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.

PicMonkey Collage

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? 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? The Bom Truffles!

So, remember how I was all about meeting new-to-me creative Cleveland makers? Well, I had the chance to do just that last night at a fun, hands-on gathering organized by the Kappa Delta Cleveland West Alumnae Chapter.


We met up to make homemade truffles under the guidance of Carolina from The Bom. Carolina’s tagline is that her truffles are made with love and alcohol…what could be bad about that?!

Carolina provided the dry ingredients for the truffles, which include cocoa, powdered sugar, pecans, honey, allspice, and ‘Nilla wafers. We selected our favorite alcohol of choice to mix in, after some careful sampling of course!


I made Frangelico truffles, which have a tasty, almost Nutella-like flavor. You can use anything from liquor to wine to fruit juice to mix in your truffles. Carolina said her best seller of the truffles she makes is Kahlua.

We rolled out our truffles and then dipped them in a choice of milk or dark chocolate.


There was also some taste-testing along the way and I’m very pleased with how my truffles turned out! Carolina also provided boxes to package up our creations, perfect for Valentine’s gift-giving!


You can book The Bom for a private event like the truffle-making we did last night, you can stop by to see her at Third Fridays at 78th Street Studios, or you can order some pre-made truffles of your own. No matter how you do it, you’re sure to enjoy the chocolate decadence of The Bom’s truffles and you’ll be supporting a creative Cleveland maker, too!


Why? Weekends!

It was a fun weekend and we certainly enjoyed the milder temperatures! Saturday morning, while Matthew and Jeffrey were at Gym & Swim class, my friend Chrissy and I got our downward dogs on at Alicia‘s Sweet Heat Flow at Evolution Yoga. I really love Alicia’s teaching style, which combines focus on both the mind and the body, and Evolution’s studio has a great vibe, too.

Alicia has a workshop coming up on Saturday, February 28 called Setting Intentions & Making Change – A Sankalpa Workshop that is sure to be fantastic, so check it out!

Saturday evening, I managed to pull off a surprise party for Matthew, which is fairly remarkable since I am terrible at surprises. It’s mostly because I get all excited and end up telling the person about it before it happens. Anyway, back in August, I meant to throw a small birthday party for Matthew to celebrate his birthday. I dropped the ball on that, so I decided to make it up with a surprise half-birthday party.

We headed to Willoughby Brewing Company where we met up with some wonderful guys and gals, who all managed to keep the surprise too!



We enjoyed some of Willoughby Brewing’s delicious craft beer, including my long-standing favorite, Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter and the new Take Me to Church Belgian Ale. Matthew and I also shared a baked potato pizza and the wings with Sriracha butter sauce (yum!).

It was a really fun evening and I’m so glad we were able to pull off this surprise for Matthew!

Sunday was spent around the house. I made a really tasty pulled pork in the slow cooker from a pork shoulder we got from Fresh Fork. I haven’t mentioned Fresh Fork much lately, but we’re in our third year of it and we love the high-quality fruits, vegetables, and meats we get. Plus, I make all of Jeffrey’s baby food myself, so it’s so nice to have good, fresh food to use for that.

I also stopped by Malley’s to pick up some Valentine’s gifts from Jeffrey for the grandparents. I love Malley’s chocolates and they have a great assortment of Valentine’s boxes. Plus, while I was there, I picked up a couple hot fudge sundaes for our dessert. I think their hot fudge is my favorite!

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


Why? Animal Attractions!

Last night, Matthew and I got to warm up with good food, good drinks, and good friends inside the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo‘s The RainForest. We met up with Amanda, Scott, Lane, and Nathan for the Animal Attractions fundraiser put on by the Cleveland Zoological Society.


This event always comes at just the right time: when we’re both ready to celebrate Valentine’s Day and ready to escape the frigid temperatures! First order of business was sampling some of the tasty bites from various local businesses.

PicMonkey Collage

Some of our favorites included the mac ‘n cheese (your choice of white cheddar or bleu cheese) and bacon-wrapped dates from Tremont Taphouse and Butcher and the Brewer, the pecan chicken from Creekside Restaurant & Bar, the confit chicken wings from Merwin’s Wharf, and the chocolate mousse with raspberries from Whole Foods Market Cedar Center.

Of course, there were also plenty of critters to be both seen and touched at Animal Attractions, including some adorable baby monkeys!

PicMonkey Collage

We also listened to two of the cheeky, “romance” themed presentations, which are both educational and a bit of frisky fun, too.

PicMonkey Collage

Once again, the Cleveland Zoological Society put on a great event and made us even more #WildAboutCLE!


The Cleveland Zoological Society has three fundraisers scheduled for this summer that are sure to make you #WildAboutCLE, too:

ZippityZooDoo on June 5, 2015

Twilight at the Zoo on August 7, 2015

Date Night at the ZOOvies on August 21, 2015

Stay tuned for more information on these events!

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


Why? Fahrenheit Happy Hour!

Last Monday, I met up with three of my favorite ladies for happy hour at Fahrenheit. Fahrenheit is a standard in Tremont, one of the first restaurants to open as the area was just starting to revitalize. I can remember friends taking me there for a “goodbye to Cleveland” dinner before I moved to DC for grad school in 2003. Since then, it’s always been a favorite spot.

The restaurant had undergone renovations since my last visit, so I was anxious to see the results. Most of the changes involve fresh paint and general brightening up, but the feel of the restaurant, bar, and menu are generally the same. I was happy to see many standard menu favorites, including the amazing pork shank, still on the menu.

We snagged seats at the bar and immediately dove into the freshly-cooked bacon provided as a bar snack.

