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What a sucker.

What a sucker.

Before Baby Beez was born, I would joke that my kid was not gonna be one of those spoiled kids. My kid was gonna have 2 toys: a stick and a rock. And maybe, if she was extra good, she’d get a rusty tin can to kick around.

But once she arrived, she was the first grandchild on both sides of the family. So yes, she was spoiled. Also, I am a total sucker for making her happy, so I basically trip over my own feet in a rush to buy whatever it is she likes. Just to see her smile.

This week, especially after seeing my credit card statement from our Disneyworld vacation, it really struck home what a sucker I am. Sure, she enjoyed Disney and toys and what have you. But there’s a LOT of stuff that this kid loves just as much that is free or virtually free. Prime example: The playground. Going to the playground is probably her favorite activity in the universe. And that costs $0. (Or, more accurately, it costs the tax money I’m already paying anyway.)

Other free/nearly free entertainment that this kid LOVES:

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Playing with sticks.


My crack about the stick and rock was prescient, because DUDE THIS KID LOVES STICKS AND ROCKS. She doesn’t swing them around too wildly, mostly she pretends they are wands, and picks them up and keeps exchanging them up for bigger and better sticks.

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Going to the library.


We are incredibly lucky to have a magnificent library system in Pittsburgh. There are constantly activities and programs for all ages (yesterday, we went to a Japanese cultural program for little kids), and they have a massive collection of books, cds, dvds, etc. Basically, anything you could want, they have it. The kid’s room is not a typical quiet reading area. There’s a train set, toys, computers, etc. Even before I had a kid, the Main Branch of the Carnegie Library was one of my favorite places in the city. With all it offers for little monsters, I love it even more.

Running around Statutes

Running around Statutes

Baby Beez loves Dippy the Dinosaur, but she pretty much loves running in circles around any statute. Yesterday she ran around Dippy’s legs, and yelled to anyone who came close by that you should stay away from Dippy’s butt or he’ll pee on you. Because yeah, she’s 4. That’s what 4 y.o.’s do. Anyway, it was a good way to [try to] get her to burn off energy. And it cost zero dollars.

Chasing Squirrels

Chasing Squirrels

You probably can’t see it, but there’s a squirrel in the tree. Whenever this kid sees squirrels or birds, she’s like “MOM IT’S MY BEST FRIEND, I’M GONNA CATCH IT!” I guess that’s what happens when you’re an only child, you feel like you have to chase down and physically restrain all your friends. I’m perfectly fine with letting her run after small city-dwelling animals, but Baby Beez is in a phase where she flat out ignores me when I yell at her to stop running, which leads to the panic that she’s gonna keep running and bolt out into the street. She’s small and fast and argues with me when I try to explain the threat of moving vehicles. So yeah. There’s potential in this activity, but it needs some work.

At the Car Wash

At the Car Wash

Some kids are terrified by the car wash. Not mine. She gets super excited and narrates the whole process. LOOK IT IS THE SOAP! NOW IT IS SPRAYING DOWN THE CAR! This activity technically cost money, but I did need to wash my car anyway, so it’s an added bonus that it’s also fun for the kid.

Other free activities this kid loves: The playground. The playground at the mall. Running around in open spaces. Did I mention playgrounds? Also sticks. And playgrounds.

What are your kid’s favorite free activities?

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Girls Weekend at Bedford Springs

Girls Weekend at Bedford Springs

My husband denies this conversation ever happened, but some time back I suggested to him that we go on a romantic weekend getaway to Bedford Springs resort. He said the idea sounded boring. This coming from the man who counts “sitting quietly and being left alone” amongst his favorite activities. So I said fine. I’ll go with friends. So I did. And then afterward I told him how my weekend involved eating good food, drinking good wine, time at the spa, and lots of sitting quietly in a chair and resting. All of his favorite things. So maybe I’ll just need to have another spa weekend soon.

My girls weekend was fantastic and so badly needed. I have a lot going on right now at work, so it’s go-go-go-go-go. A minute away to rest my mind was necessary to keep me form losing it entirely.

