@umi_Pittsburgh Birthday Times

Yesterday was Mr. Beez’s birthday, and birthday means birthday dinner.  His pick was Umi, which if you are not already in the know, is the absolute best sushi restaurant– if not absolute best restaurant all around– in Pittsburgh.  I don’t know what to say about Umi, other than the food is absolutely beautiful and the service impeccable. That place is the best.

Mr. Beez’s birthday wish was to eat ALL THE ROCK SHRIMP TEMPURA.  Ok, we didn’t eat all of it, but we ordered it twice.  This is no ordinary tempura.  The batter coating is a little thicker than usual tempura, and the sauce is ever so spicy. There’s some substance to the shrimp, they are a little meatier than usual shrimp.  If you try it, it will be easy to understand why Mr. Beez loves it so much.

Umi Rock Shrimp Tempura

I do love that dish, but my absolute favorite is the miso blackened cod. It’s so buttery, with a touch of umami taste, and the texture is so tender.  The miso blackened cod is absolutely the most perfect dish ever.  Of course, we ate it twice.

Umi Miso Blackened Cod

Oh that dinner. I can’t even.

This dinner and my meal at Jaleo were the only detours from my vegan trajectory as of late.  I’ve been doing a lot more cooking, and Mr. Beez got me a whole stack of amazing vegan cookbooks for Mother’s Day.  You can expect some upcoming posts about the delicious and unexpected things I’ve been whipping up in the kitchen (with the assistance of the wisdom of Isa Chandra Moskowitz). We’ve been eating very well in this family lately.


Of Tapas and Friendships

My kid’s swim class was cancelled tonight, and I haven’t been this happy in ages.  I love the class, and I like that she gets the extra exercise (she has PLENTY of energy to burn), but my days are filled with constantly running from won thing to the next, and it was SUCH a relief to unexpectedly gain 2 uncommitted hours in my evening.  I am celebrating with a glass of wine and eating noodles on the couch.

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a “girls weekend” in DC celebrating a very dear friend’s upcoming special number birthday (29! A lady never ages past 29!)  We went to dinner at Jaleo, and it was amazing.  AMAZING.

Ferran Adria Liquid Olives

Ferran Adria Liquid Olives

Cava Sangria? Yes PLS.

Cava Sangria? Yes PLS.

2016-04-23 21.05.31

Jaleo is a taps restaurant, and we ordered our tapas in my absolute favorite way– cover the table with small plates, devour them all, order another bunch of small plates, devour, repeat.  The food was gorgeous, delicious, MAGNIFICENT! The restaurant had such a cool, fun vibe to it too. For our last round of small plates, we told the server to please just pick them for us, and she did NOT steer us wrong.  I wish I could remember all the delicious things we had, but OMG, so many flavors and textures and everything was just lovely.

Jaleo left quite the impression, but what struck me even more profoundly when I returned home from the trip the next day, is how lucky I am to have good friends.  It was just a little weekend, but we had such a no fuss, fun time together, that the weekend was a truly memorable experience. Since I came back from the trip, it’s even given me a little dose of de-stressing to think about the feeling of that weekend, us girls together, watching When Harry Met Sally and the Pitch Perfect movies in the minivan on the drive, drinking wine and chatting, and appreciating a truly great meal.  Happy birthday Sandy and thanks friends for the memories!


My Picks for Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week #pcbw

My Picks for Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week #pcbw

This year, I am making a concerted effort to go to Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week events. I’d heard of PCBW in the past, I just never made an effort to go to anything. Mr. Beez and I love beer, and I at least have developed enough familiarity with bills to be able to navigate descriptions of unfamiliar beers to pick those I will likely enjoy. I like light-to-medium beers, that are sweet or citrusy. I’m a big fan of Belgian style beers, wheat beers, red ales, and all kinds of fruity beers. I do not like porters, stouts, generally any kind of dark beer, and I do not like beers that are heavy on the hops (no thank you on the IPA’s).

