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Food Truck Fridays! #FoodTruckFriday

It’s FRIDAY in Pittsburgh, and that means it is time for FOOD TRUCKS! Bar Marco in the Strip generously hosts Food Truck Fridays in its parking lot, to demonstrate that food trucks and brick-and-mortar restaurants can live together in harmony.

Mr. Beez, our friend David, and I ventured to the Strip to partake in the festivities last week.  The weather was gorgeous, and the food delicious.

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In a horse-before-cart type maneuver, Fukuda sold grilled seafood delicacies, even though their restaurant has not yet opened.  We tried an order of the octopus balls (on the grill on the right), which were kind of like crabcakes except with octopus.  I liked that chewy pieces of octopus were distinct and flavorful. 

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We were not shy.  On our table you can see grilled cheese WITH CHEESE DIPPING SAUCE (whut?!) from Oh My Grill,  the aforementioned octopus balls with fancy toppings from Fukuda, and an om nom nom so good banh mi from Lucy.  Yes, I know I can buy a banh mi from Lucy pretty much whenever, but those sandwiches are so good that I CANNOT pass one up.  Bonus– instead of trekking to the very crowded Strip for a banh mi on the weekend, parking is way easier on a Friday afternoon.

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This lovely morsel is the Bar Marco burger, in this picture sliced in half.  It’s topped with grilled onions and is all kinds of amazing.  I packed a lunch for work today, but looking at this picture I am very very tempted to haul myself down to the strip to get one of these for lunch instead.

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FRIENDS! I encourage you to support our local food trucks! I also encourage you to get a delicious cheap meal! So haul your backsides down to the Strip this afternoon, and get your lunch on!

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Hunger Awareness Month #BlogMob #Hunger

Despite it being 3/4 of the way through the year, September is a time for new beginnings. School goes back into session. For those of you (like me) who are Jewish, Rosh Hashanah brings about the New Year, with reflection and resolutions. September is also Hunger Awareness Month– a time to think of those in need.

Some basic facts:

  • 1 in 7 Pennsylvania residents are “food insecure,” meaning they can’t reliably provide food for themselves or their families.  Across the nation, 1 in 5 children are food insecure, and 1 in 4 will experience food insecurity during their childhood.
  • Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank seeks to respond to this need by serving 11 counties, and distribution over 2 million pounds of food each month to more than 120,000 people.  That means they are able to serve only about 35% of the people who meet the definition of food insecurity, resulting in many people going without food pantry assistance.
  • In Pennsylvania, the state budget for many human service programs– including programs designed to respond to hunger issues– was cut by as much as 10%.  Reauthorization of the federal farm bill (provides the funding for SNAP, formerly called food stamps) is still being debated by congress.  If it is not reauthorized, food resources will be cut by as much as $16 billion.  Many families rely on both food pantries and SNAP to get through hard times, and the loss or reduction of SNAP will create a need that the food pantries can’t keep up with.

So what can you do to help?

If you are a Pittsburgh area blogger, consider joining me for BlogMob 2012 at the Food Bank!

In addition to learning about the Food Bank, you will have a hand in raising awareness about hunger issues and generating enthusiasm about fighting hunger.  PLUS– attendees will have an opportunity to win a swag bag and pair of tickets to the September 30 PIRATES game against the Cincinnati Reds (LETS GO BUCS!…also FLEECE BLANKET GIVEAWAY NIGHT!), donated by Thorp Reed & Armstrong.  These tickets are in Section 119, row K so they are nice tickets!

Donate to local food pantries and the Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project!

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The Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project’s motto is “One Tote Bag at a Time”– and it has proven that a big difference can be made, little by little.  If you’re anything like me, you’ve got TONS of reusable bags around (and shamefully forgetting to bring them with you to the grocery store…)  How do tote bags help? Tote bags make it easier for families to access food – they can carry more food home with dignity especially if they are relying on public transportation, walking, or riding bikes.  Incorporating totes into food distribution also means pantries have to buy fewer disposable bags and that frees up money for food. The Tote Bag Project has collected over 18,000 bags in its first 16 months.

And the obvious– collect some food! Peanut butter and other nut butters, tuna, and low sugar cereal are important food staples, and are always a HUGE need for food banks.  Make food donations a part of your life.  Here are some thoughts–

Pick up a donation each time you stop at the store.  For the month of September (and part of August too, since I started this week), I’m picking up an extra jar of PB each time I stop at a grocery store, drugstore, or discount store.

Get your friends to make a small donation the next time you get together.  At my book club this week, everyone brought some food to donate (the picture above is our collection for the night).  It’s just a small contribution from each person, but putting it together, it makes a big impact!

