My Mixtape Monday – June 29, 2015

First Name: Dawn
Twitter: @redpenmamapgh
Sex: Female

Mixtape Name: Car Songs 2015

Side A
1) Got to My Head by WATERS
I had been thinking of this playlist for awhile now. When I heard this track on All Songs Considered, I knew it was time to start.
2) Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
I resisted this pop gem for as long as I could. It’s… it’s not a very complicated song. But it eventually hit the pleasure center in my brain, and I was seduced. I think I get a little cache for knowing who Mark Ronson is.
Aside: I keep waiting for one of the girls to ask what a masturbator is. Neither has so far, which means they have their own idea. And I’m not opening that can of worms. The 4yo asked if it was a bad word, and I said no.
3) Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon
I didn’t even bother trying to resist this one. It’s the 8yo’s favorite song of all time (for now).
4) Happy Idiot by TV on the Radio
This is the 8yo’s second favorite track on this playlist, so I feel like I am parenting well.
5) Reflections by MisterWives
This band is the Chvrches of 2015. The whole album, Our Own House, is car-song worthy.
6) Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia) by US3
Does anyone else remember this song? I blame my husband for introducing it to the girls. “Ladies an’ gennlmen…”
7) Left Hand Free by alt-J
This is a weird little poppy song from a band that is otherwise prog rock for millennials. Which isn’t a bad thing.

Side B
8) Hurricane Season by Trombone Shorty
My husband is responsible for this one too. Can’t sing along (it’s an instrumental), but the children almost always request it when we’re in the car, so it was a natural fit.
9) Burn by Ellie Goulding
I originally had “Love Me Like You Do” from Miss Goulding on the playlist, but it was roundly and solidly rejected by my audience. This was our compromise.
10) Elastic Heart by Sia
My other pop diva of choice.
11) Gotta Get Away by The Black Keys
The 10-year-old’s observation: “Wow. He must really dislike the person in this song. He traveled to Kalamazoo to get away from him!” Never mind that this is probably about Auerbach’s ex-wife.
12) Under a Rock by Waxahtchee
This is another oddly poppy song from an indie rock singer who is otherwise not poppy. (h/t to @EdMasley for this one.)
13) Handsome by The Vaccines
Spotify gets all the credit for this one. “If you like A, you will like B.” I don’t remember what A was in this case, but they were right about B. A little cynical, a little mean, but catchy as all get out.
14) Walk Like an Egyptian by The Bangles
I blame the 10yo’s music teacher for this one. The end of the year show was a retrospective of pop songs for the 60 years the school has been open. This was one of the songs from the 1980s.
15) Back of the Car by RAC
And, we end where we begin, with NPR, All Song’s Considered. A car song! About a car! (Kinda.)

Liner Notes: The concept is simple: a song you can sing along to or dance along to in the car. Someone should to teach the joys of singing along to my 10-year-old. The 8- and 4-year-olds totally get it. My son (the 4yo) knows all the vocal stylings in track 2.

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The Best of Summer 2015 Part VI…Wine

Ann, of the erudite and entertaining blog The Winey Mom, is handling our last entry in our Best of Summer 2015 series. Unsurprisingly, she’s covering wine. Santé!

Welcome summer 2015! Or as we’ve been calling it in Cleveland, the rainy season. Is there anything more frustrating than a promising summer weekend where it rains the entire time? Well, yes, I guess there is: a rainy summer weekend without any wine. Because let’s face it, a little wine can make any day sunny, at least inside my brain.

So what am I drinking this summer? Let’s start with white wine. Because I am nothing if not a weather driven Winey Mom. Summer days on the patio (or gazing at the patio) just scream to me for a crisp, refreshing white wine. Don’t get me wrong, I love red wine. But when the temperatures rise, my taste buds scream for white.

And for some reason this summer, I have been traveling to France for my white. Ok, not literally, but I have been traveling to the French wine section of various stores, so we’ll go with that. I don’t think, at first, that I was doing this consciously. But a few stores were spotlighting a French wine, I tried it, I liked it and decided to explore the blanc side of the French wine world. Here are some of my favorites so far (I will continue with my French exploration, I’m no quitter). If you can’t find these exact wines, you can use these suggestions to find similar French whites.

