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Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event 2016

Welcome to the 4th Annual Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event! Much like the Hunger Games of Panem, this yearly occasion is meant to entertain and provide a brief distraction from all of the world’s oppressive problems (poverty, suffering, Trump, etc.).

Today’s guest post comes to us from Jessa, the stylish and swashbuckling creator of the blog Wavy Alabaster. After reading her musical musings about the iconic Stevie Nicks, don’t forget to check out all the other participants in this year’s event by clicking on the links in the coda. Happy reading!

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Stevie Nicks is the mother of all style inspirations. The Reigning Queen of Rock n’ Roll, to no one’s surprise, is a great influence to my curated style. Before you go pulling a version of the quote from The Devil Wears Prada, “Stevie Nicks? For your style inspiration? Groundbreaking.” read me out. I too rejected Stevie’s influence at one point, actually pretty recently. I felt what every writer/creative/style-driven blogger fears most: being cliché. But, I got over myself quickly. I did not revere Stevie because it is popular to do so. The deep admiration was born from a pure space. It started with hair (It’s always starts with hair).A picture stumbled upon me while navigating the dreaded middle school years, the time of JNCO jeans, over-sized WNBA jerseys and a leather choker with a basketball pendant, basically my style low point. She saved me in the nick of time. The details of this specific moment fail to come into focus, but I distinctly remember Stevie, her style, and those locks.

Image from the late 1970s. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Image from the late 1970s. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Drawing inspiration from the legendary Stephanie Lynn Nicks was easy. Converting this influence into a tangible every day wardrobe and attitude is a bit more challenging. Below are tips n’ thoughts I’ve amassed to merge the style of an icon with that of your own.

Just try

“I am pretty fearless, and you know why? Because I don’t handle fear very well; I’m not a good terrified person.” – Stevie

When I initially was introduced to Stevie, my self-presentation was not automatically changed. As my personal style was built, experimenting with looks I now cringe over, the musician’s influence grew and eventually blossomed to the forefront. The biggest step was taking the initial leap in experimenting. The label “style icon” does not stumble upon an individual, it is built and assembled. It might not be perfect at first, but keep going. It might not be perfect at attempt ten either, but alas, keep going. When you are ready to take the leap, I would…

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Start with one.

“But time makes you bolder…”

Start with one piece. Land on a look which draws your attention and interest, and don’t limit yourself to just the clothes. Style is a form of expression and clothing is just one puzzle piece. Attitude, makeup or lack thereof, tattoos, accessories (hello hats!), hair or lack thereof all fit together to create one cohesive picture. Maybe the color palette draws your eye or the wild strand of hair dancing in the wind; whatever it may be start there. Now build from that one sliver of inspiration. Add on additional influences as you feel comfortable. However, warning to the wise, beware of…

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FIT.

“I want to be age appropriate. I don’t want to be that girl you see walking away and she looks 25 and then she turns around and she looks 90.”

This three-letter word; never forget it. Stevie rocked the tight cropped tops that we swoon over from the 70’s better than anyone. The looks are tough and sexy and freeing. I’d love to strut down the Strip in this look, but a cropped top rocker will never be added to my style resume. It is not in the cards for my body type. People notice poor fit before they notice good style. Be mindful of your own body shape and how you can rework looks to fit you. Instead of a crop top, I opted for this vibrant vintage tank top with a plunging neckline from Eons or this Free People bodysuit.You and your body are the foundation so always remember…

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Don’t lose YOU

“I didn’t want to look like anyone else – like Janis Joplin or Grace Slick. That’s why I never went to any of the big designers.”

Set aside her haunting voice and mystical style, Stevie was and is unapologetically herself. Through the ups and downs served on a public platter, she maintains a fearless sense of self. If nothing else, hold onto that lesson from Stevie. Be you. Style inspiration isn’t a copy and paste process. The fun lies in creating looks that fit your lifestyle and enhance your being. After all, “it’s only right that you should play the way you feel it.”

And, if you are having difficulty merging your personal style with that of Stevie, or any other style icon for that matter, give me a shout and let’s go create together.

All good blog posts end with a shameless plug, right?

