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The ALLEGHENY WINE MIXER @AlghnyWineMixer

The ALLEGHENY WINE MIXER @AlghnyWineMixer

My friend Mandy and I had plans for drinks (and like typical lawyers, I think we ended up rescheduling like 8 times, because that’s how we do). Finally we got a date set and made our way to The ALLEGHENY WINE MIXER.

POW POW

POW POW

You know that I can’t help but yell it, every time someone brings up the ALLEGHENY WINE MIXER.

What I didn’t know about The ALLEGHENY WINE MIXER is that each day they have a wine on special for $5 a glass. The evening we were there, it was a lovely dry chardonnay. I’m not much of a chardonnay drinker, but this one was crisp and dry and right up my alley. They also had a $5 cheese and charcuterie plate on special that was equally lovely. This is everything I want in a bar, all in one place.

AWM Charcuterie

The AWM seemed super laid back, and for-real non-pretentious. (In contrast to so many places that claim to be non-pretentious, but really are pretentious in their non-pretentiousness, but hey if they’ve got good food and drinks, I’m happy to be there, pretentious or non).

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I mean, they’ve got a photo of Vincent Price and a Samurai Sword over the bar. What is not to love?

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And the art. Oh the art. I totally loved it. Somewhat bizzaro portraits all of the place. These are all on the wall behind you, so that girl with her dead eyes stares at you, the whole time you sip your wine.

The ALLEGHENY WINE MIXER gets ten stars (on a scale of five).  I pretty much could have a dinner there of charcuterie and wine every night for the rest of my life, and have a perfectly blissful existence.

The Allegheny Wine Mixer on Urbanspoon

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Shopping Small with #SmallBizSaturday #ShopSmall and Finding Happiness with @MissBritt

Yesterday we babysat Sandy’s two little ones, and I did what any responsible wife and parent would do, and ditched my husband with all those kids and did a little shopping for Small Business Saturday (to his credit, he’s much more patient than I am, so he’s probably the better babysitter anyway. Also he said the kids were all good.)

My first stop was the Simple Sugars HQ in Sharpsburg which hosted an open house for a Small Biz Saturday shopping event.  You may remember Simple Sugars from ABC’s Shark Tank.  They are a lovely local company who manufactures all natural sugar scrubs.  I’ve never used scrubs before, and I picked up their Grapefruit scrub a few months back, and was an instant devotee.

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I enjoyed chatting with Simple Sugars founder Lani Lazzeri about the various scrubs, the business, and Simple Sugar’s plans for the future.  I’ve been eyeing the Simple Sugars Collection pack, and hoped to pick it up on Saturday, but it is only being sold online (helloooo Cyber Monday purchase).  So since I could not pick up that at the time, I treated myself to a green tea facial scrub, almond body scrub, and pumpkin body scrub for the time being. I also picked up some gifts for others, but no pics here, don’t want to ruin the surprise!

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My next stop was Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery in Millvale for, what else, macarons!  The macaron trend is still going strong and I’ve made it a priority to eat every macaron I can get my grubby little hands on.  In my humble expert opinion, Jean-Marc and Zia Custom Desserts tie for the best macarons in the ‘burgh (although due to the scale of Zia’s small business, you cannot order a mixed dozen of flavors).

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I picked up a dozen macarons plus some croissants.  Although it was very painful to share, I did share these macarons with Sandy, and thereby both made her happy and did not saddle myself with the sugar-laden guilt that comes with eating an entire dozen of macarons myself in one sitting.

Next stop up was Wild Card in Lawrenceville.  Small Biz Saturday was in full swing in Wild Card, the shop was hoppin.

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I picked up some more great gifts which I wish I could show you because they are so darn clever, but again, that ruins the surprise. You’ll have to stop in to Wild Card yourself to examine their marvelous wares.

I’ve spent a lot of time in pajamas over the last few days and have done a lot of for-fun reading.  The pace of work has been, shall we say, like trying to sprint through an entire marathon.  A brief break was in order. Can I really afford such a break right now? Probably not. But it was necessary because December shows no sign of slowing down.  I’ve been suffering a persistent case of the Sunday Night Grumpies lately.  You know, that feeling of dread for the following work day.  And it has not limited itself to Sunday.  I have given this feeling more headspace than I should.  And finally I sat down to really examine what is going on.  The result: I need to adjust my attitude.  These bad feelings are not to be blamed on my workspace itself.  Work is busy, but that is what this field of law is like, and being busy is a good problem to have.  My coworkers and superiors are good people to work with.  I’m treated fairly and paid fairly.  Most of my stress is actually caused by one very demanding and very difficult client.  And goodness knows I’m not going to be able to change this client’s behavior.  The only way I’m going to change the stress this client is causing me is if I stop letting this client stress me out.  I need to let it go.

