Category Archives: Fooooood

It’s Only Natural

 

IMG_7695
photo via

There are two ways of getting into a pool: the first way, you use your big toe to check the temperature and if that feels good, you slowly lower your body in as it gets used to the water. And the second way is… AHHHH! YOU JUMP!

I like to think of this scene from Superstar as metaphor when it comes to taking the plunge into living a more “granola” lifestyle. Though, unlike Mary Catherine Ghallager, we prefer the former method and are going ever so slowly into all-natural, organic living…

superstar.gif

Now that we are officially closer to 30 than to 20, we’re getting to be more aware of the products and foods we are putting onto and into our bodies. Did 21 year old Sarah care about how the synthetic fragrances and aluminum in her deodorant could potentially cause breast cancer and/or kidney problems? No! I just wanted to smell nice! Did I give a crap about all the plastic I was wasting by buying the tampons with plastic applicators?! Nope. I cleaned everything with bleach and other harsh chemicals and I never really cared about the effect it had on myself or the world around me. Had Joel, at age 23, ever even heard of Whole Foods or knowingly been within 100 yards of a Farmer’s Market? Probably not, too busy eating chicken wings or whatever… Ha! Just kidding, Joel’s parents are actually two of our healthy living gurus who raised their kids on lentils. Luckily, somewhere along the line, our eyes and minds started to open (thanks a lot to all of our gurus). That old saying about how “our bodies are our temples” always struck a chord with me; and since I plan to live a long and prosperous life, I need to start treating it as such…. Plus, we all need to start caring a little more about this world we have to leave to the generations to come.

The thing is, buying organic versions of all of your beauty/bath products (shampoo, soap, makeup, deodorant, toothpaste, lotion, etc), cleaning products, plus all of your food can be ungodly expensive and ridiculously overwhelming. “Whole Foods? More like ‘Whole Paycheck’ am I right?” Hence the whole “taking it slowly” thing I mentioned earlier. We are implementing holistic teachings as well as plant based meal options bit by bit. I mean, I spent the last 2 years trying to find a good replacement for my old deodorant and I just now found one that actually works. Slow and steady wins the race, doesn’t it?

Going all natural is really not as hard or as expensive as I had originally thought it’d be… I didn’t know until recently that tofu could taste so good or that I could clean the bathtub with just baking soda and white vinegar! I’m glad that that being a little more “crunchy” is the cool thing to be these days. This is a band wagon that people should want to be on and I can’t wait to talk more about it!

IMG_7671

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

IMG_7338

IMG_7336

IMG_7344

IMG_7335

IMG_7337

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!

IMG_7342
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….

IMG_7340

IMG_7339

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…

IMG_7343

IMG_7303

Paris: Stay There, Eat That

I don’t think anyone realizes how much input my husband puts into this blog. He’s not just the photographer/videographer, he’s an idea man as well. When we had our weekly content meeting last week, he suggested one of the topics for this very post. The conversation went like this:

JOEL (sitting on couch after work): “You should write a post about Paris next week.”

ME (walking up the stairs en route to bathroom): “What about Paris specifically? I have a lot of posts in mind.”

JOEL: “The food. Talk about the food in Paris…. I’m hungry. What should we make for dinner?”

FINE, JOEL. I GUESS I’LL TALK ABOUT ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS EVER: FOOD. But first…

The Paris of Joel and Sarah Blumer’s future is centered around the Four Seasons, Michelin Starred restaurants, and shopping at Christian Louboutin. It’ll be just like in that Bruno Mars song: “shopping sprees in Paris, everyday 24 karats”. The Paris of our present, however, is more along the lines of a pleasant hotel or Airbnb, cheap eats, and window shopping at the Christian Louboutin store (because shopping sprees in Paris would equal everyday 24 carrots because that’s all we’d be able to afford to eat). Although the future version sounds great, I wholeheartedly LOOOOOVE how we see Paris now!

This was, technically, the third time Joel and I have been to Paris (remember the first and second time?) and I make sure to casually bring that fact up in conversation as much as possible (yet somehow I’m not the most pretentious person I know). It’s a city that outdoes itself every time we see it. Paris really is the epitome of everything charming and beautiful.

IMG_6679

Normally, we’d pick Airbnb for accommodations in any city for more than 3 nights, but Hotel Panache was not only too cute, but way too much of a steal to pass up! At just over $100 per night, we got a room on the top floor with the best views of the 9th Arrondissement.

Boutique hotels combine the unique and charismatic elements that you’d get with an Airbnb with the simplicity and ease you’d get with a hotel. Win/win.

IMG_6678

IMG_6673

IMG_6675

With a sweet and knowledgable staff ready to drop recommendations about whatever tickles your Parisian fancy, Hotel Panache really has it all! Instead of pillow mints, you can expect fortune cookies with something funny written inside; Joel’s said “never make eye contact with another person while eating a banana”.

One thing you should know is that one of the toiletries provided by the hotel is body lotion NOT hair conditioner…. the label was in French and I made the mistake of assuming it was the latter, which will explain why my hair might start to look funky in a lot of our vacation photos.

