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Sunday Night Catch Up

There have been a number of things over the last month or two that I’ve told myself I need to get around to blogging about. I have the pictures and the intention, and then it comes down to I could either write the post or take a nap. Today I took a nap and OMG it felt good. Naps have been much higher on my priorities list. As they should be for everyone.  I hate that nagging feeling of having a backlog of posts. By the time I have enough time to sit down and write, the older ideas feel stale and I’m no longer into it. So this is my “catch up post” and I’m counting this as a clean slate moving forward.

(1) Now that the winter is really bitter and cold, I am again asking myself WHY do I live in Pittsburgh, and wishing I could go back to our holiday week in Tampa.  We only got to check out a small slice of it, but Tampa seems like a really cool town.  On our last night there we ate at this killer Latin American restaurant called El Puerto.

El Puerto


El Puerto

El Puerto

Mr. Beez had the dinner pictured in the middle, which was basically steaks on top of sausages on top of chicken on top of mountains and mountains and mountains of meat. Also, they had churros, which is nothing crazy or special when you’re in Florida, but churros are HARD to come by in Pittsburgh, so yasssssssss.

(2)  When we were in Florida, we went to Legoland. Everything was awesome.

Legoland

We were incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to enjoy a lot of amusement parks with Baby Beez this year. We went to Disneyworld (Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios), both Universal Florida theme parks, Sesame Place, Kennywood, and now Legoland.  now we are beginning what I will call “A few years of not going to any damn amusement parks” because I’ve had enough amusement. We may take her to Disney again in 5 or so years, but we need some time off for a while.

(3) Just FYI, outside of Legoland is this crazy delicious BBQ joint called Hog Heaven Smokehouse. It’s in a nondescript little strip mall, so you won’t notice it unless you’re looking for it. LOOK FOR IT. I admit, BBQ does not tend to be the most photogenic food, but you need to try this stuff, because it is delicious. Also, it’s a small family run place, and everyone working there was absolutely the sweetest. I felt more like a guest in someone’s home than a customer at a restaurant.

Hog Heaven

(4) We also visited the Dali museum when we were in Florida. It’s been a dream of mine since I was in high school to visit this museum, and it did not disappoint. It also had a special exhibition of Escher’s works going on. It was a complete dream for my high school self.

Dali Museum


(5) Ybor City was a totally cool neighborhood and we had so much fun checking out their local breweries, of which there are several. Our favorite brewery was Cigar City Cider & Mead. They had over a dozen offerings on tap of all kinds of meads and ciders, so many different flavors and all over the spectrum from dry to sweet. The bartenders were super friendly and were proud of the drinks they were serving, and chatted with us the whole time. Also they were playing Indiana Jones movies on a big screen the whole time. A+.

Cigar City

(6) When we got back to Pixburgh, we swung by the food truck roundup at The Brew Gentlemen because I saw that Blowfish BBQ was there, and thanks to the amazing food I had at Hog Heaven Smokehouse, I NEEDED BBQ and all I could think about was smoked chicken and delicious deliciousness. Delicious deliciousness was had, and if you have not yet had Blowfish BBQ, you are sorely missing out on the best BBQ in the city. And if you disagree with me, you are just wrong. Sorry.

Blowfish BBQ


(7) This week I visited Amazing Cafe with my friend Beth, and at risk of sounding ridiculous, it really was Amazing. I had the Tulum tacos, which included roasted tempeh, potatoes and vegetables. I also had a green juice that was legitimately delicious. I don’t really like juice, but from time to time I will tolerate it. I actively liked this juice, which is very unusual for me. Both Beth and I were thrilled with our lunches, the food was fresh, light and made us feel good from eating it. This is definitely worth a mid-day trip out of downtown.

Amazing Cafe Tulum Tacos

(8) This week was Restaurant Week and I made it out for 2 meals.  On Thursday, we went for family dinner to Braddock’s Brasserie at the Renaissance Hotel downtown. Baby Beez was really excited that we were eating at a restaurant in a HOTEL and I have no idea why, but whatever. The food was very good and the service was very friendly, so we had a really nice time.