I am not good at letting things go.  I tell myself “let it go” and do all kinds of deep breathing and yoga classes, but still I let whatever is stressing me persist in having a foothold in a tiny little corner of my mind.  Letting go of stressors does have a flipping-a-lightswitch quality to it.  I experienced that a few years back when I came to the realization after many yoga classes, runs, bottles of wine and bars of chocolate failed to diminish my stress for me, that I am only going to get rid of stress if I decide to let go of it.  Making that decision is the first step, and a big one. But the real work comes in with the thousands of little decisions you have to make every day, in doing little things where you refuse to give worry headspace, and make all those individual little decisions to push stress out.  These little decisions are much harder to actually make than to execute.  The easy path is to accept the stress and feel miserable.  It is a lot harder to focus on the health of your headspace, and make all those decisions to keep it clear of clutter.

My miserable attitude made clear that I needed a refresher on the legwork of getting rid of stress.  I downloaded An Amateur’s Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness a few months ago, but had not yet started it.  This was the perfect time.

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I have gotten to know Britt through Propelle and Creative Mornings events, and she is quite a lovely person.  I have chatted with her briefly about her book, but all I really knew about it was that it talks about “happiness.”  I figured that since I was not feeling very happy, this was a good place to start with adjusting my attitude.  I’m about halfway through this book, and it is a perfect guide for the space I’m in.  Just like me, when Britt is frustrated, she tends to take the “nuclear option,” which is so counterproductive on so many levels. This book is not kitten pictures and other cute happy things (although those do make me happy).  Rather, this book breaks down the elements of attitude that lead to happiness, and articulates the roadmaps for the kinds of decisions you need to make for you to adjust your attitude and make your own happiness.  Britt does not tell you what to do.  Far from it.  Instead she articulates the tools that we need, but often cannot see, that will enable the reader to forge their own path to happiness.  Exactly what I need for my attitude adjustment.

I’ve spent Thanksgiving Weekend doing a lot of reading, and am feeling more relaxed, and thanks to the roadmaps I’ve been working on from Brit’s book, I am on my way to feeling less stressed (massage and yoga wouldn’t hurt, though).  I have a positive attitude about returning to the office tomorrow, and am fired up to work hard and work well.

Hope you found time for a little breathing space this weekend!

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A moment of glam with @SwankHairPgh #StylishSundays

This past weekend was specifically intended to be a “quiet” weekend.  By quiet, I mean that I only had 2 obligations planned for each day, as opposed to 3 or 4.  But when I saw a tweet about Swank Hair Studio’s Stylish Sunday’s event, including free blowouts for bloggers, oh no I could not pass that up. So one more event went in the agenda. But so worth it.

I’m late to this game, but I have realized that a professional blowout means that my hair swings and shines better.  It looks picture perfect. It even usually stays that way for an extra day.  And yet, when I try to recreate the look myself, the result is:

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So a free blowout? I am IN.

Swank Hair Studio is in Lawrenceville, right next to where Dozen used to be (n’at). Lawrenceville has caught my interest lately, as it is on the short list of neighborhoods Mr. Beez and I are considering once we finally take that plunge and buy a house that actually is remodeled (and ditch this place of unfulfilled home improvement aspirations).

My usual attire for a Sunday involves yoga pance and a t-shirt.  Since the event was named “Stylish Sundays” I figured it would be worth my while to slap on some makeup and at least try to make myself appropriate for public presentation.  Was I ever glad I did.  The ladies who run this place are so stylish and fashion forward.  Even in my “with effort” outfit I felt a little mom-jeans. But the girls were still friendly and welcoming.

BEFORE.

BEFORE.

The salon space itself is very chic.  I loved the blue and white alongside the exposed brick.  Everything is so clean and orderly.

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The chandeliers add such a nice touch.

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And since this was a special event, there were also sweet treats from Bella Christie’s.  I CAN NOT resist me some Bella Christie’s, so I helped myself to only one brownie, and then skeedaddled.  If I lingered a moment longer, I would have chowed down a full tray. So good.

Bella Christie's

The final result: so stylish!

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AFTER.

And yes, the texture held into day 2.  Swank Hair Studio has a friendly staff and a welcoming atmosphere.  Even though I am demonstrably uncool, they did not make me feel like that one bit.  A bonus: Swank is on a section of Butler Street where on-street parking is usually very easy to locate.  And if you schedule a service for the late afternoon, you can always stoll a couple of doors down to Tamari for a drink (and, of course, to show off your style).

Swank Hair Studio provided the blowout service free of charge, with the request that I post a blog about my experience.  My opinions are honest and my own.




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A Meal to Make a Man Out Of You @IndustryPgh

A Meal to Make a Man Out Of You @IndustryPgh

This post has been sitting in the hopper for like a month. It’s easy for me to come up with ideas for blog posts (usually the idea is: food I have eaten!) but often it is hard for me to find free time where I have enough energy and brainpower to plunk out an entry. The life of a litigator means that my days are usually spent jumping from one analysis heavy task to another (and pulling my train of thought to a screeching halt and abruptly switching gears at least several times a day), so that often means that by the time I have a minute to blog, all I want to do is stare at the wall.

