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Are you going to the Royal Ball?

Mr. Beez and I are always up for a good party, but it’s not usual for us to be able to bring Baby Beez along. Cocktails, dancing and silent auctions aren’t usually compatible with a 3 year old’s interests, which is a little unfortunate, because boy does that kid love to put on a fancy dress.

Enter: The Gemini Children’s Theater Royal Masquerade Ball! Pittsburgh’s beloved children’s theater company includes the young ones in its annual gala, which is coming up on May 17, 2014 at the Syria Shrine Center. The event features a full dinner, singing and dancing, appearances by beloved storybook characters, prizes and FUN.

Gemini Children's Theater

The Royal Ball is an integral fundraiser for the operations of Gemini Theater. We attended our first Gemini show this January, and had a wonderful time. The shows are especially engaging for young kids. I love that the shows have a low key vibe. Gemini also hosts children’s birthday parties, and is an ideal spot for a big group outing. When we went in January, we went with four other families, and it was all pretty easy to coordinate. Then we hit up D’s Dogs for dinner afterward, which made the whole thing a perfect affair.

So are you up for dressing like princesses and prancing in to the Royal Ball? It’s this Saturday, and you can buy tickets here. You’ll notice from my blog that I don’t do giveaways, product reviews or sponsored posts. Gemini hasn’t offered me anything in exchange for promoting their event. I just think it’s a great event and an awesome theater organization. I hope my readers will as well!

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Carrie Furnace Adventure with @FurnaceBash @CarrieFurnaces

Carrie Furnace Adventure with @FurnaceBash @CarrieFurnaces

This recap will be a quick one, because the photos speak for themselves. On Saturday, Mr. Beez and I attended Furnace Bash Vol. 1, a Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week celebration with local/craft breweries, that raised funds for Side Project, Inc. and the Mario Lemieux Foundation. I reasoned that I was not going to go to an event at the Carrie Furnace without getting a full view of the furnace (the party itself was in the ore yard), so a furnace tour we did!

Time for a @furnacebash !

Death at the Carrie Furnace

The Carrie Deer

The Carrie Deer

Furnace

Furnace

Furnace

Furnace

Furnace

Furnace

Furnace

Furnace

Furnace

Carbo-loading in prep for tomorrow's marathon relay @furnacebash @pghmarathon

Speaking with some experience planning events, the Furnace Bash crew did a great job with this first year of the event. The hiccups were few and minor and the event was a blast. Mr. Beez and I cannot stand crowded events, and the Furnace Bash crew made the wise decision of capping tickets at 500. There were plenty of refreshments and virtually no line whatsoever.

It was a thrill to see the furnace, and I hope to bring my mom on a tour when she visits this summer. It’s not a small kid appropriate activity, as there are plenty of things to trip over and areas where you could fall down. Baby Beez will have to wait a few more years until we take her on a tour. Rivers of Steel offers various Mon Valley and Carrie Furnace tours, and is absolutely worth considering if you have out-of-town guests coming soon. The Furnace is a great site to see, especially if your guest has already done the usual Strip District/Incline/Grandview Ave circuit.


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A very stretchy day with the Pgh Yoga Expo @PghYoga @BYSQH

I’m way behind the ball on this because the Pittsburgh Yoga Expo was a full month ago. Nonetheless, it’s an annual event so it’s worthwhile to share it with yinz, so you can keep a reminder in your calendar for next year. I’m an infrequent yoga practitioner (I try to make it into a studio once a week). Thanks to a groupon, I’ve been trying out bend yoga for the last few weeks, but my usual go-to is Bikram Yoga Squirrel Hill. Bikram Yoga is a 26 pose series performed in a room heated to 105 degrees. Bikram is a good course for you if you like consistency– Since I go infrequently, doing the same poses every time helps me really see my changes and improvements from session to session. I also like that I can tell exactly where we are in the class without having to look at a watch. Needless to say, Bikram is not the right yoga for you if you want a lot of variety or if you want to do all kinds of acrobatic headstand things (no headstands in that series of 26). It is also a great option for you if you have a lot of free time, because the class is 90 minutes long and you DEFINITELY need a shower afterward. I do not have a lot of free time, which explains why I go so infrequently.

Rebecca Rankin, owner and lead yogi of Bikram Yoga Squirrel Hill organizes the Pittsburgh Yoga Expo every year. I heard about it last year, but was not able to go. When the tickets went on sale for this year’s event, I was very excited to snap one up. Also, I made sure to get a pedicure, as I did not want to scare the yogis with all-day exposure to my feet.

