1

2013 and 52 books down

2013 and 52 books down

I’ve got 2 days left in 2013, and I’ve made it to my 52 “fun books” goal for the year!  Some books were long, some were short. Some took weeks, some took hours. Fitting in this much reading time takes some strategy:

1. I have to read before I go to bed. Not “have to” as in I really want to, but “have to” as in “it is absolutely necessary for me to read if I wish to sleep through the night.  If I do not read, I will be up at 2am for several hours, staring at the ceiling or in a panic. Reading is the only successful method I have found for getting a full night’s sleep.

2. I read fast.

3. I listen to books on tape in the car, too. And even though I don’t do a whole lot of traveling, it’s surprising how many books you can get through just doing errands here and there around town.

4. When the rest of the house is watching TV, I’m reading.  I don’t watch much TV at all. I watch American Horror Story and that’s about it. The rest of the time, it’s either Mr. Beez or Baby Beez in control of the remote, and I read.

5. I tend to pick a lot of light, fast books. There were a few heavier books in there, but a lot of them are very breezy fiction or YA.

My favorites from this year’s list were:

Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan (2012)

We Live in Water, Jess Walter (2013)

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman (2013)

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, Maria Semple (2012)

Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier (1938)

The Casual Vacancy, JK Rowling (2012)

The Fault in Our Stars, John Green (2012)

What were your favorites that you read this year? What’s on your nightstand for next year?


0

Resolving for 2014

My resolution for 2013 was to make decisions based on my and my family’s priorities, and not to let the momentum of a busy life drive me into constantly saying “yes!” to everything.  Although it’s clear that my 2013 was filled with activity after activity after activity, I can comfortably say that every event, activity and project was something I wanted to do, not something I felt pushed into.

For 2014, I have a singular resolution:

Make every action an expression of my authentic self.

Maybe I’ve been reading too many self-help books, but it’s true. I want to be conscious, authentic and present.  I want to master what I’m good at, and delegate the rest.  Instead of bouncing around like a pinball in a machine of infinite options and possibilities, I want to focus on the projects that bring me meaning, and bring my involvement to a deeper, more focused level.

Here’s to a new year!

0

2013 with the Beez Family

2013 with the Beez Family

As much as I whine and moan and complain, I have to admit that 2013 was a pretty stellar year.  If 2014 is half as good as 2013 was, I’ll be in great shape.  Some highlights:

In January I went to trial college at the University of Virginia. It was an intense program, and you have to be a special kind of crazy to use up precious non-billable weekday time on an intense trial course, but it was so worth it.  January also brought a very fun Restaurant Week Food Blogger’s Dinner,, a sweet, relaxing and inspirational Women’s Retreat with Temple Sinai, and a rockin’ evening of raising funds for Haitian Families First followed by an amazing Grace Potter & the Nocturnals concert.

In February we toured a local winery, I discovered the blissful wonder of Bluebird Kitchen’s Chicken Salad Sandwich, and got to try my hand at glassblowing.

In March, we flew to California to celebrate the 80th birthday of a very special little lady– my Grandma! It was also a special opportunity to spend time with my Grandpa, who had been battling cancer for a few years, and ultimately passed away in September.  Grandma’s birthday party was a surprise, and it was so wonderful to see her so happy and celebrate together.

Happy family

Baby Beez and papa

March was full of trial preparation (followed by 2 trials, both of which resulted in wins for my clients!).  I also published an article in the Legal Intelligencer, and published a total of 5 articles in legal publications in 2013.  We also went to a bunch of theater performances in March, including the SWAN Day celebration, celebrating women in arts.  Sandy and I were interviewed as part of SWAN Day, and even inspired a songwriter to write a song about the wonders and terrors of the first day of school. (For the record, Sandy and I met on the first day of law school. Christine and I also met on the first day of college. It seems I have a thing with meeting a friend on the first day and deciding they are my FRIEND FOREVER!)

April was still trial time, but I did sneak out for an evening with the Wallflowers and Eric Clapton.

In May, Me, Mr. Beez, Sandy & Elena and Erin & Chooch all descended upon the Neville Rollerdrome to tear it UP on wheels, and let’s not forget the fun we had at the Pittsburgh International Children’s Festival,  Junior League’s Touch a Truck and KENNYWOOD!  That month, my brother and his family also went through the horror of their home burning down.  Friends and family stepped up to help them like you would not believe, even my blog readers (who have never met my brother or his family) were sending them gift cards and supplies in support. The event was terrible, but the help they received was so heartwarming.

