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.  


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.


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.


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.


Fall Happenings with the Beez Family and @412FoodRescue @WGMarathon @PittPanthers @WigleWhiskey

Fall Happenings with the Beez Family and @412FoodRescue @WGMarathon @PittPanthers @WigleWhiskey

Ahhh fall! It is my favorite season of the year! Pittsburgh is absolutely gorgeous in Fall– well it was gorgeous this weekend. Now the skies are gray and threatening rain, so I’ll be cuddling up with a cup of coffee and hoping the crisp sunshine returns soon.

I’ve been reading about the great work that 412 Food Rescue has been doing to reduce food waste and hunger in one fell swoop, by connecting those with surplus food with those without enough, and by using a volunteer network to transport that food from one place to another. I also like the opportunities that 412 Food Rescue provides for those of us who have inconsistent schedules.  I want to contribute to my community, but my schedule does not often lend to commitments planned far in advance or at regular intervals.  412 Food Rescue posts their volunteer requests on their facebook page (and soon, through their new app) and anyone who is available can help out.


Last week we were out and about, when 412 Food Rescue posted they needed someone to do a quick pickup in the South Side and drop-off in Uptown.  We were in the right area at the right time and had a few minutes to spare, so Baby Beez and I volunteered for the task.


We picked up 7 cases of fresh orange slices from the Pittsburgh Public School’s central kitchen and delivered them to Jubilee Kitchen.  Baby Beez helped with the carrying, and as we delivered the oranges to Jubilee Kitchen, she wished the clients a cheerful “Enjoy your oranges!!”  This provided a great opportunity for us to talk about food insecurity and food waste in a way that was meaningful and clear to a 5 year old, and was especially meaningful just a few days after Yom Kippur, in a season when we should be thinking of improving the world.

412 Food Rescue

If you are hungry for an opportunity to contribute in a way where your dollars “hit the ground running” so to speak, 412 Food Rescue’s Taco Tuesday fundraiser is tonight. There will be tacos (AND WHO DOES NOT LIKE TACOS?) and an opportunity to learn about the organization, mix and mingle with the leaders and volunteers and an opportunity to preview their new app.

In other fall happenings, I am very much looking forward to a solo-road trip this weekend. I’m going to be heading up to Corning, New York for the Wineglass Half Marathon on Sunday in the Finger Lakes. I have loaded my phone full of audiobooks and I’m very excited to have a couple days to just relax. I suppose I am an introvert, because a little time by myself really does leave me feeling refreshed. You don’t have any idea how much I am looking forward to laying in bed, reading, maybe painting my nails, getting a spaghetti dinner by myself, and going to bed at like 7pm.


Baby Beez was disappointed that I did not bring her home a medal from this weekend’s Pittsburgh Great Race (they do not give finishers medals, which makes complete sense for a 10k), but I told her about the gorgeous glass medal they give finishers at the Wineglass Half and she became very excited for this weekend’s race.

On October 10, I’ll be taking Baby Beez to her first Pitt Football homecoming game! This kid LOVES Pitt! There aren’t many words she knows how to read yet, but Pitt is definitely one of them. She has even announced that she plans to be a Pitt Cheerleader. While cheerleading is (to put it mildly) not really my thing, at least she has her sights set on Pitt. Can’t wait for the game! H2P!!!

Read her second word today! "P-I-T-T….mommy it's your school!!"

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And fall would not be complete without APPLES!  I could really go for apple crisp this morning, to tell you the truth. But apple whiskey would also do the trick! I’m excited for the Wigle Whiskey Apple Whiskey festival coming up later this month, on October 17 and 18.  The celebration is taking place at both their Strip District Distillery and the Wigle Barrelhouse in Spring Hill. It is family friendly, and will include bobbing for apples, live music and whiskey samples for the 21+ crowd. Yes, PLEASE!

Walkabout Promo

Thanks to everyone who has been reading! My posting has slowed a bit lately (that’s what happens when you go on a manic reading kick, and spend all your time taking words in, instead of writing them out!), and it’s great to have dedicated and enthusiastic readers! If you aren’t already doing so, please follow me on Instagram and Twitter, to carry on about ADVENTURES IN PITTSBURGH!


As Little Peanut turns into Bigger Peanut.

As Little Peanut turns into Bigger Peanut.

Today is Baby Beez’s 5th Birthday. We had a good day, which involved breakfast at Dunkin Donuts and a trip to the playground.

I kind of feel like a CHAMP because we all made it to age 5 intact.  Raising a kid is a bumpy road, but I think we’ve done OK. Even though she can be kind of a MANIAC sometimes, she’s all-around a good, intelligent, sweet and witty kid.  Here are some of her “greatest hits.”





We are so incredibly blessed with this little peanut. She’s smart, she’s healthy, she’s an all around good kid. I can never claim to be a perfect parent, but Mr. Beez and I do the best we can.

I’m not one of those parents that gets weepy as my kid gets older. Every new day and new milestone brings me joy.  I love how she gets bigger, and we can do new fun things together.  To celebrate her 5th birthday, she and I made Rice Krispie Treats together to bring to her class. I’m not really the kid-activities type, and I love it as she gets bigger and we can do more things together that I like to do.  Next up on the horizon– roller skating, pottery painting, glassblowing, paintballing, WHO KNOWS?

Happy birthday, peanut. Here’s to many more! xoxoxo


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.



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.”



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.



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.


100 Medals.

100 Medals.

Running is kind of my thing. I’m not great at it, but I can accomplish it without embarrassing myself too badly. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. I ran 2 marathons about 10 years ago. I burned out on running for a while. Then I started running again. Then I had a kid. Then I didn’t run for a while. Now for the last 2 years or so, I’ve been back in the swing of it.

before running ATM

I like 10 mile races and half marathons. They’re long enough that I do have to train, but short enough that training doesn’t hijack my life. They get me to travel to neat places. They help me burn off the angry.

Baby Beez appropriates my medals. I’m happy to let her have them. I love teaching her that her mom has been strong and has worked for something that is hard.

This week, she earned her first medal of her own. She participated in a kid’s basketball class, and at the end of the session, she got her very own medal.

A medal for a job well done

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This morning, we were talking about the races I’m running this week. I told her I’m running a 10k and a Half Marathon, and I’m going to be getting a total of THREE medals. She was thrilled. She loves these medals. Jumping up and down, she exclaimed “WE’RE GONNA GET 100 MEDALS.”

I’ve been thinking about it all day. 100 Medals. Why don’t we earn 100 medals?

My girl and I, we’re going to earn 100 medals. They don’t all have to be running. They can be from other sports events. But we’re going to be strong and be healthy and earn those medals. I don’t know what we’ll do with them once we have them. But we’ll have them. With the races I’ve done, we’ve got a good start. We don’t have any deadline. But we’re going to do it. I’ve set up a photo album through Facebook, so you can watch our progress.

We’re going to earn 100 medals.