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A Sweet New Year in Schenley Park

A Sweet New Year in Schenley Park

I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to Rosh Hashanah as much as I do this year. Fall has come early, and boy is it gorgeous. The air is crisp, pumpkin spice is everywhere, and I’m ready for s’mores! Baby Beez being big enough to really start “getting” holidays has added a lot to it. She has been learning about Rosh Hashanah in Sunday School and has had a lot of fun blowing the shofar and talking about apples and honey. She even brought a Rosh Hashanah book into school today to share with her friends.

We will be spending Rosh Hashanah mostly in services (adult services then kid services). However, we will be kicking the whole thing off the way any proper New Year should be welcomed– with a party!

NYE in the Park

This Wednesday evening, Mr. Beez will be joining our friends for the 3rd Annual New Years Eve in the Park! It’s a non-traditional celebration, featuring apples, honey, cider & beer. Rabbi Symons will be giving a TED style talk about the spirituality of foods. We will welcome in the New Year in the company of friends old and new!

Mr. Beez and I hope that you will join us. Tickets are $25 each and you can purchase them at the door or you can CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS! Adults only, please!

See you Wednesday!!

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There she is, #MissAmerica

When a party’s a spinoff party, you know it’s gonna be good.

A few years ago, Sandy invited me to a Miss America party. The women who planned it had been throwing the party for many years, and decided they didn’t want to hold it anymore. After a year without pageant mockery, I couldn’t take it anymore, and I told Sandy we must must must throw a Miss America party ourselves! So we did!

The basic idea: All ladies party. Champagne a flowing. Since the pageant itself is on a Sunday night and we all work jobs where a Sunday night party is not a good idea, we DVR’d it, and threw the party the Saturday following the pageant. Each attendee signs up for a state, and builds a costume (whether pageant or state-themed is up to her). Each attendee brings a dish. There is a talent show. There are prizes. There is a crowning of Miss America. It is marvelous. And it was.

We started the evening with a marvelous red carpet. I was the reigning Miss America, and my job duties included looking faaaaabulous (look at that BIG HAIR) and crowning the winner!

Miss America

h/t to Rent the Runway for the faaaaabulous duds. Have you heard lately how much I love RTR? Now you have. Love it.

Our lovely guests began arriving, and with them, their lovely dishes. I didn’t think of this at the outset, but everyone made state-themed food! And it was amazing! Some things were the “official” adopted foods of the state, others were just very popular local dishes. My personal fav. of the night was the cheese with guava jelly rep’ing Puerto Rico. So good!

Miss America foods

Our emcee for the evening, Alex, did a great job of shepherding the festivities. We started things off with a little parade in the living room, each Miss announcing her state and the special features of her attire.

photo

Miss Missouri with the St. Louis Arch on her head, and Miss Idaho, covered in her state’s signature jewels!

Next up was the TALENT portion! We only had 4 or 5 participants, but this is the first year with this crowd, so that’s not bad for a start! Next year, I’m hoping we’ll have lots and lots and lots. I broke the talent show ice by lip synch ventriloquy to “Part of Your World” from the Little mermaid. Baby Beez spent most of the evening downstairs with daddy, watching Star Wars, but we did let her come up to enjoy the talent show. And enjoy it she did!

Miss Ohio's talent got nothin' on mine

Miss Ohio’s talent got nothin’ on mine


Miss Vermont did a stirring spoken word rendition of Whoomp! There it is!

WHOOMP

Then, after watching round after round of semifinalists getting the axe, it was time to crown the winner! Miss New York took home the crown, marking a 3 year reign for The Empire State.

Crowning

The group photo! Look at all these lovely ladies!!

Miss AmericaIt was so nice to be greeted with tons of facebook messages, text messages and emails about how much fun everyone had! The party simply killed it, and I can’t wait to do it all again next year!!

As a sidenote, I won the best prize of the night, of literally having the best husband everrrrrr. The day of the party, he cleaned the whole house for me (while I ran around picking up last minute party essentials), even though he wasn’t even invited! he grabbed some snacks and some champagne and spent the evening in the playroom with Baby Beez, and didn’t complain in the least. And then, this is the sweetest part, after the party was over, I collapsed in bed because all that cleaning could wait til tomorrow. He, instead, stayed up and cleaned EVERYTHING up. And didn’t even yell at me about it (and doesn’t even seem to be mad!) He said he was happy I had a good party. Happy wife, happy life I suppose? In any event, I am #spoiledspoiledspoiled. #BestHusbandEverrrr

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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.