I swear I only look awkward because I was trying to tone down my INCREDIBLE SPEED so Mr. Beez could snap a proper picture.

I swear I only look awkward because I was trying to tone down my INCREDIBLE SPEED so Mr. Beez could snap a proper picture.

June brought an unbelievably fun trip to Austin, TX, in which I attended BlogHer Food and ATE ALL THE FOODS IN TEXAS. I also spent a weekend in the Laurel Highlands hiking beautiful trails and indulging in spa treatments (and sipping a cocktail or two) at the Bar Association’s annual Bench Bar conference.

July brought lots and lots of travel. We took a big family cruise through the Caribbean, and I was even nice to everyone (most of the time), and at the end of the month, I spent a weekend in Bucks County at the hands-down best foodie event ever– the Big Summer Potluck.

In August, my mom and I traveled to Prague together, and she loved it just as much as I thought she would. We enjoyed the beautiful architecture, saw lots of neat theater performances, and had tons of delicious treats. Also in August, we had the opportunity to see the blooming corpse flower, Romero, at Phipps Conservatory. It was stinky, but amazing.

September brought the sadness of my Grandpa’s passing, and I traveled to California for his memorial service in October. September was also Baby Beez’s 3rd birthday, which we celebrated with a little outing on the Gateway Clipper, and I took a few moments to think about what a special girl she is and will become.

IMG_3278

In October I attended PodCamp Pittsburgh for the first time, and loved hanging out with fellow blog/social media nerds in Pittsburgh. I also enjoyed lovely Halloween-themed outings with Baby Beez and our friends to Trax Farms and ZooBoo at the Pittsburgh Zoo. We also did a day-long LOTR movie marathon. I expected it to be fun, but we had SUCH a blast. I can’t wait for our next movie marathon (and I *just* got myself the Harry Potter 8 movie set…)

Despite being undertrained, I powered through the EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler in November. It was hard, but I felt good and strong too. I’m already signed up for another 10 miler next spring.  November also brought Baby Beez’s transition into a big girl bed and her decision to ditch diapers. And of course I can’t forget that the PA Conference for Women was also in November, absolutely overflowing with high-achieving career women, sharing their insight and inspiring me to work hard and achieve big.

And now we are in December, bringing this year to a close.  In December I was thrilled by the announcement that I was promoted to Senior Attorney with Clark Hill Thorp Reed (yes, even with lots of fun events going on, I’m also billing a whole lot of hours. The short answer: I have a very complicated calendar).  I also was thrilled to take a Feast of the Seven Fishes cooking class with my friend Christine. We also had a fun visit from Mama Nay Nay and Poppy Sam, where Baby Beez got to spend lots of quality time with them.

And here we are, wrapping up 2013. Boy was this a busy year. I knew we had tons of adventures, but it didn’t strike me just how much we were zooming hither and yon until I put it all together in one post.  In 2014 we plan to slow it down.  We’ll be doing considerably less traveling, and do plan to take advantage of all the fun things there are to do in Pittsburgh and neighboring towns.  As Baby Beez gets bigger (and tirelessly reminds everyone who will listen that she is BIG, and not a BABY) she becomes progressively more opinionated about activities, and it’s more fun to do things together with her that she really enjoys.  And I’ll tell you this, she loves going to the movies, and so do Mr. Beez and I, so there are probably plenty of cinema visits in store for 2014.

Here’s

0

Holiday Happenings at the BeezusKiddo Homefront

I hope yinz have been having a lovely holiday season and eating lots of cookies. If you’ve failed to properly do the latter, believe me, I’ve made up for you.  This holiday season has been surprisingly balanced in BeezusKiddo world.  I have two big filings left in the next couple weeks.  Both are in good shape and there have been few work emergencies, so I have been able to spend a little more time with the fam and a little less time on the computer.  My mom and stepdad are in town until Saturday, and they’ve been having plenty of fun hanging out with Baby Beez.  Since I have work mostly squared away, this afternoon we’re all going to check out the holiday show at the Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum.

My mom’s assistance with childcare has allowed me to go yoga crazy this week.  I didn’t make it to class on Christmas day, but I worked it in the hot room Saturday through Tuesday, yesterday, and plan to continue going today and tomorrow.  The bikram workout has gone from being hard to feeling good. Each day my poses are a little steadier, and I can sink a little deeper in the stretch.