Cheers, Jessa

Wavy Alabaster links: Blog / Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

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2016 Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event participants: Harvest + Bloom // Yes, Wear That! // jelly jars // Glam and Graffiti // To The Streets // In Pursuit // Pittsburgh & Pearls // Beezus Kiddo // Goodness Madness // Last Minute Panic // Steel City Intrigue // Crank Crank Revolution // Amanda Narcisi // Pittsburgh is Beautiful // From Cats to Cooking // Yum Yum PGH // Breelicious Bites // Parmesan Princess // Coffee & A Blonde // The Steel Trap // Wavy Alabaster // everybody loves you… // Eat with Emily // Don’t Forget to Eat // Sloping in the Sky // From Farm to Turntable // Secrets in the Wall // Red Pen Mama // Feedback Soup // The AP Collection // Blog Or Die PGH // Pittsburgh Happy Hour // Friendly Fitness Foodie // Small Town Dad // Josh’s World // Geeky Sweetie // Sean’s Ramblings // Lunges, Long Runs and Lattes // Try it and You May! // lil Burghers // Orange Chair Blog // Ya Jagoff // Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents // Melissa Firman

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everybody loves…Naples

This travel blog post is unfortunately not about Naples, Italy. Though I hope to one day make a pilgrimage to the holy birthplace of pizza, we’re sticking stateside as I detail the highlights of a recent mini-vacation my wife and I took to the town named after the capital of Campania – Naples, Florida.

You’re probably thinking right now “Naples is full of nothing but super-rich octogenarians. Why would two hip thirty-somethings go there for a vacation?”. Well, let me tell you! My in-laws are snowbirds who nest in Fort Myers during the winter months, and we started making an annual vacation visit two years ago. It’s always been a good time, but the thought this year of spending eight days and seven nights in a two-bedroom condo with poor Wi-Fi and a potty-training toddler just didn’t sound like a relaxing time.

Thankfully my mother-in-law offered to babysit our son for a few days so that my wife and I could venture out of town on our own. Naples seemed to be the best option due to its surfeit of dining/shopping options and the fact that its overwhelmingly elderly populace meant that the beach wouldn’t be full of toddlers screaming for “ONE MORE PAW PATROL”.

Below are some of the highlights of our visit, which overall could best be summed up as the definition of “relaxing”. Though lacking in excitement and nightlife (most restaurants close at 8pm), the laidback lifestyle is hard to complain about when most of my life is spent either at work navigating quixotic Microsoft Project deadlines or at home being screamed at by my son for, you guessed it, “ONE MORE PAW PATROL”.

Naples Beach

It was windy during our stay so we didn’t get to hang out on the beach too much, but from what I saw it was quite beautiful. The sands along the Gulf of Mexico were as white and well-manicured as the second wives that walk upon it, and some old guy told me that the lovely turquoise waters are “chock full of snook and Spanish mackeral” which I’m assuming are fish so I guess that must be a good thing.

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7th Avenue Social & Bayside

Though the collective vibe of Naples is much more “hip-replacement” than “hipster”, we were able to find a trendy gastropub that more than satisfied my need for craft beer, rustic decor and seasonalocalartisanal comfort food. We also had a great (and great-ly expensive) meal at the upscale Bayside, which was nestled in a swanky shopping enclave entitled The Village on Venetian Bay and had a lovely waterside view.

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5th Avenue South

This posh shopping district has more than seventy retail stores and forty restaurants. Most of the clothiers cater to the Tommy Bahama/Chico’s crowd so I didn’t do much clothes shopping, but I did make it rain at many of their near-omnipresent gelato shops. Turns out old people really love their ice-cream, which makes sense since having teeth really isn’t required to enjoy a hot fudge sundae.

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everybody loves…San Diego

San Diego is purported to be one of America’s most beautiful cities. Now that I’ve spent a week there, I can wholeheartedly agree. The perfect weather and beautiful coastline were as-advertised and I now understand why people head west and never come back. Below is my travelogue recap, along with a few of my wife’s photos showing the tourist attractions* that I unfortunately missed. Enjoy!

* I went to SD for a work conference. Wanting, nay, needing a vacation after not traveling sans child for nearly three years, my wife decided to procure the babysitting services of Grandma, Inc. and accompany me. Therefore, she got to explore the city all day long without having to listen to me or him whining for more Goldfish.

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Seaport Village

Our hotel was nicely nestled next to this swanky enclave of seaside shops and restaurants. The view of the bay from the harbor pier was stunning, and a stroll down the boardwalk brought many interesting sights such as the Unconditional Surrender statue, musical pedi-cabs and only mildly-shady street performers. The overall vibe is “upscale touristy” so I’d imagine that a local could denounce the area as trite. Luckily I’m an upscale tourist so the village was perfect for me!

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Coronado

The island oasis of Coronado is just a quick ferry ride across the bay from downtown San Diego and is well-deserving of its ranking as the best beach in the United States. For starters, the sand is as well-groomed and white as the people that stroll across it. Another highlight is the charming Victorian architecture of the historic Hotel Del Coronado. It’s supposedly haunted by the ghost of turn of the century con-artist Kate Morgan, who’s not to be confused with adult film star Katie Morgan (who can haunt me anytime).

