Archive | August, 2017

End of Summer ‘burgers

23 Aug

Disclaimer:  This is a Throwback Thursday blog post!  From August 2017

2nd Disclaimer: Sorry to disappoint, but this is not a recipe. HOWEVER, if you do have a great burger recipe to share, don’t hesitate to send it my way (it probably won’t make it into a blog post, but it’ll definitely make it into my stomach).

Now, moving onto the real topic of this post: My summer in Pittsburgh began with The Pittsburgh Speaker Series. This event was held in town, and for the first time ever, I bought tickets. For those of you who don’t know, the Speaker Series is like a local, TED Talk. They were expensive, so I’ve been flying solo, which has been pretty great.

The first speaker I saw there was Jeffrey Toobin (whom I had never heard of before but now am a really big fan of).  He is the chief legal analyst at CNN (yeah, not impressive at all). Of course, I sat in the front row (if I could’ve put an apple on his desk, I would have) and gave him a standing ovation at the end.

His taught us about the Supreme Court and how there are currently six men, three women, six Catholics, and three Jews currently serving. They hear roughly 75 cases a year, and he recommended that I go to DC to see their oral arguments.   Probably going to take him up on that.

Going to these events always makes me excited for the next one. The one coming in February is going to be extra fantastic, because I get to fangirl out over Rick Steves, the travel guide. I bought his book — hopefully he’ll sign it for me!

This summer was filled with all sorts of celebrity sightings. After the Summer Series, Colleen came to town, and I got to meet Buffy (the dog, not the vampire slayer…but still a celeb in her own right because she’s so darn cute).


Some other August standouts:

-I got to work with Brit a ton, so work was faster (and way more fun)!
-I became closer with my parents (hi, mom; hi, dad!).
-I got turned away from a local voting booth because they couldn’t find my registered card.  Went to my old voting station, they couldn’t find me either.  Went back to the original one where they had made a mistake and they found my card.  Voting took me over 3 hours because of this.
-I frequented H&R Block on the regular. Shout out to my representative, Barbara. She thinks the IRS is the American version of a terrorist. Which is hilarious. But now I’ve probably also been flagged for conspiracy.
-Joyce and I saw a rainbow.
-Ben and I celebrated a milestone at Cafe Du Jour. He also became an official ‘Burger when he signed up for a Giant Eagle card!

We also went hiking in McConnells Mills and got snow yetis! We captured them and put them in the trunk of our car. We’re planning to keep them as pets and raise them as our own. Just kidding, a snow yeti is a snow cone, and they were devoured within seconds.



Puppy day afternoon.


Speaking of devouring things in seconds, one weekend my friends Andrew and Brian, and their adorable little dog Pearl, accompanied me to my parents’ house in Findley Lake where we made some pork chops, which, yes, were also devoured within seconds #GetInMyBelly. Even though this blog isn’t about burgers, my summer was very food-centric.  At one dinner party Connie, Andrew’s grandmother, invited me and she had so many items there was an actual “menu!”  Steak, seafood, vegetables.  My stomach was very happy.


Pearl also became a big sister when A&B got new puppy Tip.



No pain, no gain…?


So in between the eating and playing with puppies, I decided to get my motorcycle license. During one of the classes, I fell (see the bruise above on my leg.  Not pictured: the one on my ego).   It was super embarrassing, and as soon as it happened, the teachers ran over to hit my kill switch. They didn’t make me get back on the bike, but they also told me that if I missed even one lesson, they were not legally allowed to pass me. If at first you don’t succeed… right? So I got on and tried again. Luckily, I only fell during an exercise. If I had fallen during the actual test, it would’ve been sayonara, license! A fall during the test = automatic fail. HOWEVER you can fall as much as you want once you get your actual license. Comforting, yes?


We look like a couple of martians meeting Earthlings for the first time.


On the actual test, though, your girl brought home the silver medal (not that it’s a competition….). Yup, that’s right. I got the second lowest score in a class of 15. And no, I’m not delusional. The lowest is actually the best when it comes to the motorcycle test. Kind of like golf…except louder.



Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation.


After my bruise healed, or sometime in between the healing process, I was invited to join my first fantasy football team! There were 14 women on the team — all super cool; all capable of accomplishing anything. I called my team Brady and the Tramp as Tom Brady was my first round draft pick!  My teams theme music was the victorious sounds of Brady Gaga. Since it was my first time on the team as well as a few other women, Emily drew us a chart on all of the positions and descriptions. The chart really helped us succeed. Thanks, Emily! *pats butt in sportsmanlike gesture.

We let Diego pick the draft order.  Helen thought this was a joke but luckily I knew it wasn’t.  #hotdogs and #bacon  And then, Helen won the entire fantasy league!!!!!


Om nom nom nom.



Summer bod going strong with these healthy meals.


Of course, this wouldn’t be a summer blog post if I didn’t create a party shoutout list. ALL the parties were incredible, but I want to make sure there are some that get memorialized via this blog:

  1. The Nolans’ — it was the most memorable memorial day we’ve ever had.
  2. The Chris D.’s party where Kevin and I took a selfie (which was his very first selfie).
  3. Matt Solter’s party. His mom remembered me from back when I went to college with his brother!

This was the summer Bel and I also learned to not apply old math to new stuff.



At the Renaissance festival getting transported back in time with the Wishing Well Wenches.

Got to see Cheese Curl and Clay and the Renaissance festival this year and meet some woman who are doing really fun work.  And did I maybe get inspired for a Halloween costume as well?! (Note: I thought I did when I wrote this… but actually, nah.  I went with Banksy.)


