Category Archives: Holidays

Why? Just-a-Buck Giveaway!

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a dollar store shopper. But when I heard about Just-a-Buck, I was intrigued. Just-a-Buck stores in Cleveland are operated by Solutions at Work, which helps people with developmental disabilities find employment.

All of the employees at Just-a-Buck, excluding managers, are people with developmental disabilities. Their jobs at Just-a-Buck provide a safe environment to learn retail skills and gain the fulfillment that employment provides.

Plus, every item at Just-a-Buck is really “just a buck.” When you check-out, the employees simply need to count up your items to figure out what you owe.

I headed to the Parma location (there are also stores in Rocky River and South Euclid) to check out the Just-a-Buck holiday section. I was able to stock up on a ton of goodies for my nieces’ Easter baskets.

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Plus I got some adorable little stuffed bunnies for Jeffrey’s friends in music class.


The seasonal section at Just-a-Buck is a nice, cost-efficient way to pick up party decorations, kids gifts, and more. And the items I found for my nieces included Princess Sofia, Dora the Explorer, and other popular characters.

The Just-a-Buck employees were friendly, efficient, and made the shopping experience a great one! This is more than just a place to pick up affordable merchandise, it’s a way to support those with developmental disabilities finding fulfilling employment.

So, put aside your preconceived dollar store notions, and check out Just-a-Buck. It’s not only shopping, but it’s contributing to Solutions at Work’s positive mission! And to help you do just that, I have a $25 gift certificate to give away to Just-a-Buck.

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 store to find a bargain.

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

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

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

I want to save money and help others at @JustaBuckNEO thanks to SAW, Inc. 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 Sunday, March 29 and the winner will be announced the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by SAW, Inc. to help promote Just-a-Buck. In exchange, I received a $25 gift certificate for myself and a $25 gift certificate to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Joanne (Comment #76), randomly-selected winner of two tickets to Our Lady of the Wayside’s Cleveland’s Finest Hors D’Oeuvre Contest. Please check your email for details. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets online.***

It was a great weekend and the perfect mix of relaxation and busy-ness. On Friday, Mom, Gramps, Jeffrey, and I went to one of our favorite fish fry spots: Ridgewood Inn. A dive bar, for sure, but also one of the tastiest fish fries you’ll find.


There aren’t many places that can keep 4 generations of customers happy at the same time. I ordered the beer-battered yellow lake perch and substituted potato pierogi instead of french fries. The fish was good, but it’s the pierogi that really steal the show at Ridgewood Inn. Pan-fried and smothered in onions, they are little pillows of Polish happiness. Gramps insists they taste like the ones his mother used to make, so you know they have to be good.

Saturday was a mainly around-the-house kind of day, with a little bit of yoga at Harmony Yoga thrown in the morning. That afternoon, we took Jeffrey up to Great Lakes Mall for his first visit with the Easter Bunny. As Jeffrey is starting to get to the “stranger danger” age, I wasn’t sure how it would go. Luckily, there were no tears and, after a couple minutes, he broke into his signature Jeffrey smile.


It was a great first visit with his new furry, floppy-eared friend! I was glad we were allowed to take pictures with our own cameras too, so we have the whole progression of settling in and making friends with the bunny.

On Sunday, Matthew and I enjoyed a date afternoon. We started out with seeing “Dirty Dancing” at Playhouse Square.


We got our tickets through the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. If you’re a local alum, the Chapter offers discounted tickets to various Playhouse Square performances throughout the season. Coming up on Sunday, April 25 is Beauty and the Beast and on Sunday, August 2 is Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.

I really enjoyed the production of “Dirty Dancing.” It was very true to the movie, in all its cheesy, romantic glory. And you could tell the audience were all fans of the movie, especially given the applause at classic lines like, “I carried a watermelon” and “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”

After the show, Matthew and I headed across the street for an early dinner at Cibreo.


I enjoyed the 1921 cocktail, with Prosecco, St. Germain, and local honey, which was sweet without being overly sweet. Matthew and I shared the bruschetta, with wild mushrooms, marsala, and Pecorino.


Both the taste and the presentation were fantastic! For our entrees, I had the ricotta gnocchi, with duck, brodo, candied carrots, greens, parsnips, and Pecorino. The gnocchi were light and a great compliment to the rich flavor of the duck.