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Old Town San Diego

Old Town is appropriately named. It’s an 1800’s-style neighborhood full of old-timey shops and exhibits which range from actually historic to artificially touristy. After meandering around this area for an hour under the blazing hot sun, we sought respite (and authentic Mexican food) at El Agave Tequileria. My taquitos de pescado were delicious, and the thousands of tequila bottles lining the walls made for a nice decorative element that I hope to incorporate into my future man-cave.

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La Jolla

Um…there really isn’t much to say about this area other than it is f*ckin’ beautiful. It made Ocean City, New Jersey look like Newark, New Jersey…

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Gaslamp Quarter

At 38 years old, the idea of spending a night barhopping sounds more like a punishment than a pleasure. Therefore, my wife and I really didn’t take advantage of the numerous bars and clubs that inhabit the Gaslamp Quarter.

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We did have a nice dinner at the chic gastropub Seersucker*, but I was still back in bed by the time the Victorian-era gas lamps started illuminating the night sky. If I was only ten years younger, I’m sure that I would have had a helluva time getting turnt up just like Brad and Robin from Real World San Diego!

* Here’s my quick Seersucker restaurant review. It possessed a rustic, maritime vibe that elevated it past the typical speakeasy milieu. The duck fat fries were to die for, and the companion chipotle ketchup added a nice touch of smokiness to the savory unctuousness of the fries. Highly recommended!

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USS Midway Museum & San Diego Zoo

I didn’t get a chance to visit any of these places, but my wife did. Please enjoy her pictures!

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Worst Places to Run in Pittsburgh…Part II

From the unforgiving hills of Mount Lebanon in the summer to the unshoveled sidewalks of Squirrel Hill in the winter, it’s no wonder that many Pittsburghers have bestowed the moniker “Runner of Steel” on themselves due to our regions unforgiving topography.

I recently wrote a guest post for my buddy’s Sarah’s blog listing some of the more arduous jogging paths in Pittsburgh (Part I), and I also asked my friends to share their favorite “least favorite” routes and daunting running stories. Please enjoy!

Jennifer (@jlo_oneill)

Asking a runner who has run several streets in Pittsburgh which one is the worse is like asking a kid to only pick only one M&M up…very funny and challenging.  We live in Pittsburgh – hills and hills and then you throw in potholes and construction.  It seems to never end.  But here are the streets that will always cause me to sigh when I see them on the map about to run…

Serpentine Drive in Schenley Park – the road is unforgivable – winds up and the occasional speeding car coming towards you always help ease the pain of the climb.  

5th Ave climbing up into Oakland – this is an adventure between building construction that block off the sidewalk so you have to run in the street – to the climb from hell that is about a mile long…this one always gives me heart palpitations.  BUT you may get lucky and be running when the local group home are kicking their people out for the day and they are nice enough to cheer you on..

Another favorite is Penn Ave.  It is subtle but brutal climb.  I think I was breathing too hard to notice if the sidewalks were even or not.

Running around the city Pittsburgh as much as I have – there are no prefect streets.  Cobblestone sucks, high curbs kill the knees… but potholes are great – especially the ones that are so big they swallow up a runner in a split second.  But I love running around the city, you always see places that were hidden before.  

J.J. Hensley (@JJHensleyauthor)…Part I

When asked me about the worst place to run in Pittsburgh, I thought it would be an easy question to answer. It turns out it’s not. I’m one of those weirdos that thinks pretty much every part of the city has it’s “charm” and distinct characteristics that make this place special.

So, I’m going to have to pick one simple stretch of road that has become hated by plenty of runners in the Pittsburgh Marathon events. The Fifth Avenue Hill. The good news is I’m probably not ticking anybody off by saying this, because nobody lives on most of that ridiculously steep stretch.

Except Satan.

Satan lives there.

Now I’m a transplant to the area, so I’m not exactly sure where “Cardiac Hill” begins and ends. However, if that stretch rising up from the Birmingham Bridge isn’t Cardiac Hill, then it’s certainly Coronary Mountain.

Shannon (@shannonplush)

1. Centre Avenue in Shadyside/N. Oakland – so much traffic noise and car emissions, the construction that always seems to be happening, and all the stop lights!

2. Carson Street in the South Side, coming off the 10th Street bridge – broken glass, a few empty buildings, just not the best place to run. Luckily you’re just a few blocks from the Three Rivers Heritage Trail.

