Halloween 2017!

Is it just me or is celebrating Halloween even more fun as an adult than as a kid?! Maybe that’s because anything that involves dressing up and drinking beer is my idea of a good time. As you may or may not know, Joel and I wear a well thought out couples costume every year, and even though we opted out of throwing our annual party, it’s not like we were just going to skip dressing up entirely! So with an original idea in mind and a costume contest at a bar to enter, we went to the spookiest place to buy the materials needed… A real life hell on earth, my least favorite place, Walmart. Dun dun dunnnnnn.

The concept: Joel would be King Kong. I would not be the sexy blonde lady that fits into  the palm of the big ape’s hand, but rather, the iconic Empire State Building (complete with blonde Barbie hanging onto the spire for dear life). Funny, right?!

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Materials:

  • Gorilla Onesie
  • 4 Poster Boards
  • Silver Spray Paint
  • Black Acrylic Paint + Brushes
  • Barbie
  • Gorilla Tape + Glue
  • A husband not only ready and willing to make this for you, but to dress in a gorilla onesie all night

As annoying as Walmart can be, you can find almost all of what you need there and the total will be under $50 (committed husband not included).

I should have known that my engineer/perfectionist husband wouldn’t just throw some tape onto cardboard and call it a costume. Even though he was working longer days at the office, he still spent a few hours every night building an amazing replica of the Empire State Building. It even lights up!

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While Joel was busy working on that, I carved our pumpkins, using nothing but a really dull knife. Any Rick and Morty fans out there? “I turned myself into a pumpkin, Morty. I’m Pumpkin RIIIIICK!” No? Okay…

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Last year, I really wanted to dress our cats up for Halloween, but since they were still so teeny tiny, we didn’t get a chance to… THIS YEAR, THOUGH…. Of course I bought our idiot cats costumes. Peter is a bumblebee and Sweet Dee is a ladybug. Best $14 I ever spent (thanks, Amazon!). Peter Nincompoop is getting so fat, though, that after I put his costume on he kept plopping himself down on the floor. I had to bribe both of them with a bag of cat treats to get them to cooperate for photos with a cardboard flower I made and taped to the wall. Eh, good enough.

 

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On Friday night, after one last costume fitting, I climbed into the back of an Uber with the Empire State Building while King Kong rode shotgun. We went to a local bar that was hosting a big bash, but were a little bit shocked to see that besides the waitstaff/bartenders, we were the only ones in costume. As the night progressed, though, more people showed up dressed up and we all danced the night away. Just imagine a giant box with legs sticking out of the bottom tearing up the dance floor with a Gorilla. It was hilarious and sooooo much fun, even though we lost the contest to a group dressed as things from Super Mario Bros. We did get a lot of validation from strangers along the lines of “you guys should have won!!!” as well as a million costume compliments so that made Joel’s hard work worth it!

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We spent the rest of the weekend watching Stranger Things and planning out what we’ll be next year. I can’t wait!

Bringing Up ChienChien

Even though I don’t have children of my own, I’ve always had an interest in Child Development. Kids fascinate me! Last year, my very pregnant Francophile sister-in-law recommended Bringing Up Bébé, a book written by an American mother raising kiddos in Paris. It was très intéressant. Basically, the French have perfected the art of child rearing; but not only that, they make it look so easy. Anyway, it’s a great read and I can’t wait to test it out on all 8 of the future Little Blumer Babies (jk, Joel, calm down!).  

During our most recent stay in France, I tried to make it a point to be especially observant of French children. Are they really as well behaved as Pamela Druckerman made them out to be? The answer is: I guess so? Honestly, I was way too distracted by how abnormally well behaved every single dog we saw was that I kind of forget about the tiny humans.

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Full disclaimer: I wasn’t always the crazy cat lady my Instagram followers have come to know and love. I was raised with a full spectrum of pets from cats to lizards and snakes, one ferret, a pigeon, and a brief stint with a piglet. As well as, of course, dogs.

The best pet I ever had, was my Great Dane, Samson.

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Samson loved me, unconditionally, and the feeling was mutual! Although our time together was brief, it would still rank as one of the top friendships I’ve ever had. He was a good boy, BUT…. he was terrible on the leash. I can’t even tell you the number of times my arm was almost ripped from its socket trying to take him on a walk around the block. Since we had a fenced in backyard, our walks around the neighborhood were probably not as frequent as old Sammy Boy would have liked. So if I, or family member, ever left the front door open (to bring in groceries or whatever), Samson would book it. And that big lug was lightning fast, so he’d be out of sight in no time. The quickest way to get Samson back would be to make a “Lost Black Great Dane” ad on Craigslist, which would take about an hour to work and I’d get a call from someone a mile or two away saying they’d found my baby. One time, though, he was brought home in the back of a police SUV. Every parents’ worst nightmare!

