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Wednesday, in No Particular Order

When you have lots and lots of inspiration (read: caffeine and time), it’s easy to churn out blog posts. My recent blogging hiatus has not been due to lack of desire, but lack of the time or energy to devote to more than 30 seconds of leisure writing at any given time. With the annual #GBE just a week away, I have to drum up some creativity for my guest post…I don’t even know what I’ll be writing about yet. And since I don’t have the energy right now to do any focused posts on dedicated topics, instead I will treat you (read: torture you) with this– a list of the things on my mind this Wednesday, in no particular order:

1. Family Time

My dad and stepmom just left this morning from a 4 day visit to Pittsburgh. It was a super nice visit. We did lots of excellent cooking and drinking wine. We made and devoured Triple Chocolate Ice Cream (with chopped up Sarris Chocolate bars in it, delicious). We even played Cards Against Humanity, which was all the more hilarious because my stepmom didn’t know what half of the cards meant and had to keep googling things.

The first few days they were here it was cold and wintery, but yesterday was one of those gorgeous Pittsburgh spring days, and we got to go to the park for a bit.

Park

Mr. Beez and I had some work obligations so we were not able to stay home with them the whole time they were here, but I think there is something special about them getting to have time with Baby Beez when we are not there. I’m glad to give them that time together. We also talked about Baby Beez spending time with them up in Oregon during summers, and they are all for it. Although this summer’s plans are all mapped out, I am looking forward to future summers where she’ll get to go visit them, and go camping, fishing, hiking and all kinds of outdoorsy things, and just generally have a nice time together.

We have more family time coming up soon, as we are shortly leaving for a family vacation in Playa del Carmen. We’ll get to hang out with the grown up family members, while Baby Beez will swim and build sandcastles with a bunch of cousins.  I’ve got my audiobooks loaded in my phone, my sunscreen and hat packed, and cannot wait to sit in the sun and do nothing for several straight days.

2. Round and Round

We bought Baby Beez a season pass to the Schenley Carousel again this year. I would have liked to go a few more times last year, but I still think it was well worth the money. It was fun to take her to the carousel, and let her ride it over and over and over and over. We also got snacks at the nearby food vendors, would go over to the library to pick out some books and movies, then go back to the carousel to ride it around another half dozen times.  I’m excited for the carousel’s opening in April, and hope to take her there a whole lot of times this summer.

Schenley Carousels

3.  Bartram House

Mr. Beez and I went to brunch at Bartram House bakery a little while back.  The bakery case is gorgeous, so many beautiful cupcakes, pastries and bars. I had a breakfast burrito full of fresh veggies and cup after cup of hot coffee. I feel like Bartram House is the fresh, local cafe that a certain nationwide bakery-themed eatery is trying to be. While I do like that certain nationwide eatery, there is a something lost in all that homogeneity  Bartram House has all these amazing baked goods, with the authentic personality to boot. And to boot, you get the option of having a croissant as the “bread” side with your breakfast. Yassssss! We really enjoyed this place and are excited to bring Baby Beez for our next visit.

Bartram House


Breakfast Burrito


Bartram House S'Mores Bar

4. Blogga Dinna

I visited Chaz & Odette with blogging friends a little while back. We went scheduled a dinner for a Sunday night, which we did not realize is jazz night. On jazz nights, they feature a jazz band and a limited menu of small dishes. While it didn’t quite fit the goal we had of long-catching-up type conversations, the place did have a pretty cool vibe. I would like to go back there for a date night with Mr. Beez, and I think it would be a fun place to go for something a little different than the usual drinks-and-apps type outing.  On the whole, the food was great. The chicken, in particular, was expertly seasoned. I have a very vivid memory of it and would love to go back to try more of their dishes.