Braddock's


Braddock's

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Braddock's

(9) The Steel Trap and I also went to Prairie for Restaurant Week dinner. Prairie is also on the gastropub/comfort food theme. The food was brilliantly executed and the ambiance was fun and laid back. I am puzzled, though, why the owners decided to change from Verde, which was a really good Mexican style restaurant in a town with few Mexican Restaurant, into a gastropub/comfort food kind of restaurant, of which there seem to be no shortage anymore. I went for the dishes that they are best known for– the chicken & biscuit and the ice cream cookie, and I was not disappointed. HGB of The Steel Trap also loved it, and you can click here for her review.

Prairie Pittsburgh


(10) Over this weekend, we took Baby Beez to Dave & Busters for a bit. We played this ridiculous pirates game that involved shooting monsters and such, but she and I had so much fun together with it, it was really incredible. I’m not really into video games, and she doesn’t have the skills or coordination to do well at them so she gets frustrated fast, but we were able to make some headway on this silly game and had such a fun time playing it together. It was one of those special little memories that is going to stay with me.

Dave & Busters


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NaBloPoMo Day 16: Birthday trip to @Nemacolin

NaBloPoMo Day 16: Birthday trip to @Nemacolin

So this is really yesterday’s post, but I was laying in bed last night and realized I forgot to post, and just was not going to get out of bed for the sake of blogging. So 2 posts tonight and I say we’re on track.  My birthday is tomorrow, and to celebrate my birthday we went on a family trip up to Nemacolin Woodlands Resort.  I’ve never been there before and I always love spa treatments and excellent food.

We started our visit with brunch at Lautrec.  It’s a lovely buffet with all kinds of pastries, fish, pancakes & waffles, desserts and even prime rib.  Baby Beez’s behavior has generally been getting better as she has gotten older, but I wanted to make sure she was on her best behavior.  To encourage fancy manners, we wore fancy clothes. She loves fancy clothes so this was a thrill in and of itself.  She also likes getting to choose her own foods out of a buffet.  She was able to show her best manners for the meal and we had a very nice brunch.

Nemacolin

Mr. Beez and I went to the spa while Baby Beez spent the day at the Kidz Klub. She was literally the only kid there, but that didn’t bother her any. In typical only child fashion, she made up stories with her imaginary Harry Potter friends, went swimming, watched movies and played with toys. It did not bother her any that there were no other kids there. Although I venture to guess she was a little bit lonely, because by the time we left the resort, she was saying that she missed her friends.

Nemacolin

After having an amaaaaazing time at the spa, Mr. Beez and I spent a good part of the afternoon sitting around, drinking wine and reading the whole internet. It’s kind of a silly thing to do, but we don’t get to just sit and relax very often so it was very nice.


Autumn

We had dinner at Autumn, which included scallops with bacon jam. Yes, Please.  The meal was lovely.  We do get to go out to eat quite a lot, but it was nice to be able to just wander down and pick up our kid afterward, and then wander back to our room. Because we are total party animals, we were all in bed and asleep by 9:30. But that’s a perfect birthday treat for me. I like sleep.

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NaBloPoMo Day 9: Return to the Homestead

NaBloPoMo Day 9: Return to the Homestead

It’s incredible how refreshing a weekend away can be. Although our vacation was only 2 full days and 2 days spent mostly traveling, I have returned home feeling at least sane again. It’s not full on rested bliss, but I am rested enough to feel capable to dive back into real life.

When traveling, I try to hit as many “local favorites” as possible, even if totally kitschy. Before leaving Montreal today, I enjoyed a Montreal bagel (totally legit), as well as one last helping of Timbits (also legit, but in a totally different way).

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Timbits

Travel was smooth going. In the course of this weekend away, I started and finished one book (The Beach by Alex Garland, in case you are wondering) and also made significant progress in another audiobook (The Scorch Trials by James Dashner).

Baby Beez Spiderman

Returning home with presents was mandatory, of course, and the pom-pom slippers and Spiderman comic book en Francais were very well received.

I know it’s not even late enough to be grown-up bed time, but I’m beat. So g’night.

