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NaBloPoMo Day 30: Peace ahhhht

I was just about to go to bed, because it is now 10 pm and I have an 8am flight to catch. I then remembered that it is the LAST DAY of NaBloPoMo and I have yet to post anything today.

SO HERE IT IS.

POST

POST

POST

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snoopy running

That’s how it is done. NaBloPoMo complete.

Now it’s time for some beauty rest.

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NaBloPoMo Day 10: Ten Things I like to Look At on the Internet @carnegielibrary @humansofny @The_Steel_Trap @theskimm @criminellelaw @mistyonpointe @usfws

I am one third of the way through NaBloPoMo, and I haven’t gotten distracted yet! Today I will share with you 5 things I like to look at on the internet. My blog reading has become kind of irregular lately, but there are a few features & blogs I just cant do without. These are my favs:

  1.  The Eleventh Stack— This is the CLPGH blog written by its employees with tons of excellent recommendations about books, movies, and interesting things in Pittsburgh. I can’t get enough of it.  I like that there are enough contributors that the blog doesn’t get stale, but also few enough that you can get an idea of each contributor’s style and preferences.

2.  Humans of New York.  Oh, all of my heartstrings. I think my face is leaking.

3.  Orcs of New York. For when I need a pick-me-up after crying all the way through the HONY site.

4.  The Steel Trap’s First World Problems. So real. So ridiculous. And it’s even more fun when I show my husband the posts and make him guess which first world problem was mine…


5.  The Skimm.  I reluctantly signed up for the Skimm, totally expected to hate it after a week and having to send a million “TAKE ME OFF YOUR MAILING LIST” emails. It sends a daily email newsletter with quick recaps of the biggest news items, with links to more in-depth pieces attached. The style is sassy and entertaining, so it feels more like fun gossip than your dreaded 10th grade current events report.

skimm


6. Criminelle Law.  Her bio description captures it perfectly: Young lawyer navigating and puzzling a general practice firm of middle aged men.   So funny because so true.

7. Unbrave Girl.  Sally is an actual for-real-life friend of Sandy’s.  Sandy introduced me to her blog because she thought I would like it. She was right.  Sally’s way braver than she claims to be, and is totally making solo camping a thing. She makes it look so fun that it makes me *almost* want to camp. Almost. For now I’ll stick to solo-hotel-rooming.

8. Draper James.  I know it’s not a blog, it’s a shop. But this post is things I like to look at on the internet, so it counts. And I CAN’T STOP window shopping Draper James. I grew up in California and have spent the last 15 years in Pennsylvania. I don’t “get” the South at all. BUT THESE CLOTHES. They are so adorable I can’t handle it. I want them all.And I want to hate Reese Witherspoon because I am crazy jealous of her success, BUT THESE CLOTHES, I just can’t.

9.   Misty Copeland’s Instagram.  Misty is absolutely incredible. Full stop.

  10. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Instagram. Simply super cool.  

What have you been looking at and loving lately?

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NaBloPoMo Day 5: Enchiladas with @AlexanderFIV at @AzulBar_Cantina

NaBloPoMo Day 5: Enchiladas with @AlexanderFIV at @AzulBar_Cantina

Mexican food is food worth driving for.  Pittsburgh’s options have developed considerably in the last 10 years, but there is still a paucity of Mexican cuisine here as compared to my So.Cal. hometown. I get by. But good Mexican food is worth the time and effort of a bit of a drive.  So is good company. I would have put the company first in this post, but said company failed to notify me of the massive plant between my teeth in the selfie we took. Hence: Alex gets booted to second place. Also, I crop our faces.

Foodie faces

Azul Bar Y Cantina is in Leetsdale. To get there, you drive up Route 65, and then keep driving and driving and driving. Ok it’s not that far. But it’s beyond the territory where I usually roam for lunch.  Mr. Beez and I visited Azul a few years back (and by a few, I think it was actually before Baby Beez was born, so you know, a few), and just loved it. I’ve been meaning to make my way back there, but it kept getting pushed to the bottom of the priority list, as things do.  But Alex works out in that direction now, so getting lunch together there worked out just perfectly.  If you don’t know Alex already, you should check out his blog: Everybody Loves You. His Mixtape Mondays and Week in Tweets are beyond compare. If you don’t like them, you aren’t human. Or funny.

chips and guac

We started things off with chips & guac & salsa. Everything is freshly made. The chips were hot and crispy and the guacamole was at just the right consistency where it still has a few satisfying chunks of avocado.

Enchiladas

For my entree, I had chicken tinga enchiladas in a verde sauce with black beans and rice. Alex copy-catted me, but that’s OK because he knows I have good taste in Mexican food. Also it’s ok because I usually don’t mind people copy-catting my order, UNLESS YOU ARE MY MOTHER, AND THEN MOM PLEASE FIND SOMETHING ELSE TO ORDER WHY DO YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO ORDER THE SAME THING AS ME?

Everything was delicious. My only regret is that it was lunch time, not happy hour, and therefore I did not get to enjoy Azul’s delicious margaritas.

I know the “happening” dining spots in Pittsburgh are concentrated in the city, but it’s great to venture out once in a while. On my way back in to town, I made quick stops in Sewickley and Ben Avon (more about those later), and couldn’t help but notice how gorgeous the autumn leaves are, and what lovely communities they are up north.

Thanks again for being my Mexican food lunch pal, Alex! We’ll have to do this again soon! And next time, I will floss before we take selfies!