a1La Petite Perriere Sauvignon Blanc (2014, 12.5%, Loire Valley, France). Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most grown white grapes in France, especially in the Loire region. And this is 100% Sauvignon Blanc (lots of French whites are blends). I paid under $10 for this wine and would pay it again and again. If you like a tart and juicy Sauvignon Blanc, you’ll want to try this one. It starts off with a nose of green apple. The first flavors you’ll taste are lime, gooseberry and kiwi, followed up with a hint of green bell pepper. It finishes up puckery tart, with a taste of sour apple (if you loved the sour apple Jolly Ranchers as a kid, or even now as an adult, you’ll love this finish!). The wine was juicy and full of layered flavors. Just yummy.

a2Le Chardonnay (2014, 13%, Auvergne, France). This wine is produced by a cooperative, Cave St. Verny in the Cotes d’Auvergne appellation of France (which is just a bit south of very center of the country). This also cost me under $10. You’re welcome. This wine is a very pretty bright, sheer gold color and it smells of honey and minerals. It tastes of honeysuckle, lemon and bright minerals. It ends up with just a touch of sour citrus and has a great mouth feel to it – not too full, not too thin and sharp. No oak in this one – a perfect Chardonnay for summer sipping. Another one to buy again.

a3Cleebourg Pinot Gris (2011, 13%, Alsace, France). I’m going to give props to the Winey Hubby here, because he is the one that got me interested in the Alsace area. Well, not him personally. To be fair, it was his ancestors. Seems a whole branch of his family is from Colmar, which is in Alsace-Lorraine. The area has switched back and forth from French to German rule over the centuries, but at the time they lived there, Colmar was under French rule. So I was curious as to what a Pinot Gris from the land of the Winey ancestors would taste like. The first thing I noticed about the wine was that it poured out of the bottle heavily. Sort of like pouring liquid velvet. We’re talking full bodied here – you could tell just by watching it! The nose gave off aromas of apple blossom, ripe honeysuckle and heavy summer flowers. The first flavor I tasted was of minerals, then golden honey followed by lime peel. It finished on that lime note, tart and almost sour. It delivered the entire gamut of flavors here – rich, creamy, sweet flavor giving way to a tart, juicy finish. If you don’t like sweet white wine, but you aren’t into the big and buttery thing either, you’ll like this one: it starts out creamy and ends up refreshingly tart. This one cost a bit more: it’s in the $15 range.

a4And my last French white for you all is on this list not because it’s from France (although that does help, given the theme of my summer sipping). No, it is here because I am sad. Oh so very sad. Because over in England, they have just started shooting the last (sob) season of Downton Abbey. Hold on, I need a minute.…… OK. And because the folks at Carnival Films (the masterminds behind Downton) are pretty smart, they decided to market a wine line. If you know how obsessed I am with all things Downton, it will come as no surprise to you that I am a very good customer of these wines.

The first offering from Lord and Lady Grantham and the folks at Downton was two French wines. So I’m going to tell you about the Downton Abbey Blanc (2013, 12.5%, Bordeaux). This is a classic Bordeaux blend of Muscadelle and Semillion that starts off with a nose of golden pear and yellow apples. The first flavors are tart apple and starfruit followed by a mellow line of pear. This is such a flavorful wine. And there’s a touch of slight creaminess to it that keeps it from being way too tart and makes it perfectly crisp. This one runs a bit more – I paid $16.99 and you’ll have to order it from wine.com. But let me tell you, it was worth it. Especially for those of us dreading the end of season six and future Januaries without Downton. Sob.

That’s my summer sipping for you…like I said earlier, if you can’t find these particular wines, go ahead and try a French Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay or Pinot Gris. They each have their own distinctive flavors that will pair very well with summer living!

Cheers!

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The Best of Summer 2015 Part V…TGIF!

Welcome to a special TGIF-edition of “The Best of Summer 2015” by my buddy Elizabeth (of the awesome blog BeezusKiddo). Regrettably she makes no mention of Balki or Urkel, but she has put together a list of nine fun Friday activities to add to your summer calendar. Let’s get to it!

When it gets to Friday, PUT A FORK IN ME I’M DONE. It’s time for some fun! Well actually, it’s time for about 4 hours of fun. I usually end up working on the weekend, because that’s the billable hour life. Still, TGIF TGIF TGIF. And now I’m going to share with you my favorite ways to spend those 4 precious hours and cut loose! (But not Thursday night in Oakland loose, because I’m old.)

1) Evening drive with the windows daaaaahn and a sundae at Page Dairy Mart

e1When’s the last time your joyless, gas-price-watching self went for a good, frivolous drive? Windows down, absurd music blasting, just enjoying the wind through your hair? That long stretch of East Carson Street from the end of the Sahside to the Glenwood Bridge is absolutely perfect for that kind of cruising. Page Dairy Mart is right on the way, so remember to bring your cash (no cards accepted!) to get a summertime treat!

