Today is the day! Celebrating my birthday with @runDisney @CMNHospitals and @PCPgh

Today is the day! Celebrating my birthday with @runDisney @CMNHospitals and @PCPgh


lolcat birthday

I mean, if you haven’t heard me talk about it nonstop for at least the last seventeen days, well here you go! THE DAY IS TODAY!


And I just know everyone out in internet land has been looking forward to this day every bit as much as me! So here we are! HAPPY DAY!

So what am I doing to celebrate? Going to work. Having a practice group meeting over lunch. Ya know, keepin’ it real. But Mr. Beez and I will also be seeing a 3RFF movie with our friends at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, so that’s pretty cool.

But you know what would be SUPER COOL? Celebrating my birthday with me! I am clearly so shy and reserved. Which is why I’m flat-out unsubtly suggesting yinz get me birthday presents, specifically the birthday present of supporting me as I fundraise for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. You know, MONEY FOR THE SICK KIDS!

My family has been so incredibly lucky that Baby Beez has been a generally healthy kid. The worst we’ve gone through is that a couple years ago, she came down with croup. We had to go in to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s ER, and then she had the breathing treatment, and then she had to stay for observation overnight. And even though it was a fairly minor ailment in the universe of childhood ailments, it was still a scary moment. As parents, we felt out of control and scared, and all we wanted to do was make our little girl better but we couldn’t do that on our own. We were so blown away by the attention, care and kindness our whole family received at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Baby Beez was cared for with skill, and we as her confused and helpless parents were cared for so amazingly as well.

We have several friends who have children who have needed much more complex and frightening care. Children who have needed multiple surgeries, children who have been fighters from the day they were born, and children who must and will continue to fight every day. We are lucky that we have good insurance coverage, and that in our visit to Children’s Hospital, we didn’t have the added stress of trying to figure out how her care would be paid for. That’s why I’m asking you to help me raise funds for the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals– to fund critical treatments, equipment and charity care for kids in our community.

I have committed to raising $1,200 for Children’s Miracle Network. I’ve put my money where my mouth is by contributing toward the commitment myself. I’m counting on you get me over the goal line. So instead of us going out for a drink or cup of coffee, please click on the image below to contribute to my Children’s Miracle Network fundraising campaign!

PS– If you contribute, I’ll write your name ON MY PANCE for the Half Marathon!

princess Half marathon

And since I know you are all looking for every possible opportunity to listen to me narrate all the things I think about all day, I have JUST the opportunity for you! I’ll be speaking at PodCamp Pittsburgh 9 this Sunday at 11am! I’ll be sharing about Finding Your Authentic Voice– how to express your true self, engage with your readers, grow your reader base, and even adjust that voice when the time and need is right. PodCamp Pittsburgh will be this Saturday and Sunday at Point Park University, and best of all– REGISTRATION IS FREE! So won’t you join me?




Retiring my 32 before 32

Retiring my 32 before 32

Today is my last day of 31, which means that my 32 before 32 list is coming to an end. I only made it through 10 of the goals this year, but I’m OK with that. I’m carrying over a lot of things to my 33 before 33. For some people, a “__ before __” list is about pushing boundaries and accomplishing extreme things. For me, the list is about perspective. Instead of sitting around and whining that I’m bored, this list reminds me of all the neat things I’ve filed away as wanting to do, but have back burnered. When I look back on these lists, it reminds me that our City has lots of neat things to offer, and my family and I have really taken advantage of the opportunities it presents.

Our travel for the coming year is already mostly planned out. Last year I included our planned travel in my list, and then things changed, and I was disappointed about having to remove things from the list for reasons beyond my control. This year, I’m keeping it pretty local. My list is full of things that are pretty well within my grasp. There’s something to be said for dreaming big and pushing boundaries, but there’s also something to be said for the satisfaction of just crossing things off a nice list. This coming year is a year for the latter.

So without further ado, I bring to you my 33 before 33 (also, consistent with my goal last year of writing a 40 before 40 list, here is my more-ambitious 40 before 40 list)

PS- You can totally help me toward one of my goals on the list by sponsoring my fundraising for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, just click on this link! You were just itching to take me out for coffee or a drink or lunch or something for my birthday, right? How about putting that money toward helping sick kids instead? Every single dollar helps! I’m over halfway toward my fundraising goal, and I need your help to cross that finish line!

princess Half marathon

What is on your list this year?


32 before 32: Harvesting for the Hungry with @PghFoodBank and a stop at Schorr Bakery

32 before 32: Harvesting for the Hungry with @PghFoodBank and a stop at Schorr Bakery

Remember waaay back in the day (over 2 years ago!) when I toured the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank as part of a BlogMob event? Well in that tour, I learned that there are a whole lot of neat ways you can help the Food Bank’s efforts to get food to people in need, that go well beyond the usual contribution of canned goods. Of course, donating food and cash as well as helping with food distribution events are always great ways to help. But if you’re itching to try something different and fun and outdoors, Glean events are where it’s at!