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Bedford Springs has long been known for its rejuvenating spring water. Appropriately, it has a very lovely spa. I treated myself to a luxurious mud wrap, spent a good long while soaking and scrubbing and showering through the spring spa ritual, and then spent several hours lounging in a chair quietly, reading, as my friends sat nearby reading or snoozing. It was amazing.

I didn’t take any pictures inside the spa, because when they check in they have you sign a thing that says NO TAKING PICTURES. Really though, it’s better for the ambiance, so I’m all for that restriction.

We visited Out of the Fire Cafe in Donegal for dinner. Despite being usually in the know about the Pittsburgh restaurant scene, I had never heard of this place. It’s a must-stop if you’re spending some time out in the Seven Springs/Hidden Valley, but is honestly so good that may even is worth its own trip out from the City. Better yet, make your dinner reservations the central event for a weekend in the Laurel Highlands.

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I’d classify the cuisine as “contemporary American” but without getting into anything too artsy and not getting too indulgent in the comfort food direction.

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I had the cocoa crusted lamb chop. I find that the more food posts I write, the fewer unique descriptions of delicious meals I am able to craft. So this is where you put all kinds of wonderful adjectives about the wonderful meal. Because wonderful.

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The mushroom bread pudding with truffle oil was one of the most surprising and decadent side dishes that I’ve had in ages. It’s so buttery and rich that the portion size is overwhelming. But that’s what take out boxes are for.

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One of my friends ordered bronzino. I usually opt for any meal with eyeballs, because why wouldn’t you? But this time the call of the lamb chop was overpowering. Next time, my fish friend, you will be mine.

Our stress melted away over the lovely weekend. But as we returned, and drove mile by mile closer to the city, it crept back up on us. Work remains full speed ahead through May. But Mr. Beez and I do have plans for a trip away to Nemacolin in the not-too-distant future. Believe me. I’ll need it.

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6th Things for the 6th

6th Things for the 6th
  • In general I have sworn off Groupon because I buy a bunch of Groupons and never use them. Of course one day sitting around waiting to get called for court, I signed on to Groupon and went shopping. Because I’m a sucker. And fell down the rabbit hole of “Well, I’ve been meaning to go there anyway, so I might as well buy one.”  I got one for local, since I haven’t managed to make my way there yet. We took Baby Beez there on Saturday for a late lunch. It’s more bar than restaurant, so her presence was only mildly inappropriate. She also was refusing to act like a civilized human, so she fit right in with all the beer swigging March Madness fans. The food wasn’t impressive, and since there are a number of other restaurants in the South Side that I like better, I probably would not return for a meal. But I did get myself a Yinzerrita, and it was FANTASTIC. Mine was a strawberry yinzerita, which comes with pear cider (other flavors come with other corresponding beers and ciders). I would like a Yinzerrita waiting for me when I come home from work every day, plz, Jeeves.

Yinzerrita from Local Pgh

  • We went to Green Forest Churrascaria with my father in law for Easter lunch today. This was Baby Beez’ first meat-on-swords experience, and it was a revelation for her. She announce her favorite food is MEAT, because of course it is. I was a vegetarian for 10 years before I got pregnant with this kid. Then all I wanted was hot dogs and donuts. Of course those are Baby Beez favorite foods. Pregnancy cravings make a lot more sense to me now. Baby Beez is no stranger to dining out, and she announced Green Forest to be her FAVORITE RESTAURANT. She has found her happy place.

Green Forest

  • Also, because it is Easter, and she is spoiled, she got lots of chocolate even though we are Jewish and don’t celebrate Easter (we share it with Christian relatives). Baby Beez doesn’t care what you call it, as long as she gets chocolate. We usually don’t let her have chocolate because it makes her CRAY CRAY. Like serious cray cray. I thought “What the heck, it’s Easter” and let her eat a bunch of it. The result was her stripping off all her clothes and wearing only undies and my noise-cancelling headphones (not plugged into anything),  running in circles around the living room,  and at one point wrapping herself in a blanket and talking to herself under the dining room table. Now you see why she is not allowed to have chocolate. I guess I just need to eat the rest of the goodies in her Easter basket for her.

