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Review: The Taj Mahal

7 Jan

Moving to a new area can be extremely stressful, but luckily it also offers plenty of new restaurants, coffee shops, and local haunts to try out.  A friend of mine invited me to check out one of her guilty pleasures the other day:  The Taj Mahal Restaurant on McKnight Road.

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Now ya’ll know how much I love Middle Eastern food, so I was very hopeful that I would like authentic Indian cuisine.  I mean, we all know my addition to Patak’s sauces, right??  Well imagine my surprise when we were seated and I noticed tons of Indian people dining around us.  That’s usually a good predictor that the food is going to be on point.  The day that we happened to go, the only option was the lunch buffet.  Which…I mean….now my expectations are totally out of whack because buffets are usually gross, right?

WRONG.  You guys, buffets aren’t always gross!  This one was really really delicious!!!  The buffet was extensive and included cold/salad type options, entrees side dishes, appetizers, and desserts.  They included vegan and gluten-free options too, plus did I mention that it’s between $8.99-$9.99 depending on which day you go for lunch?  There is way more to the buffet than what these photos show, you should just go there and see for yourself.

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First, I thought it would be a good idea to try a little bit of anything that didn’t look familiar.  How do you know if you don’t like it if you don’t try after all?

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I didn’t remember to take pictures of all the names of these things, but I tried different chicken, lamb, tofu, and even goat dishes!  I can’t even tell you what most of these things are but I definitely ate $9.99 worth of all of it!  And to be completely honest, the tikki marsala was on point.

Dessert was equally delish!  I got the rice pudding dish and these balls of goodness, but my real favorite was the MANGO PUDDING.  I mean come on.

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Whew!  I spent the rest of the day in my fat pants, that’s for sure, but I regret nothing.  Bottom line:  delicious, affordable, authentic, and YOU SHOULD GO.

A Holiday, A Snow Day, & A Birthday

22 Jan

As the Arctic chill settles over our area once again, I thought I would poke my head out of my snow drift and remind everyone that this time of year can be tons of fun – especially if you live in the snow belt like me!!

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CO’s main side-kick, Cooper!

I shamelessly proclaim:  I actually like winter.  Things I don’t mind: layering up or scarfs or mittens or rosey cheeks or snowflakes! Also, hot chocolate, all of the holidays, snow days, snow balls, and snowmen, dogs running around playing, and the raw, natural beauty of icicles are when they catch the sunshine.  Things I do mind:  frostbite, slush, falling on ice, all of the milk and bread going missing from the grocery store.  Don’t get me wrong, I really like the spring thaw.  But I choose to enjoy the cold months instead of suffering through them.

Monday was kind of a perfect storm for some snow-filled fun.  MLK Jr. day meant the kids were off from school and it also happened to be CO’s birthday (Christina’s littlest brother)!  Since Christina had volunteered to show the kid a good time for the big 1-0, I opted to close the Changin’ Time drop off window and join in the celebration!  YOLO, right?

We excitedly picked snow-tubing as our birthday activity, but due to everyone and their mother showing up at Boyce Park for snow-related activities we were forced to find a back-up option.  Annoying.  We ended up being in the car like an hour longer than we planned because we had to drive from Monroeville to the North Hills.  CLEARLY too long based on the status of the back seat:

If you follow me on Twitter, this is the hysterical "CO" I am always quoting!

If you follow me on Twitter, this is the hysterical “CO” I am always quoting!

Who falls asleep with their hands folded like this!  He’s adorable, I can’t even stand it…

We arrived at Wildwood Highlands almost 2 hours prior to the 3PM-5PM tubing session to reserve our passes.  With time to kill and grumbling bellies, we headed to nearby North Park Club House for some grub.

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The menu had tons of kid- and adult-friendly options, but the best part was the big game room reminiscent of Dave & Buster’s or Chuck E. Cheese.  You play games for tickets and are then able to cash them in for embarrassingly cheap trinkets.  I had to convince the kid not to spend $40 worth of hard earned tickets on A SINGLE FUN DIP.  I mean, he could’ve cashed in for about a dozen Fun Dips or even one of the better prizes, but nooooooo he wanted just one Fun Dip.  Kids.  I made him get these little mustache clips that go on your straw while you drink.

Snow-tubing was so much fun!  You pay for a “lift pass” and get toted up the to the top of the hill in your tube.

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When you get to the top of the hill, there are 4-5 lanes to chose from.  You can go down on your butt or on your stomach or as a group holding onto each other. The boys had tons of fun and everyone ragged on me the entire time because I was too scared to go down face first!  There were several times when I was air born on the steepest hill.  Not something I want to experience with my face half a foot away from the ground.

I felt like Wildwood Highlands was fairly priced and the session time was a good length of time.  We lucked out and our session was a bit slower than I expected so wait times weren’t long at all.  They had apparently promoted some kind of family package on Groupon where 2 adults and 2 kids were $45.  We paid $75, so we will certainly be looking out for that deal next year!  Like so many family attractions in the ‘burgh (i.e. Kennywood, Sandcastle, etc.), it seemed to be run entirely by teenagers.  So basically every employee was rude, sarcastic, and full of attitude.  That felt like knives stabbing through my soul and digging away at my single solitary ounce of patience.

But that’s not what’s important.  What’s important is that we had a blast, we got a chance to spend CO’s birthday with him, and we made the most out of one very cold day!  Happy Birthday CO! 🙂

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