Pittsburgh Yoga Expo

The Expo features 25 minute workshops all day long, in which you get a little taste of various different types of yoga. It truly is an all-levels experience, and is a nice option if you want to try new things out. There were practitioners of Forrest Yoga, Chakra Yoga, Core Active Yoga, etc. There was a lot of core work, which I am NOT good at, but since the sessions were only 25 minutes long, I could tough it out even in sessions that were very challenging for me.

The one suggestion I would have for next year is that I hope they bring in more food vendors. They do advertise that there will be food vendors present, but for most of the day it was only juice vendors and one vegan bakery vendor, who had a very limited supply of lentil stew. I would have brought a lunch with me if I knew that were the case (as it was, I scarfed down a vegan muffin and some juice), but it would have bee even better if there were some vendors there selling more substantial fare. All that yoga makes me HUNGRY.

My favorite part of the day was the demo session, when Rebecca Rankin and Zeb Homison showed off the crazy stand on your head yoga stuff.

Pittsburgh Yoga Expo


Pittsburgh Yoga Expo

I put this picture in here because this is the pose that LOOKS like it would be easy but IT KILLS ME every time we get to it in yoga class. I can’t even lift my leg up, forget bending over and touching my toes. I have enough trouble just lifting up my knee and not falling over. It is HARD, but he makes it easy.
Pittsburgh Yoga Expo

The Yoga Expo is also unique because it had an arm balances workshop, where they broke down grasshopper pose into small manageable bites, and so many people in the room were able to do their first arm balance! I tried hard, but didn’t make it this time around (thank you, T-Rex arms of mine), but I think if I work harder at strengthening my arms and core, I might have some success next year.
Pittsburgh Yoga Expo

The event is really well organized, flows really well, and for $15 ticket (in advance) is a steal for an all-day series of workshops. See yinz on the mat!

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Breakfast and Blogging on March 26 with @ClarkHillUpdate

I’m very excited to announce that on March 26th, my firm will be hosting “Breakfast and Blogging” a breakfast panel discussion about legal issues confronted in social media use. We’ve got a great panel lined up to cover a very broad range of topics. I’ll be covering First Amendment and Defamation/Slander/Libel issues, and we also have attorneys covering intellectual property, corporate & business issues and employer/employee relations.All the speakers are young, savvy folks who are personally well-versed in social media use.

This event is geared toward entrepreneurs, social media managers and anyone who has a general interest in social media use. There is no cost to attend! Feel free to submit some questions in advance! I hope you can make it!

breakfast and blogging

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Beer me! Raising a glass with @PaBrewTours North Country Brewing @VoodooBrewery @PipersPub Rivertowne & @FullPintBrewing

I hardly consider myself a beer connoisseur, but I do enjoy a good brew from time to time. I wish I could be all hops crazy like the cool kids, but hops are too bitter for me. I lean towards wheat and fruity beers. And, again, to prove how uncool I am, I don’t like dark beers either. I probably sound picky, but I do like a wide enough range of beers that I can reliably find something pretty much anywhere I go that I really enjoy.

Due to some uninentional timing, I ended up having a lot of beers in the first two months of this year. Mr. Beez and I went on the Yinz Going Up North? Tour with PA Brew Tours in January, and then I again toured with PA Brew Tours on their East Pittsburgh Brew Tour N’At with my friends in the Allegheny County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division.  I threw a visit to Pipers Pub in this post because we had good beer there too, so why not?

Item of Interest Number 1: The Yinz Going Up North? Tour

All of PA Brew Tours’ outings begin at a restaurant/six pack shop, so you can pick up provisions for the road. Yes, you can drink beer on the bus. It’s even encouraged. The tour involves visiting multiple breweries, with samples and behind the scenes tours at each, and a dynamic tour guide who leads trivia and generally coordinates fun.

I’ve been on brewery tours before that just involve a little sample at the end. This is not that kind of tour. PA Brew Tours is a day drinking party. Having alternate transportation home afterward is a wise idea. Maybe this is just because I’m old, but once we got back to the ‘burgh from our tour, I was exhausted. A post-beer-tour-bar-crawl was not going to happen. But on to the tour!

