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Party weekend with Family House Polo and The Steel City Big Pour @CJReuse @CJBigPour

Party weekend with Family House Polo and The Steel City Big Pour @CJReuse @CJBigPour

This weekend has been a laid back couple of days spent with good friends, good food, magazines and chores. It has been a relaxing, but welcome, contrast to last weekend’s party party weekend. I’m always up for a good party, but need to balance out party time with a good nap, cup of coffee and stack of Nat. Geo Travelers.

I have found myself in a conflicted predicament over the last several years, namely: I am firmly opposed to horse racing, but staunchly in favor of fancy hats. As a result, Kentucky Derby parties have tempted me with their promise of exotic headwear, but are ultimately not the right event for me, because of the event itself. Enter the ideal event for both gorgeous headwear and happy ponies: Family House’s annual Polo Match!

FH Polo 2014

My glamorous friends Laura and Katharine invited me to join them for the polo match, and we had FUN beyond my wildest dreams! I did have a bit of a crisis in securing proper headwear. Every fascinator I saw (and fell in love with) would set me back $100-200, and I hesitated to spend that much on a statement piece that, due to being unique and memorable, I might only get to wear once. Laura swooped in to the rescue and let me borrow one of her lovely fascinators, and all was well in the world (relatedly, my mom was also in England at the same time, and I messaged her, and she managed to pick up a lovely and reasonably-priced fascinator for me at Marks and Spencer …so I am all set for next year!)

FH Polo 2014

We had a fun morning of fancy-lady tailgating, complete with champagne and little sandwiches. (PS- my dress is from my new obsession: Rent the Runway. Please invite me to more fancy things so that I can rent fancy dresses. Also because you like me.)

FH Polo 2014

FH Polo 2014

I don’t know a thing about polo, but the announcer was very beginner-friendly and explained things as they happened. Also there was a very tempting silent auction, an opportunity to go out on the field and meet the hunting hounds, and a divot stomp! I must say that I was sad that I had to depart a little early for a second event, because this was such a unique and fun outing.

Next up for my party party Saturday was the Steel City Big Pour. Of all the charity events in Pittsburgh, this is one is always mine and Mr. Beez’ favorite. It has everything we love: Lots of good beer, lots of good food, lots of friends but is NOT overwhelmingly crowded. Tickets are very hard to get, and sell out within the first minute of so of going online. There is an option to buy early (with making an extra donation to Construction Junction), which is the route we took this year to make sure to get in.  I cannot express enough how much a over-crowded event can kill the fun for Mr. Beez and I, and the thing that makes this event the best for us is that they sell plenty of tickets, but the crowd is limited such that you only have to wait in line a moment or two at each station, and you’re not packed in like sardines.

CJ Big Pour 2014

Each year that we’ve gone, it has gotten better and better. The event has taken on a decidedly local focus, with basically every local brewery you could think of participating. We had the opportunity to try some places I’ve heard good things about, but have not yet made it to, such as Grist House Brewing, the Brew Gentlemen Beer Company and Milkman Brewing. There were also some well-established not-so-local breweries there, such as Left Hand Brewing, Southern Tier Brewing Company and Bell’s Brewery.

CJ Big Pour 2014

CJ Big Pour 2014

Of course, our local favs were out in full force, including Full Pint, Fat Heads, Church Brew Works, North Country Brewing and of course, my personal absolute fav., Voodoo Brewery:

CJ Big Pour 2014

The food featured some of our local favs, as well, such as mini tacos from Verde, pizza slices from Pizza Boat, poutine from Park Bruges, and tots from the Pub Chip Shop (which left me with an overwhelming tot craving ALL WEEK LONG. I finally appeased it today with an amazing boxty brunch from Piper’s Pub).

You're messing up my shot.

You’re messing up my shot.

In short, in addition to benefiting a really awesome reuse organization, the Big Pour stands out not because it’s an event with a lot of food and drink, but because it’s a fun event with the best beer and best pub food to be found in Pittsburgh. The best best best. Both events of my Party Party Weekend were a smashing success. Now that I’ve spent this weekend resting up, I’m ready to tear it up again next weekend!

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Talking blogging and beer with @RedPenMamaPgh

Long ago, well at the beginning of this year at least, I fully intended to do one interview a month on this blog of a blogger I read, but whom I do not know personally. Then work went nuts (as it is apt to do, in the trial lawyering world), and then we bought a house and sold a house, and basically all the time got away from me. Which happens. Life happens. It’s OK.

Many many moons ago, then, I met up with Dawn of Red Pen Mama for lunch and a brew at The Sharp Edge dahntahn. I had been reading her blog for several months, and had exchanged a few tweets with her from time to time, but that was the extent we had really talked. Once she sat down at my table, our conversation was fun and flowing, and totally reaffirmed my intentions behind the interview initiative– basically to break down that wall that communicating through a screen creates, and get to know the person behind the writing.

the Red Pen Mama herself

the Red Pen Mama herself


I felt a connection with Dawn because we both blog about our families, but we don’t fit within the usual stereotype of “mommybloggers,” also, we’re both working moms in Pittsburgh, and are both (in differing roles) professional writers. Actually, we are both writers in rather specialized fields. (After all, “Red Pen Mama” is a hat tip to her red editor’s pen, and role as a parent.) All of these similarities were good for getting the ball rolling.