The chocolate chip cookie sundae with Nancy B’s world famous chocolate chip cookies is out of this world, but is far too big to eat all yourself. My usual favorite is coffee soft serve with hot fudge and whipped cream. And the whipped cream is the heavy, real stuff (you’ll have to specifically ask for it, they don’t automatically include it on the basic hot fudge sundae). I never liked soft serve, then I tried Page Dairy Mart, and a Pittsburgh summer isn’t a summer without it.

2) Drive in at Dependable, with popcorn, popcorn, more popcorn and maybe a popcorn

e2When my husband and I were carefree, childless young’ns, movies were our THANG. We went to the movies at least twice a week, I had all the weekday specials at the Sahside Works memorized (Free popcorn night! Student night! Holla!) It was a glorious time. Then we had a baby, and unless you’re a total jerk, having a baby puts a damper on your movie theater outings. EXCEPT, we are lucky enough to live in a fine city with not just one, but TWO drive-in theaters! Dependable Drive-In and Twin Hi-Way Drive In. They’re both out in the Robinson-area. I have only been to Dependable, and we just love it.

In theory, the movie is late enough that your joykilling kid will fall asleep and you can have grown-up time in peace. In reality, our kid usually stayed up through the entire double feature, only to pass out when we started the car to drive home. So yes, our small child watched Ted and Snow White & the Huntsman. We are highly inappropriate parents. But we also were able to keep the windows rolled up, and keep her chatter, noises and occasional crying to ourselves, while still enjoying our favorite pastime. Although it was not intentional, I think that this was good training to get her to sit still and appropriately through a whole movie. By the time she was 2, we were able to take her to the real (kids) movies without incident.

3) Furry sightings outside Anthrocon

e3YOU KNOW YOU LOVE SEEING THE FURRIES. Anthrocon is July 9-12 this year, and it’s the most wonderful time of the year! I’m no furry, but having a happy hour windowside at a downtown Penn Avenue establishment has become a tradition for me and my friends over the last several years. Anthrocon organizers have stated that they keep coming back to Pittsburgh because the people are friendly here, and from everything I’ve seen, there have been very friendly interactions between the furries and the non-furry public. I love snapping pics with folks in the very best costumes, and Anthrocon attendees have always seemed happy to pose with the curious public.

4) Corndogs, sheep and a Penny on the Floor at the BIG BUTLER FAIR

When I grew up in a tiny desert town in California, the one thing we had to look forward to every year was the ANTELOPE VALLEY FAIR! Even though there’s a lot more going on in this bright-lights-big-city, my love for the county fair has not ebbed. Deep fried food! Sheep to snuggle! All those funny chickens with crazy feathers! Questionable carnival rides! The Big Butler Fair is the biggest and best fair in Western Pennsylvania, and we go every year.

e4Mr. Beez’ favorite part of the fair is the school bus demolition derby. I, of course, prefer the night with the “Mystery” music performance, which every year turns out to be The Clarks (surprise!). There is nothing more “summer” in Western PA than seeing The Clarks at the Big Butler Fair, except for seeing The Clarks at the Fayette County Fair. This picture is not The Clarks, but instead is some weird Amish (former Amish?) AC/DC cover band called The Earthquakers. It was such a surreal, somewhat disturbing performance that it’s become a running joke now. But they are a thing, and you can sometimes see them perform at the fair, too.

5) Dining Al Fresco With a Spot of Vino at Pusadee’s Garden, Full Pint and THE ALLEGHENY WINE MIXER

e5Some nights, when there’s a sweet breeze, dining al fresco is a must. Pusadee’s Garden in Lawrenceville has a gorgeous, romantic patio and delicious spicy noodles to boot. It’s not a typical “kid-friendly” sort of establishment, but we’ve been welcome as long as our kid has kept her behavior in check (the iPad and her adoration of noodles help.) It’s BYOB, so you may want to stop in at the Full Pint taproom across the street to pick up some brews for dinner.

Also, Allegheny Wine Mixer, the best wine bar in the city IMHO is across the street, and it is perfect to stop in either before or after for a wine flight or two (on nights we are without the child, thankyouverymuch).