3. Negley Avenue between Baum and Stanton (Friendship/East Liberty) – I’ve run all over the city, but this seems to be a high traffic area for cat callers and creepy dudes telling me they like my shorts/my sports bra/the way I run/the way my ponytail bounces. Yuck.

4. Bates Street coming up from 376 into Oakland – because why did I decide to run up that hill after already running 18 miles? Will forever be the worst running decision I ever made and therefore I have an aversion to Bates.

5. Universally throughout the city, any sidewalks that are now just haphazard chunks of concrete or any cobblestone roads (though I love their charm when not running on them!).

Elizabeth (@beezuskiddo)

When Alex suggested I share the “worst” spots for running in Pittsburgh, I had to think. I spend a lot of time thinking about what makes a particular running route great, that I haven’t spent time on a list of things I don’t want in a running route. After some thought, the qualities that make a route a “no go” for me are:

1. Unsafe terrain– uneven pavement, lots of rocks, lots of dips and angles in the road surface, and especially in the winter: UNSHOVELED, UNSALTED SIDEWALKS.

2. Bad lighting. If you only run during the day, you won’t notice lighting much. My schedule isn’t free enough for me to limit running time to daylight hours, and lighting is a huge factor for me in deciding where to run. In general, busy streets with lots businesses tend to be excellent. Residential areas in the city are OK. Forget running in parks, on trails or in the suburbs when twilight approaches.

3. Lots of smells. Strong smells feel about 900% more potent while running. Things that normally smell delicious (see: fried chicken) will make you want to throw up everywhere. I usually don’t even notice cigarette smoke while walking casually, but while running it will make me gag. Even the smell of fresh laundry, which is usually lovely, is terrible when you are running (stay away from laundry exhaust vents from apartment buildings).

4. Lots of pedestrians. Having some foot traffic is good motivation for me, because I’m more likely to run harder and longer when I know the shame of quitting will be witnessed by many. But when the sidewalks are crowded by sheep-people staring at their phones, don’t even bother trying to run. Relatedly, distraction is the enemy of runners. Do not try to run near outdoor events like sporting events or concerts, the over-stimulated wandering masses have a tendency to stop in the middle of the sidewalk.

5. Anywhere where people do not understand appropriate running etiquette. And by that I mean, places where people RUN MORE THAN TWO ACROSS AND DO NOT FOLD BACK INTO SINGLE FILE WHEN THERE IS AN ONCOMING RUNNER. I really don’t know any place geographically where this is more common than any other particular place, but I really really really hate it, so it was worth a mention.

Applying these factors, and my experience generally, the absolute worst places to run in Pittsburgh are:

1. In any park or trail from dusk onward. I once made the mistake of poorly timing my run on the South Side Riverfront rail, and the sun set when I was still a mile from my car. You can barely see your feet, much less the ground. I do NOT like the dark. Also, there are plenty of homeless people living on and around the trails in good weather. So yeah, bad idea.

2. Oakland during Pitt’s Arrival Survival and Move Out weekends; Oakland/CMU/Schenley Park during CMU’s Carnival Weekend and the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix; the South Side any Thursday, Friday or Saturday after 6pm; Downtown on the date of any sporting event or the Kenny Chesney Concert.

3. Cemeteries at or near closing time. Pittsburgh cemeteries are amongst the absolute best to go for a run, they are huge, they have no traffic, they are tranquil, they are beautiful, and running in them is generally not considered a desecration. But once I got lost in the Homewood Cemetery near dark. NOT A GOOD THING. Another time I didn’t pay attention to the closing time at the Allegheny Cemetery, got locked in, and had to resort to begging the Twitter brain trust for ideas on how to escape. ALSO NOT A GOOD THING.

4. Pretty much anywhere in the entire City when there’s been a lot of snow. Pittsburghers suck at salting and shoveling their sidewalks, especially those Pittsburghers who don’t ride the bus or have to walk in their neighborhoods and therefore have no earthly concept that hey, PEOPLE USE THESE SIDEWALKS. Also, the City sucks at plowing, and Pittsburgh drivers are pretty aggressive, so running in the street is not a workable solution.

All this negativity is KILLING me. So I have to finish things up on a positive note, by sharing my favorite long run routes:

1. Parking downtown and running down to Point State Park, then over the Fort Duquesne Bridge, going around the stadiums and out on the trail, either down toward SCI Pittsburgh, or up toward Washington’s Landing and MIllvale. You end up seeing plenty of people but it is not overwhelmingly crowded, and there are no traffic concerns because your on a trail most of the time.

2. Parking at the South Side Riverfront parking lot (under the 18th Street Bridge) and running either up toward South Side Works and the Waterfront, or down toward Station Square.

