Archive | March, 2013

♥ Doll’s Birthday ♥

12 Mar

Yesterday was a very important day: her♥ birthday.  There are 20 days a year where we are only 1 year apart in age and I like to remind her of that constantly, although she insists that she doesn’t feel as old as I do.  I’m obviously keeping her around so she keeps me young. 😉

Since our schedule has been so hectic lately, I tried to make her birthday as special as I could without taking time away from work.

On Sunday, her dad invited us over for some takeout from Bravo! Cucina Italiana.  I am not a humungo-fan of Italian food (which is odd because my parents are constantly cooking pasta dishes), so I opted for the Balsamico Cobb Salad.  I didn’t take a pic because her dad is a little weary of my phone being on me at all times.  Its nothing fancy, just a salad with egg, tomato, bacon, grilled balsamic chicken, Gorgonzola, and these little crunchy pasta pieces that reminded me of Chinese food.  I of course indulged in the creamy horseradish dressing because I am obsessed with horseradish anything.

On Monday, I basically spent the entire day in the kitchen.

I made us a larger-than-usual breakfast spread with eggs, bacon (extra-crispy), and toast.

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Lunch was coconut-crusted chicken tenders, Brussels sprouts, and sliced pineapple.  It didn’t even last long enough for a photo op.  Then, I immediately went home and strapped up!

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She requested chocolate cake with vanilla whipped cream icing and voila…

An over-the-top, ginormous cake:

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Probably too much for two people, but luckily we have tons of family members we plan on pawning it off on today.  As opposed to cakes I’ve attempted in the past, this one was actually good.  I always try to get creative and use fondant, but guess what…fondant tastes like crap and as far as I’m concerned should only be used to make accents on a cake.  In your face baking shows.

She requested chicken fettuccine alfredo with broccoli for dinner, which I obliged.  We had tried this flax seed pasta by Hodgson Mills in the past, but always with red sauce.

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(Yes, we are still under construction.  Miss Perfectionist refuses to primer until the mudding and sanding is impeccable.)

I still love the pasta, but I will never again make it with alfredo.  It just…wasn’t good.  Like the pasta absorbed the alfredo or something.  I actually can’t put my finger on exactly what happened, but just trust me on this.  Skip the alfredo with the flax seed pasta.  We basically just ate around it and had alfredo chicken and broccoli.  Oopsie!

Anyway, my doll♥ seemed to have a good birthday even though dinner was ruined because of my insistence on eating healthier.  Cheers to another orbit around the sun 🙂

Weekend Recap

10 Mar

2.0 mile run: Steel Valley Heritage Trail

Let me start at the beginning.

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I live in the Steel Valley area of Pittsburgh, named so because it used to be home to one of Andrew Carnegie’s great steel plants called Homestead Works. In fact, a few miles down the river in Braddock, one of Pittsburgh’s only running steel mills is located.  Below, you can see it in the background of this urban farm.

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The mill in Homestead closed in the 1980s, which sent this community straight down the tubes. People couldn’t find work and the local population fell into poverty or moved away. Sometimes, when I’m walking, I think I can catch a glimpse of what it may have looked like when my grandparents were children, or even before.

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In the 2000s, though, a development company purchased up the brownfield site and turned it into an expansive shopping center called The Waterfront, now home to stores, restaurants, (unfortunately) parking lots.  This was a jolt of energy that my community needed, but we are still waiting for it to trickle into the old neighborhoods.  Change is happening, but more slowly than the rapid development near those old smokestacks.

One thing that Pittsburgh is great at? Honoring our history. Every where you look there are pieces of things that aren’t there anymore.

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Our region is proud and our roots run deep. I love that about us. It makes me feel like I’m part of something bigger, without even trying. It makes me feel like I’m part of this great story which is still unfolding. Everywhere I look, there are lessons which teach me how we got to where we are.  We are a city of bridges.  Bridges connecting communities, people, families, and also connecting us to our history.

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Those lessons are the ones that teach us how to get to where to want to be. When you live in a place where history is still very much a part of the present, you take the reminders for granted. You get so used to seeing all of these amazing landmarks and you forget to ask why they are even there. Not me. I’m a history nerd, and I take every opportunity to find out why and when and how things became and are. There isn’t a neighborhood in Pittsburgh that I’ve visited and not had this experience, but I still feel special living in such a historically relevant neighborhood.

