Category Archives: Holidays

Why? Weekends!

It was a festive Fourth of July weekend for us! Plus, with the fabulous weather, how could you help having a great time? Matthew was off on Friday, so we decided to do a family afternoon of pizza and the beach. We started at Guilio Bonazza’s, which has been voted the best pizza in Lake County for the last two years.


We can certainly see why! The pizza was really delicious and the crust was some of the best I’ve had. Matthew and I shared the monthly special, the Southwest Sizzler, with a BBQ and Sriracha hot sauce, cheese, chicken, onions, and jalapenos. Jeffrey enjoyed a side order of meatballs, which must have been very tasty, as they were gone really quickly!

From there, we headed to Headlands Beach State Park to introduce Jeffrey to Lake Erie. He had a great time playing in the sand and getting his feet wet in the waves. It was a perfect beach day and a good reminder of how great it is to live close to the lake!

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Friday evening, I found myself in need of more Alicia time. Having spent time with one of my favorite ladies two days in a row, I figured why not go for the trifecta?! I went to her “happy hour” Sweet Heat flow at Evolution Yoga, which was the perfect balance of a good work-out and some meditative calm.

Saturday morning, we met up with our Kindermusik friends for play time, lunch, and a Fourth of July parade.

IMG_3672Jeffrey enjoyed seeing all the fire trucks and waving the folks in the parade. But I think he might have loved the homemade chocolate chip cookies at lunch even more!

PicMonkey CollageIt was a fun way to kick off the Fourth! The rest of the weekend was filled with family time. We had a cook-out at my parents’ house on Saturday afternoon and then on Sunday, we celebrated Matthew’s Great Uncle Bill’s 95th birthday! That’s a seriously impressive milestone. Great Uncle Bill was at Jeffrey’s 1st birthday, so it was a pretty neat reminder of the circle of life to have Jeffrey attend his 95th birthday.

All in all, a perfect holiday weekend if I do say so myself! How was your Fourth of July?


Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Abby DelaMotte (Comment #5), randomly-selected winner of two tickets to see the Cleveland Centennial Tribute to Robert Lockwood, as part of Tri-C Jazz Fest. Please check your email for details. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase Festival Passes or tickets to individual shows online.***

What a fun weekend, with a great balance of family, friend, and kiddo time! I love it when that happens! On Friday, Jeffrey and I met up with a friend from Kindermusik and her mom at the Children’s Museum of Cleveland.

Both kids had a great time in the Big Red Barn, an exhibit filled with stuffed farm animals, tractors, and more; the Bridges to Our Community and Safe Rides for All Kids, where they could get hands-on in things like an RTA bus and a grocery store; and Splish! Splash!, which is pretty self-explanatory.

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After all this play, everyone had worked up an appetite, so we headed to Mama Santa’s for their classic pizza and capped off the afternoon with delicious sweet treats from Presti’s Bakery.

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It was a great afternoon, not just enjoying two of my favorite neighborhoods in Cleveland, but also building friendships and watching Jeffrey have so much fun!

Saturday morning, I met up with Alicia and Amanda for brunch at Johnny Mango World Cafe. Before we could even dive in to our tasty meals, we were served three super strong cups of coffee in the best and perhaps most appropriate coffee mugs for us.

Photo Credit -

Photo Credit –

In between lots of conversation and coffee, we enjoyed the breakfast quesadilla, the chorizo and potato omelette, and the cashew chicken salad (much like the mugs, I leave it to you to figure whose was whose).

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Flavorful, well-priced food, great coffee, and friendly service make Johnny Mango a wonderful brunch option. Plus, it’s less crazy to find parking even just a few blocks down from West 25th Street!

Saturday afternoon, Matthew, Jeffrey, and I went to the Kirtland Strawberry Festival. There were lots of carnival rides and games, but our main focus was getting a strawberry supreme sundae to enjoy.


Jeffrey throwing some major shade

The sundaes were delicious, reasonably-priced ($4.50), and benefited the Kiwanis and their many service projects in the area. Plus, I love me a summer festival!