6) Outdoor music in the park at First Fridays at the Frick and WYEP Summer Music Fest

e6With many festivals and events, Pittsburgh’s got a nice outdoor music scene in the summer. First Fridays at the Frick and WYEP Summer Music Fest (THIS SATURDAY) are two of my favorites. Parking in and around Point Breeze for First Fridays can be tricky, so you should arrive early. Pack a picnic lunch and a bottle of wine and meet up with some good friends. The mood is laid back and fun.

There are more activities going on with the WYEP Summer Music Fest and it tends to have better-known acts. Technically, it’s on Saturday, so it’s more like TGIS, but it’s a great event so it shouldn’t be excluded on a technicality. If you’re lucky, maybe you can snag an outdoor table at The Porch to enjoy a nice meal along with the tunes.

7) Happy Hour at Arriba & the Clemente Museum

e7I literally only learned about this place this week, and it’s a gem. Most people I’ve asked haven’t even known that we have a Roberto Clemente Museum here in Pittsburgh. It’s the project of commercial photographer, Duane Rieder. You know that iconic photo of the Steelers praying in the locker room? That’s Duane’s photo. And those super-sexy X Shadyside gym advertisements? His too.

Although the building is unassuming from the outside, the Roberto Clemente museum is a gorgeous space, stylishly restored. It’s a mecca for baseball fans, and is even fascinating to someone (like me) whose interest in baseball is limited to the snacks.

The Roberto Clemente Museum houses its own winery, Engine House 25. Both require an appointment to visit, although they do have occasional open houses. Arriba is a wine bar right next door, just opening this week! It, too, is super chic, and serves Engine House 25’s very respectable wines. My favorite of the offerings was the Malbec, while Mr. Beez prefers the Merlot. Arriba will also be serving small plates, and if the cheese plate we had at Engine House 25 is any indication, they will be delicious.

8) PIZZA NIGHT

e8Friday night is perfect for Pizza Night, and Tony Giaramita has JUST the pizza for you. Tony’s parents own the legendary La Tavola Italiana in Mt. Washington, so he has the knowledge and the background to sling a killer pizza. Tony’s a personal friend (we went to law school together), and I of course was excited for him he opened his own place…but we went there and OMG THE GREENPOINTER. This pizza. Seriously. And I am not just saying that because it’s Tony. This pizza is amazing. It’s topped with spicy soppresata and hot honey, and is un-believable.

9) Night in. Comfort food. Boom.

And of course, sometimes you get to Friday night, and going out is just NOT happening. You need to put on your cat pance, chill on the couch, and binge watch Say Yes to the Dress.

e10Thanks for hanging in there for this SUPER LONG post, but I couldn’t help myself, because I AM SO EXCITED FOR FRIDAYS. TGIF! TGIF! TGIF!The ultimate comfort food to go along with a Friday night-in is a Burgatory milkshake. I love Burgatory, but I hate dealing with the long, long wait there, so Burgatory take out is just perfect for me. I get shamefully excited for each announcement of the special flavor of the weekend, because they are always creative and amazing (seen here: fried ice cream milkshake). When the flavor on special doesn’t catch my fancy, my usual go-to is the coffee & donuts milkshake, or the Prantl’s burnt almond one. Really, you can’t go wrong with any of them.

Thanks, too, to Alex for letting me TGIF it up in herrrre!!

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The Best of Summer 2015 Part IV…Style

“Summertime, and the living’s easy
Alex is on the blog again with Terra McB!
All in the people in the ‘Burgh will agree that we’re
Well qualified to represent the P-I-T.”

Welcome to the latest installment of the “Best of Summer 2015” series! This time we’re covering summer style, and who better to assist me than the Mario Lemieux of Pittsburgh fashion bloggers – Terra aka The Stylish White Female.

We’ve put together family play date outfit combos that are a sure bet to look good at any arts festival, birthday barbeque or Kennywood picnic that you attend this summer. We’ve included some recommended summer reading selections as well – The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (Ages 2-5), Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty (Ages 5-7), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (Ages 12 and up) and Possible Side Effects by Augusten Burroughs (um…I’m 38 and some of his past stories have disturbed me so I’m not really sure what age is appropriate).

First up is my pick for father/son. I am trying my best to not go gentle into full “soccer dad” regalia, so no cargo shorts and “Bazinga!” t-shirt for me. Linen pants in a subdued madras pattern add a nice shot of Kennebunkport-swag, whilst the solid V-neck t-shirt and leather flip-flops ground the outfit for casual get-togethers. No summer outfit is complete without sunglasses, and this pair from Norman Childs are the bombdiggy.