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My point is: this bad dog behavior would not fly in France. Almost every single dog I saw, ranging in sizes from tiny to huge, was walking alongside his/her owner sans leash. More than a few times, I’d look down and see a dog walking by Joel and I and I’d have to fight the urge to pick it up and start yelling “whose dog is this?!” over and over until someone replied, because the owner was always just a few paces in front of us and the dog would totally know it. Pups are welcome everywhere too! We went to happy hour one night and a sweet couple had their little chihuahua with them. The petite pooch would take an hourly sniff of the cafe in its entirety, then return to his master’s feet. Bon chien! If you find yourself an American in Paris, watch the dogs. Seriously…

So what is it that makes French Canines so good? Is it in the kibble? Are the French bribing their puppies with filet mignon every night to get their undying love and affection?! Are they wearing chew toy scented perfume to make their dogs follow them in the street? Is it that French Dogs have the freedom to take dumps anywhere and their owners don’t have to worry about cleaning up the mess because the Parisian Poop Patrol will take care of it? I guess I’m going to have to move to Paris to research my next book… I’ll call it “Bringing Up TouTou” and it’ll be a New York Times Bestseller, too, I’m sure.

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the ONE dog with a leash in all of Paris

Cheap Dates: Lunch And The Library

What ever happened to going to regular old Lunch on a weekend? All the cool kids are either waking up at the butt crack of dawn to buy vegan donuts for Breakfast or they’re at the hip new Brunch spot on the trendy side of town. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of both of those things, but sometimes I just want to get satisfied by a BLT + chips + a pickle spear around noon on a Saturday. Let’s bring Lunch back! #LunchIsTheNewBrunch

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A great spot to get lunch here in Pittsburgh is the Squirrel Hill Cafe; located in, you guessed it, the neighborhood of Squirrel Hill (my personal favorite PGH borough). You might recognize the place from the latest episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, where Tony sat to have burgers with local author Stewart O’Nan. If you want ridiculously good, cheap food this is the place (the total for 3 people- 1 bacon cheeseburger, 1 BLT, 1 fish sandwich, 1 beer, onion rings, and fries- was $33!!!!!). Be aware, though, that although it has “cafe” in the name, you must be 21 or over to enter Squirrel Hill Cafe and that it is one of the last remaining bar/restaurants that still allows indoor smoking (gross, I know, but worth it for cheap food). Hey look! They decorated for Halloween!

Since we’re a married couple with no kids, we have alone time in spades. And since we love the company of my favorite sister, Annie, we invited her along to be the third wheel. Who else would be able to stomach taking photos of Joel and I reenacting Lady And The Tramp with fries?! Annie then surprised us by picking up the tab, turning this Cheap Date into a FREEEEEE DATE!!!!! Thanks, Annie!

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Photo of an indoor smoker

Speaking of free, the Squirrel Hill branch of the Carnegie Libraries is right across the street. I’m not sure how the libraries in your city stack up, but Pittsburgh’s are superb! Have you ever taken a date to the library? Probably not since college, huh? Well why not grab a few from the fiction section and get cozzzzy at a table with your significant other. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again… havin’ fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card….

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A few blocks away from the library and cafe, are some outdoor chess/checkers tables, which would be cool had we known about them and thought to bring along the chess pieces my nerdy husband owns. On the next installment of Cheap Dates, we see how many times I can hear the phrase “check mate” before having a full-on mental breakdown…

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Paris/Reykjavik Video

Do you ever dream that your life is a movie? Maybe I’m just a particular breed of Romantic/Drama Queen, but when I was younger I used to fantasize about accepting my Academy Award for Best Actress for my role as Sarah Haase, Witty and Lovable Middle Child. I didn’t realize until after we were married, that Joel would be the creative genius behind my starring role. I love that he finds me so a-muse-ing.

Maybe I’m biased (with just a hint of narcissistic) because my husband made it, but I could watch this video of my good side traipsing around Paris and Reykjavik all day. The colors are gorgeous (enhanced by Joel!), the music is perfectly timed (thanks, Joel!), and you can hardly see the croissant food baby I’m hiding throughout (great camera angles, babe!). Crank up the volume and enjoy! Or don’t! We don’t care! BYEEEE.

 

p.s. Parisians LOVE Daft Punk.

Reykjavik Street Art

Since we’re on the subject of street art anyway, let’s take the appreciation for colorful walls and murals across the pond… Back to Reykjavik, Iceland; a city that looks like the inside of a psychedelic kaleidoscope!

I mentioned before that when we went to Iceland last month, we didn’t venture far out of Reykjavik. Which is fine, because holy color explosion, it’s a vividly chromatic feast for your eyeballs. Hue won’t be disappointed (color pun, I’ll stop talking now)…

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you ain’t got no alibi

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don’t be fooled like I was, this is NOT a real cat.