Chaz & Odette Jalapeno Cornbread

Grits

Chaz & Odette Chicken


5. Time to Bake

Mr. Beez has found a new interest in learning to cook, which is JUST FINE BY ME THANKYOUVERYMUCH. Our Temple has recently offered some cooking classes, and we took a hamentaschen baking class the other day. Mr. Beez loves hamentaschen, and this was  fun, different activity for us to do together. It was a small class in our temple’s kitchen, and was just a couple hours on a weeknight. I had been promising Mr. Beez that cooking is easy, and I think he saw from this class that it can be pretty simple. As an added bonus, we got to go home with a whole bunch of treats!

Hamentaschen Class

Hamentaschen

Hamentaschen

Hamentaschen

6.  My pores. My pores. My lovely lady pores.

I loooove me some makeup sampler boxes, and Benefit is by far my favorite makeup brand.  I recently dug a sample size of “The POREfessional” out of my giant tub o’makeup. It feels nice on my skin and makes it look good, but I can’t help but be puzzled that pores are something we can be self-conscious about now? Why do I need to hide or minimize my pores? Pores are something to be worried about? Pores are just part of your face. I recently saw an article in Allure about some fancy lady actress saying the part of her body that she is most self conscious about is her pores? Huh???? Anyway, I am not worried about people seeing my pores because that is ridiculous, BUT Pores No More is actually a nice product and makes my skin look nice, separate and apart from my pores. I LIKE MY PORES. But the product isn’t bad, if I do say so myself.

Pore makeup

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Sunday Night Catch Up

There have been a number of things over the last month or two that I’ve told myself I need to get around to blogging about. I have the pictures and the intention, and then it comes down to I could either write the post or take a nap. Today I took a nap and OMG it felt good. Naps have been much higher on my priorities list. As they should be for everyone.  I hate that nagging feeling of having a backlog of posts. By the time I have enough time to sit down and write, the older ideas feel stale and I’m no longer into it. So this is my “catch up post” and I’m counting this as a clean slate moving forward.

(1) Now that the winter is really bitter and cold, I am again asking myself WHY do I live in Pittsburgh, and wishing I could go back to our holiday week in Tampa.  We only got to check out a small slice of it, but Tampa seems like a really cool town.  On our last night there we ate at this killer Latin American restaurant called El Puerto.

El Puerto


El Puerto

El Puerto

Mr. Beez had the dinner pictured in the middle, which was basically steaks on top of sausages on top of chicken on top of mountains and mountains and mountains of meat. Also, they had churros, which is nothing crazy or special when you’re in Florida, but churros are HARD to come by in Pittsburgh, so yasssssssss.

(2)  When we were in Florida, we went to Legoland. Everything was awesome.

Legoland

We were incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to enjoy a lot of amusement parks with Baby Beez this year. We went to Disneyworld (Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios), both Universal Florida theme parks, Sesame Place, Kennywood, and now Legoland.  now we are beginning what I will call “A few years of not going to any damn amusement parks” because I’ve had enough amusement. We may take her to Disney again in 5 or so years, but we need some time off for a while.

(3) Just FYI, outside of Legoland is this crazy delicious BBQ joint called Hog Heaven Smokehouse. It’s in a nondescript little strip mall, so you won’t notice it unless you’re looking for it. LOOK FOR IT. I admit, BBQ does not tend to be the most photogenic food, but you need to try this stuff, because it is delicious. Also, it’s a small family run place, and everyone working there was absolutely the sweetest. I felt more like a guest in someone’s home than a customer at a restaurant.

Hog Heaven

(4) We also visited the Dali museum when we were in Florida. It’s been a dream of mine since I was in high school to visit this museum, and it did not disappoint. It also had a special exhibition of Escher’s works going on. It was a complete dream for my high school self.

Dali Museum


(5) Ybor City was a totally cool neighborhood and we had so much fun checking out their local breweries, of which there are several. Our favorite brewery was Cigar City Cider & Mead. They had over a dozen offerings on tap of all kinds of meads and ciders, so many different flavors and all over the spectrum from dry to sweet. The bartenders were super friendly and were proud of the drinks they were serving, and chatted with us the whole time. Also they were playing Indiana Jones movies on a big screen the whole time. A+.

