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Some Sunday Thoughts

Mr. Beez and I spent a lovely weekend at The Big Potluck, and returned this afternoon. We had just enough hours left in the day for me to go out for a run with Baby Beez. And by “with,” I mean she quickly grew tired of the jogging stroller and insisted on running alongside me. That girl is fast and excluding some walk breaks here and there, we probably ran a full mile together.

I was still riding the wave of excitement about seasonal, healthy food when I returned home, and threw together a farmshare soup. Meaning, I grabbed a whole bunch of stuff left over from our farmshare, and turned it in to soup. It was surprisingly fantastic. I’m not very skilled with spices, and often under-salt things. The soup was full of tomatoes, kohlrabi, peppers, leeks, garlic and kale, and I decided I wanted it to have a salty/umami flavor, so I seasoned it with salt, pepper, cumin and Bragg’s liquid aminos. It turned out perfect. So hearty and so flavorful.

I had all these wonderful posts started in my brain and I planned to write them all on the way home. Then I slept the whole car ride home. Even though we got to bed at a sensible hour each night of the conference, it was still a busy and high-energy time and I was just wiped out. So all those posts about the things I learned, the friends I made, and all the inspiration will have to wait. Good night, yinz.

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A Sweet New Year in Schenley Park

A Sweet New Year in Schenley Park

I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to Rosh Hashanah as much as I do this year. Fall has come early, and boy is it gorgeous. The air is crisp, pumpkin spice is everywhere, and I’m ready for s’mores! Baby Beez being big enough to really start “getting” holidays has added a lot to it. She has been learning about Rosh Hashanah in Sunday School and has had a lot of fun blowing the shofar and talking about apples and honey. She even brought a Rosh Hashanah book into school today to share with her friends.

We will be spending Rosh Hashanah mostly in services (adult services then kid services). However, we will be kicking the whole thing off the way any proper New Year should be welcomed– with a party!

NYE in the Park

This Wednesday evening, Mr. Beez will be joining our friends for the 3rd Annual New Years Eve in the Park! It’s a non-traditional celebration, featuring apples, honey, cider & beer. Rabbi Symons will be giving a TED style talk about the spirituality of foods. We will welcome in the New Year in the company of friends old and new!

Mr. Beez and I hope that you will join us. Tickets are $25 each and you can purchase them at the door or you can CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS! Adults only, please!

See you Wednesday!!

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There she is, #MissAmerica

When a party’s a spinoff party, you know it’s gonna be good.

A few years ago, Sandy invited me to a Miss America party. The women who planned it had been throwing the party for many years, and decided they didn’t want to hold it anymore. After a year without pageant mockery, I couldn’t take it anymore, and I told Sandy we must must must throw a Miss America party ourselves! So we did!

The basic idea: All ladies party. Champagne a flowing. Since the pageant itself is on a Sunday night and we all work jobs where a Sunday night party is not a good idea, we DVR’d it, and threw the party the Saturday following the pageant. Each attendee signs up for a state, and builds a costume (whether pageant or state-themed is up to her). Each attendee brings a dish. There is a talent show. There are prizes. There is a crowning of Miss America. It is marvelous. And it was.

We started the evening with a marvelous red carpet. I was the reigning Miss America, and my job duties included looking faaaaabulous (look at that BIG HAIR) and crowning the winner!

Miss America

h/t to Rent the Runway for the faaaaabulous duds. Have you heard lately how much I love RTR? Now you have. Love it.

Our lovely guests began arriving, and with them, their lovely dishes. I didn’t think of this at the outset, but everyone made state-themed food! And it was amazing! Some things were the “official” adopted foods of the state, others were just very popular local dishes. My personal fav. of the night was the cheese with guava jelly rep’ing Puerto Rico. So good!

Miss America foods

Our emcee for the evening, Alex, did a great job of shepherding the festivities. We started things off with a little parade in the living room, each Miss announcing her state and the special features of her attire.

photo

Miss Missouri with the St. Louis Arch on her head, and Miss Idaho, covered in her state’s signature jewels!

Next up was the TALENT portion! We only had 4 or 5 participants, but this is the first year with this crowd, so that’s not bad for a start! Next year, I’m hoping we’ll have lots and lots and lots. I broke the talent show ice by lip synch ventriloquy to “Part of Your World” from the Little mermaid. Baby Beez spent most of the evening downstairs with daddy, watching Star Wars, but we did let her come up to enjoy the talent show. And enjoy it she did!