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Whether it’s the outside of a bakery, the inside of a parking garage, or the entrance to the Punk Rock Museum, those talented Icelandic artists won’t leave you hanging when it comes to all things colorful. If you find yourself needing to kill some time on a stopover in Iceland, but you don’t want to spend a small fortune on excursions, just go for a wall crawl. And while you’re out and about, spend $4 on an Icelandic hot dog, just don’t ask what it’s made of…

Pro tip: pay $8 and go up to the top of That One Church to scope out the nearby street art.

 

Pittsburgh Street Art

There is a hefty handful of really cool gals in Blog World/Instagram Land who have perfected the art of Wall Crawling. Although it may sound silly to some people, I believe that street art makes our world a better (i.e. more colorful) place, and it’s nice to know I’m not alone in my way of thinking. Imagine you’re walking down the street and after seeing nothing but bland buildings one after the other, you look up and see a mural that sticks out like a sore, beautiful thumb. You can’t help but smile and appreciate the fact that there is art running wild in the real world, not stuck in a museum with a partition and no flash photography.

As far as cataloging murals around the country goes.. Jen has San Antonio, Bianca has Austin, Rosemary has Philly, Baltimore, LA, Vegas, and D.C. totally covered, but what about Pittsburgh?! Yinz guyz know we got cool murals n’at?! Technically, someone already made an extremely detailed website with the addresses of literally every single mural in town, but I thought I’d add to it by making an Instagram account (@PittsburghMurals) for the same thing… just because it didn’t exist.

Actual murals aside, finding a wall to have my picture taken in front of that is a solid color and coordinates with my outfit is not only my specialty, but what I get asked most about via email or direct messaging on IG. So Anyway, these are a few of my favorite walls:

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Best Mural In Town, 5482 Penn Ave
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Lavender Wall, Highland and Penn intersection
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YELLOW AF WALL, Gas Station where Butler and Penn Ave intersect
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Pink Wall, Hamilton Ave
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Chartreuse + Gray color block wall, Liberty Ave and Main St
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Swoops There It Is Wall, Smallman St and 29th
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Green Stuff Wall, Butler and 57th
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RIP Skull Mural (it has since been painted over)
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Cool Wall On The Way To Kish House, Address Forgotten

 

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Rainbow Crosswalk, Ellsworth Ave

Even if you’re not a blogger who favors ridiculously colorful photos to accompany your posts, murals could still be part of your life. My DIY/Travel Blogging friends, Sarah and Nick, took their engagement photos in front of Pittsburgh’s Pink Wall and how cute would it be to find the best blue wall for a photo shoot with your newborn baby boy?! Whatever the occasion, there’s probably a wall for you!

I think I said “wall” too many times and now it doesn’t sound like a real word anymore.  GOTTA GO. BYEEE.

Cheap Dates: Paris Edition

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re pretty big fans of frugality around here. Is it just me, or do I keep talking about how we’re trying to pinch pennies while simultaneous livin’ it up? Okay maybe it was just this post where I mentioned saving money while visiting one of the most luxurious cities in the world, but that’s how Joel and I are most of the time. Well, that’s how Joel is and how I’m learning to be (adulting is hard sometimes). We have a weekly budget that we stick to as well as a travel budget where we dump any extra cash we get from babysitting (me) or leftover per diem (Joel).

Even though 95% of the time you’ll find the two of us being a boring old married couple at home, on our couch, with our cats, binge watching something (rn it’s Rick and Morty), we still like to do fun stuff with the remaining 5%. I think that it is important in a marriage to date your spouse. Dates are great, right?! Especially when you’re already married to the guy and you don’t have to worry about shaving your legs or whether or not he’s going to murder you when you go home with him! See? Great!

I started this new “Cheap Date” category on here because dates are fun and, according to my husband, so is saving money. For the first installment, I thought I’d talk about how we went on super cheap Parisian date while we were in Paris last month.

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Did you know you can eat a fancy dinner on a boat on the Seine? Did you also know that a lot of people say it’s overpriced and overrated? We opted for the cheap-o version. We dressed up hella fancy on our last night in town, took the metro down to Pont D’Alma where we hopped on a 1 hour river cruise via Bateaux Mouches. When all of the tourists wearing cargo shorts pushed and shoved to get a good seat at the top of the boat, Joel and I high tailed it to the side where we could be all alone. We bought champagne. We snuggled and whispered sweet nothings to each other the whole time. It was perfect. We didn’t need a fancy, expensive dinner because we knew we’d get crepes on our way back to the hotel.

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Side note: since 2009, I haven’t been able to get on a boat without this song getting stuck in my head. Not complaining, it’s awesome.

“We drinking Santana champ, cause it’s so crisp…”

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12 Euros for boat tickets, 20 for champagne + plastic flutes, a few more for late night crepes compared to 99 per person for shitty cruise food? Yes, please! Cheap dates for the win! BOO YA.

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On the next installment of Cheap Dates, we see if our marriage can withstand All You Can Eat Appetizers… See ya then!

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Dress/Storets, Earrings/Amazon