Carters Baby Boy Captain Monkey Stripe Shirt, Jumping Bean Navy Shorts, Koala Kids Boys' Hard Sole Trek Sandals, Lands End Canvas Madras Linen Pants, J. Crew Slim Broken-in V-neck Tee, Norman Childs Sunglasses, UGG Australia Bennison Beach Flip Flops

Carters Baby Boy Captain Monkey Stripe Shirt, Jumping Bean Navy Shorts, Koala Kids Boys’ Hard Sole Trek Sandals, Lands End Canvas Madras Linen Pants, J. Crew Slim Broken-in V-neck Tee, Norman Childs Sunglasses, UGG Australia Bennison Beach Flip Flops

Though I firmly believe that sport sandals are a fashion felony for adults, I’m alright with my toddler wearing them since they can transition to water and sand activities quite effortlessly. I’m also not crazy about putting Finn in light-colored shirts since he is a magnet for dirt/grass/ketchup stains, but he loves monkeys and this Henley slub jersey tee by Carters is one of his favorites.

Now it’s time to turn this blog over to the Fresh Prince to my Jazzy Jeff – Terra McB!

—————————————————————-

Alex, you represent my inner 90s rap lover so well.

It’s Play Date Night! What to wear to keep things simple? Here we have my current favorite foundation piece. The T by Alexander Wang dress is so comfortable it feels like wearing jammies. But it’s polished enough to go anywhere and look great. A denim jacket tied around my waist looks kind of cool according to the kids and is functional just in case we play inside with some AC. Simple slides keep the look chic and easy.

Play Date Night 3

Dress: T by Alexander Wang, Denim jacket: Jupe Boutique (old), Strappy heels: Zara (old), Sneakers: Nike, Gold collar: Alexis Bittar, Watch: BCBG, Kids shades: Janie & Jack (old), Chambray dress: Target, Adult shades: Moorea Seal, Sandals: ASOS

Stella requests a dress every single day. That’s fine by me but if she’s going to run around in a dress, it had better be light and breathable. I love this chambray one. It’s got the cutest details and it’s super lightweight. The Nikes help her run faster than we’ve ever seen before and jump higher than anyone ever has. She’s perfectly adorned for sweaty adventures with her best pal.

PlayDateNight2 copy

Speaking of best pals, there is little I love more than an evening with my husband. I like to look good without trying too hard, which means the simple dress that works so well for a play date can also heed the call for date night. Remove the denim jacket, add strappy heels, a gold collar and a favorite scent to finish it all off with very little effort.

Voila! Play date night is a start to finish style success. Enjoy the summer everyone!

PlayDateNight1 copy

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The Best of Summer 2015 Part III…Beer

Last year, one of Pittsburgh’s leading craft beer aficionados was kind enough to write an awesome guest blog post for me highlighting some great summertime beers. I asked my buddy Doug to do it again for 2015, but regrettably he’s was just too busy to put something together.

I then inquired with my friends behind the super-popular beer blog Pennies, Pints, Pittsburgh. Unfortunately their schedules were just too packed as well. I briefly considered skipping this “Best of Summer” topic this year but then thought, what the hell, I love beer, how about I just do it!

Below are my selections of the best beers to drink this summer. Along with summarizing what the experts* say about each, I’ve also included my own critique using mixed metaphors, superfluous hyperbole and rambling movie references. Enjoy responsibly n’at!

* I referred to Beer Advocate and Rate Beer, which along with being super-informative, are filled with unintentionally erotic phrases such as “two-finger creamy lace”, “nice long lasting white head”, “spicy mouthfeel” and my personal favorite – “slightly bitter with some nutty yeast in the finish”.

Allagash White by Allagash Brewing (Witbier 5.00% ABV)

What the experts say: Bubbly head, hazy yellow body with light notes of peppery spiciness, coriander and orange peel.

What I say: Imagine Blue Moon, but a million-zillion times better. I’m not big on the strong coriander aftertaste of most wheat beers so the sublime spiciness of this one is absolute perfection. It’s what I imagine angels would drink if there’s booze up in heaven.

A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale by Lagunitas Brewing (American Pale Wheat Ale 7.50% ABV)

What the experts say: A heavier pale ale well-balanced with floral hoppiness and a slight pilsner malt taste.

What I say: Extremely tasty but a little on the strong side so be careful. I downed one with dinner the other day, then went to the mall to get a haircut and nearly ended up falling asleep while lying back in the shampoo chair. Not exactly my finest moment.