Easter Chocolate

  • We made a bunch of airline and hotel reservations for our travels over the summer and I am very excited about this. Also, I went through our calendar and plugged in “SWIM AT JCC FAMILY PARK” on a whole lot of days. In past summers, I fantasize about taking Baby Beez to swim in the kid pool while I lounge around and read magazines.Then I get all wrapped up in all the different things going on around the city and buy all these tickets to things, and then we don’t make it to the family park. So now I’m filling the calendar with “SWIMMING” and plan to stick to it.

  • Mr. Beez bought me 2 LUSH bath bombs for Hanukkah. I used one of them today, and turns out it was a bomb full of glitter. So the tub was full of glitter and I was covered in glitter, and Mr. Beez dropped a bunch of f-bombs about that bath bomb, and now I’m not allowed to have bath bombs anymore.

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  • I was very excited to run the Pittsburgh Half Marathon, but now I start a trial in Erie the next day. This means no race for me. Which is probably for the best because I’ve got full-on stabbed-in-the-knee runner’s knee going on in my right knee. I could run a half in May, but it would be bad news bears. So now my next long race isn’t until Labor Day weekend. I went to the South Side trail to try and run today, but I couldn’t make it more than a couple steps before I was limping. I did a 4 mile walk instead. I need to lose some LBS, strengthen my quads and do a whole lot of stretching. At least I’ve got time on my side for this…but I better not use that time as a temptation to slack off.  I took this neat picture of the industrial bric-a-brac on the trail today.

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HAPPY MONDAY, YINZ. Go get it.

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Annual #PghGBE — @PenniesPintsPgh ‘s Delightful Getaway @Nemacolin

Annual #PghGBE — @PenniesPintsPgh ‘s Delightful Getaway @Nemacolin

It’s April Fool’s Day, and time for our annual Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event! Shoutout to Alex at Everybody Loves You for his mad planning skills! I’m very excited today for this guest post by Devon and Tim at Pennies.Pints.Pittsburgh. A getaway to Nemacolin is on my 40 before 40, so this guest post is perfect!!

The Finest of Dining at Nemacolin

2015 has been a year of many firsts, including our first Pittsburgh Blog Swap. And we are the lucky bloggers to guest write for the awesome blog Beezus KiddoAs I was perusing the site, I noticed that one of her 40 before 40 bucket list activities included a weekend stay at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. Well, it just so happens that my husband and I loooove Nemacolin, and we’ll take any excuse to get back there.

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort is a luxurious mountain get-away in the beautiful Laurel Highlands. This handsome 2,000 acre resort is nestled on top of the rolling hills that join the Allegheny Mountain range. We’ve gone here for quick get-aways, bachelorette parties, and even work conferences. And we’ve always enjoyed ourselves immensely. Mainly because there’s a real sense of serenity up at Nemacolin. The air is so fresh, and the natural beauty that encapsulates the resort is truly breathtaking. And honestly, who can beat the unbelievably short commute from Pittsburgh?

So, my dear mother graciously agreed to take our boys for a night so we could enjoy ourselves with some friends for an evening in the mountains. And that meant one very important activity: dining out. Now the pressing question was; where? Our friends and we wanted all the bells and whistles of fine dining but not so much the formal attire. After discussing our options, Autumn was the exact answer we needed for a perfect night out.

Now as we strolled down the luxurious hallways adorned with one stunning crystal chandelier after another, we found ourselves at Autumn’s entrance. We were quickly seated at a large table in the front of the house. Our wonderful waitress, Becky, took our drink order while we chatted wine with Austin, Autumn’s sommelier. With drinks in hand, it was now time for some serious appetizers…

classic shrimp cocktail

We started off with the Classic Shrimp Cocktail. Admittedly, I had a real hard time sharing this with our group because a REAL good shrimp cocktail is hard to come by. But I ultimately got over it because everyone deserves a little taste of seafood heaven every now and then…

pretzel crab cakes

Next, we dove into these incredible pretzel crusted crab cakes. They were light and packed full of rich flavors. Oh, and they were accompanied by a beer mustard sauce. Yup, I was absolutely smitten with this chef already.

