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Things I’m Doing When I’m Not Blogging with @2ndBreakfastPgh @EastEndBrewing @The_Steel_Trap @theCommonerPgh

Things I’m Doing When I’m Not Blogging with @2ndBreakfastPgh @EastEndBrewing @The_Steel_Trap @theCommonerPgh

The last two weeks have involved after-work meetings nearly every day of the week, the kid having to stay home from school for three days because she was sick, Mr. Beez going out of town for three days on a business trip, me falling and busting my face on the ice (nothing broken, just ugly bruises), and just lots and lots of stuff in general.

This means there’s been little-to-no time for running, blogging, watching tv, or maintaining sanity in general. I’m much more hopeful this week. I’ve got plenty to do, but my calendar is not nearly as cluttered, so I’m hopeful about having the time to actually get stuff DONE.

In lieu of timely updates on the wild and wonderful world of Pittsburgh in the last two weeks, I bring you this list of our first week + in March.

Winter

This is what our world looked like for most of last week. The temp was in the 40s and 50s this weekend, and the forecast CLAIMS it will continue to be mild, but I’ll believe it when I see it. As much as I whine about the weather, I can remain hopeful that we’ll get through to spring with a little patience. This past week totally broke me. WE’RE IN MARCH NOW FOR GOODNESS SAKES. There was a lot of despairing in glasses of beer because I just can’t take this weather anymore.

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Contributing to the despair was my nosedive into the icy driveway on Monday (I’m fine). But the only way to make myself feel better was to buy a cartful of icy things I like.

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Lately I’ve been stopping by the Pgh Public Market as often as possible after Baby Beez’ Saturday ballet class. It’s so quiet and lovely then, and the hash browns with eggs and bacon from Second Breakfast is the perfect size for Baby Beez and me to share.

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I also picked up a growler of Monkey Boy from East End Brewery, and that stuff is GOOD. It hasn’t displaced VooDoo Love Child as my favorite beer, but it’s a good one, and I really look forward to more Saturday morning growler fills at the Public Market.

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Mr. Beez and I joined The Steel Trap at the CLO Wine Tasting and Silent Auction on Friday. We had such a lovely time, and I may have drank all the cava in Western Pennsylvania. This was one of the nicest fundraiser events I’ve been to. I especially loved the variety of wines, and allllll the sparkling options. Kudos to the CLO for an extremely successful event!!

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After the wine tasting, Mr. Beez and I stopped over at The Commoner for a snack. I had the BBQ Oysters and they were amazing and all I’ve been thinking about for the rest of the weekend. It’s not a regular menu item, but next time you are there, see if they have them. Because they are amazing.

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This week was also Purim. I stopped by Allegro Hearth for some hamentaschen. I offered them to Baby Beez, but she is obnoxious and 4 and did not want any. So I had them all to myself. This was my first time trying a poppyseed hamentaschen, and it’s not really my style. Apricot or Raspberry, please.

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Our spoiled child got to go to Disney on Ice this weekend, too. I bought the tickets back in November when I was ALL EXCITED about our trip to Disney World. Then it came down to this event and I was totally burned out on Disney, but wasn’t going to disappoint Baby Beez. So we all went. She did enjoy the show, so that was really nice. And in general, the kids at the show were pretty well behaved. THE PARENTS THOUGH. This was some of the worst, pushiest, rudest parent behavior I’ve seen in recent memory. I talked to other folks who went to other showings and said that they dealt with the same thing. I don’t know what it is about Disney on Ice that brings out the worst behavior in grown ups, but I think we’ll pass the next time it comes to town.

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After Disney on Ice, we stopped by the new VooDoo Brewery shop in Homestead for more growlers. This place is my happy place. Hearts stars smiles xoxoxoxox. That is all.

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And finally, yesterday we went to a bowling fundraiser to raise money for Attorneys Against Hunger. Not many bar association events are family friendly, so it was fun to be able to get together with our families, do a little bowling, and eat a lot of nachos. I also won a sweeeet prize basket at the raffle auction, including a cute little Coach crossover purse. Win!