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NaBloPoMo Day 8: All the Favorite Things

NaBloPoMo Day 8: All the Favorite Things

Our Canadian excursion has been going swimmingly. Luckily, Sandy and I see pretty eye-to-eye on our interests. We both want to unwind, and we have pretty similar ideas of what it means to unwind (food, wine, books). Also, neither of us have super strong opinions on what to do, so we’ve worked out things that are pretty interesting and agreeable to both of us.

Last night we went to the Canadiens game against the Boston Bruins, and it was crazy fun.  Sandy loves hockey. I like going to sports games fine, but if you asked me to name hockey players, Sidney Crosby is the only one I can probably name. I probably never would have thought to go to a Canadiens game, but Sandy suggested it, and I’m so glad we went. We had a blast cheering “Go Habs Go!!” and lamenting what jerks the Bruins fans are. The game was extremely exciting– it was neck & neck up until the last minute of the game, when the Bruins made a bad decision to go with a power play, and the Canadiens scored 2 more goals to bring in the win. It was a crazy, fun, exciting atmosphere, and I can say for sure now that a hockey game is a must on a vacation to Canada.

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Today we are having SUNDAY FUN DAY SUNDAY FUN DAY! Which basically means we are doing all of our favorite things. Our favorite things are as follows:

  1.  Brawnch at Le Saloon.

Le Saloon


2. Wandering around Jean-Talon Market. I wish we weren’t so full from brunch, because there were a lot more delicious looking things I wanted to eat there.

Jean-Talon Market

3. Sitting around for a couple hours, drinking wine, eating bread and cheese, reading books, and generally chillin out maxin relaxin all cool.

Bread and Cheese


In just these couple days, I have managed to unwind. I feel my sanity returning. Well done, weekend. Well done.

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NaBloPoMo Day 7: Old Montreal Walking Tour and Essential Canadian Activities

NaBloPoMo Day 7: Old Montreal Walking Tour and Essential Canadian Activities

For our first full day in Montreal, we followed an online walking tour itinerary for Old Montreal and saw a number of the lovely sights. I would guess the high tourist seasons are summer and Christmas, because it is not very hectic right now. Although the tour map looked like it was a lot of walking, everything is pretty close together.  We did walk a lot today, but not like Disney-world lot, so we feel a bit tired but not like OMG exhausted.

Notre Dame

Our first big stop was Basilique Notre-Dame de Montreal, which is very important because THIS IS WHERE CELINE DION GOT MARRIED YOU GUYS.  Even without her heart going on-and-on, it is a very beautiful cathedral, with all kinds of carvings and stained glass and beautiful things.

Notre Dame de Montreal

Notre Dame de Montreal

We also visited its sister chapel, which was smaller (albeit still the size of a “normal” church) and also very lovely.

Chapel Notre Dame

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As we walked through the Old City, we stopped to have crepes because this is Montreal and WE NEEDED CREPES. Sandy had the Parisien crepes with apples and brie. I had crepes with ham and caramelized onions and brie. I need more crepes in my life.

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As we continued to wander throughout the city, we kept seeing more and more of these curious telecommunications contraptions….

A relic from times past...

A relic from times past…

We continued on to Montreal’s market building, which I had hoped/expected was a kind of indoor farmer’s market. It’s more of a collection of boutiques, but there are some eateries.

Marche Bonsecours

Also, we were inexplicably trapped in the middle of an ongoing vegan festival…but we located Pub BreWsky with a nice long list of local microbrews, so all was very very well.

Pub BreWsky

Pub BreWsky

There was more wandering around to be had.

Clock Tower

After this wandering, I had THE HUNGRY, so it was very necessary to stop at Montreal’s Dunn’s Famous for Montreal Poutine (smoked meat, cheese curds, gravy, fries).

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Poutine

Properly refueled, we undertook some very necessary shopping, Canadian style, including wandering around Montreal’s vast underground walkway/mall, as well as a stop at Roots, which I just LOVE, and got myself the worlds biggest comfiest sweatshirt dress, which I plan to lounge around in just about every day this winter.

Roots

And in case you thought our day couldn’t get any more Canadian, now that we have stopped to unload our shopping packages, in a few moments we will be leaving for a Montreal Canadiens game!! Go Habs!  (Please pass more poutine)