2017 Twilight at the Zoo via the lens of Dale McDonald Photographer

There is one event every year that despite my best efforts, I barely take any photos — because I’m having such a great time! That annual event is Twilight at the Zoo. This annual music fest/dance party/fundraiser benefits the Cleveland Zoological Society and brings thousands of Northeastern Ohioans to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on the first Friday evening of every August.

Twilight at the Zoo spotlights local bands playing pop, rock, dance, swing, country and blues, and combines it with tons of food and beverage options from companies like The Cleveland Cupcake Company, House of Blues, Texas de Brazil, Aramark, Samuel Adams, Barefoot Wines, Fireball and others.

And since the only photo I took at this year’s event was with my friend/incredible photographer Dale McDonald, I thought it best to share Dale’s professional images from this year’s eventwith Dale’s blessings, of course! Let’s start with the spot where we start every Twilight — the VIP Lounge!

The VIP ticket is always worth the price of admission because it gives you 1) early access to the event, 2) has plenty of beverage options to enjoy, 3) tasty eats not available to the general admission attendees, 4) two exclusive to VIP musical acts and 5) the chance to run into your loved ones! Oh, hey Dad!

After you’ve had your fill of VIP, it’s time to explore the rest of the Zoo, all its animals, all the other bands and all of the fun one night can contain…

Tickets for next year’s Twilight at the Zoo go on sale May 1, 2018. So save the date to get your tickets early to be at the August 3, 2018 event!

 

Membership Discount for My Blog Readers — That’s YOU!

Ready to sign up for your Cleveland Metroparks Zoo membership? When you purchase a membership online at the zoo’s website, enter code POISE to save 15%!  (Please note the code is good for the Individual Plus, Family, Family Plus and Family Select levels.) The code is for online use only and expires on August 31, 2017, so click on over today and get yourself to the zoo this month. With so much fun to have for all ages, why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of a great deal when you see one?!

Keep up with the Cleveland Zoological Society by visiting their website, and following them on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Disclosure: Photos c/o Dale McDonald Photographer. The Cleveland Zoological Society invited me to help promote their 2017 events & membership drive.  In exchange, I received complimentary tickets to Twilight at the Zoo, the rest of their 2017 special events and a complimentary zoo membership.  All thoughts and opinions are always my own. 
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my weekend out & about in #CLE (The Feast of the Assumption edition)

We have many summer traditions – most of them revolving around 1) being outside and 2) eating – and so when the annual Feast of the Assumption creeped up on us this year, I thought we wouldn’t make it out to Little Italy on short notice. Yet in a moment of jump-in-the-car-and-go, our little family got ourselves there for an evening of eats, Italian culture and good times.

Most aren’t aware that the Feast is organized by the Parish of Holy Rosary Church, located there in the East-side iconic Cleveland neighborhood. The church has hosted the celebration for the past 118 years — amazing!! — and honors the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is a Catholic Holy Day on August 15 each year, commemorating Mary being taken into Heaven. During the four days of festivities either before or after the 15th, vendors are set up all over featuring Italian foods, desserts, live music and entertainment for all ages.

Our go-to plan each year is to go late afternoon on Saturday before the crush of people settle into Mayfield Road that evening. I normally insist we arrive around 4pm, so when we got there after 5pm this year, I was panicked — but it turned out to not be as much of an issue as expected because everyone was running late this year. The crowd was still manageable, so we got to browsing the many options to eat and drink.

In years past, we would start at Little Italy Wines on the far East end for a wine tasting to start off our feasting, but with Baby B in tow, we opted to sit on their benches outside as we devoured a plate of cheese ravioli with meatball which I am 99.9% sure came from Corbo’s Bakery.

I know our little girl could have demolished that plate of pasta goodness on her own, so by the time all three of us shared it, I had wished we snagged a second! Instead, we started strolling down Mayfield Road — running into fellow Italian / my favorite Chamber of Commerce President, Tony Gallo (@ChamberTony on Twitter) and his wife Theresa — before stopping by our go-to stand for stromboli. Not only did I not take a photo, I couldn’t even tell you who sold it to us, ha! (#badfoodblogger) It’s the stand right at the corner of Mayfield and Murray Hill, across the street from La Dolce Vita.

In our annual tradition, we always end our feasting inside of Presti’s Bakery. Cannoli are ALWAYS on our dessert order. Gelato usually is, and was this year considering we had our ice cream loving 9 month old with us. Then Hans splurged on a mini cheesecake to round out the decadence for the close of our meal.

LONG STORY SHORT: Just because 1) you have a baby, 2) you didn’t plan, or 3) you’re in a weight loss challenge group at work and you have a good chance at winning doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the Feast. In fact, this was the most fun I had in years! We got in — for all you parents out there, the baby carrier makes for a MUCH smarter choice than a stroller. We quickly made our food selections. We found spots to sit/stand away from the crowds to savor each bite. And then we got out and back to our car in just over an hour. But if you think I’m sharing our go-to parking spot, you’re sorely mistaken. I am half Italian, after all, and some secrets are meant to stay within the family!

