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V-Day Miscellany

Happy Valentine’s day! Or as I like to think of it: Happy Chocolate-Has-No-WW-Points day! In the Beez family, we are celebrating the holiday with take-out from Szmidt’s, because nothing says LOVE like lovingly made sandwiches and pierogies. For serious, I am looking forward to dinner tonight big time.

Last week I failed to make a crock pot meal, so I did two this week. The first was Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore from Skinnytaste. I dumped a bunch of dried red pepper flakes in there, which made the dish even more appealing to Mr. Beez. It was too spicy for me, but I evened that out with a hearty dollop of sour cream. On the whole this recipe rated “Good,” meaning I’ll keep it handy as something to make now and then and mix up the variety, but it hasn’t been one of our absolute favorites.

Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore

The second crock pot meal was Slow Cooker Loaded Potato Soup from Baked by Rachel. This recipe was supremely easy, and Mr. Beez declared it to be “amazing.” I don’t think he’s ever called anything I’ve made “amazing” before. Not even our kid. He was all sheepish about wanting to eat all the soup, and I was like “listen, it takes like 2 minutes to throw together, and I have all the ingredients to make another pot. Chow down.” Needless to say, this recipe is going to stay in heavy rotation, especially with all these polar vortices we keep having.

Slow Cooker Fully Loaded Potato Soup

Am I the only one who thinks today for whatever reason is a perfect day for ROD STEWART ALL DAY LONG?

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Number 9 in 10 to 10

From ye olde blog archives

Proposal Story for Those (if any) Who Are Interested

February 15, 2008

Mike and I have been talking about getting married and actually making pretty solid wedding plans for quite some time.  I just had to keep my mouth shut until he did the actual proposal.  Keeping my mouth shut is VERY HARD FOR ME.  I sort of subjected him to constant harassment in the form of “So when’s it gonna be? Huh? Huh? Huh?” Poor boy.

So he told me he was NOT proposing on Valentine’s Day.  I believed him, because there had been times in the past when he said “I am NOT going to propose on X day” and X day would come and go, and I’d be all sad because I thought he was saying he was NOT going to propose because he really WAS going to propose on X day.  So after going through that a few times, I learned a lesson to believe him when he said he was NOT going to propose. And then, in a clever maneuver of psychology, this time he said he was NOT going to propose on Valentine’s day, and then he DID propose on Valentine’s Day.

It was near the end of the workday when the receptionist came in to my office and said flowers were delivered for me. I, being a total brat, was like “Damn RIGHT he sent me flowers! This is Valentine’s Day! Bring on the flowers!” (I am a jerk)  Unbeknownst to me, Mike was actually in the office, hiding in the receptionist area.  He then popped into my office, and I was all surprised and happy.  Him just showing up was exciting for me.  He then gave me a present from his parents (a cute bear in a giant coffee cup).  Then he gave me a little box of chocolates, with no hazelnut filled chocolates (I hate hazelnut).  Then he gave me a card.  The card has a male and female blow up doll on it, with the male blow up doll proposing to the female one (who looks disapproving), and the card says “It’s the thought that counts, Unfortunately, Vince was thinking cubic zirconia”  So as I’m reading the card and smirking, he says “Do you know how much I love you?” And I’m like “VERY VERY MUCH” and then he got down on one knee and said “I love you so much that I want us to be a family”.  Of course I was all shaking and grinning and silly.

Then, because I’m classy, I leaned back in my chair and yelled down the hall to a secretary, “HEY TERRI! GUESS WHAT MIKE JUST GAVE ME!!!”
And because I work in an office full of women, there was lots of shrieking and oohing and ahhhing and so forth.  And then the boss let me go home early. Hooray!!

As we were leaving I tried to call our families.  I got to talk to Mike’s parents and my grandparents, but no one else in my family would answer their f$%$%^& phones.  I finally got through to my brother, but I didn’t get to speak with my mom or dad until after dinner.  (We went to Bona Terra– easily my favorite restaurant in the ‘burgh– and had a delicious meal with entirely too much wine.  I’m hurting a bit today).  Mike had spoken with both of my parents in the last few days to get their blessings, and my dad was especially happy about that.  My mom burst out into tears when I told her that we had already spoken with my Rabbi here, and yes, he would do the wedding, and yes we are having a Jewish (well, interfaith Jewish) wedding.  She was bawling.  I think that was her favorite part.