We spent most of our lunch talking about the history and the future of blogging. I asked her if she thought blogging is dead, and if online communication will be relegated to tweets and status updates. She disagreed, and pointed out all the forms in which longer-form communication is alive and well. Blogging may not always be blogging in the same sense we see it now, but she doesn’t see the storytelling power that goes along with blogging disappearing anytime soon.

Our conversation also wandered to the topic of paid and sponsored content. Neither Dawn nor I do sponsored posts on our blogs, but rather our careers and income are closely related to writing. Dawn’s reason for not doing sponsored blog content– the blog is her space to tell her story, on her terms. This resonated with me, as I too use my blog as my opportunity to do the writing that I want to do.

Red Pen Mama explores parenting, responsibility, relationships and life in Pittsburgh. Her writing is approachable, and she is super friendly in real life, to boot. This week on her blog, she included a heartbreaking (but also heartwarming) anecdote that is really a must read. And of course, if you run into Dawn at the next PodCamp or TweetUp or what have you, make sure to say hello!

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Now we are Four.

Now we are Four.

A while back I was fretting over Baby Beez’ 4th birthday, not sure of how to celebrate it, or how big or how small, or if we pushed Baby Beez toward no party would she grow up resenting us for her party-free years? #1stWorldProblems

In the end, we decided to let her take the lead. If she asked for a party, she could have a party. If she didn’t ask, we’d just put together some special activities for her. Over the last month, whenever she talked about her birthday, the only thing she cared about was cake. Cake cake cake cake cake. I figured  that as long as we get her a cake, we’re golden. And it turns out, it all worked just fine.

Elsa and Anna Cake

We started Baby Beez’ birthday weekend off with a sleepover with her friend Elena. Because I was entertaining 4 year olds and not, say, me, this meant that I made a dinner of hot dogs and corn on the cob, and it was a HIT. Also, easy, and all things I had in the house already. We also enjoyed a very tasty birthday cake from Bella Christies. Elsa and Anna = big hit.

Birthday Cake

Elsa and Anna Cake

Elsa and Anna Cake

After cake, of course, we watched Frozen. The girls sang along and acted out the whole movie. I had to negotiate a couple of disputes, such as advising them that they can BOTH be Elsa, and everything will still be OK.

After the movie, because birthdays mean sugar sugar sugar sugar, we made ice cream sundaes. The girls had fun with the arts and crafts aspects of putting them together, but they apparently aren’t as insane-in-the-brain over ice cream sundaes as I am, because they ate a few bites and declared they were done. Because they are reasonable, healthy children. And I am a sugar-crazed lunatic.

ice Cream

ice cream

Ice Cream

A 4 year old sleepover is much different than a teenager sleepover, because once I bundled these two up and read them a story, the were out. They did wake up at 5am, scared from the thunderstorm, but I put Disney Jr on for them and dozed back off on the couch. This morning was full of chocolate chip pancakes. All things good.

We planned to continue Baby Beez’ birthday weekend with a trip to the Renaissance Faire, but it was rainy and gross out today. This would have meant trudging through the mud, and getting soggy and miserable, so we ditched that plan. Instead we took her to see How to Train Your Dragon 2 at the movies and afterward, came back to the house for leisurely afternoon naps. Such a birthday win.

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RIBS at @HeinzField

RIBS at @HeinzField

Four years ago, I was due to give birth on August 29. That day came and went. And then it was Friday, September 2. And I was still pregnant. And I was so swollen I looked like Violet Bauregard about to be rolled off to the juicing room, plus I had all the absolute CRAZY that comes with being a pregnant woman, several days overdue. So what did we do? Go to the Heinz Field Ribfest. Because, why not. It’s not like there was anything else I was doing. And they had ribs, cornbread, beans and mac & cheese, so in other words, the menu was just screaming for preggos to visit.

I don’t think I’ve been back to the event this time. While I enjoyed the first visit (as much as I could, given my condition), this time around with the kid OUTSIDE my body was much better. Heinz Field Ribfest kicks off the football season, and is held at Heinz Field every day of Labor Day weekend, so you’ve got yinzselves til Monday to go get some BBQ! Admission to the festival is free, but food, drinks, rides, etc. all cost money.

Because small people love all modes of public transit, we parked dahntahn and took the T over to the North Shore. Even without her, this would have proven a much cheaper and more convenient approach than trying to park anywhere near the North Shore. In addition to Rib Fest, there was a Pirates game going on, so parking was at a premium. And Rib Fest is continuing, alongside many other events in and around the stadiums, so yeah, park it dahntahn.

