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Back to the Ice, Snow and Grind

Back to the Ice, Snow and Grind

Admittedly, I had some concerns about going on a week long vacation with extended family. When the idea was first raised about doing a family vacation, I was adamant that we not do a house rental or something like that. For our number and varied interests, we decided that an all-inclusive resort would be the best bet.  This would be the best option logistically– since everything is all-inclusive, we wouldn’t have to split checks or keep tabs for who has paid for what, and since we’d all be all in one location with lots of amenities, we would not have to worry about transporting people for place to place.  I hoped it would also be the best option for meeting everyone’s varied interests– from the grown-ups who want to read all day, to the kids who want to swim all day.

Hopefully, you got a chance to check out my guest post on Goodness Madness during the Pittsburgh Guest Blogging Event.  In short, I do not have a good track record when it comes to traveling with other people. I have about a 48 hour time limit when spending time with someone, and then I am done. I need lots of time alone, and I can be a real grouch when I’m having to share more space and time with other people.

You guys, the vacation was fantastic. We had so much fun that we are already talking about doing another trip.  The all inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen was perfect, and I don’t think I’ve ever come back from a trip more relaxed and happy.

Playa Del Carmen

We stayed at the Sandos Caracol Eco Resort, which is a family resort with a focus on preserving the local ecosystem and teaching about the local Mayan culture. In the scope of resorts, it’s about mid-range– not luxury, but not total discount either. I think its amenities, services, etc. were right on for the rates they charge. There were some things that were very good (lots of good options for pools, beach, water park, kids activities, nightly entertainment, etc.), and there were also some things that could be improved. The resort is oriented to families, and although there were kids all over the place, I felt that parents did a good job of keeping an eye on their own kids and making sure they were behaving appropriately. We all really enjoyed it and would be happy to go back!

Snoozing on the beach

I counted down to this vacation for weeks.  By the time we hit March, I was running on fumes.  We were very lucky to get to take trips to Napa and Disney World last year, but (admittedly by my own planning) both trips involved us going from activity to activity to activity. We may have been more tired by the end of those trips before we departed for them.  I needed rest. That is exactly what we got out of this trip, and oh wow it was good.  

Beach

Our days basically went like this: Wake up, get breakfast, find family around the mid-morning sometime either on the beach or by the pool, swim and relax until lunch time, eat some lunch, swim and relax until late afternoon, get cleaned up and put on pants, meet up with family for dinner, watch the nightly show, go to bed. Repeat six times. It was fantastic.

Poolside

We came back to late snow and ice in Pittsburgh, but I feel rested enough to actually deal with it. When Baby Beez returned to school afterward, the theme for the month of April was “Rainforest,” and she was extremely excited to get to tell all her classmates about her week in the jungle.

Lots of peacocks strolling through the resort

Lots of peacocks strolling through the resort


We saw lots of little monkeys swinging through the trees.

We saw lots of little monkeys swinging through the trees.

This was the first time we saw coatis, and they are adorable!

This was the first time we saw coatis, and they are adorable!

My iguana friend wanted me to go away. So not really my friend, I guess.

My iguana friend wanted me to go away. So not really my friend, I guess.


Mr. Beez and I had been to Riviera Maya (slightly south of Playa del Carmen, both relatively near to Cancun) once before, and had an incredibly relaxing long vacation. Travelzoo  and Apple Vacations frequently run specials  that are extremely well priced, including airfare (in fact, Travelzoo is running a special right now on the resort we stayed in).  It’s just about a 4 hour flight away, which is not too bad, especially now that Baby Beez is comfortable enough with flying and is old enough to keep herself occupied during long flights.

And you know what– my fears about everyone making me crazy never came to pass. The resort was just the right option, because everyone had the flexibility to do what they wanted, but we were still generally together and getting to spend time with one another. Just the right balance of time together and independence.

beach

So yes, friends, go to a Cancun-area beachside resort. Even go with your whole big crazy family. You’ll love it. And even if you head out to vacation feeling like you can’t even function, you’ll return feeling relaxed and ready to take on the world.

PS- Mr. Beez and I went to the spa for massages. Twice.

