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Hey, I moved to New York!

10 Jun

We moved to New York. I haven’t posted in awhile. Let’s get into it.


Col really shines when he’s driving affordable storage units.


Seven hours after this picture was taken (which felt like 3 days in hauling-all-of-your-stuff-across-state-lines time), we made it. Unloading a U-Haul at midnight and sleeping on a mattress on the floor really is what New York City dreams are made of. 



I Spy…disinfectant spray.


I actually loved the entire process of unpacking.  Culling again (and again). Introducing my stuff to Collin’s. Organizing. Seeing how well everything got along. Felt really nice.


The after…voilà!


Look at our cute place! Even in winter, she’s gorgeous.


Helpful tips for living in NYC: Have pizza for dinner regularly. It solves any argument…unless you’re fighting about which pizza to get. So many options! Mine: pineapple, arugula, and hot sauce.



Plants, meet music. Guitar, meet plants.


Chef Collin takes New York! Peep the roasted cauliflower.



My wonderful parents gifted us this multi-purpose dining room table as a moving-in present. We use it for table tennis, baking, writing, and eating.  Look at my opponent drawing me in with that winning smile! Also, check out the intercom. Before this, I hadn’t seen a corded phone since The Baby Sitters club aired on TV and now, I live with one.


From one city known for their bridges to another 🙂


Fun fact (emphasis on the “fun”): we’re neighbors with George Costanza’s parents. Well, the house his parents lived in on the show. If you don’t watch Seinfeld, disregard this information. If you do watch the show, come visit — we’ll take ya! 


Famous neighbors.



Who can focus on that building with this cutie sitting next to me?


It’s been a bit since the move (October), and we’re loving it. Especially, as things are opening back up.

Pittsburgh, you’ve been great, but New York has incredible food, comedy, and so many intramural sports teams, I think we’re staying for a while.

Enjoying every New York minute,

FOUR-antine (fourth month in quarantine)

14 Jul

In the US, this pandemic is being (SO) mishandled. It’s embarrassing, sad, detrimental, and fatal.  Here’s a link to an article from the Atlantic which does a better job summarizing what’s going on from another country’s perspective (it’s France).
Anyway, in my world…I’ve just continued to keep careful notes on my day to day life.  “The unexamined life is not worth living”… but is taking notes on everything I do examining it?  Will I be doing this forever?  I don’t know.  It feels like it. This past month has seen me spending lots of time outdoors with friends. And inside, with Collin and Molly (on zoom).


June 15th
I got outside with:


The hottest girl on the back of my scooter ❤


Things were looking up, Brittny came over! We scooted all around town, Ricky came to meet us, and THEN we ATE IN A PENNSYLVANIA RESTAURANT FOR OUR FIRST TIME IN OVER 3 MONTHS!  Thai food. WOW, WAS THAT FUN! They told us we had “one hour to eat the food” and Collin loved the limitations. I took awhile to order (I couldn’t help it, the choices were overwhelmingly delicious) and, with a couple of minutes left, Col insisted on Mango sticky rice for dessert (he was right). Thank you again for spoiling us, Ricky!! Love you guys!


June 16th
Collin’s first haircut in 5 months.  We scooted all the way to Oakland (and back).  I chilled by the pond, watched people, and caught a frog with a tail; it was SUCH a great day.  My darling boyfriend met me with a refreshing Dunkin’ coffee before we secured some Mediterranean DELICIOUSNESS and had a park picnic that I definitely want to repeat. So much outdoor happiness before…a Molly hang! Our FaceTime chat was a luxurious spa day for our insides; “like a full body soak treatment”.


Forever best friends.


June 17th
Today, I finished Tonya’s book about Guatemala 🙂 I can’t wait to read it again.
Col and I also finished season 5 of Schitt’s Creek and I cashed in on a tickle massage, I’ll never bet anything else.


June 18th


Pandemic legacy (season one). A binge worthy game, to say the least.


