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@umi_Pittsburgh Birthday Times

Yesterday was Mr. Beez’s birthday, and birthday means birthday dinner.  His pick was Umi, which if you are not already in the know, is the absolute best sushi restaurant– if not absolute best restaurant all around– in Pittsburgh.  I don’t know what to say about Umi, other than the food is absolutely beautiful and the service impeccable. That place is the best.

Mr. Beez’s birthday wish was to eat ALL THE ROCK SHRIMP TEMPURA.  Ok, we didn’t eat all of it, but we ordered it twice.  This is no ordinary tempura.  The batter coating is a little thicker than usual tempura, and the sauce is ever so spicy. There’s some substance to the shrimp, they are a little meatier than usual shrimp.  If you try it, it will be easy to understand why Mr. Beez loves it so much.

Umi Rock Shrimp Tempura

I do love that dish, but my absolute favorite is the miso blackened cod. It’s so buttery, with a touch of umami taste, and the texture is so tender.  The miso blackened cod is absolutely the most perfect dish ever.  Of course, we ate it twice.

Umi Miso Blackened Cod

Oh that dinner. I can’t even.


This dinner and my meal at Jaleo were the only detours from my vegan trajectory as of late.  I’ve been doing a lot more cooking, and Mr. Beez got me a whole stack of amazing vegan cookbooks for Mother’s Day.  You can expect some upcoming posts about the delicious and unexpected things I’ve been whipping up in the kitchen (with the assistance of the wisdom of Isa Chandra Moskowitz). We’ve been eating very well in this family lately.

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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.”
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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

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Now we are Four.

Now we are Four.

A while back I was fretting over Baby Beez’ 4th birthday, not sure of how to celebrate it, or how big or how small, or if we pushed Baby Beez toward no party would she grow up resenting us for her party-free years? #1stWorldProblems

In the end, we decided to let her take the lead. If she asked for a party, she could have a party. If she didn’t ask, we’d just put together some special activities for her. Over the last month, whenever she talked about her birthday, the only thing she cared about was cake. Cake cake cake cake cake. I figured  that as long as we get her a cake, we’re golden. And it turns out, it all worked just fine.

Elsa and Anna Cake

We started Baby Beez’ birthday weekend off with a sleepover with her friend Elena. Because I was entertaining 4 year olds and not, say, me, this meant that I made a dinner of hot dogs and corn on the cob, and it was a HIT. Also, easy, and all things I had in the house already. We also enjoyed a very tasty birthday cake from Bella Christies. Elsa and Anna = big hit.

Birthday Cake

Elsa and Anna Cake

Elsa and Anna Cake

After cake, of course, we watched Frozen. The girls sang along and acted out the whole movie. I had to negotiate a couple of disputes, such as advising them that they can BOTH be Elsa, and everything will still be OK.

After the movie, because birthdays mean sugar sugar sugar sugar, we made ice cream sundaes. The girls had fun with the arts and crafts aspects of putting them together, but they apparently aren’t as insane-in-the-brain over ice cream sundaes as I am, because they ate a few bites and declared they were done. Because they are reasonable, healthy children. And I am a sugar-crazed lunatic.

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ice cream

Ice Cream

A 4 year old sleepover is much different than a teenager sleepover, because once I bundled these two up and read them a story, the were out. They did wake up at 5am, scared from the thunderstorm, but I put Disney Jr on for them and dozed back off on the couch. This morning was full of chocolate chip pancakes. All things good.

We planned to continue Baby Beez’ birthday weekend with a trip to the Renaissance Faire, but it was rainy and gross out today. This would have meant trudging through the mud, and getting soggy and miserable, so we ditched that plan. Instead we took her to see How to Train Your Dragon 2 at the movies and afterward, came back to the house for leisurely afternoon naps. Such a birthday win.

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Happy Birthday to Me and 32 Before 32 Roll Out

Happy Birthday to Me and 32 Before 32 Roll Out

Good morning all and happy birthday to me!  I was greeted with a birthday card and birthday smooch from my husband this morning.  Baby Beez kept asking about cake, but I did coax her into singing “Happy Birthday to Mommy!”  And yes, I’ll be stopping at Prantl’s to pick up a cake to share with the fam.

