Tag Archives: summer

The Best of Summer 2016 Part V…Style

Welcome to the final chapter of summer sixteen’s “Best of…” series. This post highlights some seasonal style suggestions for the family. Here to handle the mother/daughter segment is the always-slaying Terra, whose return to blogging earlier this year was the most electrifying un-retirement to happen in the ‘Burgh since Lemieux in ’00. Everything that she does should be branded with the caption “Goals AF” and I highly suggest that you check ahht her site when you’re done enjoying our posts below. First up is my father/son part so let’s get on to it!

After my son was born, I struggled with maintaining the level of swag that I’ve grown accustomed to. Why spend time putting together a fly outfit if it would just end up adorned with spit-up in an hour? I immediately began to feel the pull of the Dark Side of Dad Fashion, and its promise of comfort through cargo shorts and crocs. But unlike Anakin Skywalker, I refuse to give in to the temptation. Though I rarely end the day without my son wiping some indiscernible schmutz on my outfit, the self-confidence that comes along with dressing well makes it all worth it.

Dressing my 3yo son presents a similar conundrum. He’s potty trained now so thankfully I do not have to worry much about the three p’s. However, much like his idol Hulk, it doesn’t take much time for him to wear-out even the toughest Toughskins. Thankfully kids clothier Carters manufactures plenty of stylish outfits that are reasonably priced so I don’t get too mad when he rips the buttons off his shirt to show me his muscles.

My go-to #OOTD for summer showcases a couple simple classics – a V-neck t-shirt and garment-dyed cotton shorts. This ensemble is available in a wide assortment of bright colors, but I’m embracing my inner Goth here. Not only does the monochrome look standout amongst a sea of pastel polos and boat shoes on the soccer field sidelines, they also serve as a sharp contrast to my boys’ colorful ensemble. There’s no chance I can complete with him as far as cuteness goes, so why even try?!?!

me

Item Sources: 9” Stanton Short & Slim Broken-in V-neck T-Shirt (both J. Crew), Jack Purcell Signature Sneakers (Converse), Leather Suffield Belt by Polo Ralph Lauren, Sunglasses by Rayban, Animal Squirters by Floatzone, Toddler Boys’ 2-Piece Striped Shirt & Shorts Set by Carter’s, Paw Patrol Canvas Sneakers by Walmart, Spiderman Sunglasses by Target, Southampton Bucket Hat by Grandparents

And now to Terra!!!

Best of Summer

So far, June 2016 >> June 2015. Do you remember how much rain Pittsburgh had last year? Wow! The difference is amazing. And I for one will take these steamy sunny days anytime.

Each season, I tend to find a few pieces that I want to live in. This summer is no different. For me, it’s all about the perfect denim cutoffs and off-the-shoulder anything. The only thing sexier than a clavicle (besides any other word) is an open back. Either are a great way to show off your bronze skin.

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Speaking of… wear sunscreen. PLEASE. It’s so important. There’s nothing more stylish than when a person takes good care of their skin. I adore Neutrogena’s spray-on sunscreen. It’s light, smells great and doesn’t feel like a gross film on your skin. But how do you show off that aforementioned bronze then? Self tanner, all the way. There are a couple that I really like but Jergen’s makes a fantastic gradual self-tanner that smells nice.

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And when you’re lounging by the pool or sliding your toes into sand, you need a phenomenal bathing suit and a great book. This monokini is polyawesome. It cuts in all the right places to not only show off your beautiful curves (even if you’re like me and don’t actually have natural curves) but to also sit still if you want to be active. I prefer to tap my inner sloth when I’m sunbathing so I defer to my books and magazines. “Primates of Park Avenue” is a really easy and entertaining read. Perfect for the pool or beach.