Miss Ohio's talent got nothin' on mine

Miss Ohio’s talent got nothin’ on mine


Miss Vermont did a stirring spoken word rendition of Whoomp! There it is!

WHOOMP

Then, after watching round after round of semifinalists getting the axe, it was time to crown the winner! Miss New York took home the crown, marking a 3 year reign for The Empire State.

Crowning

The group photo! Look at all these lovely ladies!!

Miss AmericaIt was so nice to be greeted with tons of facebook messages, text messages and emails about how much fun everyone had! The party simply killed it, and I can’t wait to do it all again next year!!

As a sidenote, I won the best prize of the night, of literally having the best husband everrrrrr. The day of the party, he cleaned the whole house for me (while I ran around picking up last minute party essentials), even though he wasn’t even invited! he grabbed some snacks and some champagne and spent the evening in the playroom with Baby Beez, and didn’t complain in the least. And then, this is the sweetest part, after the party was over, I collapsed in bed because all that cleaning could wait til tomorrow. He, instead, stayed up and cleaned EVERYTHING up. And didn’t even yell at me about it (and doesn’t even seem to be mad!) He said he was happy I had a good party. Happy wife, happy life I suppose? In any event, I am #spoiledspoiledspoiled. #BestHusbandEverrrr

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The Things I’ve Been Reading Lately

The Things I’ve Been Reading Lately

Because my spring and summer were hijacked by the demands of buying a house and selling a house, most of the items on my 32 before 32 list have fallen miserably by the wayside. Whatevs, it’s all for fun anyway. However, there is one item where I am all gold stars and A ++++++ and Exceeds Expectations, and that’s on my reading progress. I planned to try to read 40 books this year, and here it is, mid-September and I’ve already blown through 35. I’m going to be beating that goal by leaps and bounds. Yessssss!

WHERE am I finding the time to read all these books, when my job is mostly reading all day, and I’ve got a feisty 4 year old to chase around, and sometimes my husband likes to see me too? Answer: Audiobooks. Between my husband and Baby Beez, I get virtually no say in what’s on TV, so I listen to audiobooks instead. When I’m driving in the car (which takes a surprising amount of time, despite having a 5 minute commute)– audiobooks. When I’m doing laundry or going for a run– audiobooks. And I don’t even pay for a subscription service. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has an amazing selection of books to download. I load them on my phone, plug in my headphones, and off I go!

The last several books have been emotionally heavy and melodramatic, which isn’t quite my style. I like dark books, true crime, books about people surviving horrific situations, that kind of stuff. Except I am not interested in war books, no thank you. My favorite book of all time is the Grapes of Wrath, which doesn’t quite fit that description, but it is dreary and miserable. Prime examples of my kind of books are In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls and Room by Emma Donaghue. I’ve been known to enjoy a funny book from time to time as well (hello, David Sedaris), but I am picky, and many humor books fall flat for me.

These are some of my favorites from this year so far:

winters-bone-book-jacket-a48355d4dd6f49ec

This book is everything. It’s rare to find a book and movie that are both good, but both the book and the film are A.MAZ.ING. This is JLaw before she was JLaw, and that woman can ACT. And the story, so dismal, so gritty, it draws you right into the crank-cooking Ozarks, for Ree Dolly’s determined hunt for her father, who is on the lam but put the family home up as the bail bond. I can’t even. Go read it.

spellman files

Sandy picked this for our book club, and I think this book is the first one that has received unanimous approval. It’s like a grown up Harriet the Spy, set in reasonably-close-to-modern-day, and the whole family is private eyes and they are all crazy. And it is wonderful. Many of the women in my book club went straight from this book to devour the rest of the series in a matter of days, and I really need to get on that, because I feel like I’ve missed out on half the party.

sharp objects

With the much-awaited Gone Girl movie opening later this year, there’s probably going to be a run on Flynn’s earlier work. I rate this closer to 3.5 out of 5 stars (the other two above are 5 stars for sure), but it’s definitely worth picking up for something dark, entertaining and fun. I loved the whole small, demented, troubled town storyline and found it drew me in and kept me interested. I think the whole cutting storyline (for which the novel was named), actually didn’t add to the story, and seemed like the kind of dark over-the-top stuff I would have written myself during my teenage goth phase. But maybe that’s the target audience the book is going to (and admittedly, it hooked some of my shameful nostalgia for those years of my own life).

wolf of wall street

Ok, I can’t maintain any credibility as a book nerd in praising this book…but it IS a lot of fun. Totally, totally ridic. And an easy read. So if you need a book to make you feel so very normal and secure by comparison (because, yes, sometimes I need that), it’s a goodie.