Yards Saison by Yards Brewing (Saison / Farmhouse Ale 6.50% ABV)

What the experts say: Dry Belgian saison with tart lemon and light pepper overtones.

What I say: This beer reminded me of those movies where there’s this really hot chick who wears glasses and dresses kinda nerdy and then at some point in the story she gets a makeover and then everyone realizes how hot she is. At first she gets swept up in her popularity and freezes out her old friends but ultimately realizes that they are truly the people who love her for her so she goes back to being her old self, only now with better clothes and an updated haircut.

Basically, this beer seems a little unassuming at first sip but it actually has a ton going on below the surface. It’s well worth getting to know better, either just as friends or possibly more.

Porkslap Pale Ale by Butternuts Beer & Ale (American Pale Ale 4.30% ABV)

What the experts say: Superb carbonation, light creamy texture, upfront maltiness with a hint of grassy hops and lingering ginger finish.

What I say: This is my favorite barbecue/picnic beer. The relatively low ABV means you can guzzle a sixer and still roll a straight bocce ball.

Summer Love by Victory Brewing (American Blonde Ale 5.20% ABV)

What the experts say: Crisp, smooth and slightly grainy with just a touch of bitterness.

What I say: This beer is the liquid-embodiment of the Milla Jovovich-character from Dazed and Confused.

Founders Centennial IPA by Founders Brewing (American IPA 7.20% ABV)

What the experts say: Upfront piney hops with a sweet, citrusy finish. Medium-bodied compromise between a regular IPA and a Double IPA.

What I say: Nice hoppy IPA with a little grassy funk thrown in. I don’t believe that this is a “summer beer” per se but it’s one of my year-round favorites and this is my blog so I included it.

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The Best of Summer 2015 Part II…Dining

Welcome to the second installment in a series of posts celebrating the Best of Summer 2015. The first was a playlist of ultimate summer tunes curated by musician RJ 2020k. Today’s post concerns al fresco dining, and is helmed by everyone’s favorite blogging bon vivant Heidi of The Steel Trap. Bon appétit!

If this humidity would ever subside, I would be more confident in what I am about to write. Nevertheless, summer is here; this means that eating outside is pretty darn appealing. There’s just something truly appealing to the idea; perhaps it’s the fact that summer is fleeting and before we know it, we will be dealing with a “wintry mix” instead of “partly sunny with a chance of thunderstorms.” With that in mind, I want you to get moving and make the most of this season! Here are my favorite spots in Pittsburgh for an outdoor meal… a.k.a. The Steel Trap’s Best of Outdoor Dining List:

Cultural District

Meat and Potatoes has a lovely patio that is private, has shade, and won’t afford the opportunity for pedestrians to get too close. The restaurant’s revered reputation speaks for itself, and there’s always the chance that you would run into yours truly when you are there, which is an unparalleled perk.

The Corpse Reviver at Meat & Potatoes

The Corpse Reviver at Meat & Potatoes

Waterfront

Bar Louie and Burgatory both offer outdoor seating. I happen to enjoy the food and drinks at both of these places very much. Grab a bite to eat before catching a movie; catch a movie before grabbing a bite to eat. Or better yet, do your shopping at Target and then have some celebratory drinks in honor of your bargain shopping skills!

Shadyside

Harris Grill has a charming, secluded patio, and an excellent menu. I particularly enjoy having a glass of white wine and a salad during while perusing the City Paper and watching people stroll up and down Ellsworth Avenue. It makes for a lovely afternoon.

North Shore

Jerome Bettis Grille 36 has a great patio. With a view of everything that’s good in this world (i.e. our iconic skyline, the confluence of rivers, and Heinz Field) and a menu that’s appealing to families, Bettis Grille is a nice option for after a stop at the Carnegie Science Center, Children’s Museum, or sporting event. Afterward, stroll along the river to burn off the calories!

North Side

Benjamins Western Avenue Burger Bar in the Allegheny West neighborhood is a great spot. I love the menu, and love its location. Grabbing a meal and some drinks there is a nice prequel to a Pirates game or a preseason Steelers game. There’s parking and the walk to either PNC Park or Heinz Field is convenient.

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The Best of Summer 2015 Part I…Music

This is the first entry in a series of posts celebrating the Best of Summer 2015. We’re kicking things off with a mixtape filled with both new & old summertime jams by Pittsburgh’s bestest musician/deejay/on-air host RJ 2020k. Now let’s get our swimsuits on and jump into the pool before that #bassdrop!

