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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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Unlikely Outing for a Tuesday with @thebutterjoint burgers and @nineinchnails

Unlikely Outing for a Tuesday with @thebutterjoint burgers and @nineinchnails

We set plans for Monday to venture to The Butterjoint for burgers with good friends who also have a young daughter. When we arrived there, though, the few tables were completely full and standing around a bar isn’t a workable idea with two small children. We opted for dinner next door at Legume, which was a very lovely and delicious time.

The only downside, is that although you can order from the Legume menu in the Butterjoint, the opposite was not true.  And the very delicious chicken dish did not satisfy my craving for a juicy, buttery burger.  I had been obsessing over a Butterjoint burger ever since reading Quelcy’s write up over at With the Grains.  Mr. Beez indulged me in my crazytown food demands and we returned to the Butterjoint the very next day.  We did, after all, have a grown-up outing planned, and a meal out was much more appetizing than the leftover cauliflower soup in the fridge.

the Butterjoint

My pictures are no match for Quelcy’s but the burger was divine.  They keep it simple– a very high-quality, locally sourced burger, on a soft, buttery brioche bun, and you can either order it “fancy” (their selection of toppings for the day) or pick your own out of a few basic toppings.

the Butterjoint burger

the Butterjoint burger


I like diverse and novel toppings, but the mark of a truly excellent burger is the flavor. When you bite into the burger and everything else falls away except the amazing tastes in your mouth, then yes, the burger is perfect. This burger is perfect. I haven’t gone on a comparative burger tour of Pittsburgh, so I do not know if this is the “best” in the ‘burgh, but I can tell you I want another one right now, and could probably eat these every day and never complain.

The next event was the true purpose of our oddly timed date night– the Nine Inch Nails show at the Petersen Events Center. We saw NIN when they toured last, with Jane’s Addiction, I think in 2009 or so. That show was a double-whammy of amazing.  Likewise, at last night’s show, the performance did not disappoint.

I’ve listened to the new album, Hesitation Marks, a few times and it’s a departure from Trent Reznor’s usual style. Lets put it like this, at the show, the performances of the new songs involved back up singers and Reznor shaking a tambourine. Yes. Tambourine.  But Reznor was smart to kick off the show and also wind it down with the older, grittier fan favorites. And in an ultimate nod to giving the people what they want, the final song of the encore was Hurt.

photo(5)

NIN holds a place as a memento of my uncertainty and my growth, or better said, confusion and failure to grow. Jr High and High School were the years of leather-bottomed Jansport backpacks with band patches from Hot Topic. I had friends, but I also fixated on this idea that there were other certain kids that I longed to be friends with. I wanted them to like me and to invite me in their circle. I didn’t have any real sense of identity. I was driven by a longing toward something, but I didn’t know what, or why, or how I would know if I found it, or what I hoped to attain by getting to it.

I regret now how miserable I allowed myself to be. So desperately listening to NIN and suffering in hopes that these kids would notice our commonalities in music.  But we went to school together for years, why didn’t I just go up and talk to them. And why didn’t I better appreciate the genuine friends I did have. Why did I have this drive to align myself with virtual strangers, and mourn when I started each school day still not in their social circle?

Years later, I still find myself falling into that trap. There were points in law school where I so badly wanted to be in some particular social circle, but couldn’t explain why or what I hoped to gain from it, and also didn’t well enough appreciate the friends I did have. And sometimes now, when I go to social-media focused events, and I see all these people in real life who are so charismatic and popular online, and I just long to be friends with them. But with a lump in my throat, I let the high school clique mentality set in, and forget that people are people, and I can talk to them. I can befriend them. I don’t need anyone to “pick” me.

I’ve been working through the Lurk No More initiative in my head since Saturday.  The initiative will be good for adding depth and connection to this blog.  But even more so, through this initiative, I’ll work through these ridiculous notions of cliques and crowds. If I want to get to know someone, I can introduce myself and get to know them.  I do not need to cover myself in band patches, hope to be noticed, and pine over the friendships that never were.