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#PghGBE with Pittsburgh & Pearls (and shoutout to @alexanderfiv the grand ringmaster of #PghGBE !!)

#PghGBE with Pittsburgh & Pearls (and shoutout to @alexanderfiv the grand ringmaster of #PghGBE !!)

Hi, everyone! My name is Sarah and while I normally post at Pittsburgh & Pearls, I am so excited to be writing a guest post for Beezus Kiddo. This is my first time participating in the great Pittsburgh guest post swap event, so it’s really interesting for me as a newer blogger to be working with some more seasoned talent. Beyond my (very obvious) love of brunch, I have a penchant for fashion, travel, fitness, and all things beauty.

As a millennial and a college student, I take my brunching very seriously. To me, brunch is a verb, and it’s my favorite meal of the week. In all honesty, I was never a breakfast person. My parents and grandma tried to drag me along to a brunch buffet for years, (which is now my favorite restaurant) but I was stubborn and refused to eat anything besides bacon, mac and cheese or Belgian waffles. Best. Combo. Ever. What can I say; I was a picky eater (slash still am, to some degree).

Flash forward 4-ish years, and maybe it’s the college student in me, but I’ll say yes to any excuse to get off campus and get some really good food. That being said, without further adieu, my top 3 favorite places for 3 different budgets.

1. The Dor-Stop ($)

If the fact that it was featuered on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives doesn’t sell you on visiting already, it’s been featured all over Pittsburgh media for almost 30 years. According to Pittsburgh Magazine, it’s the home of the best pancakes in the Burgh, and I’d definitely agree. Beyond your typical diner fare, the Dor-Stop puts creative spins on your breakfast favorites, including specialty hotcakes like the banana chocolate chip pancakes. It comes with a warning though, it might be really tricky to figure out exactly what sounds the best when the menu also features a variety of omelets, stuffed French toast, and other mouthwateringly good items.

Personal Favorite: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Pancakes, Homefries,

2. Waffles Incaffeinated ($-$$)

WafInc

Everybody loves a good waffle. I grew up on chocolate chip Eggos but I’d like to think that I have a much more refined taste now, graduating to eateries that feature “specialty waffles” which seem more like dessert than breakfast food (and I’m not complaining). Whether you like super-sweet or savory, there will definitely something on the menu for you. Waffles Incaffeinated also serves sandwiches, salads, crepes and omelets (oh-my-lettes!) if waffles just aren’t your cup of tea. And a quick word to the wise: Waffles Incaffeinated uses NoWait, which allows you to check wait times and allows you to get in line from virtually anywhere. It’s been known to feature longer wait times, so consider downloading the app for your convenience!

Personal Favorite: Megaberry Waffle, Funky Monkey Waffle, Strawberry Nutella Crepe

3. Grand Concourse ($$$)

GranConc

Nothing makes me happier than being able to dress up, drive downtown and eat a lot of food. My family has been going to the Grand Concourse for years; it holds a special place in my heart as the location of my parents’ first date. Everyone knows that family history pairs really well with copious amounts of ham, but I’d recommend it to anyone. Beyond a buffet that features food choices for both the foodies and the pickiest eaters, the atmosphere makes your experience that much better. And it has outdoor seating, which is always a winner in my book. If waffle bars, omelet bars, brunch bar, salmon and tuna bars and fresh donuts sound great to you too, you should definitely check it out.

Personal Favorite: Everything!

These are just a few of my favorite places- I’m always on the hunt for to try the newest restaurants in town, so recommendations are always welcome! Thanks so much for reading and happy brunching!

Today’s post comes from Sarah of Pittsburgh and Pearls, and is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. You can see my post over on Goodness Madness, where I talk about making it through extended family time when you are totally antisocial and grumpy.

And for EVEN MORE April Fools shenanigans, check out this week’s broadcast on Yakkin’ with Ya Jagoff! The Steel Trap and I were invited on to talk April Fools and whiskey for breakfast!

Click on the links below to see ALL of the participants in the Guest Blogger Event! Since we all link to each other’s blogs, you can even start on one and click to the next, then click to the next and so on, like a nice little morning mosey through the park of the internet. SPECIAL THANKS to Alex for all his hard work in arranging this!!

