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NaBloPoMo Day 3: VOTE!

I LOVE elections day. Sometimes my tiny vote in the sea of thousands of others feels so insignificant, but then I remember that all the campaign spending in the world doesn’t press the buttons at the polls– the voters do. Every election I bring Baby Beez to the polls. Mr. Beez usually does to. I want her to grow up as I did– letting your vote go unheard is not an option. It’s your right and your responsibility as a citizen– you VOTE.

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Major judicial elections are happening today in Pennsylvania. The judiciary has more impact, day-to-day, on the average Pennsylvanian’s life than any of the other elected offices. A judge decides disputes, a judge hands down punishment for crimes, a judge decides where children live and with whom. It is critical that you educate yourself on this election and exercise your vote.

I was honored to serve as a member of the local bar association’s judiciary committee over the last three years, and in that row, I took a pledge not to participate in any campaign activities.  I’m not going to tell you who I voted for, or who I think you should vote for. But I am going to tell you that the ratings of the ACBA Judiciary Committee are well-informed and thoughtfully reached. They are worthwhile to review before heading to your polling place.

Now get out and VOTE!!

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My Erie Preview with @WholeFoodsErie Presque Isle State Park and Sara’s

My Erie Preview with @WholeFoodsErie Presque Isle State Park and Sara’s

I call my week in Erie an “Erie Preview” because I really did not do a whole lot of visiting or sightseeing. I was there for a trial in federal court, and until the jury went out for deliberations, I was (rightfully) all work-focus-work-focus-work-focus. I have to take a moment to be thankful for modern technology. I left bright and early Sunday morning, and did not return until Thursday evening. I missed my family. I was so thankful to be able to FaceTime with them for a few minutes in the evening, to talk about how much we missed each other and to wish each other sweet dreams.

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I’m not going to talk about the trial itself, because frankly that would be inappropriate. But the jury went out on Wednesday afternoon and I had all the way through their return on Thursday afternoon to do a little exploring.

On the drive up. Game face on.

On the drive up. Game face on.


My first order of business once the jury went out was to go for a RUN. I hadn’t been for a run in at least two weeks. There was flat-out no time, and I was so stressed that I did not have the energy for running.But once that work was done, that energy flowed back! For my visit, I was staying at the Sheraton Erie Bayfront, with a room overlooking the little marina.

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I was able to run right out the hotel door onto the Erie SeaWay trail. The weather was absolutely perfect for a run. The sky was clear, the temperature warm, and the lake was a beauty to look at.

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After my run was done, I realized it was only about 6pm, and I still had the whole evening open and to myself. I have heard that Presque Isle State Park is very nice, so I decided to go for a drive through there. After getting there and seeing all the gorgeous trails, I realized it would have been an even more lovely place for my evening run. But I was not in a state to do 2 runs for the evening, so instead I went for a drive. And really, with gas prices being what they are, and with the rush rush rush of modern life, who goes for a leisurely drive anymore? I popped open the sunroof and wound my way through the park. It was just delightful.

I pulled over and stopped to take this selfie. No pictures while driving. Obvs.

I pulled over and stopped to take this selfie. No pictures while driving. Obvs.


The park is huge and full of trails, and there are beaches and lighthouses. The lake doesn’t have the waves of the ocean, but my kid cares more about the sand than the waves. I think it would be an ideal spot, and only 2 hours drive away, to take her for a little beach outing this summer.

After my drive, I stopped at local legend Sara’s for some summertime comfort food. Yummmmmmmm

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Afterward, I retired back to my room, to enjoy one last evening of watching whatever I wanted on TV  (read: Teen Mom) and sleeping basically sideways across the bed because OMG IT WAS A KING SIZE BED AND I HAD IT ALL TO MYSELF.

The next day while the jury continued its deliberations, I made my way over to the Whole Foods Co-Op. I picked up some necessaries (a mud mask for later, and a couple of bags of Food Should Taste Good multigrain tortilla chips, because they are the best). I also got lunch of a small wrap, a kale and beet salad and a chocolate chip cookie sandwich.

Whole Foods Co-op

All the food was extremely fresh and delicious. I must say, there is something special about the friendliness of a Co-Op. Since we are members of Pittsburgh’s East End Food Co-Op, the Whole Foods Co-Op extended their member discount to me. Also, I got to sign their guest book 🙂

Before this visit, I probably would have never considered doing a little family trip to Erie, but this trip introduced me to a lot of things my family would enjoy. Erie is now on my short list of destinations, when we are getting restless and just need to get ahhhhta tahhn. On a future visit, I’d like to take Baby Beez to the ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum. Also, the Erie area has quite the local brewing community, including Lavery Brewing Company, Erie Brewing Company and The Blue Canoe Brewery.  Mr. Beez and I would very much like to check out their offerings.

