Category Archives: Charity

Why? Cleveland’s Finest Hors D’Oeuvre Giveaway!

There are few things I like more than a good hors d’oeuvre. It gets the meal off on the right foot, it perhaps satisfies a craving not hit by your entree, and it’s usually communal food with the table, which I always enjoy. There is a definite art to creating the perfect hors d’oeuvre.

On Thursday, April 16, some of our best restaurants will compete for the title of Cleveland’s Finest Hors D’Oeuvre at an event to benefit Our Lady of the Wayside.

ClevelandsFinest Brown with Climaco

The event is held at The Terrace Club at Progressive Field, with fabulous views of the ballpark to get you in the mood for spring. That’s if you can tear your eyes away from the food! There will be a host of great restaurants competing, including Barrio, Tartine Bistro, Hodge’s, Spice Kitchen and Bar, and the Zack Bruell Restaurant Group. You not only get to taste all the food, but you get to vote for your favorites!

There will also be live music from Nate Jones, complimentary beer and wine tastings from Mill Street Brewery and Tom Gore Vineyards, and plenty of shenanigans from hosts Jen Toohey, Tim Richards, and Desiray Cross from Cleveland’s New 102.

This awesome evening benefits Our Lady of the Wayside, which provides services to children and adults with developmental disabilities in our area.

Tickets are $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 current favorite hors d’ouevre in Cleveland and where to find it.

2. Leave one comment if you like Our Lady of the Wayside and Why CLE? on Facebook, letting me know you like both pages.

3. Follow @OurLadyWayside and @WhyCLE on Twitter and leave one comment letting me know you follow both.

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

I want to win tickets to Cleveland’s Finest Hors D’Oeuvre Contest from @OurLadyWayside and @WhyCLE:

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

The giveaway will run though Sunday, March 22 at 11:59pm and the winner will be announced 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 two complimentary tickets for myself and two tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Jump Back Ball!

FEB 28 2015 18:00 Enter the Jump Back to the Future VIP Party at the Connor Palace Theatre at Playhouse Square. Stop at the Lexus photo booth to document the fun you’re about to have and how handsome your date is.


FEB 28 2015 18:15 Peruse the Connor Palace Theatre lobby enjoying the evening’s signature cocktail, the Flux Capacitor, a blend of Buckeye Vodka, tropical fruit mix, and club soda.

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FEB 28 2015 18:30 Nibble on tasty VIP small bites from Driftwood Restaurants and Catering, including calamari, cavatelli with lamb bolognese, mini bruschetta, and prosecco ice cream. Yes, prosecco ice cream.


FEB 28 2015 19:00 Enter the State Theatre and join the throngs of other excited Clevelanders (and some out-of-town friends) who are ready for a fabulous evening.


FEB 28 2015 19:15 Marvel at the handmade decorations created by Playhouse Square Partners that take you right into scenes from the “Back to the Future” movies. Maybe even find the sign you helped to make at a Shop Night.

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FEB 28 2015 19:30 Make your way to the stage of the State Theatre and grab a libation from the champagne bar or the Buckeye Vodka ice luge (or both). Fill up your dinner plate with haute comfort food like chicken a la king, cornbread, and mashed potatoes, also from Driftwood Restaurants and Catering.


FEB 28 2015 20:00 Enjoy the Motown music provided by Eugene Ross and Company, which is a perfect fit for the Enchantment Under the Sea dance decor. Mingle with friends and take in how fabulous everyone looks.

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FEB 28 2015 21:00 Wander around the State Theatre and have your palm or tarot cards read, try your luck at the raffle, silent auction, and wine pull, and stop for a photo by the iconic clock tower.


FEB 28 2015 22:00 Return to the State Theatre lobby for late night dancing with music from Thunder Gun Express and late night eats from Driftwood.


FEB 28 2015 23:59 Head home with tired feet, a camera full of selfies, and the knowledge that you not only had a fantastic evening. but you also just supported one of Cleveland’s finest institutions. Immediately mark your calendar for Jump Back Ball 25.

***Disclosure: I was asked by Playhouse Square to help promote Jump Back Ball. In exchange, I received one complimentary ticket when I purchased a ticket of equal value. I am also a member of the board of Playhouse Square Partners. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? JCU Experience Projects!

This post is mainly geared toward John Carroll University alumni, so I thank the rest of you for your indulgence. But, you may want to read on regardless because this is pretty cool thing that’s going on…

JCU Experience Projects is a crowdfunding campaign that kicked off yesterday and runs through Monday, March 16. The goal is to fund six campus projects that could use a boost from alumni support.

Not only do the JCU Experience Projects help out great campus programs, but they give you, as the alumni who is donating, a bigger sense of involvement. This isn’t giving $20 to a $20 million campaign. Rather, each of the JCU Experience Projects is a relatively small-dollar project, so even the smallest contribution makes a genuine impact on the bottom line.

So, what are the JCU Experience Projects? Each project highlights a different area of the JCU experience, from academics to athletics to service. Click on each link for more details on the project.


The Labre Project – The purpose of the Labre Project is not only to feed the homeless, but to offer them friendship.

Trick or Treat at JCU – Every year, the Residence Hall Association provides hundreds of local children the opportunity to go trick or treating in the John Carroll residence halls.

Crisis Mapping – Crisis mapping is the use of many forms of data and analysis to provide real-time situational awareness of an ongoing crisis, natural disaster, or conflict zone.

Entrepreneurial Development in Honduras – During Spring Break, students, professors, and representatives of Hope for Honduran Children teach economics and business skills at Flor Azul Farm, an orphanage.