Hope you enjoyed all those lists, see you out on the pavement!

Elizabeth (@epagelhogan)

Brighton Heights wasn’t the first place I lived in Pittsburgh, but as of now, it’s the place I’ve lived the longest. And I’ve yet to find a view that rivals the one from the hilltop next to the Observatory. The main road through Riverview represents the best and worst of Pittsburgh running.

It’s a one way loop without a sidewalk but plenty of hills. If you want a short break from the asphalt, midway up the left hand loop look for the sign for the Bob Harvey trail that offers a break from the asphalt and cuts across the hillside.

If you want to challenge yourself, abandon the asphalt all together and tackle the insanely hilly Archery Trail off to the left.  There is a smoother flatter trail called Old Kilbuck Road that branches off from the top of the park.  

Lots of people worry Riverview isn’t safe but the only dangers I’ve faced are my own clumsiness and nature. On one run, a very large antlered buck was not impressed as I shouted at him to move off the trail so I could scoot by.

And once on a family hike a tree split in half and came crashing down on a stream our family had just crossed. Like a lot of the Northside, there’s a history hidden here and you can find remnants of one of Pittsburgh’s old zoos and a very old log cabin that belonged to the Watson family. The trails here hold so many memories for me, they will always be some of my favorite places to run.

J.J. Hensley (@JJHensleyauthor)…Part II

A church (I won’t say which one) in the North Hills decided to have a 10K. Unfortunately, they decided to have it at their church which happened to be in one of the steepest areas of the city.

The morning temps reached 80 degrees and as people started collapsing from exhaustion the huge inclines, I began to wonder if the church hadn’t decided this was a fabulous way to get people to pray.

At one point, the runners were so spread out on the course, I found myself in the odd position of being totally alone with nobody else in sight. For the first time in a race, I wondered if I was lost. But I was found. (cue Amazing Grace).

And I finally won a raffle prize after the race. It was for a free Eat and Park Smiley Cookie. The coupon had expired.

Kailey (@quaileyrevi)

I was running along the trail that you access once you hop off the Roberto Clemente bridge, past an apartment complex (I think it was Heinz lofts maybe, something Heinz) and kept running along the road and found some weird trail.

Annnyywayy, the urge for # 2 struck and there was nowhere to go. Aside from an 10 wheeler loading dock. I ran past the guards and men loading the trucks and made myself very at home with their portajohn.

In terms of toilet access, that place was just no good.

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everybody loves…Toronto

My wife and I recently spent a long weekend in the fourth biggest city in North America – Toronto, Canada. It was my first time visiting Drizzy Drake’s hometown and I absolutely loved it. Below is a recap of some of the many highlights of our trip.

InterContinental Toronto Centre Hotel: Nestled next to Rogers Centre in the shadow of the CN Tower, the InterContinental was the perfect home base for our stay in Toronto. It was very modern, attractive and clean (like me) with an extremely friendly and helpful staff (again, just like me).

The CN Tower: Getting to the top of the CN Tower was the first activity we undertook after checking into our hotel. It was an absolutely gorgeous day so the 360 degree view of the lake and the city was quite breathtaking. The sky terrace was pretty crowded but we were still able to navigate through the selfie-stick wielding crowds to get some really great pictures.

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Spice Route Asian Bistro & Bar: This popular King Street West restaurant combined a super-chic ambiance and a menu overflowing with sharable Indo-Chinese delicacies. I’m now 17% cooler just by having dined there.

Hey Lucy: Another trendy bistro on King Street, Hey Lucy backed up their fashionable façade with delicious brick oven pizzas and a gaslamp-lit rooftop patio that provided the perfect amount of romantic ambiance.

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Bar Hop: A sh*tload of beers on tap and really great French fries. Bar Hop was basically what I imagine heaven to be like.

Distillery District: Strolling around the cobblestone pathways of this Victorian-style village was such a charming experience. Along with a plethora of artisanal shops and cafes, this area was also home to the awesome Mill Street Brew Pub.

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The Second City’s How to Kill a Comedian: People constantly texting “lol” has devalued the sentiment so much that it has almost replaced “ok” as a compulsory response. Regardless, there’s really no better way for me to describe my Second City experience other than with a capital #LOL. I laughed out loud so much that I nearly p*ssed my pants. And that would’ve really sucked since I only packed one pair.

Canadian Craft Beers: Though still dominated by Labatt’s, Molson and Bud (ughh), Canada also has a burgeoning craft beer scene with many appealing options. Below are three of my new favorites along with an alliterative summation:

Bar Hop Poutentious ESB (Premium Bitter/ESB – ABV 5.0%) – bitter, biscuity and bubbly.

