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Thanksgiving Movie Outing: Frozen (2013)

Thanksgiving Movie Outing: Frozen (2013)

In what I hope is the beginning of a longstanding tradition, after we all had our respective afternoon naps and gorged ourselves on Thanksgiving turkey (served at 3pm, because that is the time that family meals must be served), we all ventured to the movies to see Frozen.  Me, Mr. Beez, Not-Such-A-Baby-Anymore-Beez, and Mr. Beez’s parents.

When I’ve told people that we love to take our 3 year old to the movies, they are often shocked she will sit through a movie. Hoo boy. This kid will sit through movie after movie after movie.  As much as I love movies, I do not think she gets her sitting-still abilities from me, since I usually have to be doing something else (see: Pinterest) while I’m watching a movie.  She must get it from Mr. Beez, whose idea of a blissful day is lounging on the couch watching H2 all day.

We picked Disney/Pixar’s newest film: Frozen.  It’s lovely to see Disney at least making an effort to respond to longstanding criticism about the blatant sexism in its movies.  Frozen features two strong female characters, does not fall into the old trope of “bitter old witch,” and while there is a romance story, the film also explores love in a new (for Disney) and heartwarming way.

On the whole, the film is appropriate for young kids.  The comic relief snowman, Olaf, says “butt” twice, but Baby Beez hears worse than that from her little school friends.  There is a little violence, but not a whole lot. Well, in standard Disney fashion, the parents are both horribly killed in the first 5 minutes of the film, but other than that there isn’t a ton of violence.  Also, there is a lot of singing in the movie.  The music is very catchy.  Baby Beez was dancing in her seat, and continued to sing the songs on the way out of the theater, and kept on singing even when I plunked her on the potty (but bathrooms have great acoustics, right?)

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I recall a long time ago hearing that Disney was making an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen.”  I was surprised that this was considered to be said adaptation.  As a girl, I had a book of Hans Christian Andersen’s tales, and many times I tried to read The Snow Queen, but I recall the very earliest scenes of the story involved an evil witch putting shards of mirror in childrens’ eyes, and then I’d slam the book in terror, have nightmares, and when I later tried to read the story again, was met with the same horror and never made it any further.  Frozen does not involve mirror shards in eyeballs.  I don’t know how the stories match up beyond that, but I would estimate there are significant differences.

Frozen is easily the family friendly delight for this season.  It was equally enjoyable for grown ups as well as our little one.  It’s under 2 hours, so there’s no extended sitting time to worry about.  And for once, we have an animated feature that does not rely on the same-old-same-old to entertain the masses.  Nicely done, Disney.

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Brewin some brewskis with @CopperKettlePgh and @HoughsPgh

Brewin some brewskis with @CopperKettlePgh and @HoughsPgh

For Chankukah last year, I bought Mr. Beez a gift certificate to brew beer at Copper Kettle Brewing Company. It took nearly a year for us to actually schedule the appointment and make it in the door, because that’s how we do. We love the idea of brewing our own beer, but in no way have the time to invest in learning the science, buying all the equipment, and especially not for cleaning all that equipment. Copper Kettle was the perfect solution– you have the fun and ownership of picking out your beer recipe and putting things together, but without any real commitment.

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Step one in beer brewing is settling in at the bar at Hough’s Taproom (with which Copper Kettle shares space) and reviewing the recipes. They have a whole huge stack of options, running the gamut from the darkest stout to hearty lagers to crisp wheat beers. Being as this was a present for Mr. Beez, I for once was nice, and did not hijack the decision. He picked the Smithers Irish red ale, which I must say was an excellent choice.

Srs Bzness

Srs Bzness

After selecting your recipe, you get to “brewing.” I use quotation marks because in this setting, “brewing” really jeans that the Copper Kettle staff tells you about the science of brewing, and you measure out the ingredients and put them in the kettle. The tasks take minimal effort, but it is still fun. Plus there is a lot of waiting time which calls for more time sampling the selection at Houghs. No complainin here.

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The whole brewing experience is about 2 hours, most of which is hanging out, sipping beers, waiting and NACHOS. Houghs has great grub, so you shouldn’t miss out. Bottling takes place about 2 weeks after the brew session. If you have better calendar management skills than I, you can go in and bottle it yourself. Seeing as it took a year for us to get in the door in the first place, we opted to pay the bottling fee. Copper Kettle bottled the beer for us, and we just had to pick it up. I must say, the beer tasted comparable to Killian’s Irish Red, and was very delicious. Brewing at Copper Kettle is not a cost effective way to acquire your beers, but the extra cost is worth the fun experience. It’s an excellent setup if you are interested in homebrewing and want to learn a little more before committing all the cash for the equipment, or if you are like us, and have a fleeting interest in homebrewing and would like the fun of brewing your own beer, but there’s no chance you’ll make the time investment for really getting into that hobby.