Cigar City

(6) When we got back to Pixburgh, we swung by the food truck roundup at The Brew Gentlemen because I saw that Blowfish BBQ was there, and thanks to the amazing food I had at Hog Heaven Smokehouse, I NEEDED BBQ and all I could think about was smoked chicken and delicious deliciousness. Delicious deliciousness was had, and if you have not yet had Blowfish BBQ, you are sorely missing out on the best BBQ in the city. And if you disagree with me, you are just wrong. Sorry.

Blowfish BBQ


(7) This week I visited Amazing Cafe with my friend Beth, and at risk of sounding ridiculous, it really was Amazing. I had the Tulum tacos, which included roasted tempeh, potatoes and vegetables. I also had a green juice that was legitimately delicious. I don’t really like juice, but from time to time I will tolerate it. I actively liked this juice, which is very unusual for me. Both Beth and I were thrilled with our lunches, the food was fresh, light and made us feel good from eating it. This is definitely worth a mid-day trip out of downtown.

Amazing Cafe Tulum Tacos

(8) This week was Restaurant Week and I made it out for 2 meals.  On Thursday, we went for family dinner to Braddock’s Brasserie at the Renaissance Hotel downtown. Baby Beez was really excited that we were eating at a restaurant in a HOTEL and I have no idea why, but whatever. The food was very good and the service was very friendly, so we had a really nice time.

Braddock's


Braddock's

IMG_5736

Braddock's

(9) The Steel Trap and I also went to Prairie for Restaurant Week dinner. Prairie is also on the gastropub/comfort food theme. The food was brilliantly executed and the ambiance was fun and laid back. I am puzzled, though, why the owners decided to change from Verde, which was a really good Mexican style restaurant in a town with few Mexican Restaurant, into a gastropub/comfort food kind of restaurant, of which there seem to be no shortage anymore. I went for the dishes that they are best known for– the chicken & biscuit and the ice cream cookie, and I was not disappointed. HGB of The Steel Trap also loved it, and you can click here for her review.

Prairie Pittsburgh


(10) Over this weekend, we took Baby Beez to Dave & Busters for a bit. We played this ridiculous pirates game that involved shooting monsters and such, but she and I had so much fun together with it, it was really incredible. I’m not really into video games, and she doesn’t have the skills or coordination to do well at them so she gets frustrated fast, but we were able to make some headway on this silly game and had such a fun time playing it together. It was one of those special little memories that is going to stay with me.

Dave & Busters


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Connections and play dates with @coveyapp

The holidays are marketed as being all about friendships and joy, but all the fun that appears on those glittering Instagram feeds can often ring hollow.  The holidays have their way of making you feel alone and isolated.  A family friend, Sarah, and other motivated Pittsburgh moms realized the importance of connections between parents in fostering friendships between children. The Covey app is especially helpful as the holiday madness winds down, and everyone starts getting back into the rhythm of normal life.  The focus of Covey is twofold– setting up convenient playdates between children, and also creating friendships between parents.

covey

Covey is a smartphone app that parents can use to connect with parents and parenting communities. There is a special section for each parenting community. Within that section, there is an open forum where you can post privately without sharing to your other social media accounts. You can use these communities as resources for your parenting questions or simply share your photos & stories.

Covey values positive, productive interactions.  There are built in community guidelines used to ensure supportive interactions in the app. It is somewhat structured like a dating app–You can introduce yourself to other parents by completing a profile with your interests, parenting style, and kid info. Then you can find other parents based on that very same info. The app will become more and more searchable, so you can look for, say, all {moms, dads} who are members of One Mother To Another that have experience with toddlers and are located near Brooklyn, NY.

When you find other parents like you in your area, you can use Covey to easily coordinate playdates and get-togethers. You can also use the app as a resource for family-friendly activities in your area, or become the local resource for family-friendly activities.

As you may know if you’ve read this blog for a while, I do not do advertising. Covey is not paying me anything or offering me anything for me to post about them.  I believe that the app is a positive thing and know that Sarah and her colleagues have worked very hard at it, and I believe Covey is worth checking out.