The tour kicked off at Carson Street Deli, which I only had some vague idea existed. I was really impressed by the nice selection of sandwiches and extremely impressive beer selection, both on tap and for mix-and-match six packs. They also deliver! Mr. Beez and I bought some brews and made a mental note to visit again later.

Beers at Carson St DeliOur first stop was at North Country Brewing in Slippery Rock. Mr. Beez and I have visited there before, and really like the place. During our first visit, we were camping near Moraine State Park. Our friendly server was chatting with us about our visit, and as we dined the weather got terrible. A TORNADO even touched down in the park as we ate. We finished our meal and were getting ready to pay, and the server told us to please stay as long as we could possibly want, because it just wasn’t safe to go back out right yet. It wasn’t a ply to get us to buy more beer, the North Country staff was genuinely concerned about our safety. It was so genuinely sweet. Also, the food was genuinely goo, and the beer was great.

North Country Brewing

North Country Brewing Taps

They put out sampler platters for the tour and we all had the opportunity to try whatever beers we wanted. All of the beers are brewed right there. The Firehouse Red was our favorite, and the beer is unbelievably cheap, like $3 a pint.

North Country is about an hour’s drive north of Pittsburgh. It’s a destination definitely worth the time in the car, maybe not all the time, but at least once or twice to check the place out.

North Country Brewing beers

Our next stop was Voodoo Brewery in Meadville, PA. I didn’t know much about this brewery before our visit there, but it is for sure a gem.

Voodoo Brewery

Voodoo’s selection is broad. Mr. Beez and I agreed that our favorite was the Gran Met. They offer it as a cocktail mixed with juice. I had it mixed with grapefruit juice, and it was fantastic. The Voodoo Love Child and White Magick also sound awesome, but we got distracted by how much we loved Gran Met and never made it around to trying them.

Voodoo Beer List

Voodoo Brewing Samples

Most breweries on PA Brew Tours’ itineraries offer food, and in particular spent grain pizza (gotta do something with all that grain!) We had a pizza and salad, and they were just great. The salad was so fresh, and the pizza was rustic and tasty.

Voodoo Brewing FoodWe (obviously) toured the brewery. The coolest thing about Voodoo is that these folks are true believers in their craft. They have a philosophy that the beer needs love and encouragement to properly develop, so they play music for their beer 24 hours a day!

Voodoo Brewing TourTheir menu also includes something a little different– beer milkshakes. I tried the pistachio beer milkshake. It tasted exactly how it sounds…which basically means that no thank you, I won’t order that again, but it was a good learning experience.

Voodoo Brewing Beer Milkshake

Item of Interest No. 2: Piper’s Pub

The Beez family has gotten into the habit of going out to dinner every Friday night, mostly because by the time it’s Friday, I don’t have the energy to think about dinner, much less cook it. One of our absolute favorites is Piper’s Pub. Why? Check out those pics. Love it.  My brew picks for the night: An Arsenal Cider House Fighting Elleck and a Full Pint White Lightning.

Onion Soup and Arsenal Cider at Piper's Pub

Burger and a Full Pint White Lighening at Piper's Pub

Item of Interest No. 3: East Pittsburgh Breweries

This tour kicked off at D’s Dogs and Six Packs, which is great. If you haven’t been there yet– GO THERE. Our first stop on the tour was Rivertowne Brewing. I had been to their restaurant over by the stadiums, but actually did not realize that they are a real brewery. Rivertowne is actually a large brewery, and they are unique beause they have a canning line.

Rivertowne Pour House TapRivertowne has a pineapple beer that is just great.

The Rivertowne Brewing Tanks

We were only at Rivertowne for a short bit, and then we move on to Full Pint. I didn’t realize it when I first got there, but I can now confidently say that Full Pint’s White Lightning is my favorite local beer of the moment.

The Full Pint Tap

Beers

For whatever ridiculous reason, I did not manage to take a snap of my food there. We ordered a spent grain mashed potato pizza that was fantastic, and I also got a growler to take home. It was only $5 for the growler bottle and $10 to fill it, which was a deal I could NOT pass up.

I like beer, but I would never otherwise go out of my way to seek out local breweries to visit. PA Brew Tours fills that gap and makes it incredibly easy for the casual beer fan to check out our local beer hotspots. As I sat here writing this post, Mr. Beez kept looking over my shoulder, remarking “I want to do another beer tour!”

So that is the recap of my beer exploits in Western PA, and I can now cross this item off my 32 before 32 list!