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And now it is January

With the new year, I’ve been spinning lots of plates. It’s always a challenge to figure out what is working and what is not.  There’s never enough time to do everything, but you can prioritize and make time for the important things. Figuring out which things are important things, however, is its own process.  I’d like to get back into a more regular pattern of blogging, but that is its own process.  For the time being, here are the things on my mind:

  • We spent Christmas to New Year’s Eve in Tampa. We had some good food down there, and I hope to put something together soon about the places we visited.
  • I love all things true crime, so Making a Murderer totally got me to renew my Netflix subscription.  I don’t necessarily think that documentary makers or journalists always have a particular agenda, but from what I have seen from reporting as compared to my experience handling particular cases (and how they are reported in the news), I find that reporting is often inaccurate (or maybe better described as imprecise) and incomplete.  All of this is a long prelude to say that although I think Making a Murderer is fascinating, it doesn’t inspire me to jump immediately onto the “Pardon Steven Avery” bandwagon.  I do, however, think that what they have presented should motivate the State of Wisconsin to order some kind of independent, external review of the proceedings.
  • I am equally fascinated by Serial and Undisclosed. Like with Making a Murderer, I’m not convinced by them that Adnan is innocent, but I think they raise enough questions that his conviction should be reviewed over again.
  • BTW, Braddock’s posted a picture of their Restaurant Week special online (bourbon braised osso bucco) and I think I really need to make this happen…


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Connections and play dates with @coveyapp

The holidays are marketed as being all about friendships and joy, but all the fun that appears on those glittering Instagram feeds can often ring hollow.  The holidays have their way of making you feel alone and isolated.  A family friend, Sarah, and other motivated Pittsburgh moms realized the importance of connections between parents in fostering friendships between children. The Covey app is especially helpful as the holiday madness winds down, and everyone starts getting back into the rhythm of normal life.  The focus of Covey is twofold– setting up convenient playdates between children, and also creating friendships between parents.

covey

Covey is a smartphone app that parents can use to connect with parents and parenting communities. There is a special section for each parenting community. Within that section, there is an open forum where you can post privately without sharing to your other social media accounts. You can use these communities as resources for your parenting questions or simply share your photos & stories.

Covey values positive, productive interactions.  There are built in community guidelines used to ensure supportive interactions in the app. It is somewhat structured like a dating app–You can introduce yourself to other parents by completing a profile with your interests, parenting style, and kid info. Then you can find other parents based on that very same info. The app will become more and more searchable, so you can look for, say, all {moms, dads} who are members of One Mother To Another that have experience with toddlers and are located near Brooklyn, NY.

When you find other parents like you in your area, you can use Covey to easily coordinate playdates and get-togethers. You can also use the app as a resource for family-friendly activities in your area, or become the local resource for family-friendly activities.

As you may know if you’ve read this blog for a while, I do not do advertising. Covey is not paying me anything or offering me anything for me to post about them.  I believe that the app is a positive thing and know that Sarah and her colleagues have worked very hard at it, and I believe Covey is worth checking out.

You can download the app from http://www.coveymom.com

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NaBloPoMo day 29: Shopping local for the holidays with @imadeitmarket @apricotandbee @smalltowerpress @goodsandevil

NaBloPoMo day 29: Shopping local for the holidays with @imadeitmarket @apricotandbee @smalltowerpress @goodsandevil

I’ve posted some Pittsburgh-focused gift guides in the past (2013, 2014 pt. 1, 2014 pt. 2). This year I made it out to I Made It! Market for their holiday event on Small Business Saturday. I picked up a number of great gifts for friends and family members, and Baby Beez got to do some shopping of her own with some birthday money she still had not spent. We had fun sorting through the things she wanted, and also working on math as she sorted through how much money she had and what she wanted to buy.

I Made It

In the past, I have found that craft fairs were at too high a price point for me to do much shopping. I do not doubt that an artisan put love and care into their products, but a $60 doll is not happening with me.  I was very pleased to find that not only were there a lot of products I just loved, but that the price points were also very accessible.

I Made It

For my niece and nephew, I got this adorable baby doll from Gingercake, the Gaggles of Giggles book from Apricot & Bee (Michelle personalized and signed the book for them, too!) and a digger from Mama Made them Toys.  Baby Beez also got herself a toy car with little people from Mama Made them Toys as well as her own baby doll from Gingercake. I have to tell you, though, she is obsessed with the baby doll. She’s been carrying it all around the house and won’t let it away from her side. She’s a kid that loves baby dolls usually, and she is absolutely crazy about this baby.  For those of you who are crafty, Gingercake also sells patterns in addition to the toys themselves.

I Made It

I Made It

Baby Beez also got this neat butterfly toy from Peg & Pin. It’s a little caterpillar doll, where you can replace the butterfly wings. They have all kinds of little peg dolls for lots of creative imaginative play.