IMG_1745This is my kind of bar snack! Happy hour libations include $4 red and white wines, $4 red and white sangria, a $5 tequila cocktail, and a $4 beer selection. I had the red wine, a Malbec, and found it particularly good, especially for the price.

Happy hour food selections range in price from $4 to $7 and include shrimp tacos, a burger with herbed goat cheese, a Cleveland cheesesteak, chicken wings, and more.

We started with the crisp (read: raw) vegetables with green goddess dressing, then proceeded to get a bit less healthy. I ordered the happy hour pizza, topped with Brie, Parmesan, goat cheese, maple and chives.


It’s not just the camera angle, it was a huge pizza and only cost $7! I ended up with some to take home. The pizza was really tasty, too, with the maple adding a nice sweetness to the rich cheeses.

My happy hour compatriots enjoyed the cheesesteak and tacos and all were full and satisfied with such good food for such small prices. Happy hour at Fahrenheit is available in the bar area only from 5-7pm, Monday through Friday. The bacon and cheap red wine alone will have me coming back for more!

Where are some of your favorite places to happy hour?


Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to jessica z. (Comment #11), randomly-selected winner of 2 tickets to the Great Big Home and Garden Show! Please check your email for more details. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets online and save $1 by using promo code CLE15.***

This weekend, we had nothing planned. A whole weekend stretching out in front of us with zero on the calendar. And so we hibernated a bit, got a bit done around the house, and just generally had a nice relaxing time.

Friday evening, we were in the mood for a quick dinner out, which landed us at Jalapeno Loco for fajitas and margaritas.


Jeffrey “tasted” (barely licked) his first tortilla chip…I think he likes it!


Saturday and Sunday were both spent mainly around the house, as everyone seemed to have the same idea to stayed all curled up and warm.


We did a lot of tasty cooking, including a delicious rutabaga puree, a spicy gumbo, and jalapeno cornbread. We also discovered a new (to us) stout that Matthew is already plotting to turn into ice cream.


And considering the scene out our back door on Sunday, hibernating was the right decision!


After Jeffrey went to bed, we watched some of the Super Bowl, mainly for the ads and the halftime show. Predictably, the Budweiser puppy ad was my favorite!

It was so nice to have a low-key weekend! How was yours?


Why? CIFF Get Shorty Film Feast!

Last night, Matthew and I had the unique experience of helping to select some of the films to be shown at the 39th Cleveland International Film Festival. The Get Shorty Film Feast was part of CIFF’s film feast series, combining food and film and pre-festival excitement.


We started our evening in the Arcade next to the Capitol Theatre, where Culinary Occasions provided some light refreshments, including hummus, guacamole, roasted vegetables, fruit, cookies, and brownies. There were also adult beverages…no better way to warm up on a chilly night than a Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter!

From there, we headed into the Capitol Theatre to view a selection of 10 short films, ranging in length from 2 minutes to 23 minutes. After each film, we scored the short on a scale of 1-3 and the top 3 vote-getters were guaranteed to be shown during the film festival.

One of my favorite shorts from the evening – “The Hyperglot” – was in the top three and will be shown during the festival.

The other two top vote-getters – “Sequestered” and “Dad in Mum” – were also funny and will make great additions to the festival. While I had a hard time selecting from the 10 shorts we watched, I can’t imagine how tough of a job it would be sorting through the 1,600 shorts submitted this year alone!

There is one more Film Feast, Red Carpet, scheduled for Thursday, February 19 at Bop Stop in Hingetown, where film critic Clint O’Connor and Cleveland Cinemas’ marketing director Dave Huffman will discuss Academy Award predictions. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased online.

CIFF itself will take place March 18-29 at Tower City Cinemas and various locations throughout the Cleveland and Akron area. The full program guide will be available at the end of February and tickets for the festival go on sale March 6 at 11am. Stay tuned to the CIFF website for all the details!

***Disclosure: I was asked by CIFF to help promote the Get Shorty Film Feast. In exchange, I received two complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Great Big Home and Garden Show Giveaway!

Ah, the joys of home ownership! Whether it’s an unexpected but necessary project like replacing a roof or getting a new dishwasher (us) or it’s a fun and exciting project like thinking about designing your own home from scratch (not us), there’s always something that needs to be done. That’s where the Great Big Home and Garden Show comes in!


From February 6-15, the I-X Center will be filled with exhibitors ready to inspire and help complete any home project, from the necessary and mundane, to the fun and exciting.

There is the Garden Showcase, which will be even more fantastic this year with the theme of “Cleveland Rocks!” I can’t wait to see the creative ways the landscapers incorporate our city into their gardens. Plus, you can dine amidst the gardens at the full-service Cambria Bistro.

There are also local and national celebrity guests on both the Main Stage and the Loretta Paganini Cooking Stage.

Tickets are on sale now. Adult tickets are $12 online and you can save $1 off your ticket by using promo code CLE15. Or, you can enter to win two tickets to the Great Big Home and Garden Show, good for any day of the show, right here!

Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, or all four entries, just leave a separate comment for each entry):

1. Leave a comment telling me what part of Cleveland you’d most like to see incorporated into one of the showcase gardens.

2. Leave a comment if you like the Great Big Home and Garden Show and Why CLE? on Facebook, letting me know you like both pages.

3. Follow @GreatBigShow 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 the @GreatBigShow from @WhyCLE: http://wp.me/p1fb9r-2fs

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

The giveaway will close on Sunday, February 1 at 11:59pm and the winner will be announced the following day. And stay tuned for a Cleveland Home & Remodeling Expo giveaway next month!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Great Big Home and Garden Show and the Cleveland Home & Remodeling Show. In exchange, I will receive 2 complimentary tickets to each show, as well as 2 tickets to give away to each show. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***