Mill Street Belgian Wit (Witbier – ABV 5.2%) – hazy, hoppy and hints-of-banana.

Collective Arts Rhyme and Reason (American Pale Ale – ABV 5.7%) – grainy, grassy and grapefruity.

Final Call: Toronto reminded me a lot of Chicago, except much cleaner and without the constant threat of violent crime. It’s a beautiful, big city with plenty of green space and world-class entertaining, shopping and sports experiences.

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Special shout-out to my Torontonian buddy Elle for all her help in planning our itinerary and accommodations. She has now replaced Michael J. Fox as my favorite Canadian!

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My Mixtape Monday – February 9, 2015

Last year I worked on a ‘zine featuring me and a bunch of other Pittsburgh bloggers*. As part of my section, I put together a mixtape playlist because music is such a very big part of my life. The theme for the collection was romance, which is a very small part of my life since having a son but I couldn’t come up enough songs to fill a potty-training mixtape.

In celebration of Valentine’s Day this week, I reprinted that playlist below. It’s the perfect soundtrack for l’amore and if you listen to it with your significant other, I guarantee that there will be a bunch of dirty diapers in your future also!!!

* I’ve got some extra copies in my closet so if you want one, holla at me! I also have a pair of Banana Republic chinos (34 waist) that don’t fit me anymore that you can have as well .

Mixtape Name: Untitled (Somebody’s Getting Pregnant…)

Side A
1) La Femme D’argent by Air
2) Sexy Plexi by Jack Johnson
3) Skin by Grimes
4) FutureSex / LoveSound by Justin Timberlake
5) II. Shadows by Childish Gambino
6) Chained by The xx


Side B
7) I Don’t Trust Myself by John Mayer
8) Electric Feel by MGMT
9) Little Bit by Drake feat. Lykke Li
10) Arch & Point by Miguel
11) Blue Jeans by Lana Del Rey
12) One in a Million by Aaliyah

Liner Notes: The French duo Air starts off the proceedings with an instrumental that cascades smoothly into Jack Johnson’s sultry ballad. Grimes and JT then heighten the mood with electropop paeans to seduction. Shadows serves as a playful break before the breathy yearning and deep rhythms of The xx turn the heat back up.

Side B begins with a mid-tempo blues burner by John Mayer. After that, a block of MGMT, Drake, Miguel and Lana Del Rey provide an ample supply of contemporary aural stimulation. Ending the mixtape is One in a Million by Aaliyah because, well, Aaliyah. Original album artwork by the wonderful Genevieve of The AP Collection.

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The Week in Tweets – September 20, 2014

A bunch of Pittsburgh bloggers and I have created a ‘zine showcasing our individual sites and wonderful city. I’m probably a but biased, but it’s really, really, really, really, really, really awesome. You’ll have the chance to judge for yourself as it’s going to start popping up all over the city starting this weekend.

South Hills Power Yoga, Espresso A Mano, The Toonseum, Artisan Tattoo, Wigle Whiskey, The Copacetic Comics Company, East End Book Exchange, CW Press, Wildcard…these are just some of the great places where you’ll be able to pick up a copy.

This ‘zine has been a labor of love for me over the past year and it’s been an enriching experience working with such creative people. If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a copy, please holla at me and let me know what you think…as long as what you think is that you love it and it’s the most entertaining piece of literature you’ve read since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Well, enough shameless promotion. Let’s get onto an all-new Week in Tweets!

5) Matt Frost @mattfrost

It’s time for the Cracker Barrel to leave behind its wholesome Hannah Montana phase and enter its Miley Cyrus era.

I agree! I would love to go to the Cracker Barrel and stuff myself with some Miley-inspired Bangerz and Mash (twerkey sausage and smashed potatoes).

4) Dictum @thatsdictum

About to put “burning bridges” in the Interests section of my resume.

I just added it also, right between “grudge holding” and “righteous indignation”…

3) UltraPunch @UltraPunch

When DMX comes on you dance and bark. I don’t make the rules, that’s just what you do.

It’s also a rule that when Petey Pablo comes on, you have to take your shirt off, twist it ‘round yo’ head and spin it like a helicopter. Just pray it doesn’t happen while you’re walking around Target…

2) Velvet Starblossom @AddledPixie

Yes, I’m into fantasy football. I spend huge amounts of time fantasizing that I never have to hear about football ever again.

I think my wife’s also in that league…

1) Grant Tanaka @GrantTanaka

My anaconda will happily accept whatever sexual favors you are willing to provide regardless of your body type.

