simply Delicious Bakery and decadent chocolates from Sweet Designs (the cocoa nib truffle was my fave).


There were plenty of delicious red and white wines to go with all the great food, along with Brown-Forman bourbon cocktails in the VIP room.


We also entered the wine pull raffle, which not only scored us a great bottle for home, but a chance to win a Caribbean cruise (we didn’t).

I also have to take a moment to give a lot of praise to the planner of last night’s event, Alicia. L’Amour du Vin was Alicia’s last event for the Arthritis Foundation, as she is leaving her current role for a new, exciting, and perfectly-suited position at Evolution Yoga. You can read all about her upcoming new professional adventure here.

Alicia doing her thing

Alicia doing her thing

I am so proud of all that Alicia accomplished at the Arthritis Foundation and for following her heart to this new job! And what a way to go out, with one incredible party!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Arthritis Foundation to help promote L’Amour du Vin. In exchange, I received two complimentary VIP tickets to the event. As always, all opinions (on events and career decisions alike) are 100% my own.***



Why? St. Jude Give Thanks Walk!

You have to love when fitness and a good cause combine! The St. Jude Give Thanks. Walk. is returning to Great Northern Mall in North Olmsted on Saturday, November 22.


The walk is a 5K that laps the mall 4 times and steps off at 10am. Strollers and wagons are welcome. There will be family fun activities and food lasting beyond the walk and participants are encouraged to stay and enjoy.

You can register as a team or as an individual. Registration is free and there is no fundraising minimum. However, there are fun incentives at different fundraising levels, including a t-shirt for the $35-$99 level, a tumbler for the $100-$249 level, and a tote bag for the $250+ level.

All proceeds benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which advances cures and prevention for catastrophic pediatric diseases through research and treatment. As a new mom, even typing the phrase catastrophic pediatric diseases makes me shudder, but thank goodness for places like St. Jude that step in to help when things like that happen.

Click here to register for the St. Jude Give Thanks. Walk. and start your fundraising for this wonderful organization! Last year’s walk saw 600 participants raise over $65,000 and the hopes are that this year’s walk will bring even larger totals.


Why? Namaste, One Night for One World!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win 2 tickets to see the a cappella group The House Jacks at Shaker Heights High School? Check it out!***

Namaste means, “I bow to the divine in you.” It means showing respect to that which is special and sacred in each of us. International Partners in Mission is hosting its 12th annual Namaste! One Night for One World Cultural Celebration Benefit on Thursday, October 16, giving attendees a chance to show the respect of Namaste to those who work so hard for this wonderful organization.

At the Namaste Benefit, you can enjoy stunning views of the Cleveland skyline from the Ariel International Center, while nibbling on international cuisine, sipping wine, listening to live music including jazz guitarist Lee Bush, and perusing crafts and silent auction items from around the world.

More than ten of IPM’s Project Partners from around the world will also be on hand that evening to share stories about their countries and the work of IPM.

Lidia Coggiola 8

Before Namaste, there will also be a unique immersion experience and VIP reception with Peter and Dorothy Nyong’o, who are active in Kenyan politics and non-profits and are also the parents of Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o, as well as Joseph Cistone, the CEO of IPM.

Namaste is sure to be a fun evening to benefit IPM’s wonderful work around the globe and it is a great way to show Cleveland’s support for this organization that calls our city home. Tickets are $100 for Patron VIP level, $40 for general admission, and $15 for students and can be purchased online.

ceprosi dancing


***Disclosure: I was asked by International Partners in Mission to help promote Namaste. In exchange, I was offered complimentary tickets to Namaste. I declined due to scheduling conflicts. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? L’Amour du Vin Giveaway!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Courtney (Comment #11), randomly-selected winner of 2 tickets to the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival. Please check your email for details. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets online.***

Coming up on Thursday, October 9 is a fabulous fundraiser to benefit the Arthritis Foundation, Great Lakes Region, Northeast Ohio Chapter: L’Amour du Vin. This event takes place at the Avon Oaks Country Club and is a tasty mix of great wine and great food from Lorain County.

L'Amour du Vin new logo

In the main room, restaurants from Aladdin’s Eatery to AMP 150 to Parker’s Grille & Tavern will be serving up great eats. Kiedrowski’s Simply Delicious Bakery will be on hand with snoogles! The VIP lounge will feature food from 41 North, which is sure to be delicious.

Aside from all the food and wine, there are silent auctions, raffles, and live music! What an evening! General admission tickets are $65 and VIP tickets are $95. Or you can enter to win two general admission 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. Check out the list of participating restaurants and leave a comment telling me which you most want to try.

2. If you like the Arthritis Foundation NEO and Why CLE? on Facebook, leave a comment letting me know you like both pages.

3. Follow @ArthritisFouNEO 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 tickets to #LAmourduVin from @ArthritisFouNEO and @WhyCLE:

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 29 at 11:59pm and the winner will be announced the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Arthritis Foundation to help promote L’Amour du Vin. In exchange, I will receive 2 VIP tickets for myself and 2 general admission tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


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.

PicMonkey Collage

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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.

PicMonkey Collage

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.***