Harvest + Bloom // Yes, Wear That! // jelly jars // Glam and Graffiti // To The Streets // In Pursuit // Pittsburgh & Pearls // Beezus Kiddo // Goodness Madness // Last Minute Panic // Steel City Intrigue // Crank Crank Revolution // Amanda Narcisi // Pittsburgh is Beautiful // From Cats to Cooking // Yum Yum PGH // Breelicious Bites // Parmesan Princess // Coffee & A Blonde // The Steel Trap // Wavy Alabaster // everybody loves you… // Eat with Emily // Don’t Forget to Eat // Sloping in the Sky // From Farm to Turntable // Secrets in the Wall // Red Pen Mama // Feedback Soup // The AP Collection // Blog Or Die PGH // Pittsburgh Happy Hour // Friendly Fitness Foodie // Small Town Dad // Josh’s World // Geeky Sweetie // Sean’s Ramblings // Lunges, Long Runs and Lattes // Try it and You May! // lil Burghers // Orange Chair Blog // Ya Jagoff // Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents // Melissa Firman


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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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The Bachman Books

The Bachman Books

I had a recent urge to revisit some of my early favorite books. When I was in Jr. High and High School, my first steps toward developing my own taste in reading was to borrow books from my dad’s bookshelf.  He loved Stephen King, Ray Bradbury and all kinds of other dark stuff.  When I left for college, I stole his copy of Different Seasons (sorry Dad!). I picked it up recently and read through the first novella– Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, before realizing that it actually wasn’t the collection I was wanting to read.  I often mix up Different Seasons and The Bachman Books, because they are both Stephen King collections, made up of books that are scary, not in a supernatural sense, but because they explore how dark, hurtful and sinister people can really be.

Sometimes I read dark stuff, but it’s an escape for me. Not all of my choices in entertainment are so bleak. Maybe I’ll write soon about my recent binge on Fuller House.

The most memorable novella in The Bachman Books is Rage.  It’s a story of a teenager that goes on a school shooting rampage, but as the event goes on, the students change sides and join up with him.  It’s extremely dark, and when I first read it in 9th grade or so, it was so dark as to be beyond all bounds of of belief, and in its own way was a terrible, cathartic escape from the teenage anguish of high school.

I read the book before Columbine. Before Sandy Hook. Before school shooting after school shooting after school shooting showed that Rage was not beyond all bounds of belief.

The Bachman Books

In my most recent urge to revisit some of these old books, I tried to download Rage from my library’s e-collection.  It’s not available there. After some poking around online, I learned that Stephen King had pulled Rage from all future printings.  He pulled it because he learned that school shooters had drawn inspiration from it, and he felt responsible and guilty.  He never intended someone to act like that, and never wanted to inspire others in the future to carry out horrible, violent acts.  He explained that when he wrote the book in the 1970’s, it was a different time, and that the book served its purpose in its day, but that times had changed and it did not have a place in modern day, in the way it was intended.

In general, I oppose removing books or ideas from the marketplace, but I guess I kind of get what King did there. If I were in his shoes, I can’t say I would do anything differently.  However, the book still had a place for me in my life, and I still wanted to read it. It’s easy to find a used copy of The Bachman Books online, containing Rage.  My copy arrived today, and since I’ve got a pretty casual weekend ahead, I’ll probably make a good dent in its pages over the next few days.

I’m happy to have the book for myself, but am left wondering. When my kid begins to develop her own reading taste, and starts digging through my books in this new and different era, am I going to let her read it? Or, like Stephen King, will I pull it from the shelf, because it doesn’t have its place in today’s world, like the purpose it had when it was written?


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Summer of Song

My very first concert was Disney at the Hollywood Bowl. I was a kid, it was a fun kid event. Next, my family saw a series of Grateful Dead concerts in Las Vegas. I was in junior high. That went about as well as you would expect, for a junior high kid going to a rock concert with her mom. Meaning: I hated every minute of it. I clearly had no idea how rare of an experience it was for someone of my generation to see the Dead live, but I was in junior high. It is what it is.