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Now, to the little one. Stella plays hard and sweats like a mother. I don’t really sweat so that sentence is inherently erroneous but let’s not dwell on that. She insists on wearing dresses all of the time. If that’s what she’s going to wear when it’s 85 degrees, then the dress better be lightweight, able to withstand crude karate moves and sidewalk chalk art. This dress has been in heavy rotation along with these comfy sandals. The sandals are fantastic because she can run around in them all day without earning blisters or the stinkiest of feet.

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I’d also like to take a moment to call your attention to GoldieBlox. Stella is obsessed. They’re fantastic kits that teach girls (or whoever wants to play with them) engineering, math and building skills. There are stories and dolls and all of the typical “girly” equipment, but they’re not just fluffy cupcake toys. They actually teach important skills but they’re wrapped in a package that is attractive to little girls. If you know a little girl and she doesn’t have GoldieBlox, help a sister out and get her started with one.

I hope you enjoy your summer as much as I plan to! Just remember to protect your skin, nourish your brain a little and wear something sexortable. That’s sexy and comfortable ALL AT THE SAME TIME. What could be better?

Xoxo

Terra

lovenothingmore.com

on mom
Top: Modern Citizen
Shorts: Free People (available at Shopbop)
Shades: ASOS
Bathing Suit: L*Space (available at Shopbop)
Sandals: Joie
Nails: Essie Big Spender

on daughter
Dress: Old Navy
Sandals: H&M
Shades: Old Navy
Bathing Suit: H&M (also have this one)
Goldieblox

SummerStyle2016_6

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The Best of Summer 2016 Part IV…Free Time Activities

When I was a kid, the onset of summer meant one thing and one thing only – NO SCHOOL! And since the responsibilities associated with school (waking up early, doing homework, wearing shoes) represented the bulk of my adolescent life’s burdens, summer brought with it three solid months of unbridled freedom that as a grownup I’ll never know again. #FirstWorldAdultProblems

Thankfully, every now and then I’m #blessed with a handful of weekend moments that aren’t prescheduled with activities or encumbered by parental responsibilities (Daddy, come wipe my butt!). I prefer to make use of these respites by indulging in the same unproductive pastimes that I did as a youth – reading comic books and watching professional wrestling.

My friend Elizabeth is a super-busy mommy/lawyer/blogger who cherishes her infrequent free time just as much as me. She was kind enough to carve some time out of her packed schedule to suggest some relaxing ways for all of us to spend those precious obligation-free moments. Surprisingly, none of them involve musclebound men beating the crap out of each other.

I remember those many long years ago, before I had a 5 year old who poked me in the face and demanded I pour her a bowl of rice krispies at 6am, I used to have these long, leisurely weekend mornings where I could do whatever I wanted, for as long as I wanted, and still find time in the day to go for a run, go grocery shopping, and whatever else I felt like doing.

Those days are gone. Now most weekend mornings are consumed by ballet lessons, kid-related social plans, and this, that and the other thing. I recently was surprised by a morning that was completely obligation-free, and I realized how precious that unplanned free time is. For my contribution to this “Best of….” series, I would like to share with you my favorite activities when I have a few unexpected moments to myself!

Baking Bread

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When I was in law school and a baby lawyer, somehow I had all this extra time that I didn’t even know I had. I got really into baking bread, and baked loaf after loaf trying to perfect my challah recipe. Bread baking is really easy to do at a somewhat competent level, but extremely hard to perfect. I love mixing the dough and then putting it out in the sunshine to rise, and I love enjoying its smell as it bakes in the oven, especially when I have mixed in rosemary, basil or sun dried tomatoes.

Coffee and Magazines

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The magic combination. I have several magazine subscriptions but can never manage to read them as they come in. They buildup in a massive pile in my dining room. When I finally get to reading them, I experience the twofold joy of reading the magazine, and also clearing things out of the “to read” pile. Also, coffee. Yum.

Stroll through the Park

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I haven’t been able to get back to running as regularly as I would like. I would like to run 5 times a week, but lately I have only been running about one. My favorite places to run are Frick Park, Schenley Park and the Homewood Cemetery. They are all wooded, beautiful and tranquil.