So yeah, it was a pretty damn good Valentine’s Day.  I’m really excited about going home for the weekend now, because it means that I can finally talk about all this stuff with my Mom.  It’s been killing me to have to keep it all secret from her.

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Holiday Happenings at the BeezusKiddo Homefront

I hope yinz have been having a lovely holiday season and eating lots of cookies. If you’ve failed to properly do the latter, believe me, I’ve made up for you.  This holiday season has been surprisingly balanced in BeezusKiddo world.  I have two big filings left in the next couple weeks.  Both are in good shape and there have been few work emergencies, so I have been able to spend a little more time with the fam and a little less time on the computer.  My mom and stepdad are in town until Saturday, and they’ve been having plenty of fun hanging out with Baby Beez.  Since I have work mostly squared away, this afternoon we’re all going to check out the holiday show at the Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum.

My mom’s assistance with childcare has allowed me to go yoga crazy this week.  I didn’t make it to class on Christmas day, but I worked it in the hot room Saturday through Tuesday, yesterday, and plan to continue going today and tomorrow.  The bikram workout has gone from being hard to feeling good. Each day my poses are a little steadier, and I can sink a little deeper in the stretch.

I haven’t forgotten my 32 before 32 resolution of a crock pot meal each week. Last week’s meal was extremely simple and extremely Pittsburgh:

IMG_3805

Throw all these things in a crock pot. Cook all day. Serve with mashed potatoes. Also an Ahrn City, if you’ve got one.

Earlier in the month, I took the Feast of the Seven Fishes cooking class at Chop Wok & Talk with my friend Christine. My dad’s side of the family is all Italian Catholic, but I’ve never actually had a Feast of the Seven Fishes for Christmas Eve. Left to me, it would be seven shapes of fish sticks.  This class made preparing the meal extremely accessible, and the food was all very delicious.  I especially liked that the teacher gave us a guide for breaking down the shopping and preparation over several days prior to the meal, so that on the day-of you spend minimal time in the kitchen, and a maximum amount of time visiting with family and friends.

Fried Smelts

Fried Smelts

Fritto Misto and Smelts

Fritto Misto and Smelts

Salmon Alfredo

Salmon Alfredo

Stuffing the sole with citrus and fennel

Stuffing the sole with citrus and fennel

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Citrus and Fennel Stuffed Sole

Citrus and Fennel Stuffed Sole

Stuffed Calimari

Stuffed Calimari

Frying the struffoli

Frying the struffoli

Struffoli

Struffoli

Given the chance to make this on my own, I’d make some tweaks to the menu and give it a little Latin flair, by serving ceviche and paella. But even as the class was structured, it was a great introduction to the tradition. Once we’re in a house with a larger kitchen or entertaining area, I would love to host a Feast on Christmas Eve.

Our family is Jewish and we celebrated Chanukah several weeks ago.  Mr. Beez’ family, however, is Catholic, and we shared Christmas with them.  Santa very generously visited Baby Beez this year, even in spite of her less-than stellar behavior as of late.

OMG CHRISTMAS


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Acts of Kindness and Keeping Warm with the @GLCCPgh

It was sweet to see all the random acts of kindness popping up around Facebook on “Random Acts of Kindness Day” a few weeks back.  We shared cheer, fostered a sense of community and showed our children the importance of being kind to others.

We need to remember to continue these acts of kindness throughout our community.  Often, the person who most desperately needs your help won’t be in line behind you at the Starbucks.  It’s too easy to fall into an “us and them” mindset–buying toys for “those kids in need,” or donating food for “the hungry.”  The help is good intentioned and absolutely appreciated, but I urge and I challenge you to remember and teach others that the people who need help are part of the “us.” There is no “them.”

The people who are hungry are part of our community.

The people who are cold are part of our community.

