Archive | June, 2013

5 Thing Friday

28 Jun

Writing this so late on Friday night seems like cheating but….I MAKE THE RULES.

abbyleemiller

1.  Unless you live in your family’s old Y2K shelter (see how I dated myself there?), you have heard the excellent news that the Supreme Court ruled DOMA unconstitutional.

via Hollywood Reporter

I cried.  I cried even though Pennsylvania doesn’t yet allow Christina and I to tie the knot.  Not that she’s made any moves yet.  AHEM.  I don’t even care – I’m just so happy that the country I love is one step closer to equality.  According to Human Rights Campaign, 30% of gay Americans now live in states where they have equal rights.  I hope that you realize how epic this all is.  We are living through the next wave of the civil rights movement.  When we have children, we will get to talk about them how we fought for our right to love against all the odds.  P.S.  I can’t stop looking at the cover of  The New Yorker.  That rules.

2.  How have I gone my entire life without trying spaghetti squash?  It’s basically the easiest thing in the world to make and it tastes like al dente angel hair pasta.  It’s like the perfect pasta substitute.  I’m not a huge fan of pasta…it’s just so heavy.  So from now on, when the wife is craving pasta I am fulling whipping myself up some spaghetti squash!  I cut the squash in half, scooped out the seeds just like a pumpkin, and laid them core side down on a cookie sheet covered in water.  I baked it for about an hour at 350F.  You know it’s done cooking when you squeeze it with a towel and its soft.  Then, you shred the flesh with a fork and it looks just like spaghetti.

spaghettisquash

3.  Remember when I impulsively threw myself into container gardening?  Not too shabby, right??  Well just like the gays, all of the plants are beating the odds!  Below you can see a side-by-side of my lettuce on the day I planted it and today, day 24.  I’ve even harvested some and it’s still awesomely bushy.  There are all ready jalapeno peppers growing, the bell pepper and eggplant plants are starting to show blooms.  Fingers crossed!!

lettuceprogression

jalapenos.day24

4.  Oh haiiiiiiiii.

labradoodles.week8

Don’t mind us, we are just 8 weeks old and practically grown!  By Monday, 5 of the puppies will be with their forever homes and my heart will be just broken.  It’s all part of the process.  If you want to read some updates about their lives up to this point, click here or here or here.

5.  The Senate missed the July 1st deadline to vote on student loan rates.  Now, student loan rates are doubling to 6.8%.  What the hell.  Whyyyyyyyyyyy are we continually punishing for earning an education.  Banks get bailed out, people live of off welfare, and now I have to pay 6.8% back on a money I borrowed to pay for some overpriced state credits.  Pssshhhh.

graddegree

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Wordless Wednesday

26 Jun
via @GettyImages + @ellievhall

via @GettyImages + @ellievhall

via @jjabbott

via @jjabbott

 

via @billpeduto

via @billpeduto

Review: Pittsburgh Taco Truck

22 Jun

On Thursday, the stars aligned.

As we were driving down Perry Highway for a random afternoon delivery, we spotted it.  The Pittsburgh Taco Truck was parked in the lot at The Coffee Buddha and the windows were up!  Finally, finally, finally!  My schedule is just so hectic that I don’t have the luxury of running off to random places to enjoy food anymore.  Every once in a while I find that I catch a break, though, and can take advantage while en route to something work-related.

tacotruck1

Food trucks are a relatively new addition to the Pittsburgh area.  In fact, three years ago I had never seen one (and no, the ones near CMU don’t count – they don’t move around and their food is absolutely horrible)!  But now, Pittsburgh is embracing the food truck craze and I think we owe a lot of it to the Pittsburgh Taco Truck, who used social media, old-fashioned elbow grease, and righteous indignation toward city policies to start the revolution.  This year, Pittsburgh Magazine named them the best mobile food restaurant.

This was their menu on Thursday:

TacoTruckMenu

Christina ordered the 1/3 lb. Angus Ground Beef with Cheddar Jack and Salsa and also the Chicken+ Bacon + Cheddar.  She was nervous about the Sriracha cream, so she asked if he would put the avocado cream on instead.  Success!!  Two very enthusiastic thumbs up from the picky eater.  Don’t repeat this, you guys, but she said she preferred their taco shells to Smoke’s.  I think its because they doubled up on the shells and it complimented the amount of filling.  It’s all about the ratio for her, people!  I wanted to grab a pic, but by the time I thought to look over – they had mysteriously disappeared…

I ordered the Spicy Jerked Chicken w/ Avocado Cream which was excellent.  (It also mysteriously disappeared before a photo op).  That jerk chicken is spicy with a capital “S” – this little guy packed more punch than I thought it would.  No complaints, I like some heat.  I also ordered the Grilled Flank Stank (medium) w/ Kimchi.  So good.  I mean, so so so good.  If you’re not sure what kimchi is, its Korea’s most recognizable dish made from cabbage.  It’s super salty and can be made at varying levels of spice.  I honestly am not sure how spicy this taco was because my taste buds were still feeling the heat from the Jerk Chicken taco.  Either way, it was deliciously salty and tasty.

kimchi

Some other things I love about The Pittsburgh Taco Truck:

tacotrucksolar

Did you notice this in the first pic?  How awesome is that?!  If you didn’t notice it, they proudly advertise it.  Just bringing focus to that fact gets people thinking about it.  It sets a best-practices standard for other food trucks too, in my opinion.