Cash donations are always helpful.
In addition to Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and the Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project, other Pittsburgh area hunger organizations that are always in need of assistance include Attorneys Against Hunger and Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry.

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Bachelor Number One, Mishka Shubaly (2012)

I stumbled upon this book browsing through the Kindle Owners Lending Library (a feature of Amazon Prime that lets you borrow one book for free per month, and advertises itself as offering thousands of titles, but unfortunately most of them suck).

This is Shubaly’s third Kindle Single, and he has a hand for writing fun and light novellas.  Apparently he has had a kind of insane life, full of drinking, drugs, and getting shipwrecked.  He writes these shorts about the (mis)adventures he has found himself in.  They’re a little pessimistic and self-depricating, but completely entertaining.  I love the accomplishment of plowing through a book in one or two evenings.  Shubaly’s writing is fun, and makes me feel like some genius speed reader (the whole thing is maybe like 100 pages).

Bachelor Number One recounts Shubaly’s turn at eligibility for a television dating show.  The book is focused on the absurdity of the whole audition process, and is rather funny (although not entirely surprising).  Unfortunately, right when the book is really starting to pick up steam is where the whole thing ends.  And not “ends” like in “leaves a cliffhanger for a sequel” but “ends” as in “the bottom falls out of the story and its done.” I would have liked it to go a bit longer, but it is a book about his life after all, and sometimes life doesn’t give you the plotline you’re looking for.

Although summer reading lists are quickly coming to a close, Shubaly’s a shoo-in if you need something light to read on the beach (you lucky dog, you), or on an airplane.

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Assorted Thoughts on Various Things

1. Winter is Coming

I never in my life thought I’d say this, but I’m kind of ready for summer to be over. Summer is the season of ACTIVITY. It’s all fun activity, and I’m excited to be hanging out with people I like, doing fun things…but it can get tiring. Especially when I’ve overscheduled myself for after-work activities. This week for example, I obviously have work all day every day, and then after work I had a leadership class last night, book club tonight, tomorrow is free, thursday is fantasy football draft, and friday is an event at our Synagogue. Yeesh I got tired just writing that.

In the winter, however, those after work activities peter out. Maybe because the sun sets so early that I’m exhausted by the time I leave the office, and can’t possibly imagine doing one more thing (I am solar powered after all). The idea of not having another activity scheduled after the work day is done is so appealing to me right now, even if it means I spend the evening on the couch writing briefs. When writing briefs in your jammies sounds relaxing, you know you need to revisit your schedule choices.

And in the next breath I tell you that I’m looking into signing Baby Beez up for gymnastics, because she loves bouncing off the walls. And apparently I love not having my Saturday mornings free.

Also, I want a darn pumpkin spice latte.

2. Recurring dreams

I keep having dreams that (1) I marked a hearing on my calendar at a certain time, and then it turns out it’s actually earlier, and I have to run FULL SPEED to the courthouse and beg the judge’s forgiveness, and (2) I’m in college and it’s time for final exams, except I only went to the first or second class, so I don’t know what the exam is about.

I looked into my crystal ball to interpret these dreams. 1 means CHECK YOUR DARN CALENDAR. Luckily I haven’t had any run ins with scheduling like in the dream with work obligations (guilty as charged when it comes to social things, I have those on my calendar on the wrong time or date all the darn time), but checking my darn calendar means that I won’t. And the second dream is probably general anxiety about how well I’ve prepared for this or that or the other. It doesn’t matter if you’ve prepared until you can’t stand it anymore, there’s always that little tinge of anxiety that it’s not enough.

3. Fun Stuff

I got a couple of new pieces that were both great deals. I snagged this awesome Banana Republic statement necklace, after sale and gift card, for only $20 out of pocket. AWESOME.

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2012 is the year I finally try ankle boots. I have been undecided about booties and ankle boots, but when I saw these lovely oxblood kicks at H&M for a mere $35, I knew this is the year to make it happen.

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4.  BB is apparently auditioning for a Calvin Klein perfume ad.

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Happy Tuesday, YINZ

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Squonk Opera Roadshow in Schenley Plaza

We’ve been living it up with the Schenley Plaza free events this summer. First it was the Carnegie Library Reading Extravaganza (not a Plaza event, but it was in the same general area), then we visited Kids’ Day in the Plaza, and then we spent an evening enjoying a free Squonk Opera performance in the plaza. The night was beautiful and mild, and Baby Beez was in the mood for dancing.


BUST A MOVE

All of the performance was great, but my absolute favorite parts were one performer’s “peacock tail” made up of bicycle horns, and a piano that rotated upside down (then rightside up, and over and over) as the artist was playing. Squonk brings a whimsical, but not infantile, perspective to music. Congrats to Squonk Opera on their 20th Anniversary!

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(Please excuse the out of focus pictures.)