BeezusKiddo Holiday Gift Guide, Vol. 2: BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS! w @JJHENSLEY @YaJagoff @RachelBlaufeld and @JonathanAuxier

In my ideal, timely world, this post would have gone up the day before Thanksgiving. But life and such got in the way, so here we are a few days later. But hey, it’s still SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY, and authors are small businesses, so you can still get in your online order to sneak a local author’s book into your bookworm’s stocking this year. (Pssst- Click on the images of the books below to be directed to their sale sites.)

I am a HUGE fan of dark but fun kids literature, thinking Roald Dahl, Lemony Snicket, JK Rowling, etc. I saw Jonathan Auxier speak at a Creative Mornings Pittsburgh breakfast and immediately snapped up his books. They’re both imaginative, fun and a little spooky. My favorite of the two is Peter Nimble, and I’m looking forward to reading it together with Baby Beez when she’s a little older. (I guess we could read it together now, but I don’t have the patience to read anything longer than a picture book with that small maniac right now.)

PeterNimble_coverqnight gardener

If a thrilling mystery is more up your alley, check out JJ Hensley’s Pittsburgh-centric suspense novels Resolve (a murder mystery set within the Pittsburgh Marathon) and the newly-published Measure Twice.


If you have a romance reader on your shopping list, support Pittsburgh’s queen of all things sultry and steamy- Rachel Blaufeld. Rachel has published 2 books so far in her Electric Tunnel series, with more shortly to come!



And last on my list today is the upcoming debut of Ya Jagoff! blogger John Chamberlin into the print world! Ya Jagoff! promises to be a fun collection of pieces about the joy and craziness of our town!


Did you #ShopSmall today? My day was spent mostly on an outing to the zoo and a long and much-needed nap afterward, but I did squeeze in a visit to a local coffee shop and bakery. Even though Small Business Saturday has come to a close, I’ve still got quite a shopping list of goodies from local artists and businesses to pick up. I’m doing my best to keep it local this holiday season, to support our local small businesses and the whole community.


BeezusKiddo Holiday Gift Guide, Vol. 1

DUDE I LOVE HOLIDAY SHOPPING. Ok, I just love shopping. I love the feeling when you pick a gift for someone and it turns out to be JUST the right gift, and they are so happy. I love the feeling when I buy someone something and I see them use it over and over, because they love it. (Conversely, it breaks my lil heart when I buy someone something and it sits in the back of a closet. This is why Mr. Beez and I tell each other EXACTLY what to buy, so we get just what we want.)

Over the next couple days, I am rolling out a ‘burgh-centric gift guide in two parts. I planned to just write one “Gift Guide” post, but then I found way more things than I could put together in just one post. So the big plan is, Volume 1 today, and Volume 2: BOOKS, BOOKS BOOKS tomorrow! Mostly because I love books and ‘burgh authors so much that they deserve their very own post.

First up, for coffee lovers– LIKE ME– 19 Coffee Company  together with PA Mug Co. offers marvelous gift sets, including  wheel thrown and hand-glazed mugs and a bag of 19 Bold coffee. 19 Bold is a hearty, rich blend with a heavy aroma and wonderful notes of bittersweet dark chocolate, caramel and butterscotch. To buy these gift packs, you need to contact 19 Coffee company directly, by emailing ellen at 19 coffee dot com or 412-527-6985.

19Coffee gift

19 Coffee also offers a COFFEE OF THE MONTH club, where they ship 2 pounds coffee fresh from the roaster directly to you each month. This combines two of my favorite things: (1) Coffee, and (2) getting things in the mail.  The best.

19 coffee

When it comes to holiday decorating, I am terrible. I never seem to get around to it, and I would much rather focus my energies on seasonal baked goods than on hanging things around the house. Even with my attitude fast approaching the Grinch zone, I can’t help but LOVE the Gourds and Fruit wreath from Roxanne’s Flowers. in the Strip District. It’s seasonal, it’s gorgeous, and best of all, it’s not gaudy.


If you are interested in something more “holiday” than “harvest,” Roxanne’s also offers this gorgeous woodrose & pine cone wreath.


I’m always on the lookout for a perfect Chanukah Card, and Pittsburgh-based The Bird and the Beard got the right reaction with this one (ha ha, you see what I did there!)