At Home Spa

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It’s $8 for a pack of 4 bottles but HEAR ME OUT, Dry Water is like a tiny spa. They have flavors like cucumber, ginger and lavender, the flavor is heavily infused, not sweet, and tastes just like the water you are served at a spa. This is not an everyday type beverage. Rather, this is the kind of thing you sip leisurely, with a refreshing sheet mask on your face. It is so incredibly relaxing. When I bust out with the Dry Water and the sheet mask, my husband knows to keep my kid out of the way, because I am getting in the relaxation zone.

Best of Summer

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The Best of Summer 2016 Part III…Day Tripping

“Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” – Henry James

Whereas the cold winters of Pittsburgh are prefect for staying indoors and binge-watching Netflix, summer is all about getting ahht of the house to explore the great attractions that our lovely region has to offer. And who better to give us some suggestions on how to get the most out of these summer days than a school teacher? 

After spending the past nine months steadfastly preparing the young minds of Woodland Hills to lead us into the future, my buddy Heidi is now here with some daytrip ideas that are full of adventure and fun. I look forward to fitting them all into my schedule…between my mandatory hammock-naps of course!

Hey y’all! One of the best parts about living in Pittsburgh is the wide array of destinations and restaurants that are well within driving distance. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t like a little “daycation” from time to time? With brief travel time and minimal packing, daycations are an activity that Pittsburghers should embrace wholeheartedly. Thus, for this post, I would like to share with you some of my favorite spots in the Laurel Highlands that everyone in the area should visit this summer.* Now let’s go day tripping!

Food

The Stone House Restaurant & Inn (3023 National Pike | Farmington, PA | 15437) is a classic spot along Route 40, our National Road. With charm, character(s) and a fantastic menu, The Stone House has something for everyone. Special events are common, especially live music and bike nights. My advice? Try the wings ($5/5, $10/10, $14/15), the salads and anything that incorporates their house sauces and dressings; grab a bottle of Pittsburgh Winery wine while you are there too!

Out of the Fire Café (3784 State Route 31 |Donegal, Pennsylvania | 15628) is a casual BYOB restaurant. With an open kitchen, Out of the Fire offers an American menu that patrons can enjoy from inside of on their deck. The view is beautiful and the location is in close proximity to many mountain attractions. My advice? Try the Sea Scallops ($32, coconut and cilantro risotto, roasted red pepper, mango & arugula salad, Fuji apple vinaigrette) and/or the Charred Pineapple Salad ($13, field greens, kiwi, red grapes, cherry tomatoes, toasted cashews, blueberry balsamic vinaigrette).

Fun

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater (1491 Mill Run Road | Mill Run, PA | 15464) and Kentuck Knob (723 Kentuck Road | Chalk Hill, PA | 15421) are architectural masterpieces tucked away in the Fayette County mountains. With a little planning, you can either visit one on its own, or arrange to see both in the same day. I happen to be an architecture fanatic, and I’ve seen both of these houses in many seasons both on their own and in the same day. The local history associated with the homes is fascinating, the grounds are picturesque, and the gift shops are quite marvelous. My advice? Don’t miss the opportunity to see something that thousands of people travel from all over the world to see every year. And get your tickets way in advance!

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Fort Necessity National Battlefield (1 Washington Parkway | Farmington, PA | 15437) is a worthy stop along Route 40. With the popularity of Hamilton: An American Musical on a steady rise, this is a great place for fans and history buffs who are interested in George Washington lore. See where Washington opened the action of the French and Indian War in 1754, ultimately setting the American Revolution in motion. Jumonville Glen and General Braddock’s Grave are also nearby, for a bonus round! My advice? Ask them if they remember the girl who won an art contest there in 1990; she created an epic rendition of Washington’s life called “The Cherry Tree of Life.” Ha! Kidding. No one needs to bring up my short-lived career in the visual arts.

