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A St. Pat’s a little more my speed, with @SouffleBombay ‘s Sweet Irish Soda Bread

While I spent last Saturday shaking my fist and yelling “Get off my lawwwwwn!” from all the yinzers pouring in from Lord Knows Where to get draaaahnk in our neighborhood, I did spend last Sunday in a more pleasant mood. I’m not even remotely Irish, but Corned Beef & Cabbage (or as my dad jokingly called it “Corned Beef & Garbage”) is one of the best foods ever. I’m also in love with halushki (I’m not Polish) and Easter bread (I’m not Greek). Basically, if it’s comfort food, I’m there.

At the first Big Potluck I attended, I sampled Colleen’s soda bread topped with Kerrygold butter and OMG. Then I sampled it again and again. I think I may have eaten an entire loaf. She then told me that the recipe is available on her blog, and I was like NEED. Since I believe in giving clicks where credit is due, you gotta click this link here to head over to her site to get the recipe for yourself.

Any normal or remotely organized person would be like “oh, I will go home and bake it this week!” But I’m neither. I didn’t get around to it over the last like 2 years. Mostly because I assumed it would be hard or take all kinds of ingredients I don’t have. So, to give me the push to make it someday, I added it to my 32 before 32 list, and didn’t get around to making it in an ENTIRE YEAR. Then, mostly out of shame for failing to accomplish such a simple baking assignment, I tagged it on to this years 33 before 33.

YOU GUYS I FINALLY GOT AROUND TO IT.

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Baby Beez helped me out. She’s good at mixing and pouring things into bowls getting bored after 15 minutes and going to watch TV so I have to finish everything myself.  But that was OK this time, because the recipe was basically “mix the things together, pour them in a pan.”

Mixing

Mixing


Pour in pan

Pour in pan


It didn’t even take that many exotic ingredients from the grocery store. The only things I had to buy especially for this were buttermilk and cream. I probably should have picked up turbinado sugar to dust the top of the loaf, but I dusted it with regular sugar instead and it was fine.

When you make 1 big loaf, you have to bake the bread almost twice as long as the 45 minutes it states in the recipe. So heads up on that. But otherwise, the recipe came off without a hitch. And the bread was amazing. I basically ate the entire thing because oink.

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The corned beef & cabbage I made was also FANTASTIC, but I’m not putting pics of that up, because no food looks good when it’s been boiled.

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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?

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32 before 32– A Little Wonder in Troy Hill: St. Anthony’s Chapel

32 before 32– A Little Wonder in Troy Hill: St. Anthony’s Chapel

I bet you’d be surprised to know that the largest collection of Catholic relics outside the Vatican is housed in a small church in the quiet hilly neighborhood of Troy Hill in Pittsburgh. Well it is. it is in St. Anthony’s Chapel.

I can’t remember where I learned this, but it was probably on some Rick Sebak special, because that is where I learn a lot of this type of stuff. Anyway, when I learned that there was a massive collection of relics right in our own city, I just had to see it. Because with something so unique in our backyard, why wouldn’t I?

Relics inside St. Anthony's, as photographed by Roadside America

Relics inside St. Anthony’s, as photographed by Roadside America

Many of the relics are tiny pebble-sized fragments of bone or teeth or what have you. There are also some larger bones, skulls and a tooth of St. Anthony of Padua. The chapel is simply gorgeous inside, with ornate frescoes and life-size hand carved and painted sculptures of the Stations of the Cross. I am not Catholic, but I believe that religious art from all faiths is beautiful. It is amazing to see the beauty that people create, inspired by their faith.

The chapel offers guided tours on certain days, but also offers a handheld audio tour if a guide is not available. I did the audio tour and really enjoyed it. It’s about 30 minutes long, tells you the history of the chapel, including the story of its founder, Father Suitbert Mollinger, as well as an overview of the relics and art in the chapel. It’s amazing that the whole thing is sustained by volunteers and donations, so if you visit, be sure to leave a contribution. The Chapel is now on my short list of must-sees in the City. If you’re a resident and haven’t made your way over there, it’s absolutely worth a visit. It’s close, it’s quick, and it’s wonderful.

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Talking blogging and beer with @RedPenMamaPgh

Long ago, well at the beginning of this year at least, I fully intended to do one interview a month on this blog of a blogger I read, but whom I do not know personally. Then work went nuts (as it is apt to do, in the trial lawyering world), and then we bought a house and sold a house, and basically all the time got away from me. Which happens. Life happens. It’s OK.

Many many moons ago, then, I met up with Dawn of Red Pen Mama for lunch and a brew at The Sharp Edge dahntahn. I had been reading her blog for several months, and had exchanged a few tweets with her from time to time, but that was the extent we had really talked. Once she sat down at my table, our conversation was fun and flowing, and totally reaffirmed my intentions behind the interview initiative– basically to break down that wall that communicating through a screen creates, and get to know the person behind the writing.

the Red Pen Mama herself

the Red Pen Mama herself


I felt a connection with Dawn because we both blog about our families, but we don’t fit within the usual stereotype of “mommybloggers,” also, we’re both working moms in Pittsburgh, and are both (in differing roles) professional writers. Actually, we are both writers in rather specialized fields. (After all, “Red Pen Mama” is a hat tip to her red editor’s pen, and role as a parent.) All of these similarities were good for getting the ball rolling.

We spent most of our lunch talking about the history and the future of blogging. I asked her if she thought blogging is dead, and if online communication will be relegated to tweets and status updates. She disagreed, and pointed out all the forms in which longer-form communication is alive and well. Blogging may not always be blogging in the same sense we see it now, but she doesn’t see the storytelling power that goes along with blogging disappearing anytime soon.

Our conversation also wandered to the topic of paid and sponsored content. Neither Dawn nor I do sponsored posts on our blogs, but rather our careers and income are closely related to writing. Dawn’s reason for not doing sponsored blog content– the blog is her space to tell her story, on her terms. This resonated with me, as I too use my blog as my opportunity to do the writing that I want to do.

Red Pen Mama explores parenting, responsibility, relationships and life in Pittsburgh. Her writing is approachable, and she is super friendly in real life, to boot. This week on her blog, she included a heartbreaking (but also heartwarming) anecdote that is really a must read. And of course, if you run into Dawn at the next PodCamp or TweetUp or what have you, make sure to say hello!

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My top secret recipe for crock pot BBQ ribs

My top secret recipe for crock pot BBQ ribs

I went shopping at the Iggle while hungry again. Which means I bought a slab of meat on impulse again. This time it was pork ribs, and I didn’t even realize until I got home that they were boneless ribs, which means that they don’t really seem like ribs but they are ribs. I’ve been all about comfort food lately (am I ever not about comfort food?) and crock pot BBQ ribs sounded awesome.

And it turns out, they were awesome.

Crock Pot BBQ ribs

Shhhh, don’t tell anyone, but here is my TOP SECRET crock pot BBQ ribs recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Ribs
  • BBQ Sauce

Directions:

  1. Put ribs and BBQ Sauce in crock pot.
  2. Cook on low all day.

Fantastic.