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The PittsBurgher Burger & Music Festival

A few weeks ago I saw advertisements for the PittsBurgher burger & music festival at the Rivers Casino, and thought “oh, that sounds fun.” Then a deal came up on LivingSocial for half off tickets, and I said “I’M IN!” Competition for the best burger in the burgh? Well yes I’d love to participate!

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Conspicuously absent from the contestants were the big names in the Pittsburgh burger scene. Tessaro’s, BRGR, Burgatory, FatHeads and most of the “usual” Pittsburgh burger places weren’t there. I don’t know if they were approached and declined, or weren’t approached at all. But without them, I’m not sure the event can really claim to seek out the “best” burger in Pittsburgh. The absence of these big names did give some lesser known restaurants a moment in the sun, so I liked the opportunity to check out the burgers from places like Bonnie & Clyde’s in Wexford and Melange Bistro, that I may have otherwise passed over if the known favorites were there.

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The Biz Burger, topped with BBQ sauce and fried onions and jalapenos

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The Classic American Cheeseburger from the River’s Casino.  I’m not a fan of caraway, so I picked that off the bun, and the burger was delicious.  I’m continually impressed by the high quality of the Rivers Casino food.  I expect it to look fancy but taste bad, and each time I’ve had it (at this event, at the Pittsburgh Best Restaurant Party, and the Afterparty for the Best Restaurant Party), it has actually been very good.  I feel like going to dinner at a steakhouse in a casino is very gaudy, but I’m tempted to try it, as I suspect it will far surpass my expectations.  The Casino also offered a dessert cheeseburger, with deep fried chocolate something or other, but I’m sorry, that did not look appealing to me.

I sampled with an open mind, but my favorite truly was the Shipwreck Burger from Wingharts Burger & Whiskey Bar. Oh man I love that burger. If you aren’t familiar with this buttery, decadent delicacy, you are missing out sorely. It’s wonderfully greasy, due to being slathered in brie, onions, and arugula. It’s so rich that it should be eaten alone (don’t get fries with it, that is simply TOO much). I felt kind of lame picking a burger I was already familiar with as my favorite, but it really really was.

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WANT TO EAT ALL THE SHIPWRECK BURGERS.

The other burgers were nothing to sneeze at. They all respectably held their own. The burger samples were generous–some places handed out sliders, others gave full sized burgers sliced in half. It was a LOT of food.

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Melange served its burgers on delicious, soft pretzel buns.   I was highly impressed by how good the bun was.  However, the patty got lost in there, and the taste of the patty itself was not memorable.  If they kicked up the quality of the patty a bit, this would be a really great burger.

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The Bonnie & Clyde burger, topped with slaw (sadly mayo based, vinegar based would be better) and a pierogi.  A pierogi is always a nice touch.  These pierogies were fried and hard, so frying to a soft consistency would be a big improvement.  However, all around, this was a pretty good burger.

I failed to take a picture of Mr. Beez’ favorite- the cheeseburger from Cain’s Saloon in Mt. Lebanon. I agreed that the burger was tasty and flavorful. It wasn’t greasy, and it was not gristly. It was a straightforward burger, but accomplished its simplicity well.

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I was SO ridiculously stuffed after the event that I didn’t eat for the rest of the day (and there were a few booths I didn’t even make it to!) For a first time event, it went pretty well. As we were getting ready to leave, the tent was getting very very full, so next time around they may need to adjust the space or setup.  We didn’t stay through the end, so I don’t know who won.  If YOU know, please do share!

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You know you’re in Pittsburgh when….

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Two Little Words

“Good Job”

“Nice Work”

“Thanks for your hard work on that project!”

Do you have any idea how amazing these little phrases can make my day?  Praise is so powerful when it’s handed out sparingly but meaningfully.  And when I’ve worked really hard on something, there is nothing that makes me happier than hearing “Good Work!”

My practice group leader left a note for me this week telling me that an article I drafted was “First Rate Work.”  Another partner said I did a “Good Job” on a brief, and that he really liked it.  Despite my days being hectic and long, that little sparkle of encouragement reminded me why I love the work I do.  Those words brightened my mood, and my productivity even increased!

It’s just as important to give recognition as it is to receive it.  Keep your eyes peeled for hard work, and remember to recognize it with a few kind words.  You will make someone’s day!

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Thursday things (self promotion, running, movies and events)

1. Hey, I know that Blogger

Queen in Heels kindly featured me in her Blogger Spotlight this week.  She shares my LOVE for shoes, and I’ve been loving her features of all the fashion week footwear!