*I left off Laurel Highlands juggernauts like Ohiopyle and Nemacolin Woodlands because of the likelihood that yinz have already been there. Not that I wouldn’t work stops at either of these into a daycation from Pittsburgh, but I wanted to bring to light some lesser known attractions.

Best of Summer

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The Best of Summer 2016 Part II…Beer

I’ve done extensive scientific research into the subject of chillaxation, which is defined as “a state of total tranquility that comprises both the restfulness of body (chilling) and peacefulness of mind (relaxation)”. As it turns out, there’s no better activity to achieve this blissful state than enjoying a cold beer on a hot day.

I’ve enlisted my childhood friend Monica to help substantiate my hypothesis. Along with holding a PhD in Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, she’s also conducted numerous field studies at the establishments that make up our region’s exploding craft beer and microbrewery scene. Monica is now going to report on her research by giving us some beverage suggestions that are guaranteed to maximize your chillaxation all summer long!

(First off, I have a short confession to the readers: I don’t like hoppy beer. My IBU scanning of selections usually have me choosing the lowest numbers by default. If you are a hop head, you’re likely not going to have fun with the following.)

In the regional area, there are approximately 70 breweries. The boyfriend and I have a list and a google map and are slowly visiting them all. Hell, we even made it to Milkman Brewing and they were open for approximately 20 minutes. There are many beers that we can consider both local and good for summer drinking. Not all of my suggestions are local, but many are. Support your local brewer.

This being said, I’m also a big qualifier of information. I have a thing for parenthetical comments. When I’m asked a question, I instantly go through the multitude of answers that could be correct, and qualify when each answer is appropriate. I thought that it would be most helpful to have a list of common summer situations in which beer is the appropriate answer and then qualify them. Here it goes:

The “I just spent a ridiculous time performing lawn maintenance in 90F weather for a lawn that I only go in to mow” beer.

The appropriate beer here is one that won’t be contaminated by the taste of the sweat running down your face or the smell of grass stuck in your nose. It won’t be super high in ABV, nor will it be super astringent. This beer will quench your thirst, but also give you a taste of something that will remind you of something other than lawn work. It’s not a savoring beer, it is a thirst quenching beer. (Yes, I do my own lawn work.)

I’m recommending a Doc G’s beer called “Orange Blossom Wheat”. It’s a 4.8% ABV with a hit of orange. It is all of the things that I think go well with a shitty lawn job. Now, you all can go over to yelp and look at the reviews of this place (it’s in DuBois), and well, they’re not good. What I can say is that I have insider information that the brewer has changed, and this will likely impact your beer enjoyment.

The “It’s Friday, my coworkers have the intelligence of horseshoe crabs, and I need to go in tomorrow anyway” beer.

Sometimes you need to sit at a patio and bitch about life while sipping a beer. This calls for a quality drink. You can have a couple of drinks, but then you realize that real life is going to set in early tomorrow, so you want to make them count. You want something that is a pleasant taste and buzz, and go well with that water you’re going to have after them.

I’m recommending the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale by Alltech’s Lexington Brewing and Distilling. It’s 8.19% ABV is going to have you pleasantly forgetting about the idiots you work with and have you moving to a discussion about what you’re going to do on vacation. (I’m calling this local because you can get it at Giant Eagle.)

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The “I’m being forced to spend time with my family” beer.

If you are obligated to spend time with your family and need beer to get through it (and they’re of the Bud Light variety), you are going to need a beer that satisfies several criteria. One, it must be worth it to take to the location. Two, it’s going to have to be something that someone else is not going to want to steal. Three, it likely has to not be too heavy as to not compete with the potato salad. Four, it needs to be a session beer (We know what you think of your cousin’s new boyfriend, but we don’t need to do this now).