If you’ve ever been to The Waterfront, you’ve seen the smoke stacks from the old steel plant. They are our community’s main landmark, preserved forever as a testament to the people who built this neighborhood. If you look hard enough, you can see lots of other historical landmarks which have been preserved. Most notably, the Carrie Furnaces and the Pump House of the old Homestead Works, the place where workers on strike defeated an attack by Pinkertons in what we now call the Battle of Homestead.

Luckily for me, there is a trail that runs parallel to the beautiful Monongahela River called the Steel Valley Trail.  Its well maintained, never crowded, and runs close enough to parking lots that I don’t feel paranoid of being in the movie Taken3.

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It’s actually part of the greater trail system called the Great Allegheny Passage, a 150-mile trail that runs from Pittsburgh to Maryland.

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Once a connector is completed, the trail will allow Pittsburghers to travel 344.5 glorious vehicle-free miles – all the way to Washington D.C. For now, I think I will just stick to the few miles nearest my house. 🙂

5 Thing Friday

8 Mar

Boy have I been busy lately!  I’ve been pulling longer hours at Changin’ Time, working on some new marketing projects and taking over her♥ hours so she can finish our kitchen.  I’m also in charge of planning the business conference for an association we belong to.  On top of that, we are trying for labradoodles this summer!  It’s not like any one of these things is particularly hard, it just feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day.

Meals have been quick,  easy, or ordered in.  Shame on me, I know. Even the Fish Friday series on the blog has been a dud because we really have found no reason to sway from Holy Angels, which we will be having again tonight.  Its hard to find motivation to attend another fish fry when Holy Angels’ is sooooooo good.  ♥

Instead of a Fish Friday post, I thought I would take some time to mention a some new-to-me things that I’ve tried this week.

1.  One of the items in our CostCo haul this week was almond butter.  I normally avoid the non-perishable sections of the store because it seems like too much to purchase for just 2 people.  But, I couldn’t resist:

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I’ve been eating more bagel thins and bananas because of my running, so this will be a nice, healthy treat.  I had some on my banana today and I give it two thumbs up!

2. Since I’ve given up Diet Coke for Lent, last month I purchased a case of SanPellegrino.  Then I realized SanPellegrino has way more sugar in it than I need.  While discussing this with a nice lady at basketball practice, she suggested that I try some sparkling water with fruit essence.  (At CostCo, I found a few options near the Perrier from both Nestle and Deer Park…which coincidentally is also owned by Nestle.)  I bought the Deer Park based on price and size, which comes in four different flavors: lemon, orange (today’s pick), lime, and berry lime.

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The lemon is HORRIBLE.  I don’t know what the hell kind of lemon essence that was supposed to taste like, but ew.  The other three are great.  It has been quite an adjustment for me because SanPellegrino is just so darn sweet and sparkling water has got quite a bite.  But, I know its better for me!

3. Inclines.  Somehow I thought that running on the treadmill without an incline was going to translate into running outside with no problems.

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Yeah, so this week has been interesting.  I’m adjusting and tomorrow is supposed to be semi-warm, so we’ll put it to the test!

4.  Chief and Hallie tied twice this week.  If all the jungle juice goes according to plan, we will have our first litter of champion-bred F1 labradoodles in May.  I am nervous because this will be Hallie’s first litter of puppies.  I am excited because she was seriously so great with Liberty’s last pups.

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She was like the cool aunt that plays all your favorite games with you and takes you to all your favorite places and teaches you about life and then sleeps over your house because you begged and begged her to and does all the cool stuff again the next day.  I’m pretty sure she’s going to be an even better mom than Liberty was (not that she was winning any parenting awards).  We shall see.  🙂

5.  On Sunday, ABC premiered a show called Red Widow.

While I had very little desire to watch it, there just happened to be nothing else to watch or do.  Turns out, it wasn’t that bad.  It follows a wife/mom whose father is a Russian mobster.  Her husband joins the family business and smuggled marijuana into the country, but accidentally gets mixed up with a crimelord.  Someone executes the husband and the wife not only has to repay his debt to the crimelord, but take care of her grieving family, fend off a curious FBI agent, and try to solve her husband’s murder.  Since they cancelled GCB and football season is over, I’ve been looking for something to do on Sunday nights.  Hopefully ABC doesn’t pull the plug because I could potentially enjoy this one.

My life is so very exciting.

 

Its Friiiiiiiiidaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy

1 Mar

That is all.

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