You can download the app from http://www.coveymom.com

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Pajama Day

After returning from a week at Deposition School in Colorado (sidenote: young litigators, DO THIS PROGRAM. It’s incredible, and while trial skills are great, you’ll be in a lot more depositions than trials, so it’s a lot more practical), and having a week that was nonstop nonstop nonstop, I declared yesterday “Pajama Day.” I’m not good at sitting still and doing nothing. There’s always a to do list forming in my brain, and I’m one of those strange people who feels relaxed by crossing things off that list. In contrast, being idle and letting things sit on that list stresses me out. 

Here’s the list of things I managed to do yesterday on my day of relaxing:

  • Cook breakfast for the family (huevos rancheros & toast).
  • Finish a book that is due back to the library today.
  • Put away 2 clean, folded baskets full of laundry that I’ve been ignoring for the last week.
  • Wash, dry, fold and PUT AWAY 3 more baskets of laundry (you KNOW the putting away is the hard part).
  • Watch Muppets Christmas Carol twice.
  • Sleep on the couch while Baby Beez watched Sword in the Stone.

Return to Oz

  • Watch Return to Oz with the family and live tweet my horror at what a screwed up movie it was and how on earth did I not remember that?
  • Cook dinner for the family (steak & corn).
  • Boil beets and roast carrots and potatoes, all of which had been sitting in the fridge waiting to be used since lord knows when.
  • Read 3 magazines, thereby diminishing the pile of magazines that has been growing and stressing me out because I ridiculously feel like I’m falling behind on something if I let the magazines pile up.
  • Ruminate on New Years Resolutions.

FullSizeRender

  • Eat delicious ice cream.

Alida

  • “Play” with the bird. And by play I mean let her run around the bathroom and bedroom while I did other chores, and make sure she didn’t destroy or poop on anything.
  • Yell at husband to get the fireplace lit.
  • Troubleshoot fireplace when it wouldn’t turn on.
  • Yell at husband some more.
  • Text handyman about fireplace.
  • Praise husband when he figured it out and fireplace was roaring with a lovely fire.

Fire

  • Mutter curses when we realized we have to troubleshoot the fireplace even more, because it shut itself off after 20 minutes.
  • Reviewed contents of fridge and cabinets and wrote grocery list.
  • Picked up a new book and got through the first chapter.

And ridiculously, I feel incredibly relaxed after yesterday.  Today is fairly similar– we aren’t running around to events. This morning I’m doing a couple chores, and then I’m taking Baby Beez to the park so she can ride her bike. Tonight we are having some friends over for dinner, which means that this morning I got to partake in one of my absolute favorite activites: Picking out what we will order from the Kavsar menu (THE BEST!)

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NaBloPoMo Day 21: A New Approach to My Lists Each Year

NaBloPoMo Day 21: A New Approach to My Lists Each Year

I’ve been doing ___ before ___ lists for a while now. My first one was a 30 before 30 list. I have since done similar lists leading up to years 31, 32 and 33.  I enjoyed writing the lists and really crystallizing the fun thing I want to do, and making sure they did not slip through the cracks.  By year 32, the enthusiasm started draining and I had a mad dash right before my birthday to cross off as many things as possible.  As my birthday approached for me to turn 33, there were plenty of things left on the list, and I didn’t even care anymore.  I was working on a bigger & better 40 before 40 list, but I don’t really love it right now, and have not decided whether I want to overhaul it or scrap it.

Jump the Shark

The lists, for me, focused me on what I wanted to do as I was working toward them, but also provided a nice retrospective at year’s end.  Often I would grumble about wanting to do so many things but never having the time, but I could look at these lists and say, wow, I really did do a lot of fun, nice things.

I don’t want to abandon the lists altogether, but there’s no sense in making myself do the same thing over again, just for the sake of doing it.  I’m turning things around a bit this year. Instead of listing 34 things I need to do before 34, I’m assembling a list of things as I go, and am memorializing 34 fun things I’ve done in the year before I hit 34. I’m open to suggestions for fun things you think I should check out.