I can blast NIN because i want to listen to NIN. And I can let go of needing someone to see what I’ve got spinning in my discman.

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The Fairly Odd Parents, or My Evening Out With Eric Clapton & the Wallflowers

I’m good at keeping up with the local goings-on, but somehow the Eric Clapton concert didn’t make it on my radar.  I was curled up in bed on Friday evening, reading Whirl, when I learned that Eric Clapton would be coming to town the very next day.  I spent most of Saturday thinking about how I really wanted to go, but we didn’t have a sitter lined up, and Mr. Beez doesn’t much care for Eric Clapton anyway.  Around dinnertime I asked him, “Would you mind if I just go?”

“Go ahead,” He responded.

YAY!

I get the impression that Mr. Beez are unique in how independent we each are.  We love going out and doing things together.  And often one of us (usually me) will want to do something that the other (usually him) is not interested, but the loving non-interested spouse (him) agrees to go anyway, and is gracious and patient about it. (Well if it’s me that isn’t interested, I’m not as good at the gracious and patient part).

We don’t feel the need to do every little thing together.  If it’s an event involving lawyers, he is more than happy to let me go solo.  And since we have a little one, this independence often makes things easier, since there’s one of us available to stay home with the little one.  Don’t get me wrong, we do lots and lots of things together, bu we also are OK with flying solo or going with friends.

I was talking with a woman recently who was telling me that she starts a trial the day after the upcoming Black Keys concert.  She and her husband both want to go, but since she can’t go for trial prep reasons, she told him he better not go without her.  That sort of response is baffling to me.  I asked Mr. Beez what his reaction was, and he agreed that from the way we operate, that would be nonsensical.  Were we in that position, I’d tell Mr. Beez to go and live it up, while I’d probably mope a little at home getting my exhibits together.

I think our independence is really good for our relationship.  We enjoy one anothers’ company, without feeling completely dependent.  We are comfortable going out on our own, and don’t use one another as a crutch.  Plus neither of us feel we have to give up interests just because the other isn’t so interested, or because we don’t have childcare arrangements already set up.

So on to the evening!  The Wallflowers and Eric Clapton were awesome.  I knew that this would be the kind of concert I’d regret terribly if I missed, and yes, I was right.  I am so glad I went.  By the time I arrived, all the cheap seats were sold out. The only ones left were the highest price point, but since I was only buying a ticket for one, I was actually excited to shell out the cash for an awesome seat.  I was pretty close up to the stage and had a perfect view (my camera notoriously doesn’t do so well with concert pics, but I promise, it was awesome).  Both bands played favorites old and new.  Best of all, it was clear that every last person on that stage was having a fantastic time.  I love that about concerts, the musicians are so happy being up there in their element, and it is awesome to get to share that with them.

So I went solo, enjoyed a beer, and kicked back and took in the music.  It was fantastic.

Eric Clapton jammin with The Wallflowers

Eric Clapton singing Tears in Heaven

I’ve complained that Pittsburgh doesn’t have the concert scene of many larger cities.  With the addition of the Consol Center and especially Stage AE, we’ve been bringing in a lot more bands I like.  Purely out of nostalgic curiosity, I tried to assemble a list of all the shows I’ve seen in Pittsburgh over the last nearly 13 years, and I’ve actually seen a lot more than I realized, and seen many acts multiple times.  Most of the shows have been in the last 6 years, when I’ve been working and actually had a little disposable income, and also as the music scene has grown:

Bad Religion (Club Laga, REMEMBER LAGA?)