Here’s how a glean works- the Food Bank partners with local farms. When the farms are done with their harvest, there are usually still a whole lot of crops left behind. So the Food Bank gathers volunteers to harvest those crops, and the crops go to people who need them! Simple, smart, resourceful!

I’ve been wanting to do a glean for quite some time. The difficulty for me has been that they are usually scheduled for weekday mornings, when I’m at work. Sometimes you just gotta make the time, and so I set aside a morning this autumn when I decided that I was gonna DO THIS.

Food Bank

The glean I went to was at Wexford Farms, just a little bit north of the city. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but the crop we were gleaning was collards, which meant that filled boxes were light! (The next scheduled glean was for acorn squash– heavy!)

Wexford Farms Collards

I was really surprised by how much was left behind after the farm was done with its own harvest. Lots and lots and lots. The Food Bank brought a whole bunch of large boxes and we picked the collards and boxed them up until all the boxes were full.

Wexford Farms Collards

The whole event took about 2 hours. I really liked how all the volunteers were so focused. My thoughts on volunteering– you are there to do a task, and if you are going to take break after break, you might as well not be there at all. Sometimes I get frustrated with volunteer projects when people aren’t all working hard. There was no such problem at this event. We did take a little break in the middle, but other than that, everyone was working hard and working fast.

Collards Selfie

I participated in the glean event with a couple of friends. On the way back into town afterward, they suggested we stop at Schorr Family Bakery for donuts. Donuts?! YES PLS.

Schorr Bakery

I got myself a maple frosted sweet roll, which was a whopping 75 cents! I can’t remember the last time I bought something that cost less than a dollar! The roll was nice and sweet, balanced with the right amount of breadiness. The bakery was a fun find in the West View neighborhood, which I admittedly know like nothing about.

Schorr Bakery Maple Sweet Roll


On important things, like cosmetic gift sets and @Birchbox and @Sephora

I spend entirely too much time thoughtfully analyzing the comparative benefits and drawbacks of Birchbox vs. Sephora.

Through Birchbox’s subscription service, I’ve become more open minded and experimental with my make-up, and have even dared to try new perfumes that I would have otherwise ignored. Birchbox’s points reward system is also an amazing value. Seriously, amazing. Through it, I have scored some awesome discounts on very high quality products. Also, Birchbox is the exclusive merchant of the Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle spray, which is hands down one of my favorite hair products ever.  Through Birchbox’s sample subscription, I’ve been introduced to a ton of products that I otherwise would have simply ignored. My favorite discoveries through Birchbox, in addition to Beauty Protector, include DDF Ultra Lite Oil Free Moisturizing Dew, Benefit Benetint (not to mention discovering that Benefit is my absolute fav. makeup brand), and Stila Stay All Day liquid lipstick in Beso. The Stila lipstick is a BOLD red that I would have never tried on my own, had it not showed up in my monthly sample box (so I thought, what the heck, it’s here, might as well try it). It pushed me way out of my makeup comfort zone, but I got SO many compliments on it, that it has inspired me to be a lot more adventurous with makeup.

Sephora’s reward points are good, but not as good as Birchbox’s. However, when it comes to the holiday gift set selection, Sephora wins. I look forward to holiday time every single year, because I WANT WANT WANT everything. Also, Sephora carries some brands (like Make Up For Ever) that Birchbox does not. And I can make a quick run down to Sephora when I’m out of something, since there are several Sephora stores in Pittsburgh.

Because I love nothing more than window-shopping online, I have gathered here my best picks to fill the 8 days of Hanukkah with Sephora gifts this year. Shop away!!

1. Fresh Sugar Cravings Kissing Trio

sugar gift box

If you haven’t tried Sugar’s lip balms yet, you are missing out. They give a nice little hint of color (perfect for when you’re doing dramatic eyes, and want to have a little lip color, but need it to be toned down), and they have this AWESOME screw-on top that means that I don’t lose the cap in my purse. The texture is silky, and not too waxy or goopy.

2. Mia 2 Pure Glow Holiday Gift Set

mia 2 holiday set

I have to admit, I hate washing my face at night. I do it of course, but it’s a giant pain in the butt. I’ve tried those face washing wipes, but they don’t quite clean enough. Everyone I know who has gone the Clairsonic route raves about it. There are a number of different models out there. I have no idea what the difference is. I picked this gift set because it contains Philosophy’s Purity face wash, which is the face wash I absolutely swear by, because it keeps even my nasty, lazy skin in healthy condition. So somehow in my mind that pairing means that this is the Clairsonic model I approve of. But probably any Clairsonic model is better than what I do now, which is begrudgingly slap soap and water on my face and then get all mad about getting water around the sink.

3. Korres Beauty Shots Ultimate Mask Collection

korres beauty shots

If I could have things my way, I’d get a facial every 3 weeks or so. But facials are expensive, so a fancy mask is a nice alternative. I’m all into grapefruit everything right now, and have yet to meet a Korres product I do not like. This mask collection appears to me to be the best of all worlds.

4. Sephora Glitz & Glam Party Essentials Sampler

Sephora Glitz & Glam

Party time, yes PLZ! My usual NYE involves going on our annual double-date dinner with the Orange Chair Blog crew, and then coming home to fall asleep on the couch before the ball even drops. But with the fun and excitement of prettying myself up with a sampler like this, I could get excited about staying up past 10pm!