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December in a house of blue, white and silver

We don’t do any of that Elf on the Shelf nonsense. Not because I hate all things fun (which I do), or because I am lazy (which I am), but because I am Jewish. I admittedly grew up as one of those “lucky” kids, because my Dad is Catholic, so I got Hanukkah presents (eight days of socks!) and Christmas presents. Nonethless, I’m still not really into the holidays. I’m not a total Grinch. I love cookies, and I have a proper appreciation of A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, the John Denver with the Muppets Christmas Album and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.” But that’s about as far as it goes. The holidays aren’t really my thing.

When Alex asked if I’d be willing to host the Pittsburgh blogger holiday cookie swap he was arranging, I said “sure!” …mostly because I knew that I would be the beneficiary of additional leftover cookies. But in the day or so before the event, I realized I was an odd selection for host, because literally the only holiday decorations in my house are the Hanukkah gel window stickies I bought my kid at Target to bribe her to act like a somewhat civilized human being.

The cookie swap was this weekend, and it went swimmingly. With all the cookies and joy and fun and sparkling wine, no one even mentioned my lack of decor. Success!

This year is going to be a weird holiday season for us. Due to the aforementioned Catholic dad, I grew up every year having a Christmas tree at his house. During my college and law school years, I did not have any Christmas tree, but I didn’t have anything else either, so I didn’t even notice. When Mr. Beez and I got serious, I expected him to have a Christmas tree. He had no such intention, because although he personally is not Jewish, “we” are Jewish, our (later to come) family would be Jewish, and we have a Jewish house. So no Christmas tree.

We spend Christmas with his parents. They have a tree, and holly decorations and a ham. Santa visits Baby Beez at her Grandma and Poppy’s house. She has a stocking there. But Christmas, really, was his mom’s thing. She did the decorating, the shopping, and a lot of the cooking. She passed away in October. This Christmas is going to be a big change. It’s too much for Baby Beez to lose her Grandma and Santa in one year. I did the shopping (of course, nowhere near as extravagant as when Grandma was in charge). We’re changing up the menu. Instead of ham, we’ll make prime rib for dinner (which is my Dad’s tradition). And on Christmas evening, we’ll hit up the movies and get some Chinese food, as a nod to Jewish tradition.

This afternoon, I got my act together on the one Hanukkah tradition from my childhood that really “makes” the holidays for me. The Hanukkah box. Here’s the idea: when you have Christmas, you have a Christmas tree to put presents under. When you have Hanukkah, you have to put the presents somewhere, so we wrap a box in paper and put them there. It’s the Hanukkah box. Past years, I’ve used the largest cardboard box I can find sitting around. This year, I decided that I’m sick of trying to line the inside of a stupid box with wrapping paper (an obnoxious task), so I wanted to buy a Rubbermaid type box, and wrap it once and use it year after year. We’ll just put it in the garage in the off season. Baby Beez and I also picked up a bunch of overpriced bows at Target to add a little extra flair (seriously, I spent about $40 on bows today. What is wrong with me?)

hanukkah box

Tonight, our Hanukkah box went live. It’s early enough that we can briefly admire it before the holiday starts on Tuesday evening, but it’s not sitting around long enough that its temptation becomes unbearable for the small person. Also, I’m happy to say that in contrast to past years’ too-small boxes, where gifts were spilling over all over the place, this Rubbermaid behemoth was just right.

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Talking blogging and beer with @RedPenMamaPgh

Long ago, well at the beginning of this year at least, I fully intended to do one interview a month on this blog of a blogger I read, but whom I do not know personally. Then work went nuts (as it is apt to do, in the trial lawyering world), and then we bought a house and sold a house, and basically all the time got away from me. Which happens. Life happens. It’s OK.

Many many moons ago, then, I met up with Dawn of Red Pen Mama for lunch and a brew at The Sharp Edge dahntahn. I had been reading her blog for several months, and had exchanged a few tweets with her from time to time, but that was the extent we had really talked. Once she sat down at my table, our conversation was fun and flowing, and totally reaffirmed my intentions behind the interview initiative– basically to break down that wall that communicating through a screen creates, and get to know the person behind the writing.

the Red Pen Mama herself

the Red Pen Mama herself


I felt a connection with Dawn because we both blog about our families, but we don’t fit within the usual stereotype of “mommybloggers,” also, we’re both working moms in Pittsburgh, and are both (in differing roles) professional writers. Actually, we are both writers in rather specialized fields. (After all, “Red Pen Mama” is a hat tip to her red editor’s pen, and role as a parent.) All of these similarities were good for getting the ball rolling.

We spent most of our lunch talking about the history and the future of blogging. I asked her if she thought blogging is dead, and if online communication will be relegated to tweets and status updates. She disagreed, and pointed out all the forms in which longer-form communication is alive and well. Blogging may not always be blogging in the same sense we see it now, but she doesn’t see the storytelling power that goes along with blogging disappearing anytime soon.

Our conversation also wandered to the topic of paid and sponsored content. Neither Dawn nor I do sponsored posts on our blogs, but rather our careers and income are closely related to writing. Dawn’s reason for not doing sponsored blog content– the blog is her space to tell her story, on her terms. This resonated with me, as I too use my blog as my opportunity to do the writing that I want to do.

Red Pen Mama explores parenting, responsibility, relationships and life in Pittsburgh. Her writing is approachable, and she is super friendly in real life, to boot. This week on her blog, she included a heartbreaking (but also heartwarming) anecdote that is really a must read. And of course, if you run into Dawn at the next PodCamp or TweetUp or what have you, make sure to say hello!