I have written about Industry before. It’s a restaurant name I want to surround with hearts and stars. It’s grown-up casual (not the right vibe for Baby Beez to join us), serious about it’s food and drinks, and priced fairly for the high quality menu. When I leave Industry, I am stuffed with good food and good drink and in a darn good mood.

This time I decided to try their signature Smokestack cocktail. It involves fire and spectacle, but I was facing away from the bar when they made it, so I didn’t get a picture of that. You pick a whiskey and a flavor (I went with the bartender’s recommendation on whiskey, and I think my flavor was pecan). I was told this drink would taste like a campfire. The description was only partially right– it tastes like a MANLY CAMPFIRE.

The Smokestack at Industry

For serious, this drink will put hair on your chest. After all, about the only thing I can think of more manly than whiskey is WHISKEY AND SMOKE. This tastes like what a lumberjack would drink after a long day of axe-swinging. It was fun to drink. A novelty really. I don’t regret it at all, but I don’t think I’ll dash to order it again. And not to worry, they have a massive beer and cocktail list, so I have plenty of other things to try.

Oh Good God Glorious Candied Bacon at Industry

I was dining with my friend Christine, and we were not specifically planning on ordering appetizers, but we saw “Candied Bacon” (I think it’s boar bacon, to boot) and we could not help ourselves.  This is meat perfection. No joke the best bacon experience of my 3 decades. This candied bacon is worth traveling far and wide for. It is the absolute best.

Lamb Wrap and Truffle Fries at Industry

I was very tempted to again go with the farmhouse burger (boar bacon, bbq sauce, fried egg) but I decided to change it up a little and go with the lamb wrap.  I love the taste of lamb (during my 10 year stint as a vegetarian, it was the only meat I truly missed), and this wrap delivers generously.  The meat was tender and juicy, and the accompanying truffle fries were so rich (actually, I recommend sharing the truffle fries, they are too rich for one, I left most of my portion untouched).

It was a really great dinner, although I must admit that because I loved the farmhouse burger so much, I left with a little pang of regret that I had the opportunity to have that amazing burger again, and passed it up.  I guess I’ll just have to make my way down there again soon for another burger. Care to share some candied bacon with me?

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My Happy Place: La Gourmandine in Lawrenceville

My Happy Place: La Gourmandine in Lawrenceville

Saturday morning was one of those mornings when I needed to get OUT of the house, or it would be a bad scene. Baby Beez was being bad. Bad bad BAD. I wasn’t feeling well, and didn’t have the patience to deal with her shenanigans. Mr. Beez was being an active parent and trying to run interference, but Baby Beez just kept screaming that she wanted Mooooommmmmmy, but as soon as she’d sit with me she’d be all snarls and screams and elbows and knees and just awful. We skipped gymnastics on Saturday morning awful. It was bad news bears.

Mr. Beez and I agreed that it would be a good idea for me to step out of the house for a minute, so both she and I could calm down. “I’m going to the French Bakery,” I announced. “One in France?” He feared. A trans-Atlantic flight was very tempting at the moment, but I agreed to stay within city limits.

I arrived at La Gourmandine shortly after it’s 9:30 am opening, and the line was already out the door and snaking its way down the sidewalk. There’s always a line on Saturday mornings, but the bakery workers are efficient, and waiting in line gives you the time to look at all the heaping baskets of delicious bread and pastries, enjoy the aroma of the fresh baked goodies and make up your mind.

I love La Gourmandine so much. I love how the owners operate the bakery with total French attitude. This place shuts down for vacation. There’s no fill-in manager, they close down and announce “see you in 2 weeks, folks!” Only recently have they decided to open on Sundays (first open Sunday will be next weekend). They focus on quality, and are so immensely popular that they can operate the shop on their own terms. These folks are not begging for customers. A man behind me in line remarked to his companion that they should franchise La Gourmandine and make barrels and barrels of money. There’s already a buttery bakery franchise, and while I like Panera Bread just fine, the quality and care can’t hold up in the same way when the operation is a single neighborhood storefront. And anyway, franchising wouldn’t fit with the shop’s French attitude and sensibilities.

So, Saturday. I was in no mood to hold back. I got sandwiches (the baguette/butter/proscuitto/pickles sandwich is the the sandweech of my dreams), I got brioche, I got pastries, I even went for a fancy dessert and got the macaron with fruit. Everything was amazing. I could never work there, because I would literally eat delicious bread until I made myself ill.

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I returned home from my outing, arms full of bakery goodies. We shared sandwiches, chocolate croissants, all kinds of things. Sugar, butter and flour did wonders for my frustration. And after everyone took naps, the day was even better. La Gourmandine, you can do no wrong. And this week, you even prevented me from donating my kid to Goodwill.

La Gourmandine on Urbanspoon