June 19th AKA Juneteenth
Nap day for me also, related, a day Collin got so much done.
And then? Green Forest Churrascaria double date with Rachel, Roman, a fiddle leaf fig, and all the meat before 1. They shut down and 2. I become (mostly) vegetarian. This was followed by after dinner drinks at the perfect-for-us (until the end) Dukes.


Full bellies, fuller hearts.


June 20th
Pandemic Legacy is INTENSE!   😂 WE WON (February) AND IT WAS SO MUCH FUN THAT COLLIN SUGGESTED WE PLAY AGAIN, UNPRECEDENTED!  In the afternoon, we went to Dad John’s, and then a porch hang with Nick and Doug. At the end of the night I found 8 guitar picks in the washing machine solving the mystery: “Where did the guitar picks go?”


June 21st
Happy Father’s Day!
A nice scooter ride to Father’s Day brunch with Dad John.  And then a bit of a hang with Collin.  I love the day after — with him, it’s so enjoyable. Before we drove to FL and had a mountain of spaghetti casserole with double cheese, and the four of us ate the whole. dang. thing. YUM! No wonder it’s what my dad requested for Father’s Day. Followed by an entire angel food cake. Yay! Father’s Day is fantastic! We relaxed by the fire as day turned into night.


I got the inaugural dock jump off of my parents new dock. And, said goodbye to 32.



The first time these kayaks went onto FL lake.


June 22nd
Celebrating my last day as a 32 year old with yoga / watching my dad’s new watermelon slicer in action.  M&D gave me a thoughtful car and present (333, 3 hearts as one). On the way home, Col and I stopped for all you can eat chips and salsa.  Back in Pittsburgh, I had my first ever scooter ride with music. And the BEST workout session with Molly, Michelle and Hannah. I was so happy to meet THE Hannah and have a hang.   At midnight, I talked to Helen: “Good night! It’s our birthday! We are 33!”


June 23rd
I woke up to a gift from Molly: Sore on my birthday! Col had planned a surprise camping trip — blog soon — but, no one wants to go camping in the rain …so, we took a rain-check (hehe).  Col said my birthday wasn’t over until I cashed in on all of my gifts and now I’d like to thank you rain the rain for extending my birthday!  That morning, my doting, thoughtful, helpful, sexy boyfriend cooked me the absolute best birthday breakfast I could imagine and played my favorite game (Thank you Bel and VB!). No matter that we lost, it felt like I had won.  For dessert, there was a cookie cake with extra, extra pink frosting.  And at night, another game, Monopoly, Cheaters edition, and the best part was, when I woke up…Collin, true to his word, said it was still my birthday ❤


Happy birthday to me from Collin’s plate of food (which always, for some reason, looks better.)


June 24th
Veggies and cookie cake for breakfast.  Collin did my hair (thank you), we watched the Garth Brooks documentary (which I do not recommend, sorry), and then played ANOTHER round of Pandemic Legacy! Before a BLM protest and Nate at Condado.  When we got home, there was a surprise scooter visit by Emily and Alex! And then a SUPER surprise visit from Katie, Evan, a furry card, and multiple cookies. Like I told you, my birthday wasn’t over.


June 25th


“Let’s meet at 8AM, downstairs, for scooter rides!”



June 26th


It must be Friday: Lunch time with Emily 🙂

Molly’s birthday package got “lost” in the mail 😭  But, I did get to Facetime with her, Emily, Alex, and the scooter parked in the grass (scandalous). We squirted bottles into our mouths and enjoyed lunch. That evening, at Johnny Angels, doowop music, heels (never again), and the Widows club vibe.  Those women certainly know how to lean in to fun and play! (Note to self:  Attention was a by product for them but who cares because they were literally having the most fun in the outdoor room plus helping everyone else around them have fun, too.)


Johnny Angel, how we love him.



June 27th


We bought our first car together! Help Me, Rhonda…the Honda!



And, FaceTimed my parents to share the good news….before indulging in celebratory, nostalgic Pizza Hut.