2.  Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot

I am in week 6 of the Couch to 5k program, and although the running times are getting longer, running is getting easier.  Even when my feet feel like cement, I can manage to get through the running parts by running very slowly.  Although the longest stretch I’ve run lately is 20 minutes, I’m confident that in a few weeks I can work up to a 5k.  This is my second go-around with running (the first being about 8 years ago), with a long hiatus in between.  This time around I’m older, fatter, and busier so that can sometimes make running trickier. 

There are some very key differences between my running practices last time and this time:

Last time:

  • I ran on concrete sidewalks (a great way to get to know the city)
  • I did not stretch or warm up/cool down
  • Eventually I wound up with runner’s knee

This time:

  • I am running on the Schenley oval rubber track or on crushed limestone trails
  • There are warm ups/cool downs built into the Couch to 5k Program
  • I am actually stretching after my run
  • I have had no knee problems so far

My progress with time and distance has been slower this time, but I am at least taking better care of myself.  Instead of working toward a goal to run a specific race, I’m working toward the goal of integrating running into my life as healthy exercise. 

3. Little Cinephile in the making!

Mr. Beez and I took Baby Beez to her first movie in a real movie theater, and she LOVED it! This is not an event that was easily decided.  We weren’t specifically looking to take her to the movies, but since they are showing Finding Nemo in 3D, and since we watch Finding Nemo about twice a day, every Saturday and Sunday, we thought she’d have a lot a fun.  And she DID! She sat in my lap and quietly watched her beloved Nemo, and even kept her 3D glasses on almost the entire time.  This undertaking was significantly less stressful because we were literally the only people in the theater.  Monsters, Inc. is going to be re-released in 3D in December, and we will probably take her to that (again, Monsters, Inc. is in heavy rotation in our DVD collection), but the movie theater probably won’t be a regular occurrence until Baby Beez gets bigger.  That doesn’t change the fact that my little grinch heart grew 2 sizes bigger, seeing her love the movies as much as her mommy does!

4.  Pittsburgh Events

The next few days are full of awesome events around the ‘burgh.  If I had the night free tonight (which I do not, boo hoo), I would be heading over to the ToonSeum for the Hunger Action Happy Hour, benefiting Greater Pittsburgh Area Foodbank.  On Friday there is the vegan Healthy Eating Happy Planet event at the Environmental Charter School that looks pretty fun (The event website doesn’t seem to have much info, I’ve learned about the event from Alma Pan-Latin Kitchen’s Facebook page).

This Saturday, I’m SUPER excited to attend The PittsBurgher– Music and Burger festival at the Rivers Casino! Burger competition, YES PLEASE! (and tickets are available at a steep discount at LivingSocial). 

What fun things will you be doing over the next few days?

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Monday, Friday, Saturday, Monday, Friday

This week has been very confusing.  I did not go to work today because we went to Yom Kippur services.  That means all the other days of the week have felt like Mondays and Fridays, and it’s all very topsy turvy.

We took Baby Beez to the telling of the Jonah and the Whale story, and the Childrens’ Service.  We watched online streaming video of the morning services.  It’s an adjustment, to go from feeling like I’m expected or required to do Yom Kippur in a certain way (get up early, go to early services, be grouchy), and move toward letting go of that feeling of requirement, and instead practicing my religion in the way that’s best and most meaningful for my family.

Today was very low key, and we were all together.  I thought a lot about the coming year, and adjustments I want to make in my life.  I do not have a set of “resolutions,” but I want to continue working on making meaningful, deliberate choices.  I am a person of many interests.  Virtually every opportunity that comes up, whether it’s a social gathering, or an educational opportunity, or an opportunity to work on needs in the community, I’m the first one to jump up and say “YES! Include me!” Being socially involved is a positive thing for sure, but I do need to continue to work on not over-committing myself.  I need to remember to carve out some unstructured time to relax with my family, and also some unstructured time for myself.

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Girls’ Night!

Mr. Beez is in New York on business, so for tonight it is just me and Baby Beez. I have the good/bad problem of being interested in WAY to many things, and being in a city that is immensely full of fantastic and interesting opportunities, so I’m constantly filling my schedule with after work things. This week’s after-work schedule, however, is blissfully empty.

I wanted to keep up with my jogging, but that’s not much of an option when it’s just Baby Beez and me. She’s a nightmare in the stroller (she gets bored after about 10 minutes) and my gym does not offer babysitting for nighttime workouts.

I came up with an idea! The weather was gorgeous and clear tonight– a perfect night for a walk! So I strapped that toddler in the baby carrier, and off we went for a long stroll through Greenfield, Schenley Park, and Squirrel Hill. The rolling hills of these neighborhoods are plenty of a workout, then strap a 25 lb squirming toddler to your back, and it’s PLENTY of exercise!  We had fun seeing deer munching on grass in the park, counting buses, and pointing out the color of cars.

Now it’s time for some Pajanimals before bedtime, zzzzzzzzz

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