Voodoo Beer List

Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week starts on Friday, and I spent too much time today picking through the calendar and now…YOU GUYS I CANNOT WAIT. Craft Beer Week is a time to explore, and I’m not going to limit myself to the usual types I like.   I wish I could make it to every single event, but since I (1) have to work, (2) need to avoid developing a beer belly, and (3) do not have Hermione’s time turner, I will not be able to be at everything. I’ve gone through the event listing to pick my favorites. This is my PCBW Wish List, but I will likely only make it to a few (and even the ones compatible with my schedule are subject to me possibly bailing due to work obligations, general exhaustion, etc.).

Are you going to any PCBW events? Which ones are on your wish list?

Grist House/East End/Roundabout PCBW Collaboration Beer Release

Come try this year’s Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week Collaboration Beer from Grist House, East End, and Roundabout. We put our collaboration caps on and brewed up a Hoppy Fruited Saison for your enjoyment. First 30 guests receive a custom Grist House Craft Beer Week shirt.

The Unofficial Kickoff of PCBW with All the Collaboration Beers

Start your Beer Week at Your PCBW Headquarters. Find all the unique and cool offerings from all your favorite local brewery’s. Find all the collaboration beers under one roof. First 48 Customers will receive a FREE Collectors Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week Pint Glass. Starts at Happy Hour

Firkin Alternatives

Join us as we release some of our rare Casks & Firkins – Our industry friends from Arsenal Cider House & Kaliber Brewing will be joining us and pouring samples of some of the regions best craft beer alternatives. Our offerings will include a firkin of our PCBW collaboration, an “Extra Funky/Sour” Lemon Bourbon, A Hopped Tangerine Ginger + others…Evil Swine BBQ will be out front all night & JDA band playing live tunes starting around 8ish…

Greenfield Bridge is Falling Down Collaboration Beer Debut

Spoonwood Brewing, Helltown Brewing, Helicon Brewing, and Dancing Gnome Brewing joined forces to bring you Greenfield Bridge Is Falling Down, a very juicy IPA that’s certain to add to your Craft Beer Week drinking experience. Join all four breweries at Spoonwood’s taproom for the initial tapping for this killer collaboration! The beer will be on tap throughout PCBW.

Yards Coffee Mug Brunch

Yards is our April brewery of the month and we’re featuring a brunch and beer pairing on Sunday 4/17. When you order a feature you’ll receive a Yards Brewing coffee mug to take home. 10am- while supplies last. Happy brunching!

Crush the Pin: Cask Beer Extravaganza

12 or more Pins will be tossed up on the bar for your enjoyment. Some Collaborations Beers along with offerings from Brewery’s all over the country. Enjoy beer in its purest form cask conditioned!! Rare and Exciting beers to be offered!!

Shower beer Day Drinking!

Celebrate the art of the shower beer @ Hough’s! Your favorite Long Trail/Otter Creek/Flying Dog/Ballast Point’s beers in a can (for shower safety), fog mirror art, shower beer koozies, beer soap,shower songs on the jukebox, & big ‘ol shower beers to go!

Ward off Evil with Stone Brewing Company


Craft 2 Ways: Beer & Art

  1. Create the best “CAN-vas” for your 32oz can to go. Decorate your blank space label and Hough’s will put it on a can for you to fill with featured Brooklyn beers and take home. Submit your cans using #MyCanvas @HoughsPGH and you can win a Brooklyn / Hough’s prize pack!
  2. Hough’s & Pop Craft have teamed up to bring you a 2 hour craft beginning at 7pm – a wood mounted rustic bottle opener on reclaimed wood. Perfect for your bar area at home, the man cave, tailgating and more! You must register for this event, see PopCraftArt.com

Decorate Yo Donut with Lagunitas

Celebrate 4/20 at Hough’s with Lagunitas! It’s a decorate yo donut bar. All types of goodies for you to top your donut PLUS Waldo, Cappuccino Stout and Brown Shugga will be pouring.

Pies & Pints & Pints at Roundabout Brewery with Pgh Craft Beers

Who doesn’t love a good pie? Come check out Roundabout Brewery on Wednesday April 20th for a very special Pie and Pints event. For $9 you get a savory pie from the Pub Chip Shop as well as a pint of amazing Roundabout Brewery beer. Since it’s PCBW this week, the first 25 people to order a pie and a pint will receive a 5th anniversary Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week pint glass to keep. See, pies and pints and pints!