Riding the T

If you are ever seeking a free source of entertainment for a small kid, ride the T back and forth between dahntahn and the North Shore. For a 3 year old, THIS IS OMG SO FUN.

We made it to Rib Fest around 6pm, which was very much at the early end of things. I had planned for us to stay for the 9pm concert by The Clarks, but Baby Beez got tired and punchy well before then, so we didn’t stay. I went to college in Pittsburgh, and to say I’ve already seen a few Clarks shows would be a dramatic understatement, so I didn’t stay up all night crying about missing one.

RIBFEST

Next up, time for RIBS! There are all kinds of ribs & BBQ vendors from all over the country, all with various and sundry trophies and proclamations of greatness. Now someone may prove me wrong, but personally, I’m of the philosophy that when serving a crowd of this size, it’s just not really feasible for a traveling BBQ vendor to be able to create massive quantities of ideal smoked meat. Smoking takes time and attention, and I just didn’t see how it would be possible to smoke so MANY ribs in any sort of ideal smoking conditions in a traveling setup. So I went with the assumption that probably any of the vendors would be fine, but I didn’t expect that any of them would prove themselves exceptional. But also, I only ate from one vendor, so maybe there was some exceptional fare and I just missed it. We ended up picking a vendor out of Texas, mostly because they did offer mac & cheese, and that’s what Baby Beez wanted for dinner. Ribfest BBQ

The BBQ sauce was really good, but the ribs were pretty gristly and chewy. I’d say that the quality was fairly comparable to a run of the mill BBQ restaurant, but the food didn’t set itself apart as exceptional. Still, the event itself is a lot of fun, and I’d be happy to go back in future years for the fun of the fest, even if it’s just average fare.

Ribfest Mac & Cheese

Baby Beez has become accustomed to my foodblogging nonsense, and as I snapped pics of my plate, she urged “Mommy, take pictures of MINE, too!”

Ribfest Rides

Ribfest had a couple of carnival rides. Since we’re suckers, we bought Baby Beez 5 tickets. There are maybe 7 rides total, and she decided that most of them were too scary. She rode the cars over and over and over and over and had a very happy time.

Finally, dessert was a necessary order of business. I opted for kettle corn (although, I must sadly report that the freshness and perfection of Pittsburgh Popcorn Company has ruined me to any other popcorn. And the popcorn I picked up at Ribfest just didn’t compare.)

Ribfest Ice Cream

This girl is following in my foodie footsteps. She properly appreciates herself a good cone. So yum.



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Weekend Update from the Beez Homefront

This has been the second quiet weekend in a row. It’s partially a matter of necessity, as both Mr. Beez and I have been finishing our weeks lately with lots of catch-up work for the weekend. It’s also partially purposeful, as my bad habit of scheduling 3-4 activities a day, for each Saturday and Sunday, has led to many exhausted work weeks. That was just not sustainable.

I have been overzealous with my 5K race sign ups. Last weekend I ran and Mr. Beez + Baby Beez walked the Brookline Breeze. Yesterday, Sandy and I ran the Yinzer 5K for Light of Life Rescue Mission. Next Saturday, we’ll be hitting the trails yet again for the Run Around the Square. The 5K distance has been nice because it’s a bit of exercise without taking over the whole day. I’m considering signing up Baby Beez for a kids race in the Steelers 5K, and maybe even running the race myself, but haven’t made up my mind. After that, I’m not signed up for another race until the Army 10-Miler in October. This is probably for the best, because I’ve been using a training program which calls for long runs on Saturday. A 5K race is too short for that purpose, and it’s inconvenient to try and tack on extra mileage before or after a race.

Yinzer 5k

Lets run, yinz!

Relatedly, the training program I’m on is essentially a half marathon training program, where the race would be scheduled the week after the Army 10 Miler, so now I’m considering signing up for a half marathon on that date. Options include the Columbus Half (which is already sold out, so I’d have to look into picking up someone’s transfer bib), the Hershey Half Marathon, or the Runner’s World Half & Festival, in Bethlehem, PA. I’m not ready to pull the trigger on any of these options yet, but I’ll have to make a decision in the next month or so.

On the flipside of cardio exercise, Baby Beez and I were on a sugar high this weekend. Baby Beez insists on continuing to grow, so I had to get her new duds for her ballet class. Afterward, we stopped over at Klavon’s Ice Cream Parlor. Chocolate ice cream with rainbow sprinkles for her, and a turtle sundae for me.

Klavon's Ice Cream Parlor


photo 5

Her vociferous obsession with chocolate is just further evidence that this kid is basically the loudest, most outrageous parts of my personality in distilled form. Watch out, world.

On Sunday we also baked a cake together. No special reason, other than I wanted a cake. I learned that you should NOT bake a pineapple upside down pan in a springform pan, because the melted butter will leak all over the oven and you’ll almost burn the house down. But I promptly responded to the billowing smoke, saved the house from smoldering, and saved the cake as well. That’s a victory, right?

photo 2

photo 1

On the whole, we had a pretty sweet weekend. How was yours?