First Name: RJ
Twitter: @Twenty20k
Sex: Male
Age: 25

Summer Vacation Plans: Finishing this album I’ve been knee deep in the waters with for a year and a half and probably reading…

Worst Summer Job(s): A lot of my summer jobs were spent in the realm of retail hell so I had a lot of days staring out automatic exit doors longing to clock out and enjoy the day, but none of them were particularly bad. Well, no, I take that back, I worked at an FYE for a month and a half and found the need to quit after the manager told me to ask the customer purchasing the Shania Twain CD if they wanted to add on Snoop Dogg’s latest release. I think she failed Up-selling 101.

Mixtape Name: Bartender, Can You Make Me Something Fruity?

Side A
1) Close to Me (Closest Mix) by The Cure
2) Celebrity Skin by Hole
3) At The River by Groove Armada
4) Get Lucky by Daft Punk Ft. Pharrell Williams
5) Steal My Sunshine by Len
6) Rest Of You by Late Night Alumni

Side B
7) Someone To Call My Lover by Janet Jackson
8) Sweeter Love by Blue Six Featuring Aya
9) 1969 by Boards of Canada
10) Who Am I (What’s My Name) by Snoop Doggy Dogg
11) Feeling Good (Joe Claussell Remix) by Nina Simone
12) Breathe by Telepopmusik Featuring Angela McCluskey

Liner Notes: A lot of the fondest memories I have of summer are just the ones laying by the pool, peaceful, clear sky & mid-afternoon through the setting sun. This mixtape tries to capture the beating sun at its hottest on side A, to the come down and end of the evening on side B. All of the songs on the album evoke a spirit of summer with me and I’ve blasted each one in my car with the windows fully down, sunglasses on, Instagram filter set to sepia tone. Enjoy! PS “Steal My Sunshine” by Len is possibly the most underrated mainstream 90’s Pop song, ever.

Spotify Link: Bartender, Can You Make Me Something Fruity?

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The Week in Tweets – June 19, 2015

It was another awful news week so let’s take a brief respite from our horrible world to enjoy an all-new, all-different Week in Tweets!!!

8) Clair LeVere ‏(@clairlevere)

I want to go to Chicago for the soul purpose of eating deep dish.

I like to think that “eating deep dish pizza” is the sole purpose of my entire life.

7) Ricky Smith ‏(@Rickonia)

Thinking about going to Target in a red polo just to make friends

Or if you’re feeling kinky, you can put on a referee shirt and head to Foot Locker to rub strangers’ feet.

6) Normal Brad ‏(@btherr18)

The worst part about being furious about getting drenched in the rain is that I can’t even place it on anyone. I can’t punch a cloud.

You may not be able to punch a cloud, but you can poke holes in the ozone layer with hairspray. I think that there’s still a can of my sister’s industrial strength AquaNet from 1989 at my parents’ house if you’d like to have it!

5) farleftcoast ‏(@farleftcoast)

Home renovation shows are a lie. Never once have I seen a couple throw tools across the room, threaten divorce or pour paint on each other.

I’ve always believed that the real reason most couples break up isn’t infidelity or money issues…it’s IKEA.

4) Must he? (‏@UghESQ)

MY KIDS’ NAMES ARE THE BEST NAMES AND ALL OTHER NAME CHOICES ARE GARBAGE

If we have another child and it’s a girl, my leading name choices are Daenerys, Ygritte or Cersei. And if it’s a boy, Randy.

3) _i_wasn’t_looking_ (‏@i_wasnt_looking)

Just want to eat until My Fitness Pal notifies me with “Bitch Put the Cookie Down.”

I’ve been eating so many sweets lately that my Fitbit now has Type 1 diabetes. #DIABEETUS

2) Woody ‏(@WoodyLuvsCoffee)

Dinner party tonight so I’ll be spending all day binge listening to NPR.

Show them all how real you keep it by saying something like “Diane Rehm is the Fugazi of public radio”.

1) Aubrey Hirsch ‏(@aubreyhirsch)

My maternity clothes are fitting me so much better now that I’m not pregnant anymore.

I’ve recently repurposed my wife’s maternity capris to become my deep dish pants. They work great and have inspired me to move onto another project – turning her breast pump into a kegerator.

Below is a picture of Rachel guarding my son’s crib. Have a wonderful weekend everybody!
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My Mixtape Monday – June 15, 2015

First Name: Barb
Twitter: @thebitchdesk
Sex: Female
Age: #OldLady

Occupation: Admin support for a department chairman at a local medical center.