All about these Ted Talks. Just kidding, this is Dana Goldberg!



Smiles all around for summer!



Went to get our Mmmbop on and saw some Hansons.



A Hanson (Zach!) and a new fan-son (me!



A free concert series at Heinz Hall.


The summer was a great one, full of smiles, laughs, parties, and FOOD. Also, please send your burger recipes…writing this blog post has made me insatiably hungry.

August 2nd is my favorite,

Peru: Miscellaneous

1 Aug

I’ve got more to say about my trip in Peru, and it’s MY BLOG DANGIT so here are some random musings!


Lima Drivers = The Worst
We spent some time in Peru’s capital city of Lima. I thought I had seen bad traffic and drivers before, but I’m sorry, Lima has the worst. drivers. ever.

There’s generally an etiquette when you and the car coming from the opposing direction are both turning left, where you turn at the same time in front of each other and high-five on the way by. But here, I try to turn left and they keep going straight at me. Meanwhile, cars behind try to go around to the right, and then we’re all just kind of stuck. So after much frustrated hand puppets and gesturing, we did our 18-point turns to freedom.

Bedtime Stories At Hostel Not Advised
We stayed in a hostel with a woman who told us a story about surviving a freaking plane crash in the Amazon! Seriously. The plane exploded after take-off and crashed into the rainforest. 84 people died, including one of her good friends. She was one of the flight attendants, and one of just 13 people who survived the crash. She had gone through just one day of Amazon survival training and made it through the night worrying about crocodiles until they were rescued. Didn’t fact check this one, her voice, eyes, and sincerity were enough.

Going Solo @ Museo de Arte Contemporaneo
I went to a museum alone which I love because I get to do what I want.

A Note On Stray Dogs in Lima
They look like they’re pretty well taken care of.

Stinky Sea Lions


You probably can’t really tell, but that weird rock formation is actually thousands (approx 6,000) of sea lions.


Food Notes!

  • The food is unhealthy, oily and full of carbs. They have vegetables (see photo below), they just apparently don’t serve them.
  • There was some sweet purple popcorn and cakes that looked good but… weren’t.
  • We ordered quinoa and it came as a sweet drink. WHAT?! Must be some mistake.  They never had what I was used to.
  • Breakfast and lunch, it’s all the same food.
  • Peru ceviche is the best.
  • Chifa = chinese food. Not very good, but very cheap, and the portions are huge.  Never go to Chifa when you’re not that hungry.  Also, ordered something called aeropuerto because I like airports.
  • Avocado on bread (with an occasional egg I had to order separately ) was my favorite thing to eat.

Classic lack of vegetables even though they grow them here.



Proof that they sell vegetables (even though there isn’t any in their food).



Ceviche.  Best thing ever!  Ben says I eat it like I was starved once.


General Notes

We felt safe the whole time. There was only one brief moment where we didn’t when some guy asked where we were from and, without looking at each other, Ben and I simultaneously responded “Canada!”

The dancing in music videos isn’t sexual like in ours. It’s almost childlike.

Ben and I played a game each night where we said 3 things we were grateful for and 3 things we would change about the day.   One of mine was to buy one of the hats I saw the women wearing…


See one here.


I wanted to blend in so badly! We saw women wearing these cool hats everywhere but couldn’t seem to find them for purchase anywhere. Most of the women in the market had them on.  And at the bank.  There were CRAZY long lines for the bank that extended around the block — at every bank, even in small towns — and all the women in line were wearing tall hats. We thought buying one off of someone’s head probably wasn’t very respectful.

Finally I found one, and as soon as I purchased it and put it on, all the ladies in the market kept telling me how pretty I was. And no, of course I don’t have the pics to prove it.



A charming, mountain town… with hats!



Notice the hats.  And avocados!


4 Quick Facts! (Sorta)

  1. The Peruvian currency is called the “sol,” which when pluralized to soles, does not sound like “souls,” but “so-lays.” So I was offering people 7 Souls for things, and getting weird looks, but feeling rather devilish. 
  2. “Hot springs” are apparently weird, dingy “private” rooms that feel super dirty and smell like surfers and aren’t relaxing at all. But, I did get to laugh until I cried, so there’s that.
  3. Peru has the largest speed bumps in the world (that I’ve ever seen). They even paint them black to sneak up on you.  They got us good.  Or bad.  I bit my tongue multiple times. 

    Here’s a ‘fun’ driving game for you if you ever visit Northern Peru: Both driver and passenger try to watch out for the speed bumps. When you see one, yell BUMP! as loud as you can. If the driver hits it too hard and causes a jarring impact, the passenger gets to get pissed off and ask “Do you want me to drive?”(We actually even saw a music video while we were there in which the girl was hitchhiking in front of a speed bump because the drivers have to slow down so much for them, so it’s a bit of an in-joke for Peruvians too.)

  4. Peru has over 20 out of the 34 climates in the world, and very varied landscapes, with the Amazon Rainforest, Andes Mountains, Sand Dunes on rugged beaches, and more.



Beach straight out of a Tim Burton movie with handmade canoes for fishing in the Pacific Ocean.



These sand dunes look like they were painted, but they’re totally real.



Went really out of our way for this view so I had to include it.


And that’s my rather random round-up (hey alliteration!) from the rest of my trip in Peru. I’ve heard Peru called the Thailand of South America (I think because it’s the place that most people start on each respective continent but really, I have no idea.  Peru was the first country I visited in South America.).  It had a bit of everything for me, from natural beauty to city slums to epic quests for hats and vegetables.  I loved it, but still prefer quinoa the way I’m used to.


Hats off (because I lost mine),