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Matthew had the chestnut ravioli, with leek cream, prosciutto, and cherry gastrique. The pasta dishes at Cibreo are smaller, meant to be part of a coursed meal. With an appetizer and dessert, I think they are the perfect size.

Which brings me to dessert. Matthew had the chocolate panna cotta, with white chocolate shavings and candied orange. I had the classic tiramisu. Both were delicious and great ends to a very tasty meal.

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We’re so lucky to not only have world-class theater in Cleveland, but a thriving neighborhood surrounding it that allows you to make the perfect date afternoon all in one place.

How was your weekend?

***Disclosure: I am a member of the boards of both the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter and Playhouse Square Partners. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Weekends!

It was quite the weekend of eating, which seems appropriate to talk about on Fat Tuesday (or, if you’re me, Paczki Day). On Friday evening, my Mom and I enjoyed a Galentine’s dinner at Mario Fazio’s. I completely failed to get any pictures documenting the yummy food we enjoyed!

Mario Fazio’s has delicious, traditional Italian food, with warm, family-like service. We brought Jeffrey with us and everyone was so sweet to him, including offering to bring him things he could enjoy too, like applesauce and mashed peas. Given Jeffrey’s current relationship with peas, it was better that we passed on that in public.

We started with the baked stuffed hot peppers, which pack a nice pop of heat, balanced by sweet Italian sausage. Mom had the Maine lobster risotto, which is generous with the seafood and decadently rich. I enjoyed the Doreen’s Pasta, with is baked penne with meat sauce, a veal meatball, Italian sausage, and mushrooms, topped with cheese. We were almost to full to enjoy the sample of cassata cake that comes complimentary with every meal! Luckily, it was a small slice and we persevered!

On Saturday night, I had plans with my favorite Valentine for a romantic date night.


While Matthew and I are fortunate enough to be able to have a lot of “grown up” social time, it had been awhile since we had an evening out with just the two of us. That made for a perfect Valentine’s present!

We had dinner at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse. While I had tasted Fleming’s food at events previously, I had never dined at the restaurant. We started with a recommendation from my sister-in-law: the baked brie in puff pastry with apples and candied walnuts.


The brie was excellent, although we could have used either more apples or some crostini to pair it with. We both chose the Valentine’s Day three-course dinner, with a scallop with goat cheese polenta, the Fleming’s salad, and a petite filet with crab meat and Bearnaise sauce paired with an 8-ounce lobster tail.

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The food was solidly good and the service pleasantly unhurried, considering how full the restaurant was that evening. While Fleming’s lacks the creativity of Urban Farmer or the precision of Red, the Steakhouse, it was still a nice meal and a lovely chance to relax with my best guy!

How was your Valentine’s (or Galentine’s) Day? Come back tomorrow to hear about one more fabulous dining experience in the weekend o’eating!


Why? Happy Valentine’s Day!

Even when I was single, I always liked Valentine’s Day. It’s a chance to celebrate love, whether that’s for your significant other, your family, your friends, (your city?) or all of the above.

So, whether you’re a #Heartbreaker…


A one-woman man…


Or just someone surrounded by lots of love…



Have a very happy Valentine’s Day!


Why? Happy New Year!

I’ve been sitting here staring at a blinking cursor, not sure what to write in this post. This last year was so filled with momentous change and the year ahead promises to be so filled with adventure that I’m at a loss for words.

What I am sure of is the people in my life who made 2014 amazing and who will make 2015 even better.

Jeffrey, who made me understand what the phrase “light of my life” truly means.

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Matthew, who I’ve known is a wonderful man and a fantastic husband, but who I never imagined I could love as much as I do when I see him being a father to our son.

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My parents, who are unfailing and constant in their love and support.

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My girlfriends, who keep me sane, who keep me in touch with “me,” and who have ridden this crazy roller coaster of a year with me.

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And to Cleveland, for continuing to inspire the love and passion that goes into this blog and that defines every reason Why CLE?.

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For everything that 2014 was and everything that 2015 will be, CHEERS and Happy New Year! Wishing you and yours a year filled with happiness!


Why? Weekends!

And by weekend, I mean the extended holiday “weekend” that started on Wednesday and just wrapped up yesterday. This year, Christmas was all about Jeffrey and his first Christmas was really quite something!

