Category Archives: Local

Fall Foliage

Ugh. I hate to be one of those bloggers who always talks about the weather, but here we are. At least I haven’t mentioned, on any form of social media, whether or not I’ve had a Pumpkin Spice Latte yet (I haven’t) or anything about #SweaterWeather. I promise to try not to complain about how cold I am from November through March…

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Does Fall even, like, happen if you don’t take a photo of your feet on leaves?

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When my friends from the Southern states and/or California talk about how they wish they had “real Fall” where they live, I totally get it. Fall in the Northeast is stunning! When the leaves change and everywhere you look you see luscious shades of reds, yellows, and oranges, it is a feast for your eyes for sure. Here in Pittsburgh, though, Fall is a prize that we all collectively receive because we made it through humid AF August/September. It also helps tide us over until Springtime because winter here feels like it lasts a little bit too long and can be annoyingly bleak. Womp womp.

I try to squeeze in a Fall photo shoot every year because the foliage is so ridiculously pretty and photogenic (like this one from last year), but with Joel working longer hours to finish up a big project at work, I settled for a mini session in my neighbor’s leaves with my sister as the stand-in photographer. Yes I got a lot of stares from people driving by or busy bodies peeking out windows, but I just told them to mind their own business and leaf me alone….

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get it, “leaf“…..

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…….

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Bad jokes aside, try to enjoy Autumn while it’s here because we all know what comes next…

Winter. Winter is coming.

 

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!

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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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.

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!

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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.

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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.

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

 

 

Thoroughly Modern Vintage

Modern vintage? Talk about an oxymoron.

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I may be late to the game, but wearing vintage dresses is my new thing. For some reason in the past I assumed that if one was to wear vintage anything, one would have to match everything else to the vintage piece. Oh, you found a fifties housewife dress and you want to wear it? You have to wear your hair in a 50s style too, dumb dumb. And don’t even think about stepping out in anything other than shoes of the era. You may end up leaving the house looking exactly like June Cleaver.

Not that all of that is necessarily a bad thing. We’ve all seen 1940s pin-up styled gals on the more hipster side of town or in tattoo shops and they are pulling off the look, complete with victory rolls, effortlessly. God knows that people keep trying to bring back 90s fashion, so there’s that too. But something about wearing a head to toe look from a different time feels a little too costumey.

I had what I refer to as a “dumb blonde epiphany” a few months back when shopping at a local vintage fair: What if I bought this 1960s maxi dress and wore it just how I wear everything else? Then, when people inevitably ask where I got such a lovely garment, I can answer elusively with my nose up in the air: “oh, it’s vintage“. Sounds like an all around win to me.

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I don’t have the contact info of the vendor who sold me this blue maxi, but I did get three colorful, loud dresses from this shop that I looooove. This weekend a giant vintage event will take place here in Pittsburgh, and I can’t wait to see what I can score.

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¡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.

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

xoxo,
Christina