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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.

YOU GUYS I FINALLY GOT AROUND TO IT.

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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.”

Mixing

Mixing


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.

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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.

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St Pat’s

Today is St. Patrick’s day (celebrated), and our neighborhood is overrun by drunks. I’ve done my best to avoid going anywhere in Mt. Washington, and have stayed out of the South Side and downtown entirely. I’m not anti-beer and nonsense, far from it really, but I’m definitely anti large crowds of drunk, obnoxious people. Well, anti large crowds of people at all, and then when you add alcohol into the mix, forgeeeeet about it. Instead of guzzling green beer today, I took Baby Beez to ballet class, took a nap on the couch, ran out to fill the growlers at Hough’s for some at-home beer enjoyment tonight (Hough’s was surprisingly chill at the time), and then we went out with some folks from my husband’s work for bowling. It’s been a pretty laid back day, and that’s ok.

Even before dealing with people staggering oblivious into the middle of Shiloh Street, I’ve never been much for St. Patrick’s Day. When I was a kid, I flat out loathed it. Where I grew up in CA, they had this absolutely horrid “tradition” that if you weren’t wearing green on St. Patrick’s day, you’d get pinched, but if you were wrongfully pinched, you could punch the pincher. I didn’t like people telling me what color to wear, I don’t like my personal space invaded, and even with the promise of retribution against wrongful pinches, I just wanted to be LEFT ALONE. So no, St. Pat’s was not my jam. I hear that no one in Pittsburgh has that stupid tradition, it must be some weird California thing. In any event, I’m glad for that, because it quite literally is the. worst.

I had a brief stint in college when I did love St. Pat’s day. That was entirely because St. Pat’s day was about beer, and I was in college and wooooo beer! woooo crazy! This was also the same time of my life that I had a betta fish named Midori, because everyone seems to go through a phase in their early 20s where naming a pet after alcohol seems like a brilliant idea. Fish don’t live long, so I wasn’t stuck with that mistake for all that long, but I feel reeeeeal bad for anyone who ended up acquiring a parrot named Captain Morgan during that life phase.

Now I’m back to hating St. Pats, but really because it’s amateur hour at all the local bars, and people driving all stupid. Also, I occasionally get dragged by my husband to the parade, but the weather is inevitably bad, and I go because I feel like I owe it to him after dragging him to so many events, but I hate all the standing, and the cold, and the damp, and the drunks. It was raining this year and Mr. Beez decided not to go, and omg that was a beautiful thing.

So now here we are, on the evening of St. Patrick’s day (celebrated). Mr. Beez and I are sipping some lovely beers and watching Foxcatcher. I’ve wanted to see this movie for ages, so I am very happy about it. In one little glimmer of celebratory spirit, we popped into the Grandview Bakery tonight and got ourselves some Irish potatoes.

Irish Potatoes

They look totally gross, but they are delicious. They are these cream cheese coconut candies, rolled in cinnamon. Deeeelicious. Now if St. Patrick’s day were all about these, I might be able to get into the holiday.

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A Holiday Break of Sorts and final countdown to my @CMNHospitals goal for @RunDisney

A Holiday Break of Sorts and final countdown to my @CMNHospitals goal for @RunDisney

January 2 is my deadline for my Children’s Miracle Network fundraising goal for the 2015 RunDisney Glass Slipper Challenge! I’ve raised over $1,050 toward the $1,200 goal…ONLY $150 TO GO! CLICK ANYWHERE ON THIS PARAGRAPH TO GO TO MY FUNDRAISING PAGE!  Help me cross the finish line!!! PS– if you sponsor me, I’ll put your name on my running pance for the half marathon princess run! Yinz are absolutely the best, for SRS.

Despite my complaints that real grown-up life no longer has a winter break, things have been noticeably quieter around these parts for the last week. I’ve spent a fair amount of time hanging out with family, reading books, and best of all napping. SO many naps. It’s been lovely. You’d think I’ve had used this time to finally get together our belated Holiday letter…but it’s already late, so what’s a few more days later, when I can use this time for glorious glorious naps instead.

We wound up last week’s Toronto trip with a stop at Mystic Muffin. It’s a local favorite, known for its friendly owner, Elias, and the amazing apple cake he bakes. It was such a laid back, cool place. We had a great time chatting with Elias about how he came from Lebanon as a refugee and ultimately settled down in Canada, and about his sweet little daughter. The breakfast bagels were great and the buttery, sweet apple cake did not disappoint. This place was the best.

Mystic Muffin

#1 Apple Cake Fan

#1 Apple Cake Fan


On the long drive home, we listened to Serial (LOVE IT) and made a couple quick stops at wineries in Niagara-On-the-Lake. I did my best to keep Baby Beez occupied with my phone as we sampled a few wines and stocked up for the long, cold winter ahead.