PS- Are you my friend on Goodreads? If not, you should be!

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Party weekend with Family House Polo and The Steel City Big Pour @CJReuse @CJBigPour

Party weekend with Family House Polo and The Steel City Big Pour @CJReuse @CJBigPour

This weekend has been a laid back couple of days spent with good friends, good food, magazines and chores. It has been a relaxing, but welcome, contrast to last weekend’s party party weekend. I’m always up for a good party, but need to balance out party time with a good nap, cup of coffee and stack of Nat. Geo Travelers.

I have found myself in a conflicted predicament over the last several years, namely: I am firmly opposed to horse racing, but staunchly in favor of fancy hats. As a result, Kentucky Derby parties have tempted me with their promise of exotic headwear, but are ultimately not the right event for me, because of the event itself. Enter the ideal event for both gorgeous headwear and happy ponies: Family House’s annual Polo Match!

FH Polo 2014

My glamorous friends Laura and Katharine invited me to join them for the polo match, and we had FUN beyond my wildest dreams! I did have a bit of a crisis in securing proper headwear. Every fascinator I saw (and fell in love with) would set me back $100-200, and I hesitated to spend that much on a statement piece that, due to being unique and memorable, I might only get to wear once. Laura swooped in to the rescue and let me borrow one of her lovely fascinators, and all was well in the world (relatedly, my mom was also in England at the same time, and I messaged her, and she managed to pick up a lovely and reasonably-priced fascinator for me at Marks and Spencer …so I am all set for next year!)

FH Polo 2014

We had a fun morning of fancy-lady tailgating, complete with champagne and little sandwiches. (PS- my dress is from my new obsession: Rent the Runway. Please invite me to more fancy things so that I can rent fancy dresses. Also because you like me.)

FH Polo 2014

FH Polo 2014

I don’t know a thing about polo, but the announcer was very beginner-friendly and explained things as they happened. Also there was a very tempting silent auction, an opportunity to go out on the field and meet the hunting hounds, and a divot stomp! I must say that I was sad that I had to depart a little early for a second event, because this was such a unique and fun outing.

Next up for my party party Saturday was the Steel City Big Pour. Of all the charity events in Pittsburgh, this is one is always mine and Mr. Beez’ favorite. It has everything we love: Lots of good beer, lots of good food, lots of friends but is NOT overwhelmingly crowded. Tickets are very hard to get, and sell out within the first minute of so of going online. There is an option to buy early (with making an extra donation to Construction Junction), which is the route we took this year to make sure to get in.  I cannot express enough how much a over-crowded event can kill the fun for Mr. Beez and I, and the thing that makes this event the best for us is that they sell plenty of tickets, but the crowd is limited such that you only have to wait in line a moment or two at each station, and you’re not packed in like sardines.

CJ Big Pour 2014

Each year that we’ve gone, it has gotten better and better. The event has taken on a decidedly local focus, with basically every local brewery you could think of participating. We had the opportunity to try some places I’ve heard good things about, but have not yet made it to, such as Grist House Brewing, the Brew Gentlemen Beer Company and Milkman Brewing. There were also some well-established not-so-local breweries there, such as Left Hand Brewing, Southern Tier Brewing Company and Bell’s Brewery.

CJ Big Pour 2014

CJ Big Pour 2014

Of course, our local favs were out in full force, including Full Pint, Fat Heads, Church Brew Works, North Country Brewing and of course, my personal absolute fav., Voodoo Brewery:

CJ Big Pour 2014

The food featured some of our local favs, as well, such as mini tacos from Verde, pizza slices from Pizza Boat, poutine from Park Bruges, and tots from the Pub Chip Shop (which left me with an overwhelming tot craving ALL WEEK LONG. I finally appeased it today with an amazing boxty brunch from Piper’s Pub).

You're messing up my shot.

You’re messing up my shot.

In short, in addition to benefiting a really awesome reuse organization, the Big Pour stands out not because it’s an event with a lot of food and drink, but because it’s a fun event with the best beer and best pub food to be found in Pittsburgh. The best best best. Both events of my Party Party Weekend were a smashing success. Now that I’ve spent this weekend resting up, I’m ready to tear it up again next weekend!