Vintage Night

It’s true what they say some things are better with age!! Come out and try some get beers from the Caliente Cellar. We are blowing off the dust and bringing out some beers that get better with age. Including 2012 Dogfish Head Bitches Brew, 2009 Allagash Victor, 2011 Allagash Fluxus, 2014 Goose Island Bourbon County Barley Wine and more!

Fear & Loathing in Barrel Aged Gonzo

To celebrate the artwork of Ralph Steadman and the life of Hunter S. Thompson we’ll be pouring Rum Barrel Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery in the Bierport Tap Room, followed by a screening of the film Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas.

Keg will be tapped at 6:00pm, with the screening of the film taking place at 7:30pm. There will be a special ticket price for the film that includes a glass of the B.A. Gonzo.

Beatnik Brewers

A 90’s style Poetry jam where Professional brewers will read their Worst Untapped, Yelp & Brewers Advocate reviews in the jazziest way possible…Gyros N’at will be out front all night and we will stick an awesome light jazz band in between the goofiness to complete the vibe…

CWP Beer Barge

3 hours on all 3 rivers with a bunch of breweries 2 bands a DJ and hopefully you.

Unofficial Sendoff of Beer Week 2016–The Lost Abbey/Port Brewing Total Tap Takeover

Time to say goodbye to beer week 2016. What a better way to say goodbye then with 24 Taps dedicated to an outstanding selection of The Lost Abbey & Port Brewing. Ever Since Tomme Arthur Kicked Off their Pittsburgh Debut at Caliente We have Been Gearing up for this Event. It will be truly Spectacular. Our lineup includes: 3 years of Angels Share, Cuvee de Tomme, Agave Marie, Deliverance, Track 8, Track 10, Older Viscosity, Bourbon Barrel Santa’s Helper and many many More!!!



This morning has pretty much started off in shambles. Baby Beez was setting records for monster behavior last night, which carried over to this morning. In addition to screaming, flailing, and yelling “NO! NEVER!” she has also taken to screaming “I DON’T WANT YOU IN THIS FAMILY!” or “I DON’T WANT TO BE IN THIS FAMILY.” The way things are going with you kid, the feeling is mutual.

Also, it is springtime. Which means our normally-grouchy parrot is instead grouchy and nesty and broody and wanting to destroy everything in her path. She snarled and lunged and bit at me this morning when I went to take her out of the cage. I’ve contemplated just getting her a boyfriend, but Mr. Beez doesn’t think adding more parrots to the loud, crazy house is a very good idea. If you come over to our house in the next month or two, mind your toes. She likes to bite them.

This of course means that I came to work– as in the practice of law, as in litigation, as in people fighting with each other all day every day– and felt like it was a peaceful haven of tranquility.

This is all a very long prelude to the actual topic of my post. I hit a point during our vacation where I just realized I don’t like how I am feeling. I’ve put on weight, and I can feel it all over my body. I can feel it everywhere, and it makes it harder for me to move. I want to shed the weight, but more importantly, I want to shed this feeling. Other than “gross” I’m not sure how else to describe it. I’ve read about how a vegan diet has helped people like Bill Clinton, Cory Booker and even local veghacker Leah Lizarondo with their general health and wellness.

So on our last day of our vacation, I decided I’m ditching it and going vegan. I have been using the 21 Day Vegan Kickstart as a meal planning source. I was a vegetarian for many years before being pregnant with Baby Beez, so I’m already comfortable with meat-free cooking. The only real change that takes much thought is replacing eggs and milk in pasta and baked goods. (Butter is easy, see: Earth Balance).

With the exception of discovering a dozen macarons in the freezer that I just couldn’t bear to throw away, I’ve stuck to a vegan diet for the last week, and I have to say it’s been relatively uneventful. I do like that I’m eating far more whole fruits and vegetables, and just ignoring a lot of processed stuff I might have otherwise turned to for a quick snack.  I knew eating vegan would require me to do more cooking, but I’ve been surprised how fast and easy the cooking has been. In addition to the Kickstart recipes, I’ve got The Garden of Vegan and The Veganomicon at home, so I’ve got plenty of recipes at my fingertips.

Over the last several months, I’ve gone through my cookbooks on the weekend, and picked 3 or 4 dinner recipes to make during the week, and then we eat those and their leftovers throughout the week. Eating things I cook is easy peasy. The biggest challenge is/will be restaurants, but I believe it will be easy enough to get places to make a salad full of vegetables, with oil & vinegar.