I found about 300 of these on my phone by the end of the afternoon.

I found about 300 of these on my phone by the end of the afternoon.


We stopped first at Caroline Cellars, a homey and friendly favorite, to pick up some of their French Revolution marechal foch blend. Our second stop was Stratus, which has a cool modern vibe, and easily the most gorgeous tasting room I’ve eve seen. Our third and final stop was Jackson-Triggs which easily won me over as my favorite of the trip with its selection of multiple kinds of bubbly, both white and red.Jackson-Triggs

My mom came in to visit the day after we returned from our trip, and it’s been a laid back Christmas season. Baby Beez enjoyed ripping into the remainder of her Hanukkah presents and getting to show her grandma how she lights the Hanukkah candles.

Hanukkah Box

Since Mr. Beez’ family is Catholic, we spend Christmas at their house, and Santa even visits Baby Beez there. So basically, she’s the most spoiled kid ever. This was the first Christmas since Mr. Beez’ mother passed away, so the whole thing was a bit different and sad. Grandma was always in charge of Santa’s complete disregard for limits when it came to presents, and since I took over the Santa responsibilities, this year was more modest. I can’t say Baby Beez noticed the difference though. She did get her GoGo Pet pup, and was THRILLED.

Gogo Pup

Baby Beez

We continued the holiday spirit on Friday with a visit to the Nutcracker. On the way there, Baby Beez told us all the story of the Nutcracker. Her ballet teacher had been talking about it with the class, but I suspect Baby Beez added her own interpretation. According to her, in the Nutcracker: “The girl throws her shoe and kills the mices and then the Nutcracker grows and kills them with its butt, and then they get married.”

The Nutcracker

We also went to see Annie over the weekend. We intended to see it on Christmas, but with our foo comas and multiple naps, we decided to skip it for the time being. Instead we went this weekend. It was absolutely fantastic. The music is just as fun and catchy as the original movie (and play) with a modern twist to it. Baby Beez sang the songs nonstop afterward, and it was nice for her to be singing something that (for once) does not get on my nerves.

ANNIE

Let me tell ya, IT’S A HARD KNOCK LIFE, YINZ. Especially if you are 4. She looks all cute and cheerful in those pictures, but she’s been ridiculously difficult over the last couple of days. Even at the movies, where she is usually very well behaved, she was kind of a nightmare. Maybe it was lack of sleep, maybe it’s just a change in schedule, maybe it’s the lack of outdoor time. Who knows. But I’m ready to get back in our normal routine.

So that’s all for now yinz. Back in the office tomorrow, but luckily the courts aren’t chomping at the bit to get back to work, so it should be pretty easy going for the next week or so. Hope yinz all had a lovely holiday and are gearing up for a fun New Year!


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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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BeezusKiddo Holiday Gift Guide, Vol. 2: BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS! w @JJHENSLEY @YaJagoff @RachelBlaufeld and @JonathanAuxier

In my ideal, timely world, this post would have gone up the day before Thanksgiving. But life and such got in the way, so here we are a few days later. But hey, it’s still SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY, and authors are small businesses, so you can still get in your online order to sneak a local author’s book into your bookworm’s stocking this year. (Pssst- Click on the images of the books below to be directed to their sale sites.)

I am a HUGE fan of dark but fun kids literature, thinking Roald Dahl, Lemony Snicket, JK Rowling, etc. I saw Jonathan Auxier speak at a Creative Mornings Pittsburgh breakfast and immediately snapped up his books. They’re both imaginative, fun and a little spooky. My favorite of the two is Peter Nimble, and I’m looking forward to reading it together with Baby Beez when she’s a little older. (I guess we could read it together now, but I don’t have the patience to read anything longer than a picture book with that small maniac right now.)

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If a thrilling mystery is more up your alley, check out JJ Hensley’s Pittsburgh-centric suspense novels Resolve (a murder mystery set within the Pittsburgh Marathon) and the newly-published Measure Twice.

Resolve

If you have a romance reader on your shopping list, support Pittsburgh’s queen of all things sultry and steamy- Rachel Blaufeld. Rachel has published 2 books so far in her Electric Tunnel series, with more shortly to come!

Electrified

smoldered

And last on my list today is the upcoming debut of Ya Jagoff! blogger John Chamberlin into the print world! Ya Jagoff! promises to be a fun collection of pieces about the joy and craziness of our town!

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Did you #ShopSmall today? My day was spent mostly on an outing to the zoo and a long and much-needed nap afterward, but I did squeeze in a visit to a local coffee shop and bakery. Even though Small Business Saturday has come to a close, I’ve still got quite a shopping list of goodies from local artists and businesses to pick up. I’m doing my best to keep it local this holiday season, to support our local small businesses and the whole community.