Mixtape Name: Untitled

Side A
1) Love is Gonna Find You by JD Eicher & The Goodnights
2) Just Breathe by Vintage Blue
3) Say It, Just Say It by The Mowgli’s
4) Girl Named Tennessee by Needtobreathe
5) Tell Me Your Name by The Alternate Routes
6) Poor Ol’ Broken Hearted Me by The Trews

Side B
7) Halo by Melodime
8) Jesus Came to Tennessee by Will Hoge
9) Brown Little Bird by The Dirty Guv’nahs
10) Peaches by The Roosevelts
11) Secondhand Smoke by Melodime
12) One More Day Above the Roses by Gaelic Storm

Liner Notes: I grew up listening to the popular radio stations. I used to listen to the “Top 40” type shows and would record my favorites on a cassette. (Get off my lawn!) Back in 2010, I went on my first Rock Boat (therockboat.com) and was introduced to a whole new world of BETTER music. These are a few of my favorite artists (I had a hard time picking songs because I wanted to share them all!). Enjoy!

Dropbox Link: Untitled

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The Week in Tweets – June 12, 2015

It’s Friday! Orange Is The New Black Season 3 just dropped on Netflix so let’s not waste any time to run through an all-new, all-different Week in Tweets before the binge-watching begins!

9) ruby (@rubyjnkie)

If I tell you to eat somewhere, you should just do it. I am not fucking around. I know what I am talking about.

Ditto for me and music! And here’s what you should be listening to right now:

Chateau Lobby #4 In C For Two Virgins by FatherJohn Misty

I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) by Jamie xx feat. Popcaan and Young Thug

Let It Happen by Tame Impala

Somebody Else (Remix) by Rico Love feat. Usher and Wiz Khalifa

Lean On by Major Lazer feat. M0 and DJ Snake

My Way (Remix) by Fetty Wap feat. Drake

8) HGB The Steel Trap (@The_Steel_Trap)

Is there a tow truck for tow trucks?

That reminds me of my favorite childhood tongue-twister “How much truck would a tow truck tow if a tow truck could tow trucks”…

7) The Glad Stork (@TheGladStork)

If tacos didn’t already exist, I feel like that’s something I would be capable of inventing.

I don’t usually like to write about my religion much here on the blog, but if there’s one belief that I feel strongly about, it’s that we didn’t create tacos, tacos created us.

6) Goats? (@hazelmotes1)

*gets fired the first day on the job as an EMT for trying to cook a frozen burrito with the defibrillator*

My friend Dan got fired recently on his first day too. He started work at the Sperm Bank, but got caught drinking on the job.

5 – tie) SpanishFly (@SpanishFly27)

I may not have the best body or the best personality but there is something I always have….. Hunger a shitload of hunger.

Niles (@River_Niles)

90% of the time you ask what I’m doing the answer is eating but I’m too embarrassed to give it

Me too! The other 10% of my time is spent wondering what I’m going to eat next.

4) Christy (@LoveNLunchmeat)

Sure I’m curious about the 42 voicemails on my phone, but not “listen to my voicemails” curious.

Whenever I miss a call from my wife, she always leaves me a message. I used to just call her back without checking the voice mail first, but she would then yell at me for forcing her to repeat herself.

She would further illustrate her case by detailing a hypothetical scenario in which she was kidnapped left me a message with ransom demands along with an explicit message from her captors that calling back without checking the message would be cause for them to kill her, and then I call back first per usual and sentence her to death.

I was never able to come up with a good response to her scenario, mainly because it’s so implausible, so I began listening to all her voice mails. I’ve since been slipping back to my old habits, so I’m really hoping that if she ever is kidnapped, her captor’s just text me…

3) So Much Not Too Much (@smntm)

In the mood to talk about cereal

Now that is a voicemail worth listening to!

2) Sarah Saxton (@prettiestpigeon)

Blogging is hard. Why did I decide I wanted to blog again?

Same reason why I do it…to make fun of my wife!

1) BeccaLou B. (@reindeerkisses)

Corpse pose counts as exercise.

It certainly does! Other lesser-known but just as important yogasanas are Taco-eating Pose, Virabhadrasana IV aka Warrior IV aka Warrior takes break from warring to sit on the toilet, Netflix pose and Perverted Triangle.

Below is a picture of Oscar getting ready to watch OITNB with me. Have a great weekend everybody!

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