IMG_6676

Fine. I guess we can talk about food now…

At home, we try to stick to a diet of mostly “plant-based” meals. When we do eat meat, it’s usually turkey, chicken, and fish and almost never beef or pork. In France though, that way of munching goes out the window. Not that it’s hard to find amazing vegetarian options in Paris, we just didn’t want to. We’re on vacation, damn it!

Before we went to Paris the first time around, I did a ton of research and asked people we knew who had been where the best cafés were, only to find out that when you’re on the streets of Paris, you can’t throw a rock without hitting a cute café. The hypothetical rock you’re throwing will probably bounce off of one cafe and hit two more before it slows down.

To save some dough whilst in Paris, we only ate at cafés, brasseries, pâtisseries, and my personal favorite: crêperies. These are all especially great options if you feel awkward making dinner reservations in a foreign country (we rarely go to places where reservations are needed stateside anyway). Just go in, find a seat, eat and enjoy! 

IMG_6680

IMG_6681

IMG_6683

IMG_6684

A lot of cafés in Paris are not only charming, but come with so much cool history too! Le Consulat in Montmarte happens to be where Picasso, Van Gogh, Renoir, and Toulouse-Lautrec used to all go to have a drink and shoot the shit, artist style. And Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole (located right by Notre Dame) was established in 1512, making it one of the oldest buildings still remaining in Paris! Just look at that wisteria growing, hiding it from the prying eyes of most tourists! C’est vraiment magnifique!

IMG_6686

IMG_6685

Can we give a shout out to “mixte” plates, real quick?! It doesn’t get much better than a big plate of various meats and cheeses (sometimes with a side of pickles!) served with warm bread and washed down with cold beer. We ordered them a couple of times not really knowing what kind of meat or cheese we’d get specifically, but they never disappointed.

IMG_6073

For burgers in Paris, Mamie Burger is THE BEST (also conveniently located right outside of our hotel)! If you don’t want to be an asshole or an “américain stupide,” be sure to order your burger medium. Yes, there will be blood, but it’ll be worth it. Trust me.

IMG_6692

I can’t look at the pictures below without drooling. The street food in Paris is so. freaking. good. My last meal in France was a gyro with spicy cheese sauce that I ate at 10 p.m. and had the worst heartburn from, but couldn’t get enough of! The pizza and garlic knots were also so very tasty.

IMG_6691

IMG_6157

We Blumers are all very big fans of Belgian beers. Belgium is France’s adorable northern neighbor, so drinking a good Belgian beer in France is as easy to do as going anywhere in the U.S. and drinking a Bud Light or any other trash beer. Hooray! We also had a few cocktails and a few bottles of wine because, like I said before, vacation.

IMG_6690

IMG_6019

Ah, crêpes. The quintessential king of all street food in Paris. Try one with butter and sugar or Nutella and strawberries! Whatever you get on them and wherever you get them from, you’ll be satisfied by crêpes. I have so many photos on my phone of just crêpes. I love crêpes. crêpes. crêpes. crêpes.

Say crêpes one more time…

Crêpes.

IMG_6687

IMG_6159

IMG_6102

IMG_6688

Pastries in Paris are an art form. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. It’s a fact. Macarons (NOT Macaroons, there’s a difference, okay?!), croissants, croissants aux amandes, pain au chocolat, eclairs, etc… each one is better than the next. It might literally be impossible to eat a bad pastry in France. Just sayin’.

FullSizeRender (23)

Ugh, crap. Now I’m drooling again…

Mrs. Steel Yo POPS

I know where your brain is going. No, I’m not referring to your “Pops” as in your father! I’m talking about “Pops” as in POPSICLES!

img_2729

I met up with my friend Jadie for lunch today and we both had our toddlers with us. If any of you have kids, you know going to a restaurant with kids that isn’t a Chick-Fil-A is a huge stress. There is only a certain amount of time a kid can handle coloring on the same paper with only a 2-color crayon choice. If you add on a popular restaurant during lunch hours, you’re looking at spending a good 45-60min. For a toddler, that time is an eternity.

Not too much time passes before bribes are made and 2 magical words slowly exit your lips. “I C E – C R E A M”. Bam. Automatic 5-10 minutes of decent behavior added to your meal.

I’m not one to not follow through with a promise. After we left the restaurant, we looked up nearby ice cream shops and came across Steel City Pops around the corner. Jadie and I were both immediately impressed with the atmosphere and vibe of the shop. Steel City specializes in gourmet Mexican Paletas, commonly known as “pops”. As I was struggling to decide on the perfect flavor, I asked the cashier about the company. She told me the story of how it was started by a husband and father from Alabama who followed his dreams to own a restaurant. Today, that 1 restaurant has turned into over 20 locations and continuing to spread through the United States.

img_2733

 

Finally, I made my decision. Are you ready? Might want to loosen your belt buckle and let out that top button on your pants. Cookies & Cream Cookie Pop dipped in dark chocolate, drizzled with fresh caramel and toasted coconut, and dredged with sea salt. I can get pretty vocal when I eat something satisfying and to be clear, I was NOT silent. Treating yourself once in a while is a must. Do yourself a FLAVOR and don’t waste that “treat” on something that won’t fully satisfy you. Take the plunge and go for it all. Your heart will thank you… but your slim fitted jeans might react a little differently.

img_2734

All in all, if you’ve never had a paleta, I encourage you to try one out. Follow your heart.