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Chanukah Light on Dark Winter Days

Chanukah Light on Dark Winter Days

Winter is in full swing. Days are short and the wind sharp and icy.  Chanukah is early this year, squarely overlapping with Thanksgiving, but from the weather forecast you would think we’re in the depths of December.

...in which we carry forward the traditions of our forebears, and wrap socks and underwear in brightly colored paper...

…in which we carry forward the traditions of our forebears, and wrap socks and underwear in brightly colored paper…

For a new twist on this festival of lights and fried potatoes, Mr. Beez and I took part in Temple Sinai’s Foodie event, a series that puts a modern twist on Jewish cooking, complete with spiritual discussion and plenty of wine. We attended the first event back in the spring, which focused on Passover meals, and the food was amazing and creative. Chef Tommy Petro of Monitor Street Catering even managed to get my beet-hating husband to eat beets and like them. The selections this time around leaned a little more toward the traditional than the creative, but everything was delicious.

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We started things off with a hearty butternut squash naan. Not only was it tasty, but it is a super quick weeknight dinner option, if you can roast the butternut squash ahead of time.

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Course No. 2 was sweet potato latkes topped with smoked salmon. What’s not to love?

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Rabbi Symons got our wheels turning by going back through the history of Chanukah, and by putting the miracle of the oil in its historical context of resilience and rebellion. I learned that the reason why Chanukah is 8 days is because when the Temple was reclaimed, they had missed celebrating Sukkot, and the purpose of the 8 days of oil was for “catching up” and celebrating Sukkot.

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Brisket sliders on challah rolls. The BBQ sauce perfectly wedded the overlapping Southern and Jewish traditions of brisket.

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Dessert was donut holes topped with a fig paste. These were sweet and tasty, but I think the fig paste would have worked better on a shortbread (shortbread is admittedly not a traditional Chanukah food). Of all the Jewish holidays, I’ve never gotten a total handle on Chanukah desserts. My mom always made these blue dyed sugar cookies with silver sprinkles. This year I think we are going with the ever popular Ghiradelli brownies box mix. With the holiday theme of oil, I think we should make Chanukah funnel cake a thing.

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Of Birthdays and Treats and Babysitting

In this first week of my 32 before 32 endeavors, I successfully completed both of my weekly goals: I made a crock pot meal and I tracked everything I ate in Weight Watchers.  Being that it was my birthday week and that it was the kind of week that involved wine and stress eating, my points were well above what they *should* have been….but had I not tracked everything, it would have been much worse.

For my crock pot meal this week, I made a simple beef stew, mostly because we already had the ingredients for it.

Stew in the slow cooker

Stew in the slow cooker


I worked from the recipe on Real Simple.  This recipe makes a decent meal, but it isn’t a recipe that will impress your friends or tantalize your tastebuds.  I am not worried about being flashy on weeknights. I’m worried about filling stomachs, quickly and easily. For those purposes, the recipe was a winner.

My birthday itself was low key.  This is exactly what I needed, given the pace of work right now.  We went out for fancy brunch on Sunday, then on the day of my birthday we ate little Prantl’s cakes and indulged in one of my favorite pasttimes: Wine and magazines.

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Prantl's mini cakes

OMG CAAAAAAKE

OMG CAAAAAAKE

This weekend is also pretty low key.  I’m babysitting a friend’s super mellow little boy this afternoon (read: he and Rachel are playing together and I’m pretty much making sure she doesn’t trample him with her bossiness). Mr. Beez and I are going to a dinner event with our synagogue tonight. All lovely things.

This week: Thanksgiving and Chanukkah. Mr. Beez’ parents take care of the food, so I just have to show up and eat.  All the presents have been bought, and tomorrow is for preparing the Chanukkah box and for wrapping. Now if I could just get me some hot cider….

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Happy Birthday to Me and 32 Before 32 Roll Out

Happy Birthday to Me and 32 Before 32 Roll Out

Good morning all and happy birthday to me!  I was greeted with a birthday card and birthday smooch from my husband this morning.  Baby Beez kept asking about cake, but I did coax her into singing “Happy Birthday to Mommy!”  And yes, I’ll be stopping at Prantl’s to pick up a cake to share with the fam.

I’ve been getting so many warm birthday wishes this morning, it is just wonderful.  My celebrations today will be low-key.  I have work today, but it’s luckily a dull roar of chaos, instead of its usual complete deafening roar of chaos.  We celebrated yesterday with fancy brunch with friends at Eleven, and will be celebrating again next week with buffet dinner at Taj Mahal.  Food food food. Now that’s my kind of party.

In celebration of this new year, I’ve rolled out my 32 before 32 list! I was so excited to get started that I even put together a crock-pot dinner for tonight (beef stew!)  Please do share your crock pot favorites with me!

And in the spirit of Item No. 30, my Healthy Living goal this week is to TRACK ALL MY FOOD in Weight Watchers. All of it. Not just the food I eat before lunch, but all the food I eat, all day. Even if it means I blow the points out of the water.  I’ll let you know next week how it went!