I haven’t forgotten my 32 before 32 resolution of a crock pot meal each week. Last week’s meal was extremely simple and extremely Pittsburgh:

IMG_3805

Throw all these things in a crock pot. Cook all day. Serve with mashed potatoes. Also an Ahrn City, if you’ve got one.

Earlier in the month, I took the Feast of the Seven Fishes cooking class at Chop Wok & Talk with my friend Christine. My dad’s side of the family is all Italian Catholic, but I’ve never actually had a Feast of the Seven Fishes for Christmas Eve. Left to me, it would be seven shapes of fish sticks.  This class made preparing the meal extremely accessible, and the food was all very delicious.  I especially liked that the teacher gave us a guide for breaking down the shopping and preparation over several days prior to the meal, so that on the day-of you spend minimal time in the kitchen, and a maximum amount of time visiting with family and friends.

Fried Smelts

Fried Smelts

Fritto Misto and Smelts

Fritto Misto and Smelts

Salmon Alfredo

Salmon Alfredo

Stuffing the sole with citrus and fennel

Stuffing the sole with citrus and fennel

IMG_3776

Citrus and Fennel Stuffed Sole

Citrus and Fennel Stuffed Sole

Stuffed Calimari

Stuffed Calimari

Frying the struffoli

Frying the struffoli

Struffoli

Struffoli

Given the chance to make this on my own, I’d make some tweaks to the menu and give it a little Latin flair, by serving ceviche and paella. But even as the class was structured, it was a great introduction to the tradition. Once we’re in a house with a larger kitchen or entertaining area, I would love to host a Feast on Christmas Eve.

Our family is Jewish and we celebrated Chanukah several weeks ago.  Mr. Beez’ family, however, is Catholic, and we shared Christmas with them.  Santa very generously visited Baby Beez this year, even in spite of her less-than stellar behavior as of late.

OMG CHRISTMAS


0

@TamariPgh brunch. Wow. Seriously wow.

@TamariPgh brunch. Wow. Seriously wow.

Tamari’s menu sounds kind of weird. It’s a Latin/Asian fusion restaurant. It opened back when fusion and any variation of any kind of asian food was the trend.  Now the fusion trend has largely died out, except at Tamari.  Their cocktails are an easy sell, but I’ve had trouble generating interest in checking out their brunch.  Finally I decided, forget it. I don’t need company. I’m going on my own.  Am I ever glad I went.

Tamari’s brunch is hands-down one of the best in the city. The menu descriptions are incredibly hard to visualize and, for me at least, did not sound like things I would want to eat.  But I asked the bartender for recommendations and he totally steered me right.  The key to a perfect Tamari brunch is to not think too hard. If one element in a dish stands out to you, order it. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Aperol Spritz

The price fixe brunch includes a cocktail, starter, cardamom bread and entree.  When I read “cardamom bread,” I immediately filed that under “things that do not interest me.”  When it was actually served to me, I was in love.  This bread is all the best things about cinnamon rolls, except even better.  It’s light, fluffy, sweet and a little spicy.  It was served with mango jalapeno butter which, again, sounded gross but was amazing. (Sensing a theme here?)

Cardamom Bread

I started with the ancho glazed bacon, which comes with grits and an egg. It was savory and so flavorful. It was snowing that day, and the grits were a perfect belly warmer.  For a starter, this was immense. It’s the size of a full meal. I can’t let a good dish go to waste, so of course I ate it all.

Ancho Glazed Bacon

For my entree, I had the Korean marinated tenderloin. Brilliant.  The meat was salty and rich, the kimchi brussels sprouts sour, all together, so so so so good.

Korean marinated tenderloin

I was so stuffed afterward that I literally went home and took a nap. Mr. Beez still expresses skepticism about trying Tamari, but it was amazing, and heck I’ll keep visiting solo.  It certainly helped that the staff hit that right balance of chatting with me when I expressed interest and sought recommendations, but left me in peace to read when I cracked open my book.

I have visited Tamari before for dinner and happy hour.  For nighttime dining, Tamari was good but not exceptional, and also pricy. For brunch, however, Tamari seriously delivers. Tamari is full of wonderful surprises.

Tamari on Urbanspoon