 

 

California Is For Lovers (Part 2)

img_6569

If I could transport myself to southern California for an hour a day to lay on the beaches, I would. They were absolutely breathtaking and the weather was perfect! My friend, Cyntia, and I had a girls day while the boys went on some long hike. We stopped first at the Santa Monica Pier and walked the beach and pier. There were some pretty talented street performers, one guy even had pigeons all over his body. NOPE.

img_6783
Isn’t she like the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen?

img_6567

img_6566

img_6563

Next, we checked out Venice Beach aka Muscle Beach. Let’s just say, it did not disappoint. Great food, big muscles, and soft green grass to take a nap. I had my very first açaí bowl, I’m not sure why I waited so long to have one because it was super scrumptious!

img_6559

img_6487
Hello, is it me you’re looking for?

img_6554

img_6557
Shortly after this picture was taken, this guy got arrested for having 2 guns and a 6-pack… just kidding.

Our last and final day in California was spent in Newport beach. We got a sweet deal on rentals for surf boards and wet suits so we had to at least try! Turns out, none of us were actually able to get up but we all got a pretty good workout trying. What matters is, we got some amazing pics and enjoyed the sun!

img_6553

img_6507

img_6509

`

Peace out, Cali! I’ll be back shortly!

xoxo,
Christina

¡Viva Fiesta!

Fiesta originated 125 years ago when citizens of San Antonio wanted to celebrate the heroes of the Alamo with what they named The Battle of Flowers. It became a tradition and is now ingrained in San Antonio’s culture. And get this, it is the only parade in the country to be planned and directed completely by women! GO GIRLS! When I was a kid, I was in synchronized swimming and our team, The Cygnets (baby swans), got to participate in the parade and had our own float. Being super clumsy, I was never allowed to go on the float so I had to walk. We were told to just throw candy at kids whenever we walked by them, which could be a little dangerous. When you think about it, the parade is a ton of giant piñatas spewing candy all over the place. No baseball bats or blindfolds involved so all the hard work is done.

source: walkerreport.blogspot.com
Photo: TOM REEL, Staff / San Antonio Express-Newsimg_1936

Being born and raised in San Antonio, I have a deep respect and appreciation for my city. When Fiesta comes around each year, I am again reminded of the history and culture of this beautiful city. N.I.O.S.A which stands for Night In Old San Antonio is where the party is at. Every year Sarah’s Dad, my uncle, volunteers and usually always asks for help. He works at the “Ranch Steak” tent. Ranch Steaks are a thin slice of chuck on a tortilla. Can’t get much simpler than that!

If a Ranch Steak doesn’t peak your interest, you could also try the infamous Chicken on a stick, or Steer on a stick, Elote (corn on the cob), or anything fried you can think of. Being a volunteer, you get all the sweet perks. Early entry, private bathrooms, air conditioned lobby, and free food. Whenever I had the chance to help out with my cousins, we would always be the ones taking tickets and banging the cow bell saying “RANCH STEAKS! GET YOUR RANCH STEAKS!” Then when 10pm came around (closing time) all the hungry drunks rush to your booth to get their greasy fill. Things can get a little crazy but overall, it’s a grand time.

source: Texas Public Radioimg_1889

The whole month of April has Fiesta-related events going on, but the main events are from April 20th – April 30th. If you plan on making a trip, I would suggest coming for N.I.O.S.A., you will experience everything “Fiesta” in a span of 4-5 hours from good food, drinks, music, and partying. If you plan on bringing kids, I would recommend the Fiesta Carnival or one of the many parades. All information about the events and details can be found here.
img_2222

img_2219

If you’re ever planning to visit San Antonio, come in mid-April and party like a local!

xoxo,
Christina

Coffee Shop Soundtrack

It’s been so difficult to keep this a secret, but….

WE’RE OPENING A COFFEE SHOP! For locals and anyone interested in visiting the ‘Burg in the near future, Cup Of JoeL Is now open in the trendy neighborhood of Lawrenceville! Do you love specialty lattes with pictures of flowers in the cream, European-style espresso, and organic ingredients? If so, this is not the place for you. Are you craving a crappy cup of coffee that you could probably just make yourself at home? Well, crave no longer, Cup Of JoeL totally has that! Here, it’s okay if you want call it “expresso”, because that’s not on our menu anyway!

CupofJoel

Seriously, this April Fools joke has been sitting in my list of drafts for months now. NO, we are not actually opening a coffee shop, but whatever… Joel’s getting really good at photoshop!