My anaconda don’t want none unless you got Tums hun’…mainly because he has severe gastroesophageal acid reflux issues and really needs to cut back on the Indian food.

Below is a pic of Oscar and the ‘zine. Keep your eyes out for it (and Oscar…he bites) and have a wonderful weekend!!!

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My Mixtape Mondays – August 4, 2014

Name: Red Pen Mama
Twitter: @redpenmamapgh
Sex: Female
Age: Sigh, fine, 43, whatever.

Occupation: Copy Writer

Mixtape Name: RPM Resistance is Futile, Summer Soundtrack 2014

Side A
1) Come With Me Now by KONGOS
This came up as my first summer song in the Slate quiz. Four hipster guys, beards, long hair, an accordion, and steel lap guitar. You can’t go wrong.
2) Matamoros by The Afghan Whigs
After 20 years, I discovered the Afghan Whigs, which if you children don’t know, were big back in the early ‘90s. Although not as big as some of those other bands, such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Maybe you’ve heard of them. Anyhoo, Greg Dulli and his dark lyrics Do Something to me, and this song is the perfect example of why.
3) Water Fountain by Tune-Yards
Bright, oddly poppy, wildly fun. Merrill Garbus is a genius. This was on the Slate quiz as well.
4) Happy by Pharrell Williams
I mean, come on.
5) Fever by The Black Keys
These guys are my favorite band. This ended up on my summer playlist because none of the other songs from their latest brilliant album, Turn Blue, was available when I made this playlist. Other contenders for summer car songs are “In Time” and “Gotta Get Away”.
6) Fancy by Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX
This was another Slate choice for me, and I tried to resist. Resistance is futile (hence the name of this mixtape). Here’s why I didn’t want to like it: Iggy Azalea is a completely fabricated pop singer (think Lana Del Rey), a white Australian teenager rapping like a black American female. Here’s why I like it: Swaggering earworm arrogance. I atone by listening to Rhianna and Nicki Minaj at other times.
7) Team by Lorde
I am ready for this white Australian teen’s sophomore album. Love her voice.
8) What Goes Boom by The Pixies
Loud, fierce, and catchy. Makes me only miss Kim Deal a little bit.

Side B
9) Love Don’t Die by The Fray
I blame my 9-year-old daughter for this one.
10) My Silver Lining by First Aid Kit
This lovely duo from Sweden create odd alternative country earworms. Pretty and hummable.
11) Brill Bruisers by The New Pornographers
I don’t know how to even describe this single. I don’t know how to describe the New Pornographers. Just… just check it out.
12) Closer, Twice As Nice Remix by Tegan and Sara
Tegan and Sara were tops on my 2012 playlist, so I figured a remix for 2014 would make me happy.
13) I Wanna Get Better by The Bleachers
A fun summer anthem for the dysfunctional! If you love fun., then you will like Bleachers, formed by Jack Antonoff of fun. Upbeat electronica.
14) Where No One Goes by Jonsi feat. John Powell
This is an achingly soaring, lovely song from the soundtrack for “How to Train Your Dragon 2”, which I saw with my 3-year-old son. This song makes me believe I can fly.
15) Head Underwater by Jenny Lewis
Another instant classic from critic darling Jenny Lewis. I want to be friends with her.

Liner Notes: I always need a summer song. I need a song I can blast from my car with the windows down, something I can sing along to at the top of my lungs. Yes, even though I drive a people mover – 2009 Ford Flex, thank you very much – and often have three to five children in the back (usually three are mine), I need a summer song.

So when Slate (my guilty weakness) published an article to Find My Perfect Summer Song, I totally went there.

I took it a couple of times. Three of the choices in this quiz ended up on my playlist.

Spotify Playlist link: RPM Resistance is Futile, Summer Soundtrack 2014

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My Mixtape Mondays – June 2, 2014

Welcome to the Best of My Mixtape Mondays…Volume III. The most recent twelve playlists were filled with numerous highlights, from Clara’s chronological narrative to Heidi’s heartbreak homage to Christopher’s funny-as-f*ck liner notes, and it was really tough for me to pick just one song from each person’s post.

I highly recommend that you take the time to click on the names below and check out every playlist. This “Best of” is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the wonderful and diverse song selections!