Sunday we celebrated Father’s Day with my side of the family with a cookout at my parents’ house. It was a relaxing day filled with lots of good food. I was tasked with bringing dessert, so I was pretty excited when Mama Jo’s Pies reached out to offer two complimentary pies for our Father’s Day celebration.

After a lot of time spent pouring over their many flavors, I chose caramel apple walnut and cherry pies, which were delivered freshly-baked on Saturday. I paired them with Mitchell’s Ice Cream Vanilla Bean for a totally local and completely tasty dessert! Definitely check out Mama Jo’s for your next special occasion!

IMG_3413More important than the food was celebrating my dad, grandpa, and Matthew. I am so lucky to have them in my life and, even more so, Jeffrey is so lucky to have them in his life. This picture from Sunday pretty much says it all:


That’s it. My whole heart, in one picture. Matthew, I hope your day was as special as you make every day for us!

How was your weekend? How did you celebrate Father’s Day?

***Disclosure: I received two complimentary tickets for myself and two tickets to give away to the Tri-C Jazz Fest concert of my choice. I received two complimentary pies courtesy of Mama Jo’s Pies. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Lemonia K (Comment #45), Julie (Comment #11), and Geargoyle (Comment #5), randomly-selected winners of $50 gift cards to Door to Door Organics. Please check your email for details. Remember, all readers can save $10 off their first Door to Door Organics order by using this dedicated link to sign up.***

It was a busy weekend to kick off the summer season! On Friday, Mom, Jeffrey, and I checked out the new Heck’s Cafe in Avon. The sister restaurant to the Ohio City classic serves up the same high-quality burgers that I’ve long enjoyed from the flagship location. I had the Ohio City burger, served with an herb pesto, mozzarella, and mushrooms. Mom and I also shared the baked brie en croute appetizer, with fresh berries, honey, and bread. And I highly recommend the grilled pineapple and jalapeno margarita!

While this new Heck’s is just getting on its feet, the burgers that we had show the same quality for which Heck’s is know. I also have to commend Heck’s for their kids’ menu, which includes grilled chicken tenders and grilled salmon, with steamed vegetables as a side dish. So often, you only see fried items on kids’ menus! And Jeffrey found it so tasty he had to share with me!


On Saturday evening, Matthew and I headed to Blossom Music Center to see Zac Brown Band. It was the first concert of the season at Blossom and the weather was just perfect for it!


Zac Brown Band has been on my “concert bucket list” for awhile and the show did not disappoint. It was high energy, with plenty of long jams that showed off the band’s considerable music chops. Plus, there were fun cover songs thrown in among ZBB’s own songs, including “Devil Went Down to Georgia,” “Enter Sandman,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.”


Whether it’s for a rock concert or to see the incomparable Cleveland Orchestra, a summer show at Blossom is always on the must-do list!

Sunday evening, it was another late night, as we headed downtown to watch the Cavs take on the Hawks. The John Carroll Cleveland Alumni Chapter has been fortunate enough to get a block of tickets to each playoff round thus far. Our group continually supported the Cavs over the past years and the team has been similarly loyal, which really speaks to how highly the organization regards the fans.

Matthew and I started with a beer at Butcher and the Brewer, enjoyed on the patio to take in the great weather and people-watching on East 4th Street.


I love how inventive the beers are at this new hot spot (I tried the Stuffed French Toast Milk Stout, which really tastes like French toast)! The beer list was completely different from the last time I was there, with lots of great new options.

Then it was time for the game. The energy and excitement even walking up to the Q were palpable. And once inside, the best fans helped carry the best team to a nailbiter of a victory.


As we left the game, we saw all of downtown lit up in wine and gold to celebrate the Cavs.

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What an exciting time for our home team! I can’t wait to watch the game tonight!

Monday morning, we met up with the always-fabulous Lane Baldwin for Jeffrey’s one-year photo shoot. Lane is so sweet and easy to work with, I just know we’ll have some wonderful pictures of our little man. We did the photo shoot at Squire’s Castle in the Cleveland Metroparks, which is a pretty magical location for photos or a picnic or just a walk in the park.

So, all in all, a pretty sensational start to summer for us! How was your long weekend?

***Disclosure: I am the VP of Educational, Cultural, and Spiritual Events for the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


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!