Dave Navarro (Rosebud)

The Clarks (way too many shows to list, so many it is embarrassing)

Metallica/Godsmack (Mellon Arena)

TOOL (Twice: Peterson Center and Mellon Arena)

Dar Williams (4 times: The Rex, The Byham, Schenley Plaza and South Park)

Indigo Girls (Twice: The Benedum, Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead)

Girlyman (Opening for Dar Williams, then twice on their own: Club Cafe and Modern Formations)

Rufus Wainwright (Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead)

Veruca Salt (Twice: Mr. Smalls and The Rex)

Robin Hitchcock (The Rex)

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (Stage AE)

Ted Leo & the Pharmacists (Diesel)

Death Cab for Cutie (Stage AE)

Fiona Apple (Stage AE)

Smashing Pumpkins (Mr. Smalls, while 7 mos pregnant. I don’t recommend that)

Jane’s Addiction/Nine Inch Nails (Post-Gazette Pavilion)

The Allman Bros (Post-Gazette Pavilion)

311 (Stage AE)

Violent Femmes (TRAF)

Cowboy Junkies (TRAF, on the worst date of my life)

Teddy Thompson (TRAF)

I feel like I’m missing some….hmmmm…

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Party Night that Just Won’t Stop with @HaitianFam1st and @GracePotter

What a NIGHT last night was.  I spent most of the day making the final preparations for the much-anticipated Haitian Families First Back to School Party.  The sponsors, food, drink and prizes came together perfectly! The Standard Band totally rocked the house.  Bill Peduto even found a minute in his nonstop mayoral campaign to stop by!

All set up for the party

Ali shares the story of HFF

Ali, me and Bill Peduto at the HFF party

I felt especially honored by all the awesome support of my friends.  The members of The Standard Band all have day jobs, and that means they took several hours out of their workdays to do all the setup and prep for their performance.  I am so grateful that they could do that!  (PS– they are an awesome fun band, and are playing March 15 at Jergel’s!) My friends also came together to donate huge wine basket and other great things for the auction.

The Standard Band rocks the HFF party

We all had a great time and raised a whole heap of cash for this truly grassroots organization that is doing great work.

Of course, the night didn’t stop there! After the party, my friend @nncypttr and I enjoyed an evening with the divine Grace Potter.

I knew of course that Grace has unparalleled pipes, but didn’t know that her musical talent goes far beyond singing.  She showed herself to be a jane-of-all-trades with all things musical, mastering the drums, guitar and more throughout the show.  She is quite the musical powerhouse, and had such cheerful energy.  What a show!

Grace Potter in Pittsburgh

Grace Potter in Pittsburgh

Grace Potter in Pittsburgh

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Weekend ahoy!

You know those weekends where it seems like every organization and entity has something going on, and you want to attend EVERYTHING!  I have those a lot.  This weekend is especially nutty.  I’m looking at my weekend plans, and I’m kind of tired already.  But these are all GREAT things I will be doing, so it will be a busy weekend but a fun one!

This afternoon kicks off with the announcement of BAR EXAM RESULTS! I am so nervous and excited for all my friends who took the PA bar exam this year! Here’s to hoping that you’ll spend the afternoon sipping champagne in joy (and if not, at least tip a few back in sorrow).

This evening is the Alumni Reception for my 5 year law school reunion! 5 years! Can you believe it! Where did the time go?

HAIL TO PITT!

Tomorrow brings the much anticipated Propelle Style Summit

I’m a little nervous about picking out an outfit…what in my closet could possibly be cool enough to wear to a gathering of fashionistas?

Saturday also brings the Annual Meeting for the East End Food Co-Op.  If you’re a Co-Op member, please be sure to attend! Election results for the Board of Directors will be announced (you can vote at the meeting, if you haven’t voted yet), and they’ll be giving updates on the state of the Co-op and its plans for the upcoming year.

On Sunday, Mr. Beez and I will be venturing to the Pittsburgh Opera for Rigoletto.  Although I’m a bit of an opera nut, I’ve never seen Rigoletto before.  It has gotten rave reviews, so I’m excited for an afternoon of music and drama!

What does your weekend have in store?