The Carroll Ballers – Five nights each week, 60 Carroll students visit several juvenile detention centers in Cuyahoga County, using the power of basketball to teach teamwork and leadership and to instill friendship with detention center residents.

JCU Pep Band – Often referred to as a “Wall of Sound,” the Pep Band is a group with big spirit.

Surely one or more of these projects or aspects of life at Carroll impacted your time there. Now is your chance to keep that part of the JCU experience going for current students. Donate today and keep your eye on the website to see how your project’s crowdfunding efforts are going.

The JCU Experience Project is not just a fun, creative, interactive way to raise money. It’s also a great way to see that we all can make an impact on a place that made a huge impact on us!

***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 Sneak Peek!

The hottest party in Cleveland is just over 2 weeks away! Of course I’m talking about Playhouse Square Jump Back Ball. Last night, I volunteered with other fellow Playhouse Square Partners at one of the Shop Nights, where all the decorations are made.


At Shop Nights, we wear matching shirts from past JBBs ;-)

All the decor at Jump Back Ball is handmade at Shop Nights, which gives Partners a great sense of ownership of the event, but also means your ticket donation has more bang for its buck.


I thought I’d give you a sneak peek of some of the decor you’ll see when you Jump Back to the Future: The main stage of the State Theatre will be turned into the Enchantment Under the Sea dance, with a 1950’s vibe.

IMG_1920Upstairs in the State Theatre, you can try your hand at Biff’s Casino and see if his famous lucky charm brings you luck, too.

IMG_1925 Of course, there will be some hoverboards about.

IMG_1926 As well as some other famous spots from the “Back to the Future” trilogy.

IMG_1927 The popular wine pull will be back. For a small donation, you get your random pull of a bottle of wine, with a value of at least $20.

IMG_1923 If you’re interested in helping out with the final push to get the decor finished, there are 4 more Shop Nights you can attend:February 16, 19, 23, and 26. On February 27, you can volunteer all or part of the day to help set-up for the main event, too.You don’t need to be a member of Partners or an artistic person…I’ve attended when I was neither!

Of course, I haven’t spilled all the Shop Night secrets! Be assured there will be some “wow factor” decor sure to transport you Back to the Future at Jump Back Ball.

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


Why? Jump Back to the Future!

As I mentioned on Monday, somehow I managed to get through childhood, adolescence, and a lot of college TBS watching without seeing “Back to the Future.” Sure, I missed some pop culture references here and there, but overall this didn’t bother me too much. Until this year’s theme for Playhouse Square’s Jump Back Ball was announced.


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If I was going to attend an event themed around this iconic movie series I should probably have some idea what this iconic movie series is all about. Over the weekend, some friends and I watched the first and second movies in the series and now I am definitely feeling inspired about Jump Back Ball costumes and decor.

I’m hoping someone wears a hat like this:

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Or a cool puffer vest/”life jacket” like this:

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And, of course, I hope Nike puts a rush on their self-lacing shoes!

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I’ll now understand when people say, “Great scott!” or “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads!”

And I’m excited to dance the night away with my handsome date as we get Enchanted Under the Sea:

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Jump Back Ball is always a fun party, but it should be especially cool to see the State Theatre decked out to celebrate the “Back to the Future” movies that so many people love from childhood (or, this past weekend). Plus, with so many eras to choose from within the movies, the costumes, music, and decor possibilities are endless!

Tickets are still available for $195 for general admission and can be purchased online. Driftwood Restaurants and Catering will once again be providing the delicious dinner for Jump Back Ball and Eugene Ross and Company will be providing the main stage entertainment with swingin’ big band sounds. Remember, this isn’t just a fun party…it also benefits the non-profit mission of Playhouse Square!

And if you want to get a sneak peek and lend a helping hand with the decorations for the evening (all of which are created by Playhouse Square Partners), you can attend Shop Nights, starting on January 28. For a complete list of Shop Night dates, times, and details, click here.

I hope to see you at Shop Nights and Jump Back Ball as Playhouse Square Partners takes you back…to the future!

***Disclosure: I am a board member 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 one ticket of equal value. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***



Why? Animal Attractions!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to tristan (Comment #9) randomly-selected winner of two tickets to Something White Bridal’s Boutique Bridal Bazaar happening this Sunday, January 11. Please check you email for details. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets online.***

It’s cold! At times like this, our thoughts naturally turn to warmer spots like the Bahamas or The RainForest at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo!

Animal Attractions Postcard 2015

On Thursday, February 5, warm up inside The RainForest with food, wine, critters, educational presentations, live music, and silent auctions. All this fun benefits the Cleveland Zoological Society, which supports the Zoo and the Zoo’s educational programs.

This adults-only event features tasty nibbles from Butcher and the Brewer, Merwin’s Wharf, Tremont Tap House, AMP 150, and more. There is also an open bar with libations from Samuel Adams and Rain Organics Vodka, as well as a wine tasting!

ANAT wine tasting

Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to explore The RainForest, both on your own and through several interesting, fun, and a little bit cheeky presentations from Zoo staff. You can also get hands-on with some of the critters!

ANAT meet an animal

The Cleveland Zoological Society puts on great events and this is always one of my favorites! Check out my recap from last year if you need more proof of all the fun to be had at Animal Attractions.

Tickets are $65 (Zoo members pay $60) and are on sale now online. I hope to see you enjoying food, fun, and the toasty atmosphere at Animal Attractions!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote Animal Attractions. In exchange, I will receive two complimentary tickets to the event. Matthew and I are also Zoo members. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


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!

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!

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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.***