Keep an eye out for the Feast of the Assumption every August. It’s always around the 15th of the month and is a right of passage for all Clevelanders, new and old. So how about meeting us at the wine shop on Saturday next year? First round is on me!

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Yoga + Beer at Platform Brewing Co. (PLUS my next two yoga classes!)

Have I mentioned lately how much I missed teaching yoga?…

…specifically classes with time to hang out with my students and enjoy a beverage after?

Last Saturday’s Yoga + Beer at Platform Brewing Co. was such a blast. Teaching in a new venue is always an interesting challenge for me, especially one outdoors. I learned a lot about sequencing (yoga teachers note: avoid low lunges on cement), holding space for all attendees and laughing at myself as old skills come back to me (at one point I said, “is this my right or left hand?”). The best part — we raised money for the Arthrits Foundation, got to enjoy some delicious brews and found out our bagel sandwiches featured Cleveland Bagel Co. bagels. (#YAAAASSSSS)

from @kb093’s Instagram

While part of me misses teaching in a studio on the regular, there’s something incredibly special about taking the show on the road with these yoga events and making fun memories like these!

Speaking of, I have two yoga opportunities coming up in the next handful of days — the yoga is just getting going! One is another fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation, another is me bringing back everyone’s favorite combo… hope to see you on the mat, friends!

UPCOMING YOGA CLASSES THIS WEEK:

…and every other Sunday after // REGISTER HERE

 

A fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation // REGISTER HERE

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my weekend out & about in #CLE (the Bridgestone Invitational edition)

Family Fun Fact Time!: I’m married to multi-year golf league member. My brother worked for Golf Galaxy for years throughout high school and college. Me? I’m more of the drive-the-golf-cart-around-the-course kind of gal.  So it shouldn’t surprise you too much to hear we gathered up our foursome – plus the youngest, cutest caddy you’ve ever seen – and headed down to the Akron area for the annual Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club on Saturday.

The Bridgestone Invitational is part of the World Golf Championship series, a group of four annual events for professional golfers created by the International Federation of PGA Tours. And sure, there’s a LOT of golf to see while you’re there, but what we came to find out there’s a lot to do for everyone in the family. Especially the hungry ones! Here’s what we ate and drank while on the course that day…

Our group started off our afternoon with a wine tasting from William Hill Estate Winery, a Napa Valley staple, plus a couple of Galley Boys from the Swenson’s Food Truck. Good thing we live near the Seven Hills’ location — Baby B was a BIG fan of those burgers!

Next, we headed over to the 19th green to the Grey Goose 19th Hole Lounge. A round of their signature La Poire Green Monster Mules made a quick appearance — and didn’t stick around for too long! While there, I learned why the 16th hole is called The Monster — you can learn why here.

From there, we were off to Firestone Village. The spectator area, open to everyone, was located between the 10th and 13th greens, with proximity to the 18th tee in the middle of the course. Firestone Village features the Labatt Blue Beer Garden and famous burgers from Michael Symon’s B-Spot Burgers. It’s been too long since I’ve had one of his burgers, and who knew their onion rings were so good?

Next stop was the 12th green for Firestone Foodies, which featured a variety of food truck options from local vendors, including BarrioLobster Louies and Hatfield’s Goode Grub. Now, I’ve sung my praise over Barrio in the past, but the other two trucks were new to me. Canton’s Lobster Louies Food Truck offers seafood cuisine, including numerous lobster rolls and seafood “slidahs”, as well as tacos from the sea. Baby B LOVED their fried crab balls! Hatfield’s Goode Grub brought Southern comfort food to the course, featuring BBQ pork, beef and chicken… and some incredible French fries and mac-and-cheese.

To close out the afternoon, we ended back up at the Penzoil Fan Zone to enjoy a couple of cups and cones from The Float Factory while Hans and Baby B took their hand at chipping at the 16th Hole Bridgestone Green Monster Challenge.  (No pictures of the latter: I was too busy enjoying my pineapple coconut ice cream.)

LONG STORY SHORT: With all the new fan enhancements and local food options at the tournament this year, the Bridgestone Invitational wasn’t just a destination for golf. It was a destination for a fun family afternoon out in Northeast Ohio. Sharing all that delicious food with family was as good as it could get… especially when our littlest one was experiencing it all for the very first time! I know when Baby B is talking at this time next year, she’ll be asking to go back to the Bridgestone Invitational in 2018. I know I will!

Be sure to follow the Bridgestone Invitational’s social media feeds for the latest tournament updates — including 2018 info — on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Disclosure: I was invited to tour the Bridgestone Invitational and received complimentary admission, eats, drinks and to-dos for myself and my family. All opinions are always 100% my own.

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