So that’s that.


Back to the Ice, Snow and Grind

Back to the Ice, Snow and Grind

Admittedly, I had some concerns about going on a week long vacation with extended family. When the idea was first raised about doing a family vacation, I was adamant that we not do a house rental or something like that. For our number and varied interests, we decided that an all-inclusive resort would be the best bet.  This would be the best option logistically– since everything is all-inclusive, we wouldn’t have to split checks or keep tabs for who has paid for what, and since we’d all be all in one location with lots of amenities, we would not have to worry about transporting people for place to place.  I hoped it would also be the best option for meeting everyone’s varied interests– from the grown-ups who want to read all day, to the kids who want to swim all day.

Hopefully, you got a chance to check out my guest post on Goodness Madness during the Pittsburgh Guest Blogging Event.  In short, I do not have a good track record when it comes to traveling with other people. I have about a 48 hour time limit when spending time with someone, and then I am done. I need lots of time alone, and I can be a real grouch when I’m having to share more space and time with other people.

You guys, the vacation was fantastic. We had so much fun that we are already talking about doing another trip.  The all inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen was perfect, and I don’t think I’ve ever come back from a trip more relaxed and happy.

Playa Del Carmen

We stayed at the Sandos Caracol Eco Resort, which is a family resort with a focus on preserving the local ecosystem and teaching about the local Mayan culture. In the scope of resorts, it’s about mid-range– not luxury, but not total discount either. I think its amenities, services, etc. were right on for the rates they charge. There were some things that were very good (lots of good options for pools, beach, water park, kids activities, nightly entertainment, etc.), and there were also some things that could be improved. The resort is oriented to families, and although there were kids all over the place, I felt that parents did a good job of keeping an eye on their own kids and making sure they were behaving appropriately. We all really enjoyed it and would be happy to go back!

Snoozing on the beach

I counted down to this vacation for weeks.  By the time we hit March, I was running on fumes.  We were very lucky to get to take trips to Napa and Disney World last year, but (admittedly by my own planning) both trips involved us going from activity to activity to activity. We may have been more tired by the end of those trips before we departed for them.  I needed rest. That is exactly what we got out of this trip, and oh wow it was good.  


Our days basically went like this: Wake up, get breakfast, find family around the mid-morning sometime either on the beach or by the pool, swim and relax until lunch time, eat some lunch, swim and relax until late afternoon, get cleaned up and put on pants, meet up with family for dinner, watch the nightly show, go to bed. Repeat six times. It was fantastic.


We came back to late snow and ice in Pittsburgh, but I feel rested enough to actually deal with it. When Baby Beez returned to school afterward, the theme for the month of April was “Rainforest,” and she was extremely excited to get to tell all her classmates about her week in the jungle.

Lots of peacocks strolling through the resort

Lots of peacocks strolling through the resort

We saw lots of little monkeys swinging through the trees.

We saw lots of little monkeys swinging through the trees.

This was the first time we saw coatis, and they are adorable!

This was the first time we saw coatis, and they are adorable!

My iguana friend wanted me to go away. So not really my friend, I guess.

My iguana friend wanted me to go away. So not really my friend, I guess.

Mr. Beez and I had been to Riviera Maya (slightly south of Playa del Carmen, both relatively near to Cancun) once before, and had an incredibly relaxing long vacation. Travelzoo  and Apple Vacations frequently run specials  that are extremely well priced, including airfare (in fact, Travelzoo is running a special right now on the resort we stayed in).  It’s just about a 4 hour flight away, which is not too bad, especially now that Baby Beez is comfortable enough with flying and is old enough to keep herself occupied during long flights.

And you know what– my fears about everyone making me crazy never came to pass. The resort was just the right option, because everyone had the flexibility to do what they wanted, but we were still generally together and getting to spend time with one another. Just the right balance of time together and independence.


So yes, friends, go to a Cancun-area beachside resort. Even go with your whole big crazy family. You’ll love it. And even if you head out to vacation feeling like you can’t even function, you’ll return feeling relaxed and ready to take on the world.

PS- Mr. Beez and I went to the spa for massages. Twice.