Category Archives: Holidays

Why? Weekends!

What a wonderful weekend! I’m just going to jump right in…

On Friday, Mom, Jeffrey, and I had lunch at Bomba Tacos and Rum. Lunch was the perfect time to go, as it wasn’t as crowded and we could take advantage of the lunch special (3 tacos + a side for only $9.95). But first, I started with a pomegranate ginger margarita and some guacamole and pineapple salsa.

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The guacamole was delicious, especially with our chosen additions of corn, spicy peppers, and goat cheese. And we all enjoyed the plaintain chips!


For my tacos, I chose the slow braised duck, the spicy shrimp, and the chorizo and potato. The tacos were very flavorful and fresh, but some were a bit heavy on the toppings.


Overall, though, the atmosphere, food, and drinks at Bomba are fantastic and this will be a must-visit summer locale on the west side!

On Saturday, I volunteered with other members of Playhouse Square Partners at the International Children’s Theater Festival. Our task was helping the kids make sock puppets, with googly eyes, pom-pom noses and more. I was so impressed with the kids’ creativity in making their puppets. Also, never underestimate my non-craftiness…I definitely burned myself on the hot glue gun!

After my volunteering shift, Matthew and Jeffrey met up with me to take in some of the Festival. One of the best parts of the International Children’s Theater Festival is that there are activities for all ages. Jeffrey is young for the theater performances, but he loved the balloon artists, the performance by the Okee Dokee Brothers, and the strolling puppeteers.

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Sunday was my first Mother’s Day! I was kind of overwhelmed thinking about how much has changed in a year! Matthew made a wonderful dinner for my Mom and me, with the help of my Dad, the grill master. One of the many fabulous things on the table was this goat cheese and sun-dried tomato tart, which is on the list of best things I ever ate (recipe here).


Jeffrey made me a deconstructed roll of toilet paper (it’s ART, my friends) as possibly the funniest Mother’s Day present I’ll ever receive.


And Matthew created this amazing framed photo for our playroom: a collection of special things from Jeffrey’s first year, shaped into a heart. I truly am a lucky lady to have these two guys in my life and to have had such a nice day to share with my own amazing Mom!

How was your weekend?

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


Why? My First Mother’s Day!

Dear Jeffrey,

Today is supposed to be “my” day, but I find myself with so much that I want you to know on my first Mother’s Day. As I started seeing signs and ads for Mother’s Day, part of me still had a hard time believing I was now part of the group this day is meant to celebrate. But I am. I’m your mama.


I have to thank you for opening my heart to a whole new world of love; for being the sweetest, smartest, funniest little man; for allowing me the privilege of having a role in shaping the already extraordinary person that you are.


On my first Mother’s Day, I am overwhelmed and so excited for the lifetime of not only Mother’s Days, but special every days that you bring into my life. I love you with my whole heart.



Your Mama

Why? Weekends!

Good morning, dear readers! As I’m still working my way out of a ham and Malley’s candies and general Easter bunny-induced fog, I figured a photo recap of the holiday weekend would do the trick.





Suffice to say, it was a wonderful, family-centered weekend. Jeffrey definitely brings a new joy and excitement to the holidays! I hope you all had lovely weekends filled with family and fun, no matter what or how you celebrated!


Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulation to amy guillaume linderman (Comment #1), randomly-selected winner of a $25 gift certificate to Just-a-Buck! Please check your email for more details.***

It was a busy pre-holiday weekend! On Saturday evening, Matthew and I attended the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter‘s Mass and a Meal event. We started with Mass at Holy Rosary church in Little Italy. The church just completed renovations and the over-100-year-old building is looking bright and beautiful.

After Mass, we headed across the street for dinner at Nido Italia. Our delicious coursed meal included breaded eggplant, salad, pasta with marinara sauce, chicken piccata, and cherry gelato.

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The food was delicious, traditional Italian goodness. We enjoyed our dinner with my freshman year roommate, Sonia, and her husband, Chris. I’m so glad we’ve stayed friends all these years and the alumni events give us a great chance to catch up!


There are some great upcoming alumni events, including the third annual Derby Day Celebration on Saturday, May 2, so stay tuned to the JCU alumni site for more details.

Sunday morning, I got to spend a relaxing morning enjoying brunch with my favorite ladies in our favorite brunch spot: Dante Next Door.


I ordered the fabulous crab cakes Benedict with a side of the duck fat potatoes. So, so rich and good!


And while we’ll take any excuse to get together, Sunday’s brunch was all about wishing Kimberly the happiest of birthdays! A leisurely and delicious meal with wonderful friends…what more could a girl ask for?!


And while that would have been enough to make a fantastic day, we also had an early Easter celebration with Matthew’s family to attend. I always have such a nice time with his side of the family and I love seeing Jeffrey playing with cousins!


All in all, it was a wonderful 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? 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?