I’m recommending the Ellicottville Brewing Company’s Blueberry Wheat beer. It’s fruity, so all of the old white-beards in the family aren’t going to want any. It’s a lighter wheat beer, and it’s just a hint of blueberry, so it goes well with the standard cookout fare. Lastly, it only has a 4.8 ABV, so you can finish the 6-pack while the rest of the family is harping on you to get married.

The “F*@K this I’m out, night before vacation” beer.

Sometimes you can be one of those people that packed for vacation 2 days before you leave. Other times you need to walk out of work realizing that you have to get up at 6 AM for the flight and haven’t washed clothes for 2 weeks. When the latter happens, you can hole up at a local brewery (bonus points if there’s a food truck and the mayor is wearing shorts) and have a beer or two. Because, really, you’re going to sleep on the plane anyway.

While I said that I’m no fan of hops, for some reason the hops I do like are the Nelson hops. These New Zealand based hops aren’t nearly as piney to me, and provide a nice astringent taste and a floral aroma that’s refreshing.

For pre-gaming vacation, I suggest Brew Gentlemen’s Nelson Saison (ABV 6.0%). This beer says “I’m only packing what I need for the beach”.

The “Sitting around the bonfire watching the stars” beer.

Sometimes you need a relaxing evening with friends, sitting around a summer bonfire, picking out the constellations in the sky. It’s way after dinner at this point, you don’t have any plans in the morning, and sitting and chatting are the only thing you want to do. Not high level work discussion, not philosophical discussions about what the world looks like to you, just telling stories and shit-talking your friends.

To save the best for last, I’m imploring you to get some of Helltown’s Hefeweizen (5% ABV). It’s the sitting around beer. It’s the ‘hold my beer so I can tell this story with hand movements’ beer. It’s the beer of friendship and remembering who has the embarrassing pictures of you as a child.

Best of Summer

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The Best of Summer 2016 Part I…Music

Welcome to the first installment in a series of posts celebrating the start of summer sixteen. Kicking off the festivities is a hot af mixtape by Pittsburgh’s bestest audio scientist RJ 2020k. After enjoying the tunes below, please be sure to check out RJ’s website here and follow him on the twitter @twenty20k!

Mixtape Name: XXXTRALRGICEDCOFFEE

Side A
1) Since I Left You by The Avalanches
2) Runaway by Electric Youth
3) Empty Threat by Chvrches
4) Hex Girlfriend by Neon Indian
5) Back That Thang Up by Juvenile
6) Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg by TLC

Side B
7) Be Thankful For What You’ve Got by Massive Attack
8) Good Time by Brazilian Girls
9) High Road (Baio Remix) by Cults
10) C’mon by Kesha
11) I Get Around by 2Pac
12) Two Months Off by Underworld

BONUS TRACK: Everybody Loves The Sunshine by Roy Ayers

Liner Notes: Normally, my mixtapes are well thought-out concepts so I thought it would be fun to destroy the concept and list the most high energy, sonically sunshine-stained songs I could possibly think of.

Layered Electronic tracks, high energy throwback Rap, glittery Pop, well-known and obscure names proudly litter this track list. There’s something for everyone, so get in your car and turn this up!

As caffeinated and random as this playlist is, there are two songs in particular that I would like to point out as having significance: The Delta Foundation booking Kesha’s appearance at Pittsburgh’s 2016 Pride in the Street was a bold, rightfully supportive move that brought me to tears so “C’Mon” is my way of showing support to both parties (I’ll obviously be roaming the streets that day, so come say hey!).

The Roy Ayers inclusion is a funny one because I was Googling “Everybodylovesyou.net” to look at previous playlists and “Everybody Loves The Sunshine” popped up, so the iconic song was thrown in as a bonus track as a nod to this lovely website.

Spotify Link: XXXTRALRGICEDCOFFEE

Apple Music Link: XXXTRALRGICEDCOFFEE

Best of Summer

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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!

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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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