Festival of Lights

As you gather around your Thanksgiving Table this week, you may discover that this mug from Pittsburgh Pottery is just the thing for some of your more talkative relatives.


Good old fashioned cookbooks are slowly phasing out in my kitchen, as almost all the recipes I use lately are ones I find on the internet. This Kitchen Dock,from Stak Ceramics in Pittsburgh, combines storage for your utensils with a stand for your tablet (or even a good old fashioned cookbook!) It’s stylish, simple and best of all– PRACTICAL!


After totally killing it on Shark Tank, Simple Sugars has gotten a lot of attention. Listen: it’s well deserved. This stuff is the best. The bomb dot com. Yes I just said that. Because it’s the absolute best. I included the Simple Sugars Collection in my Small Business Saturdays post last year, and I’m including them again, because OMG I love this stuff. Also, I bought a bunch of sugar scrubs on Small Business Saturday last year, but I didn’t specifically buy “The Collection.” Which needs to be fixed as soon as I get my next paycheck. In case you are just dying to buy me something wonderful, my favorite scents are almond, lemonade (only available in summer) pink grapefruit, and gingerbread. I’m also dying to try the cranberry and am sure I will love that as well. Heck, I have never had one I didn’t like.


For your favorite little Panther, this adorable Panther Crochet Hat! H2P!!!! P-I-T-T LET’S GO PITT!

(Yes, it does come in grown up sizes, too!)


I need this Biggy Smalls necklace from House of Hades in Pittsburgh. Need.

Biggy Smalls

And there’s no better way to show your Steel City pride than reppin’ in races in other Cities in this Steel City Runner tank from Fittsburgh. This makes me want to run a race in Baltimore, just to show them how it’s done. (If you’re wondering, it’s done very slowly. I never claimed to be a  fast runner.)


A Pittsburgh gift guide would be incomplete without a depiction of our lovely skyline. I’m loving this mod print from loosepetals.


Happy shopping, yinz!


Today is the day! Celebrating my birthday with @runDisney @CMNHospitals and @PCPgh

Today is the day! Celebrating my birthday with @runDisney @CMNHospitals and @PCPgh


lolcat birthday

I mean, if you haven’t heard me talk about it nonstop for at least the last seventeen days, well here you go! THE DAY IS TODAY!


And I just know everyone out in internet land has been looking forward to this day every bit as much as me! So here we are! HAPPY DAY!

So what am I doing to celebrate? Going to work. Having a practice group meeting over lunch. Ya know, keepin’ it real. But Mr. Beez and I will also be seeing a 3RFF movie with our friends at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, so that’s pretty cool.

But you know what would be SUPER COOL? Celebrating my birthday with me! I am clearly so shy and reserved. Which is why I’m flat-out unsubtly suggesting yinz get me birthday presents, specifically the birthday present of supporting me as I fundraise for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. You know, MONEY FOR THE SICK KIDS!

My family has been so incredibly lucky that Baby Beez has been a generally healthy kid. The worst we’ve gone through is that a couple years ago, she came down with croup. We had to go in to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s ER, and then she had the breathing treatment, and then she had to stay for observation overnight. And even though it was a fairly minor ailment in the universe of childhood ailments, it was still a scary moment. As parents, we felt out of control and scared, and all we wanted to do was make our little girl better but we couldn’t do that on our own. We were so blown away by the attention, care and kindness our whole family received at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Baby Beez was cared for with skill, and we as her confused and helpless parents were cared for so amazingly as well.

We have several friends who have children who have needed much more complex and frightening care. Children who have needed multiple surgeries, children who have been fighters from the day they were born, and children who must and will continue to fight every day. We are lucky that we have good insurance coverage, and that in our visit to Children’s Hospital, we didn’t have the added stress of trying to figure out how her care would be paid for. That’s why I’m asking you to help me raise funds for the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals– to fund critical treatments, equipment and charity care for kids in our community.

I have committed to raising $1,200 for Children’s Miracle Network. I’ve put my money where my mouth is by contributing toward the commitment myself. I’m counting on you get me over the goal line. So instead of us going out for a drink or cup of coffee, please click on the image below to contribute to my Children’s Miracle Network fundraising campaign!