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What else- beer and bites (shoutout to @LaPalapaPgh @Gristhouse @DraaiLaag @WigleWhiskey )

What else- beer and bites (shoutout to @LaPalapaPgh @Gristhouse @DraaiLaag @WigleWhiskey )

If there is one thing I am qualified to teach it is a seminar on how to put on a lot of weight in a short period of time. Not that anyone would be interested in such nonsense. But Mr. Beez and I spent the weekend on a Pa Brew Tour and then a gathering with friends. That means lots of beer, lots of wine, lots of chips, lots of pizza. I think I might need a juice cleanse. (Not really.)

This is the third PA Brew Tour I have participated in. By this point, I have memorized most of the trivia answers. Czech Republic (the country with the highest per-capita beer consumption). Das Reinheitsgebot. (The German “purity” law limiting beer brewing to its 4 core ingredients). Malt/barley, yeast, water, hops. (The ingredients of beer). Now you can win the beer tour trivia too. Also, I’m familiar enough with the brewing process that I’m not as interested in oohing and ahhing over the tanks. But it is fun to check out the personality of each brewery, and learn about what part of brewing they really love and pride themselves on. Of course, there’s the tasting too. That’s a good part.

Our tour commenced at the East End Brewing Company outlet at the Pittsburgh Public Market.  I had one thing on my mind: lunch. The Public Market has many options, but La Palapa was right in front of me as I walked in, and I realized that I needed tamales. Post haste.

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There are entirely too few tamales in Pittsburgh. When I am motivated, I am capable of making pretty good tamales. However, making them takes more than 3 steps and 30 minutes, so that kind of cooking motivation is rare for me to come by. Whenever I see tamales on a menu, I’m like MINE ALL MINE. Because they really are delicious.

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Our first Millvale stop was at Gristhouse Brewing. As its name suggests, it’s in a renovated slaughterhouse. It opened its doors about a year ago, and has been having remarkable success. They don’t offer food here, but there are pizza places that deliver and food trucks visit frequently (or you could, like me, eat a massive platter of tamales before showing up and not have to worry about food). My favorite beer at Gristhouse was their Tripel Grist. I love Belgian style beers, and this tripel was just delightful.

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Next, we scooted over to Draai Laag, which specializes in Belgian style brewing. Hooray for me! I’ve had their beers before, but honestly didn’t realize they are local. Their name and branding are so sophisticated that I assumed they really were Belgian brewers. Nope. Right here in Millvale. I love the Goedenacht and the Geestlijke (pronounced geese-licker. Really.) Draai Laag beers are pretty heavy on the ABV, as well as on the taste. I really liked the ambiance of their tasting room. It’s dark and chill. There are chess boards on the table. I would love to take an afternoon there to curl up with a beer and a book.

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We then returned by bus to our starting point. Since it was about 5, it was of course happy hour. We couldn’t let that go by without a cocktail, so we stopped over at Wigle for a hot minute. Wigle has about 5 different kinds of cocktails you can order, as well as stock up for your bar (we were out of booze soaked maraschino cherries, so naturally, it was time to attend to that). The cocktail was a nice sweet twist to wrap up the day.

Then of course we went to a nearby sushi place for dinner. I placed my order. And they served it to me with 3 sets of chopsticks. So yeah.

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Mem’ries of Snowfall

I called off our plans of Baby Beez’ swim class in favor of Chutes & Ladders, mac & cheese and red wine (for me, not her). Despite nearly 15 years in Pennsylvania, I still haven’t adjusted to real winter. I do whatever I can to stay indoors when the bad weather hits. And every bad snowstorm feels like I’ve never been in a snowstorm before.

I’ve been in Pennsylvania for two big snowfalls. For the first one, I was in my senior year at Pitt. The snow just dumped down. Pitt does not like cancelling classes for anything. Snow? Hail? Sleet? Forget it, you whippersnappers can trudge your way out of the towers into DLH. But in this one snowfall, they cancelled classes. Finally. And pretty much everyone trudged it out of the towers to sled on down Flagstaff Hill.

For the second big snow, I was in the middle of a trial. The first big case that I worked from the ground up as a young associate, fully educated the partner before trial, and then tried as second chair. We partially prevailed for the client. Even though it was not a full victory, I was still so proud, because I prepared so thoroughly. I learned so much. I was proud.

Court let out early a couple days, and even took a day off during that trial. The snow was just dumping down.

Mr Beez in the blizzard of 2010

I spent the entire time snoozing on the couch as Mr. Beez shoveled and shoveled and shoveled. I refused to lift a finger to help with the snow. Possibly rightfully, because I was 10 weeks pregnant, and exhausted. I didn’t even mind the trial delay, I was so tired. And the funny thing, on the next to last day of trial, opposing counsel asked if we could recess case early, because he felt soooo sick. And all I could think was, “SERIOUSLY?” Because I had just done 3 days of trial, 10 weeks pregnant, exhausted to the bone, ready to barf at any moment, and he was the one crying sick.

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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!

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What is on your list this year?