kale pot stickers

All of the sudden, this plate showed up. Is this food or 3-D art? I honestly didn’t want to disturb this masterpiece, it just looked so gorgeous. But I got over that rather quickly as Becky explained the contents these little beauties…

These potstickers are made with with kale, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, quinoa, and is accompanied by a sunflower seed hummus. This is not a traditional appetizer that we meat lovers would tend to go wild over.. But I kid you not- this appetizer completely won us over. All of us agreed that we’d all become vegetarians in a heartbeat as long as Chef Tyler Hutchison was cooking…

Not pictured but equally loved were the Spicy Calamari, Cauliflower Meze, Maggie’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese, Crab and Artichoke Dip with Truffle Parmesan Pita Chips, Parmesan Kale Chips, and Mushroom Soup.

And we hadn’t even touched the entrées portion yet…

bone in pork chop final

Chef Hutchison apparently enjoys the art of cooking with beer as much as we do. Once I spotted the Bone in Pork Chop with German potatoes and sauerkraut pierogies,  mustard greens with a maple beer glaze, I was done for. The other entrees didn’t stand a fighting chance… Picture Credit: Chef Hutchison’s Instagram

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Tim was enticed by the Sesame Tuna special with shrimp & wasabi potato butter, Asian crispy kalettes, and a sesame ash garnish. So stunning, so fresh, and oh so spring.

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Our buddy ordered this handsome dish: Elysian Fields lamb with a “dirty” lamb pappardelle, pistachio gelato, and naturual lamb jus. Picture Credit: Chef Hutchison’s Instagram

Oh. My. Goodness

Entrées not pictured above yet were equally amazing; Basil Pesto Pasta with basil, avocado, spinach, tomato and shrimp. And the Swordfish with bamboo risotto, swiss chard, Chinese sausage, red pepper, and white soy emulsion. Just wow.

After this banquet fit for kings, we had to tap out, raise the white flag, and call it a night. As we sat back and basked in all the glory of a truly exquisite dining experience, we knew some major thank yous were in order for one very talented young chef.

Chef De Cuisine Tyler Hutchison

At the ripe age of 14, Chef Hutchison immersed himself in the culinary world. He started as a dish washer, and worked his way up to the hot line. Once he got a taste of the culinary world, he knew that he had found his life’s passion. He attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania Culinary School in Punxsutawney, PA. He was accepted as an intern at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort in Charleston, South Carolina. There, he refined his skills and learned the fine art of preparing fresh seafood. Once he completed his school hours, he was hired on full time and worked his way up to Chef De Partie. After 2 years, Chef Tyler decided to bring his skills back to Pennsylvania and joined forces with Nemacolin.

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And I’m so glad Chef Hutchison did. His interpretation of fine cuisine is stunning, moving, and beyond inspiring. Dish after dish, he offered beautiful plating, intriguing flavor combinations, contrasting textures, palate exciting, perfected culinary masterpieces. It’s brilliant how he took such familiar foods and threw countless curve balls in their execution. This dinner is one for the ages and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for such a talented chef, his sous chef Rachel Davis, and the rest of his creative team. We excitedly await Autumn’s spring menu which launches in just a few weeks.

Thank you again for such an inspiring evening! We can’t wait to cross paths again.

Cheers N’at- Devon and Tim

Also, a heartfelt thanks to Becky- you were so attentive and you really knew the menu through and through. We had an absolute blast spending our dinner with you. And Austin- it was such a pleasure speaking with you. I wish we could have pulled up another chair and talked wine with you all night. You guys made this such an incredible night out. Cheers!



I hope you enjoyed this edition of our annual Guest Blogger Event! Check out the other participating blogs at the links below!!