PS– If you contribute, I’ll write your name ON MY PANCE for the Half Marathon!

princess Half marathon

And since I know you are all looking for every possible opportunity to listen to me narrate all the things I think about all day, I have JUST the opportunity for you! I’ll be speaking at PodCamp Pittsburgh 9 this Sunday at 11am! I’ll be sharing about Finding Your Authentic Voice– how to express your true self, engage with your readers, grow your reader base, and even adjust that voice when the time and need is right. PodCamp Pittsburgh will be this Saturday and Sunday at Point Park University, and best of all– REGISTRATION IS FREE! So won’t you join me?




Retiring my 32 before 32

Retiring my 32 before 32

Today is my last day of 31, which means that my 32 before 32 list is coming to an end. I only made it through 10 of the goals this year, but I’m OK with that. I’m carrying over a lot of things to my 33 before 33. For some people, a “__ before __” list is about pushing boundaries and accomplishing extreme things. For me, the list is about perspective. Instead of sitting around and whining that I’m bored, this list reminds me of all the neat things I’ve filed away as wanting to do, but have back burnered. When I look back on these lists, it reminds me that our City has lots of neat things to offer, and my family and I have really taken advantage of the opportunities it presents.

Our travel for the coming year is already mostly planned out. Last year I included our planned travel in my list, and then things changed, and I was disappointed about having to remove things from the list for reasons beyond my control. This year, I’m keeping it pretty local. My list is full of things that are pretty well within my grasp. There’s something to be said for dreaming big and pushing boundaries, but there’s also something to be said for the satisfaction of just crossing things off a nice list. This coming year is a year for the latter.

So without further ado, I bring to you my 33 before 33 (also, consistent with my goal last year of writing a 40 before 40 list, here is my more-ambitious 40 before 40 list)

PS- You can totally help me toward one of my goals on the list by sponsoring my fundraising for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, just click on this link! You were just itching to take me out for coffee or a drink or lunch or something for my birthday, right? How about putting that money toward helping sick kids instead? Every single dollar helps! I’m over halfway toward my fundraising goal, and I need your help to cross that finish line!

princess Half marathon

What is on your list this year?


32 before 32: Harvesting for the Hungry with @PghFoodBank and a stop at Schorr Bakery

32 before 32: Harvesting for the Hungry with @PghFoodBank and a stop at Schorr Bakery

Remember waaay back in the day (over 2 years ago!) when I toured the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank as part of a BlogMob event? Well in that tour, I learned that there are a whole lot of neat ways you can help the Food Bank’s efforts to get food to people in need, that go well beyond the usual contribution of canned goods. Of course, donating food and cash as well as helping with food distribution events are always great ways to help. But if you’re itching to try something different and fun and outdoors, Glean events are where it’s at!

Here’s how a glean works- the Food Bank partners with local farms. When the farms are done with their harvest, there are usually still a whole lot of crops left behind. So the Food Bank gathers volunteers to harvest those crops, and the crops go to people who need them! Simple, smart, resourceful!

I’ve been wanting to do a glean for quite some time. The difficulty for me has been that they are usually scheduled for weekday mornings, when I’m at work. Sometimes you just gotta make the time, and so I set aside a morning this autumn when I decided that I was gonna DO THIS.

Food Bank

The glean I went to was at Wexford Farms, just a little bit north of the city. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but the crop we were gleaning was collards, which meant that filled boxes were light! (The next scheduled glean was for acorn squash– heavy!)

Wexford Farms Collards

I was really surprised by how much was left behind after the farm was done with its own harvest. Lots and lots and lots. The Food Bank brought a whole bunch of large boxes and we picked the collards and boxed them up until all the boxes were full.

Wexford Farms Collards

The whole event took about 2 hours. I really liked how all the volunteers were so focused. My thoughts on volunteering– you are there to do a task, and if you are going to take break after break, you might as well not be there at all. Sometimes I get frustrated with volunteer projects when people aren’t all working hard. There was no such problem at this event. We did take a little break in the middle, but other than that, everyone was working hard and working fast.

Collards Selfie

I participated in the glean event with a couple of friends. On the way back into town afterward, they suggested we stop at Schorr Family Bakery for donuts. Donuts?! YES PLS.

Schorr Bakery

I got myself a maple frosted sweet roll, which was a whopping 75 cents! I can’t remember the last time I bought something that cost less than a dollar! The roll was nice and sweet, balanced with the right amount of breadiness. The bakery was a fun find in the West View neighborhood, which I admittedly know like nothing about.

Schorr Bakery Maple Sweet Roll