So that’s what’s been going on in my neck of the woods. Also, I’ve been really into peanut butter & jelly waffles for breakfast. And I really need to get the kid out of bed and get us to school/work. I’m trying to cut her a break because of daylight savings buuuuut I gotta bill some hours today!

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Date Night Dinner on the farm with Churchview Farms and @CrestedDuck

Date Night Dinner on the farm with Churchview Farms and @CrestedDuck

One of my “to do’s” on my 32 before 32 was to attend a farm dinner. Unlike so many other things on that list that I’ve utterly failed to tick off, I have actually made it to two farm dinners this year. You can click on this link to read about the first one at Blackberry Meadows Farm. For a second one, we went on a double-date outing with some foodie friends to Churchview Farm.

Although I spent several years as a vegetarian, I fell off that bandwagon while pregnant with Baby Beez (craving hotdogs, 24-7), and now I’ve turned into quite the charcuterie snob. When I saw that Crested Duck Charcuterie, an amazing brilliant beautiful wonderful butcher shop & teeny-tiny restaurant in Beechview, was the featured restaurant for an upcoming Churchview Farm Dinner, I was ALL ABOUT IT.

Churchview Farm

Churchview is a small family farm nestled away in the hills of Baldwin. Churchview is a well-known name in the restaurant & local food circles in Pittsburgh, and it was neat to see how a farm providing so many fruits, veggies and herbs all throughout the city can provide so much on such a small parcel of land. The evening started off with a little farm tour, led by the farmer, Tara Rockacy. It was neat to see everything growing, and the chickens and guinea hens waddling around and clucking, but it was especially nice to hear in Tara’s voice how much this farm and her work mean to her. Farming is certainly not easy work, and I can imagine that running a farm in basically an urban area is even harder. But it comes through clearly that she finds meaning and beauty in what she does, and she is proud to share it.

Crested Duck Farm Dinner

On to the meal! These farm dinners are special because the chef, here Kevin Costa, spoke about the thoughts and motivations behind each course. I admit that I was really looking forward to a massive dinner all full of charcuterie, and was a little disappointed to hear the Chef announced that he instead chose to draw his inspiration from the beautiful produce of the farm, and work more with the fresh vegetables and fruits, rather than the cured meats which so often drive his dishes. My disappointment was short lived, as each course was so delightful.

Crested Duck Salad Niciose

First up was the salad nicoise, although it did not have any tuna in it, so I don’t exactly know what makes it nicoise. In any event, it was delicious. The pickles were so fresh and the boiled egg was just at that perfect level where it’s all just barely cooked, but not so cooked that it’s all pasty.

Pate en croute

The pate en croute was hands down my favorite dish of the evening. It’s so weird looking, that I think if it were offered to me in any context, I would have been like “no thank you, I do not want to eat that.” But I’m so glad that the timing and presentation was just right to get me to try it, because it was awesome. The only way I can describe it is that it’s like a little charcuterie platter baked together in pastry? I think? In any event, so good. It also satisfied my charcuterie craving for the evening, so that was a good thing.

seafood stew

Here’s the part where I will mention the lovely wine pairings that were coordinated with each course. So very, very delicious. Thanks to those delicious lovely wine pairings, this is around the course where I no longer really remember the particulars, other than “TASTY!” This is the light and lovely bouillabaisse. Tasty tasty.

cheese pairing

Oh, this cheese plate, so good. Everything about it was so perfect, except for it being so teeny tiny. I tried to steal Mr. Beez’ cheese plate but he jabbed me with his fork. So good. Did I tell you how good it was? I’ve never thought of pairing cheese and almond paste, but omg so good.

Chard tart

We wrapped up the evening with a dessert of a sweet swiss chard tart. I think this would make an amazing breakfast dish. The chard makes it hearty, but the candied pine nuts, golden raisins, orange zest and whipped cream ensure that it’s nice and sweet. Like the pate, it’s not something I would ordinarily pick on my own, but I was glad that it was presented to me how and when it was, because I did like it quite a lot.

There are a few seats left at the remaining Churchview Farm Dinners this summer. The experience was such a lovely, laid back evening, and the food and wine, just lovely. I was full from my dinner when I started writing this post, but now after revisiting all those food memories, my stomach’s rumbling again. Gotta go rustle up some grub.


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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!

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!