While writing this post, I was checking out their Facebook page.  I noticed that on different days the menu board described the Flank Steak “grass-fed” and some days it didn’t say that.  So, I did what any blogger would do and I took to Twitter.  In the time it took me to write one paragraph, I tweeted the truck and got a quick reply.

photo(2)

Excellent customer service, sustainable values, and generally awesome food.

If you’re ever wondering where you can catch the Pittsburgh Taco Truck, check out their social media:www.facebook.com/pghtacotruck

www.twitter.com/pghtacotruck   OR  just tweet them @pghtacotruck

S.O.S.

17 Jun

I am so predictable it’s nauseating.  I’ve been ashamed to even mention this here, but I have to if I want to move forward.

As soon as I get ahead, I completely sabotage myself.  I haven’t run since the John Thompson Memorial 5K.  Not one time.  That was 18 days ago.  I feel like a failure.  I can see my goal of running The Great Race slipping further and further away from me.  I’m worried because each day that passes and I don’t register, I may not get a spot.  Alternately, I’m nervous about registering and not being ready in time.  104 days is a long time.  But, the puppies have proven to be a hindrance to my morning routine.  One of my business partners sprang a trip on us and I had to pull 24+ extra hours at Changin’ Time.  Also, we are going out of town for a week in the beginning of July to a place I’ve never been.  I’m not sure if I will be able to run there – I don’t think there’s a gym and I’m hesitant to run alone in an unknown place.

Are these excuses?  Of course.  Do I feel as though I’m able to overcome them right now?  No.  And that sucks.  I feel so completely unmotivated.  I feel lazy.  I feel like I’ve gained weight.  Me complaining here isn’t going to change anything.  The only thing that will turn my journey back in the right direction is to lace up and get out there.  I’ve been telling myself that for weeks.  But, it obviously hasn’t been enough to do the trick.

What do you do when you get into a rut?  How do you snap out of it?

5 Tips to Be a Smarter Shopper

13 Jun

On Tuesday, I shared a video with you guys called “The Story Of Stuff” by Annie Leonard.  If you got nothing from the video except thinking about what you buy, how much you buy, where it comes from, and where it ends up – I’ll take it!

I realize that it’s a big trap, the consumption cycle.  You think:  “Okay, well now I feel like complete crap about consumption, but how do I make changes without completely changing my lifestyle?”  Trust me, I’m not sitting here buying ethically sourced bamboo/hemp t-shirts online.  I know I probably should be, but….I don’t exactly have $30 (or more) to spend on a t-shirt.  My goal with sustainability is a practical one – how can I do the best I can with what I have?

So here are 5 tips for you to make purchases with your ethics and values (which are unique to you!):

1.  Local. Local. Local.  Buy local.  Just do it.  Even if you feel compelled to buy some made-in-China crap that is contains toxic materials and will eventually cause you cancer, buy it from a local small business.  Avoid big boxes when and where you can – buying from Target isn’t helping to support and grow your local economy.  By keeping your neighbors in business, it keeps the money you spend in your community.  And most of the time, in the hands of people who have all ready made an investment in that community by opening a business there.  Small business owners depend on YOU – the consumer – to keep them in business and you depend on businesses to keep your neighborhood prospering.  This symbiotic relationship is stronger than you realize.  That’s why corporations do any and everything they can to put small business owners out of business.

2.  Do some research.  Do a Google or Bing search to find out what items are manufactured in your area. You might be surprised.  We are becoming a DIY world and many people are finding ways to turn their DIY passion into a viable business venture.  There are artisans, hobbyists, experts, and producers out there making everything from reusable food containers to soda to brooms.  These people are making things ethically, in their own homes and businesses, using materials which suite their sustainable values.  And guess what – you get to have an actual conversation with them. You get to ask them what they’re about and what sustainable values penetrate their products.  These companies are all ready reaching out to you via the interwebs and social media – many times, you just have to a quick search.

3.  Find products that fall within the spectrum of your values.  My friend Amanda recently posted about an app she uses called Buycott. Buycott allows you to enter values which are important to you:    Then, you can scan products to determine which parent companies owns them and if you find them acceptable for purchase.  Some examples of my filters are “Made in the USA,” “Say NO to Monsanto,” and “Avoid eating toxic artificial trans fat.”  Its easy to let technology do much of the research for you!  However, the best alternative is to buy whole foods from local growers and farmers whom you trust.

4.  If you’re having trouble finding products which don’t contain toxic chemicals or are produced using unethical business practices, get involved.  Stop complaining about it and be about it!  Join a letter writing campaign, a Facebook group, start your own local group – by putting pressure on retailers to provide better options to the consumer, you can produce change yourself.  I recently just read about a group called Mind The Store that does just that.

5.  Reuse.  Find new uses for things, whether it be re-purposing or re-directing it from the waste stream.  Use old coffee filters in your potted plants, compost them, donate old clothing and home goods – more importantly, try to make purchases at thrift stores or yard sales.  Its more fun to find new uses for items and you’re able to put a personal flourish on it!

Living a sustainable life doesn’t have to be rocket science.  The most important thing is to open your eyes and recognize what consequences your actions have:  just because it goes in the garbage and is out of sight, doesn’t mean it should be out of mind.  Be creative.  Be aware.  Be responsible.

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