5. Make Up For Ever Beauty Kit

Make UP for Ever Beauty Kit

Make Up For Ever’s products are so simple and unassuming, but they are so freaking good and dramatic. I love that this set is perfectly composed for a fully-stocked travel bag, when you want to have good, reliable options when you’re out of town.

6. L’Occitane Almond Indulgence Duo

LOccitane Almond Indulgence

I’m not the most cheerful person in the morning, but the sweet cookie smell of an almond scented shower can’t keep anyone grouchy for long.

7. Deborah Lippmann Party Mix Nail Lacquer Set

Deborah Lippmann

My nail polish collection has gotten a little out of control, but really, there is no such thing as too many nail polishes. Especially when you get into the fun textures and color combinations.

8. Atelier Cologne Travel Spray Trio

Atelier Cologne

Seriously, have you smelled Atelier Cologne’s orange sanguine cologne? O. m. g. It is the most lovely spicy wonderful scent ever. I can’t get enough of it. I also can’t consistently remember to put on perfume in the morning, so a travel size is just the right size for me (or else the bottle will just get too old before I can use much of it.)

Honorable mention: T3 Featherweight 2 & Living Proof Gift Set

T3 Featherweight 2

This set gets an “Honorable Mention” because I already own a T3, but still wanted to mention it, because OMG THIS HAIRDRYER CHANGED MY LIFE (and I didn’t even know a hairdryer could change someone’s life). Here’s the thing with professional hairdryers- they are HOT. Which means they dry FAST and they blast the humidity right out of your hair. The result– once Mr. Beez got me this fine machine, my usually frizzy and out-of-control mane was silky smooth, with minimal product. I love it so much that I bring it with me whenever I travel, because hotel driers just don’t stand up anymore.


A Fall Family Outing to @TheCastleBlood and Round Hill Park

A Fall Family Outing to @TheCastleBlood and Round Hill Park

Autumn is by far my favorite season. Even though my allergies do not like the color-changing trees and the falling leaves, my eyeballs do love them. My how pretty Pittsburgh is during autumn. This year Baby Beez got to visit two pumpkin patches (resulting in a bunch of pumpkins still sitting around our kitchen, that I haven’t decided what to do with yet). Her school goes a little overboard on all holidays, and with doing Halloween activities for every one of October’s thirty-one days, you can bet she was all “ERMAHGAWD I LOVE HALLOWEEN SO MUCH!!”

We didn’t do a speck of Halloween decorating, because we don’t do a speck of any holiday decorating, because holiday decorations  aren’t my thing. I did let Baby Beez get one of those stickygel jack-o-lantern things to put on the sliding glass door, but that was the extent of our Halloween cheer. What I lack in home decorating, I make up for in very enthusiastic activities and outings.

This year was our first visit to the “No Scare Matinee” at Castle Blood. I love the idea of haunted houses, but I do not like things jumping out at me, and when it comes to the fake chainsaw man that’s in every haunted house, I’m like OH HECK NO. So a no-scare matinee was the right option for both of us, and we had a lot of fun.

At 4, Baby Beez was just barely old enough for the outing. She was a little bit scared by the spooky decorations in the house, so I didn’t push her on being brave, and carried her through the whole thing (and let her bury her face in my shoulder when she needed to). Castle Blood has a kind of hokey storyline about how you have to help them by finding three things in the house. I mean, it’s hokey for someone in their 30s, but Baby Beez and the other kids in our group got into it, and enjoyed asking the various characters about the sapphire, brain and broken heart they had to find.

The actors struck a great balance of having a spooky vibe, but also joking with kids and being very friendly so they weren’t scared. Also, obviously, there wasn’t anyone jumping out and no chainsaw guys. At the end of our tour, Baby Beez and I grabbed a quick photo with the “Pumpkin Shepherd,” who was wearing a pretty fun Halloween print dress.

Even with the 50+ minute drive from the City, I give Castle Blood an A+ for a family Halloween activity. It’s probably most appropriate for kids aged 5-10, but frankly, is not so bad for grown ups like me, who want to like haunted houses, but are really big scaredy cats.

The Pumpkin Shepherd at #CastleBlood

The tour itself was only about an hour, so on the way home we stopped to check out Round Hill Park. Play Pittsburgh talked up this public working farm, and it was on my “to visit” list. Since the weather was fine and the park is free to visit, a stop was a lovely idea. There were a number of families having professional photos done while we were there. It’s an absolute perfect place for photos. There are so many trees, and the barn and farm structures are pretty and rustic. I’d love to go back there and have family portraits done sometime.

Round Hill Park

“Nature” was the big theme at Baby Beez’ school in October. Black walnut husks and acorns were scattered around the park, and she was excited to gather them to bring them in to show her classmates.

Round Hill Park

There are chickens, turkeys, cows, pigs and horses at Round Hill Park. Baby Beez enjoyed chatting with them and making all kinds of new animal friends.

Chickens at Round Hill Park

Round Hill Park