The AP Collection // Lucy Quin  // Beezus Kiddo // Pittsburgh Happy Hour // Orange Chair Blog // In Pursuit of Simple // The Wheezy Runner // Pittsburgh is Beautiful // Last Minute Panic // The Almond Eater // A Body of One’s Own // Lunges, Long Runs and Lattes // Downtown Living // Emily LevensonParmesan Princess // Oh Honestly, Erin // Sole for the Soul // Crank Crank Revolution // The Pittsburgh Mommy Blog // Yum Yum PGH // Ya Jagoff // Gardening in High Heels // Sean’s Ramblings // Pittsburgh Taste Buds // The Foodtasters // My Blog n’at // The Fashionable Eye // jelly jars // Don’t Forget to Eat // Small Town Dad // Josh’s World // The Steel Trap // In Pursuit of Happiness // 101 Achievements // A Librarian’s Lists and Letters // Pennies, Pints, Pittsburgh // 30-Something therapy // Red Pen Mama // Nicky D. Cooks // everybody loves you…

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What else- beer and bites (shoutout to @LaPalapaPgh @Gristhouse @DraaiLaag @WigleWhiskey )

What else- beer and bites (shoutout to @LaPalapaPgh @Gristhouse @DraaiLaag @WigleWhiskey )

If there is one thing I am qualified to teach it is a seminar on how to put on a lot of weight in a short period of time. Not that anyone would be interested in such nonsense. But Mr. Beez and I spent the weekend on a Pa Brew Tour and then a gathering with friends. That means lots of beer, lots of wine, lots of chips, lots of pizza. I think I might need a juice cleanse. (Not really.)

This is the third PA Brew Tour I have participated in. By this point, I have memorized most of the trivia answers. Czech Republic (the country with the highest per-capita beer consumption). Das Reinheitsgebot. (The German “purity” law limiting beer brewing to its 4 core ingredients). Malt/barley, yeast, water, hops. (The ingredients of beer). Now you can win the beer tour trivia too. Also, I’m familiar enough with the brewing process that I’m not as interested in oohing and ahhing over the tanks. But it is fun to check out the personality of each brewery, and learn about what part of brewing they really love and pride themselves on. Of course, there’s the tasting too. That’s a good part.

Our tour commenced at the East End Brewing Company outlet at the Pittsburgh Public Market.  I had one thing on my mind: lunch. The Public Market has many options, but La Palapa was right in front of me as I walked in, and I realized that I needed tamales. Post haste.

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There are entirely too few tamales in Pittsburgh. When I am motivated, I am capable of making pretty good tamales. However, making them takes more than 3 steps and 30 minutes, so that kind of cooking motivation is rare for me to come by. Whenever I see tamales on a menu, I’m like MINE ALL MINE. Because they really are delicious.

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Our first Millvale stop was at Gristhouse Brewing. As its name suggests, it’s in a renovated slaughterhouse. It opened its doors about a year ago, and has been having remarkable success. They don’t offer food here, but there are pizza places that deliver and food trucks visit frequently (or you could, like me, eat a massive platter of tamales before showing up and not have to worry about food). My favorite beer at Gristhouse was their Tripel Grist. I love Belgian style beers, and this tripel was just delightful.

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Next, we scooted over to Draai Laag, which specializes in Belgian style brewing. Hooray for me! I’ve had their beers before, but honestly didn’t realize they are local. Their name and branding are so sophisticated that I assumed they really were Belgian brewers. Nope. Right here in Millvale. I love the Goedenacht and the Geestlijke (pronounced geese-licker. Really.) Draai Laag beers are pretty heavy on the ABV, as well as on the taste. I really liked the ambiance of their tasting room. It’s dark and chill. There are chess boards on the table. I would love to take an afternoon there to curl up with a beer and a book.

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We then returned by bus to our starting point. Since it was about 5, it was of course happy hour. We couldn’t let that go by without a cocktail, so we stopped over at Wigle for a hot minute. Wigle has about 5 different kinds of cocktails you can order, as well as stock up for your bar (we were out of booze soaked maraschino cherries, so naturally, it was time to attend to that). The cocktail was a nice sweet twist to wrap up the day.

Then of course we went to a nearby sushi place for dinner. I placed my order. And they served it to me with 3 sets of chopsticks. So yeah.