I Made it

I’ve been moderately OBSESSED with this print since the first time I saw it several years ago in a different burgh-focused gift guide. I even reached out to the artist, Barry Gott, a few years back to ask if I could use the image as the banner on this site (and offered to pay him for the permission) and he graciously said that no payment was needed, he’s happy to agree as long as I credit the art as being his.  Ultimately I ended up having custom art made, but it was incredibly nice of him, and I still appreciate it.  So, I’ve wanted to get this print for ever and ever and I’m not sure why I never got around to it. But he was at the market today and I was like YES I AM FINALLY BUYING THIS!!  And I did. And now I have it. So happy!  Barry sells quite a number of adorable Pittsburgh-themed pictures through his shop, Smalltower Press.

I Made It

Mr. Beez was very excited to pick out this super cool Zombie Capital shirt from Goods and Evil. He’s always on the lookout for a clever shirt, and they had a few that he really liked.

Also, a couple of “honorable mentions” are in order for shops I loved, even though I did not pick up anything from them this visit.

Frost Finery

Frost Finery’s delicate handmade jewelry is just gorgeous. She has a few items that are Pennsylvania themed, but my favorite pieces are the elegant drop bead pieces.

I Made It

Resident Design makes these incredible mounted-animal-head paper kits. They sell the kit with instructions, and you assemble it yourself. It’s a really cool project to do with family members or teenagers.  Tristan also said he is working on a smaller-scale version that would be good for working on with school age children.  I, for one, am absolutely terrible with anything involving spatial skills or building things (or following directions for that matter), but if you are a normal person who can, for example, put puzzles together, these would be really cool and fun to build.

I Made ItFount leather goods makes these gorgeous leather bags that are just, wow. I have been wanting to invest in a chic but sturdy leather bag for work, and prefer something more contemporary than the typical briefcase. These bags are just gorgeous.

The I Made It! holiday event is over now, but many of the same vendors will be participating at the Handmade Arcade next weekend.  As you can see, we found some amazing things and were happy to support small independent businesses. Remember to Shop Small this holiday season!!




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NaBloPoMo Day 12: A Highly Scientific Taste Test of @LeonasLLC @FFCreameries & Millie’s

NaBloPoMo Day 12: A Highly Scientific Taste Test of @LeonasLLC @FFCreameries & Millie’s

I checked the cooler on my way to the grocery store checkout tonight and finally found myself Leona’s Pumpkin Caramel Shortbread ice cream sandwich! I’ve been dreaming of it since they posted its gorgeous picture online, and since they finally had the flavor in stock, it was a sign that it was time to go for the local ice cream taste test I’ve been contemplated.  I wrangled Mr. Beez in to helping me, because ice cream happy loves company. He objected to me taking his picture, but was otherwise game.

I started with the Millie’s Homemade Vietnamese Coffee ice cream. The coffee flavor was surprisingly mild (I usually go for very strong coffee flavor) but nonetheless delicious. It was mild enough that I think you could trick those sad, misguided folks who claim to not like coffee into trying it and loving it. Well, maybe it’s better to have them keep thinking they don’t like coffee, that way you don’t have to share with them.

Millie's

Next up, we tasted Family Farm Creameries‘ Landlocked Vanilla Ice Cream, featuring Wigle Whiskey’s Landlocked Spice whiskey. The ice cream is very smooth and creamy, and the vanilla flavor is distinct but not pungent.  Mr. Beez described it as “like a french vanilla” and liked the smooth texture.  I think it would be absolutely perfect in a root beer float.  They definitely have the best packaging, once the ice cream is done I’m sure Baby Beez is going to steal it to fill up with coins, beads, rocks and whatever other little things she squirrels away.

Family Farms Creamery

Last but not least, we shared the Leona’s Apple Cinnamon Ice Cream on Oatmeal Lace Cookie. He loved how the sandwich is substantial and did not squish between your fingers, and that it tasted like apple pie a la mode in every single bite.  I pointed out to him that the ice cream is lactose free, and he was surprised, because you wouldn’t expect it from the rich taste.  I love the chewiness of the cookie, it’s a nice contrast to the creamy ice cream.

Leona's

For those not so familiar with handmade ice cream, all three of these melt pretty quickly. That is because they don’t have temperature stabilizers or other marvels of science that transform food to our expectations, rather than what the food really is.  Not a problem for me though, ice cream can hardly last a moment in my presence.

Mr. Beez had to go poop the party by pointing out that we weren’t exactly doing an apples-to-apples comparison. He did not understand the point of ice cream science. THE POINT OF ICE CREAM SCIENCE IS TO EAT LOTS OF ICE CREAM.  Of the three, we did not really have a specific favorite. We loved all three of them and, given a choice at the co-op, we would be most inclined to buy whichever one had the most-appetizing flavor in stock at the moment.  You have to be flexible with them, of course, because due to their small operations and seasonal ingredients, the flavors change constantly.