I’ve been getting so many warm birthday wishes this morning, it is just wonderful.  My celebrations today will be low-key.  I have work today, but it’s luckily a dull roar of chaos, instead of its usual complete deafening roar of chaos.  We celebrated yesterday with fancy brunch with friends at Eleven, and will be celebrating again next week with buffet dinner at Taj Mahal.  Food food food. Now that’s my kind of party.

In celebration of this new year, I’ve rolled out my 32 before 32 list! I was so excited to get started that I even put together a crock-pot dinner for tonight (beef stew!)  Please do share your crock pot favorites with me!

And in the spirit of Item No. 30, my Healthy Living goal this week is to TRACK ALL MY FOOD in Weight Watchers. All of it. Not just the food I eat before lunch, but all the food I eat, all day. Even if it means I blow the points out of the water.  I’ll let you know next week how it went!

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Super Saturday: Smashed Taters, Partying with a Heartbreaker and Losing Myself in a Book

Super Saturday: Smashed Taters, Partying with a Heartbreaker and Losing Myself in a Book

Oh boy, we had such a nice Saturday today. An extraordinarily nice Saturday. And we didn’t even make it down to see THE DUCK yet, although that is on the agenda for tomorrow, once I cross the finish line for the Great Race.

Last night I finished Helen Bryan’s The Sisterhood, which I didn’t really like, but it wasn’t bad enough to totally ditch. I didn’t realize that I didn’t much care for it until about halfway through, and by that point I was already halfway through, so I decided to stick it out to the end. Which I did. And it was nice to just be done with it and move on to something new. So I started Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple.

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Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle–and people in general–has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence–creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

I had an inkling I would like it because it kept coming up as “recommended” on Amazon, Goodreads, all kinds of things. I cracked into it, and I loved it. It was one of those rare books that I just wanted to clear out my whole schedule and sit down and read. Semple’s got solid skills at writing light, fun banter. All the characters are completely batshit crazy, but in a super fun way. The whole plot is ridiculous and implausible, but Semple pulls it off in a way that’s funny and kept me wanting to see what would happen next. I stayed up late last night to read it, and finished the rest of it this afternoon. It was simply great.

This morning, after Baby Beez’ ballet class, we went to the Quiet Storm for our farewell visit. We went there with friends for brunch a few weeks back, only to find that the items Mr. Beez and I loved most and craved weren’t on the menu for brunch. So it was necessary to return to get those dishes as our formal farewell. So today, I got my ultimate comfort food: The QS Home Fries.

QS Home Fries

Smashed taters, soysage, tofu (or eggs, your choice), cheese (or vegan cheez) roasted veggies, pickled onions and garlic aioli. Heaven. And I ate the whole thing. Stuffed. Word on the street is that QS has teamed up with Ava lounge to keep both projects open at a North Oakland location. I hope it works out, because my life will be sadder without those QS Home Fries.

After brunch, we celebrated the First Birthday of Judah K, our favorite little heartbreaker! Judah’s such a sweet little guy and his parents are such wonderful people. Judah was born with a congenital heart defect called truncus arteriosis. He has been through several heart surgeries and rough patches and successes. We were so thrilled to get to celebrate the amazing milestone of his first birthday with his family. The party was at the Children’s Home and was partially a fundraiser for the organization/facility, and it was great to learn about all the amazing work the Children’s Home is doing. In addition to doing arts & crafts, eating like 50 cookies, and playing with kids, Baby Beez got a chance to play out on the Children’s Home’s wonderful playground.

Gettin' Crafty

Gettin’ Crafty

As the party went on into that time of day designated as “nap zone,” Baby Beez got progressively wonkier. At one point, some boys a little older than her were roughhousing (not being bad, just being typical over-sugared 4 year old boys) and Baby Beez ran up to me, demanding that I join in the roughhousing:
BB: MOM! HIT THEM!!”
Me: (shocked, kind of embarrassed) No! I can’t hit them!
BB: Can I hit them?
Me: Uh, no.
BB: Can I kick them?
Me: Um, no. How about you color?

It doesn’t look nearly as funny in print now, but believe me, it was funny at the time. And then Baby Beez continued to get ridiculously tired, tried to lick the bathroom door, and I knew it was definitely time. to. go. home.

So we went home and everyone took a 4 hour nap. And it was amazing.

Tonight it’s movies, magazines, a glass of wine and a lot lot lot of water. Tomorrow is The Great Race. Wish me luck!