On Christmas Eve, we went over to my parents’ house for a traditional Eastern European meatless meal (breaded fish, mashed potatoes, and creamed peas), opening lots of presents, and going to Christmas Eve Mass. Jeffrey took to opening presents like a pro, even though he was occasionally more interested in the paper than in what was inside the wrapping.


After we got back home and cookies, milk, and a carrot were placed on the fireplace for Santa and Rudolph, it was time to get the little guy into bed. But not before taking a moment to contemplate the magic of Christmas Eve.


I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Christmas and I thought I did a good job holding on to some sense of wonder and joy in the season, but I had no idea how joyous and how magical it would be seeing it through Jeffrey’s eyes. Even at his age, Christmas morning was a really special moment.


Is all that for me?!

Santa brought this Fisher-Price car as Jeffrey’s “big” gift and I think he was pretty happy about it!


After Christmas morning at our house, we headed to Matthew’s dad’s place for Christmas Round 3. Not only were there plenty of presents, food, and fun, but we had an opportunity to update the family photo.


I’m very lucky to have in-laws who are truly family to me!

Saturday, we met up with my friend Chris, his wife Emily, and their son Luke for breakfast at Joe’s Deli. Chris is a dear friend from high school, which means we’ve known each other nearly 20 years (eek!). I’ve always been so glad that we’ve stayed in touch all this time, but it was especially cool to have our sons, born less than a week apart, meet each other! I think they hit it off and hopefully a new 20-year-plus friendship has started!

On Sunday, my parents provided Matthew and me with a much-needed date afternoon. It was so nice to have some time to relax together after all the holiday hecticness. We started with brunch at Flour: eggs Benedict for him, the chicken and waffle special for me, and a shared order of the short-rib and mushroom hash.

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The hash, served with a spicy hollandaise sauce, was my stand-out favorite of the meal. It was flavorful, earthy, and entirely delicious! The fried chicken on the waffles was also really tasty, but the dish could have used a bit more syrup for the waffles.

From there, we did a bit of shopping (I found my Jump Back Ball dress!) and then ended on a sweet note at Mitchell’s Ice Cream, with a Holiday Fudge sundae for Matthew (substitute dark chocolate peppermint ice cream for an even richer treat) and a root beer float for me.


It was the perfect way to wrap up a perfectly wonderful holiday weekend. How was your holiday/weekend?


Why? Weekends!

I told you it was a weekend chock-full of holiday fun, from Holiday High Tea to lots of other celebrations. On Friday, Matthew did some scout blog reporting from his work holiday lunch at Bourbon Street Barrel Room in Tremont.

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He enjoyed the pretty decor and tasty NOLA food at this new spot. His meal was the Jean Lafitte, which is a combo of shrimp, catfish, and hush puppies, with citrus slaw and bistro sauce.


Bourbon Street Barrel Room is open for lunch and dinner and, in true NOLA fashion, has an extended happy hour from 2-7pm every day! I can’t wait to get my hands on some of their Cajun cuisine!

On Saturday evening, we had the third annual TWC Christmas celebration, which is by far one of my favorite holiday traditions! I always enjoy spending time with these lovely ladies and their husbands and we are especially merry at the holidays.

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We’ve established the dinner menu over the last three years and it’s always a treat: lots of good appetizers, lamb, pork tenderloin, savory bread pudding, Brussels sprouts with bacon, and some sweet indulgences too. This year, Kimberly brought some bubbly from Dante, with a special holiday wish for all of us from one of the group’s favorite chefs!


From dinner to the White Elephant exchange to Cards Against Humanity to general perfect times with best friends, we couldn’t have asked for a better TWC Christmas!

Sunday brought another holiday tradition, this time from Matthew’s family: the annual cookie baking/exchange extravaganza. I always look forward to not only the time with family, but the tasty treats we get to take home.

It was a fun weekend, but by the end, I think Jeffrey’s reaction said it all:


We’re definitely ready for that long winter’s nap!


Why? Provenance Holiday High Tea!

Merry almost Christmas, friends! This weekend was absolutely packed with pre-holiday goodness. On Saturday afternoon, Mom, Jeffrey, and I got all fancied up for Holiday High Tea at Provenance at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Jeffrey even wore a bow tie!