The children who wouldn’t otherwise have toys to unwrap are part of our community.

We are all Pittsburgh together.  And it is our responsibility to help our friends, our family, our community out.

Blankets for the @GLCCPgh

Our community is cold– the Gay and Lesbian Community Center has been providing blankets and coats to keep people warm, but there haven’t been enough donations to keep up with the need.  Stop by Burlington or TJ Maxx or what have you and pick up a coat or a blanket. You can get an absolutely warm and luxurious blanket for under $15. Heck, if you can’t make your way downtown to drop it off, their office is right across the street from mine. I’m happy to pick up blankets from you and drop them off.

Our community is hungryPittsburgh area food pantries have reached emergency levels. When you stop at the grocery store next time, pick up some extra items to contribute.  Get good food, healthy food, the kind of foods we stock in our own pantries and serve to our friends. Because we are all friends.

There are opportunities for giving all around. Care for your neighbors. If you can only give a little, give a little. If you can give more, give more. And if you need help, it is our responsibility as Pittsburghers to step up to the plate and help you out.

Don’t settle with your acts of kindness being random.

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Holiday Food Fight

Holiday Food Fight

Last Sunday I had a day of gluttony of such epic proportions that it warrants two blog posts (neither of which I have gotten around to writing).  In response, I decided that my healthy decision for the week would be to track everything in WW and for the remainder of the week, if I wanted to eat anything beyond my daily points, I had to earn those points through exercise (basically, I counted Sunday as using all my flex points). It was a hard week, but I did pretty well.  Then Saturday happened. Saturday was certainly not as crazy unhinged as it would have been in my life before WW, but it was definitely not within my daily points.  I had a fun evening out with my friend Regina– we went to two holiday parties and had crazy good tacos at Yo Rita! Also there was a ridiculous food adventure described below. This is a very long way of saying that I decided I’m not going to my usual WW meeting this morning but I will be going to a meeting on Thursday, and am writing this blog post to assuage my guilt. I worked hard at WW all week and don’t want to make myself feel bad with a not-good weigh in, in part due to timing. That’s legit, right?

So last night, Mr. Beez went to separate holiday parties for the evening. We managed to get home around the same time. Gripped by the impulse to do something late-night and ridiculous that only comes with having your kid spending the night at her grandparents, I whispered to him:

“Can I ask you to take me somewhere I have never asked any man to take me before?”

Mr. Beez: “Ummmm….?”

Me: “LET’S GO TO RITTER’S!”

Mr. Beez: “Why?”

Ritter's Diner

Ritter’s is a Pittsburgh-infamous diner that has been around since the beginning of time. it’s the kind of place that college kids love after a long night of drinking, or old yinzers have been visiting since forever and swear by.  Our waitress had no teeth. There was a large man wearing a tuxedo, chowing down on eggs. There was one very old and angry waitress stomping around in a Santa hat. All the staff were wearing scrubs.  Ritter’s is a perfect combination of grease, salt, carbs and fat to fill your belly after a long evening of consuming mind-altering substances.  Mr. Beez and I were completely sober, so could not entirely appreciate that angle of the diner.

Ritter's Hobo Omelette

Mr. Beez ordered a egg and cheese sandwich and fries. They forgot the cheese in his sandwich, but it was not worth the hassle to bring that up.  I got the hobo omelette, which is basically a gyro in an omelette. This is what it looked like.  It tasted pretty much how it looks, which is a way of saying that Ritter’s is not an establishment that prides itself on sophisticated tastes or techniques.

Ritter’s is what it is. I was excited to visit it for its novelty. Ritter’s will forever have a place in Pittsburghers’ hearts for late-night drunk grub. I, however, have seen what it’s about, can check it off my list of “Pittsburgh places to experience” and instead devote my greasy-spoon diner cravings to my favorite establishment in Pittsburgh:  DeLuca’s. Also, If you’re downtown and craving diner food, Hanlon’s is also fantastic. Neither of these establishments leave you with the grease hangover I am now experiencing. A side effect of eating a Hobo Omelette is apparently that you feel like a hobo the next day.