Mixtape Name: From Uniontown to Berlin…

Side A
1) Cannonball by The Breeders (Clara)
2) Fake Palindromes by Andrew Bird (Melissa)
3) San Francisco by The Mowgli’s (Chris)
4) Brother Down by Sam Roberts (Cyn)
5) Desperately Wanting by Better Than Ezra (Sarah)
6) Jolene by Dolly Parton (Jenn)

Side B
7) Stella Was A Diver And She Was Always Down by Interpol (Federico)
8) Dance Yrself Clean by LCD Soundsystem (Cassia)
9) Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show (Tara)
10) Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town by Pearl Jam (Mary Ann)
11) The Backseat by The Gaslight Anthem (Kaeli)
12) With or Without You by U2 (Heidi)

Liner Notes: Here are some interesting statistics about this group of mixtapes:

Ten females and two males participated. Their ages ranged from 22 to 38, with the average being 29.

There were 148 songs chosen in total. I consider myself somewhat of a music connoisseur, but I was unfamiliar with the vast majority of them (102).

The highest individual “Alex’s wheelhouse” percentage came from Clara, whose playlist had eight songs I knew (75%). This makes sense ‘cause we are the closest in age compared to everyone else – just a year apart.

My German blogger-buddy Federico was the first person thus far in the history of My Mixtape Mondays to choose not ONE song I knew of beforehand. I guess his musical tastes are a little *foreign* to me (pun intended!)

No songs were chosen twice. Three artists were tied for the lead as most selected with three songs each – The Beatles, The National and Billy Joel*.

* Billy Joel gets an asterisk because all of his selections were made by the same person – Mary Ann! She loves her some Billy Joel!!!

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The Week in Tweets – April 25, 2014

It’s Friday! Let’s get right on to a brand-new, super-sized Week in Tweets!!

9) Anthony Carmen (@nthonyCarmen)

Subway flatbread tastes like a yoga mat :-/

Cut to Apolo Ohno saying “It’s namas-tasty!!!”

8) Wolf Gnards (@wolfgnards)

I’m surprised more cities don’t have official fresh princes. Dibs: Fresh Prince of Chicago.

Dibs on the “Fresh Prince of Pittsburgh”! Now that I think about it, also give me dibs on the “Fresh Prince of Fort Myers, Florida”. I hope to retire there someday and I’d hate to be just a regular prince…

7) Zachary? (@GreenishDuck)

Meanwhile, Gwyneth Paltrow shits out a perfect scallop.

I heard she also just vomited a vichyssoise to die for.

6) Sean’s Ramblings (@seansramblings)

Bravo should create a show about Pittsburgh Bloggers. The problem is that everyone would be nice to each other.

Un-uh, not me! I would definitely be the Danielle Staub of the Pittsburgh Bloggers* group and antagonize everyone I could as much as possible to get more screen time. I would also lie constantly about my shady, pole-dancing past. C’mon Andy Cohen, sign me up!

* Speaking of Pittsburgh Bloggers, let me take a sec to give a huge “CONGRATS” to both Sean and Emily on the birth of their new bundles of joy! I really hope your offspring don’t poop in the tub like my infant son did Wednesday night…turns out it’s really not as fun as it sounds…

5) Tim Goodier (@strikeforcetim)

If anyone could enlighten me as to what a string of pregnancy related dreams mean for a single male, I’d appreciate it. I’m very confused

I think it means that you ate too many Easter eggs!

4) Jenn Strang (@jennstrang)

Add “see dead guy” to the list of things I didn’t want to do today.

Add “become dead guy” to the list of things that I don’t want to do ever!

3) chelsea (@chelsaya)

Build a bitch workshop.

Choose from these wonderfully ratchet accessories at the Build-A-Bitch Workshop to build your own bitch:

iPhone with cracked screen
pink sparkle UGGs
Juicy sweatpants
knockoff Gucci purse

2) Abe Y. (@Cheeseboy22)

Dolphin scientists say that dolphins are the smartest animal next to humans, but I think they’re only saying that because they’re dolphins.

Unsurprisingly, Dolphin scientists also say that a Subway flatizza tastes like a yoga mat.

1) Patrice Knight (@patpartying)

Went to @TenPennyPGH downtown for dinner with the roommate. SUCKED MASSIVE DICK. I’m not even kidding. Server was rude and food was a joke.

Below are Patrice’s restaurant review rankings equated to star ratings:

SUCKED MASSIVE DICK = Zero Stars
SUCKED A TINY DICK = One Star
TOUCHED A DICK = Two Stars
SANG INTO A DICK LIKE IT WAS A MICROPHONE = Three Stars
BRUSHED UP AGAINST A DICK BY ACCIDENT = Four Stars
DOESN’T EVEN KNOW ANYONE NAMED RICHARD = Five Stars

Below is a picture of Rachel as a furry kitten. Have a wonderful weekend everybody!

image

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