Provenance is such a lovely, relaxing setting and high tea is the perfect fit for this classy establishment. We started with our choice of teas, served with lemon, mint, cinnamon sticks, cream and sugar, and a cup of fresh fruit. Mom and I both went for the Chai tea. There’s something about the spiciness of Chai, especially with the addition of a cinnamon stick, that I just love.

Next up came a tower of tea-time treats.


The bottom level featured three different tea sandwiches: chicken salad, cucumber and cream cheese, and smoked trout.


Smoked fish and capers aren’t really my cup of tea (haha), but I enjoyed the other two sandwiches. My favorite was the chicken salad, which was generous on the chicken and light on the fillers. I also loved the greens on all the sandwiches, which added a nice, fresh taste.

The next level of the tower had lemon poppyseed scones and nut bread, served with whipped butter and clotted cream.


The mini scones were both the perfect size and taste!

The top layer was chock full of sweets: brownies, pecan bars, lemon bars, and mini blueberry macarons.


The blueberry macarons were my favorite, but the decadent brownies were a close second! The Holiday High Tea provided a perfect break in the holiday busy-ness, as well as a light lunch that didn’t weigh us down for the rest of our day.

The Provenance Holiday High Tea is sold out for this year, but we certainly hope to make this an annual tradition and highly recommend you check it out next season!

While at the Museum, we also saw a bit of the Winter Lights Lantern Display, going on now through January 4.


The lanterns are lovely and add a glowy holiday spirit to the Museum! They are definitely worth a visit!

I was so glad we got to spend part of our pre-holiday weekend at the always wonderful Cleveland Museum of Art!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Provenance to help promote the Holiday High Tea. In exchange, I received complimentary high tea service for two. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win some cool items from local makers in my blogiversary giveaway? Check it out!***

I feel like there’s always one week in December that has all the pre-holiday madness crammed into it. This past week/weekend was it for us! So busy, but so fun! On Friday night, Matthew and I got all fancied up to attend my company’s holiday party.


I love any excuse to get dressed up! The event was held at Lorain County Community College, which I did not know had an event space, but really did a lovely job with venue and food. It was a fun night celebrating a great year for the company and enjoying drinks, laughs, and even some dancing with my coworkers.

Saturday morning, I needed some detox to be able to keep up all the holiday plans, so I met up with my friend Chrissy at Evolution Yoga for Alicia‘s Sweet Heat Flow class. The class was the perfect kickstart to my day! I’m being reminded more and more how much even a semi-regular yoga practice enhances my life. Definitely adding that to the New Year’s resolution list!

That evening, Matthew, my parents, and I had an evening at Playhouse Square planned. We started with dinner at Hofbrauhaus.


The interest in Hofbrauhaus shows no sign of slowing down! We arrived at 5:30 and waited a bit over an hour for a table. But the line moved fairly quickly and the tents over the patio, plus the option to buy beer outside kept everyone warm and in good spirits.

We snagged a great table, right near the band, who played everything from traditional polkas to “Margaritaville,” which sounds a bit different on an accordion!


The patrons were loud and festive and the whole meal was a true experience. It’s definitely more than just the food when you go to Hofbrauhaus! That said, we did enjoy some very tasty schnitzel, pretzels, and sauerkraut balls.

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Stuffed and happy, we headed on to see “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” at the State Theatre.


White Christmas is my must-watch-every-year Christmas movie and I expected to see the movie that I have memorized brought to life on the stage. While many parts were the same, there were story and song differences that surprised me.

While the show closed in Cleveland on Sunday, there are still lots of ways you can celebrate the season at Playhouse Square:

The theaters are beautifully decorated, as is the outdoor Playhouse Square area, so head on down and get in the Christmas spirit with a show and some pretty decorations!

Sunday morning, Jeffrey strolled through his first 5K at the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis.


We met up with the other members of #TeamGrinchPaws (Alicia, Hans, Grady, Drew, and Lisa) at Legacy Village for this fun event.


People were decked out in festive clothes, there was a merry elf working his way along the course, and we checked out some ice sculptures too!

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Best of all, the festive fitness fun benefited the Arthritis Foundation! Thanks to #TeamGrinchPaws for getting us out and moving on a Sunday morning!

To wrap up the weekend o’ holiday busy-ness, we headed over to my parents’ house to celebrate my grandfather’s 90th birthday! What a milestone!


Happy birthday, Gramps!

How was your weekend? Are you feeling the pre-holiday busy-ness?