I remember the first concert I picked. My friend Karla somehow convinced her dad to take us to see TOOL at the Hollywood Palladium on their Aenima tour in 1998. I didn’t even know much about TOOL at the time, but I was ALL into anything Karla was into, and away we went. I remember that show so vividly. We rushed up at the front, right by the stage. It was booming. I remember seeing 20somethings in leather jackets coming in after the opener, and thinking “You bought tickets for this, why would you miss any of it???” I learned to boo the opener. Maynard had some sort of crazy suit getup at some point. I got kicked in the head by some crowdsurfer’s boot.Camera phones were not around at this point, so sadly, the internet isn’t littered with pictures from the show like they are today.

Jane's Addiction, Stage AE 2015

Jane’s Addiction


The day after the show it hit me like a rock to the chest, I could see my idols in the flesh. Like with most high school kids, i built my identity on my music choices. I was big into Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, Cake, The Offspring, later on Tori Amos. Somehow your music preferences turned into this complex calculation of your social standing in the high school pecking order. Or at least in my mind. In retrospect, it may have all been a massive construction in my mind. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized I could openly listen to Britney Spears and really, no one cared.  But this is all a digression.

Grace Potter & the Noctunals

Grace Potter & the Noctunals


I grew up in Southern California. About 60 miles from Los Angeles. Every tour came through LA, but for me it might as well have been on another planet, because I was broke high school kid. For most of the time I had no way to get to and from LA, and then once I had my own car, I didn’t have enough money to go anyway, so it was irrelevant. My mom’s boyfriend one year did take me to a Jane’s Addiction show, and again, amazing. Mom took me and my friends to Lilith Fair, and my friend drew the logo on my back. I got sunburned, badly, with the outline of a naked woman etched out.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

Pittsburgh is hardly the live music capital of anything.  Plenty of tours come nowhere near here. But when I started college here, some tours DID come through, and in the 15 years I have lived here, I’ve tried to catch every show I can. I devour them.  Maybe I’ve even turned into the leather jacket latecomers, because why would I waste time on an opener? Sometimes it’s a fun night out with friends. Sometimes I go by myself, surrounded by people I ignore as the music throbs.  Bad Religion at Club Laga my freshman year, I just had to walk a few blocks down from the dorms. TOOL again (twice, actually, once at the Civic Arena and once at the Pete). Dave Navarro at Rosebud. Too many Clarks shows to admit to with any dignity. When I studied abroad in Germany– the Rock im Park festival with Placebo, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Marilyn Manson (the most entertaining live music performance). Tori Amos in New York and in LA. Indigo Girls in LA and then in Pittsburgh, twice. The Violent Femmes in LA and Pittsburgh, too (the worst live shows I’ve seen, ever). Jane’s Addiction a couple more times, and then once alongside Nine Inch Nails (my dream concert). Stevie Wonder. Billy Joel. That summer that I had Britney Spears AND Christina Aguilera tickets and then they both cancelled their shows. The Avett Brothers. Death Cab for Cutie, twice (oh, my heart). Arcade Fire. 311. Lady Gaga. Eric Clapton. Fun. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Veruca Salt, twice. The Smashing Pumpkins (at 7 months pregnant). Built to Spill. I have to be forgetting some.

I don't even know who this is, but I was in Austin so I went to the Continental Club, and it was wonderful. Dear lord I love the music of that city.

I don’t even know who this is, but I was in Austin so I went to the Continental Club, and it was wonderful. Dear lord I love the music of that city.


The Avett Brothers

The Avett Brothers


Billy Joel

Billy Joel


I fill my Pittsburgh summers with sound. When I was a kid, I had a friend who moved to Las Vegas, and I asked him what he could possibly like about Las Vegas. “Every concert tour starts or ends here,” he said.  I didn’t get it at the time. I do now.

Eric Clapton and Jakob Dylan

Eric Clapton and Jakob Dylan

There aren’t many concerts here in the cold months. There aren’t many concerts anywhere during the cold months, for that matter. But this summer, I am again filling my months up with song.  Janet Jackson. Weezer. Beyonce (TWICE). Ellie Goulding. Maybe even The Avett Brothers. Oh I am ready for summer.