June 27th was quite a day because…it was also the day Ariann and Senneca got married!
We pre-gamed at the Galleria Mall before attending a very intimate reception where I made a new friend, Korianne. Here are some moments: You can make anything decaf, just blanche it. I should be saving the wax from candles.  Reuse coffee: 200 degrees, crispy, 20 minutes. My memory works best visually.  Desperanza is a website to buy cheap flights to South America. Books can be sent via US mail for close to free. “We’re talking about the Ukrainian President” because, well, we were.



Sharing a mileStone with Mr. and Ms. Stone.


All night long, Collin made me feel like his favorite person whenever I came near ❤


June 28th
I woke up singing the opening number for Pockets. At 9:15am Emily came to hang and clean up the park with Gay for Good. Emily: “I can’t stress enough how this was a volunteer position.”


Great people ❤


Afterwords, it was SO nice to look out the window at the park and know that it was cleaner.  Followed by….THE most delicious breakfast. And, Collin gave me THREE pieces 🙂  What did I do to deserve him?! *SWOON.
In the afternoon, I cleared my head on a scooter ride, fun! And picked up Allison…who showed me a special spot where Chicken of the Woods was hidden in River View park.  Then, I scooted to Dad John’s where we celebrated Pap’s 90th birthday with amazing tacos. At night, I said farewell to Helen’s roof, discussed learning how to park and how new things are scary (Helen’s an inspiration!). We also brainstormed colors for rHonda. “What color is cool and cute?”  “Light blue. Like on the Argentinian flag.  You’d know it if you saw it.” – Bel.


June 29th
“I’m always happy to have you in the kitchen with me.” – Collin
Would you believe…My favorite breakfast AGAIN!  And, no correlation to breakfast, nap day.  “We” also used those poppy seeds for the first time, thank you, Molly.  “We” put poppy seeds in our homemade salad dressing that “we” definitely both made.  Molly really nailed my birthday presents this year, despite being lost in the mail the first time.  I love the satin and I LOVE THAT WE MATCH! And, not to mention…Monday night workout(s)! Thank you!!  Plus, the hang after.  “The only place Covid isn’t getting better is in the numbers.” – Molly, spittin’ truth bombs out of “violently liberal” California.  That night, I turned the shower on and off 3 times before I remembered to wash behind my ears.

Screw what the calendar says; My birthday’s when we say it is. BLOG post, coming soon.

July 3rd
It was a hot, hot, HOT day.
Regression: My job was going to close for one week. (Spoiler: it’s July 26th and things are still, rightly, closed).  Anyway, it was Helen and Victoria’s new house move in day! A FaceTime!  I can’t wait to visit!! 🙂  I also scooted with Emily, she touted me on the back and we ate Chinese food for lunch.  Followed by an extra long scooter ride to McKees Rocks where I got to scoot with Momma Candy 💕Afterwords, we headed to Doug’s bonfire party co-hosted by Andrew, who cooks the best Beyond burgers and was super prepared with a mask and an up to date Covid test (aka the new STD test).  I’m (happily) more vegetarian than ever, thanks to BLM and Helen’s (albeit delayed) influence.  And, even tho it wasn’t until after midnight when the weather was finally cool enough to enjoy the fire, we all had a good time. As I fell asleep, Collin smelled great, like an outdoor cookout for the 4th night in a row.


July 4th
Fourth of July and a really fun road trip. Including, the memorable Zack’s farm to table restaurant…where masks weren’t required in defiance of the law. *Smacks face. They played the movie The Patriot.  “I would come to a restaurant every day if they played Netflix” – Collin.
We then drove to a cabin in the woods were we got to see….


The newly engaged Rachel on THE DAY SHE GOT ENGAGED!


It was an absolute pleasure to see her, and watch the video of Roman getting on one knee.  CONGRATULATIONS!!  We headed on their friends boat where Col told us, while getting soaked, that “a lot of people done know this, the front of the boat is actually quite moist” and assured us that he “was so happy to be keeping the windshield dry” while the rest of us erupted with laughter.

My boyfriend and I road-tripped the rest of the way to FL, I gave directions, and we made it there just fine.  After eating classic chicken from the fire hall we followed it up with ice cream from a food truck.  It was a great hang with my parents plus snuggles from the kittens, pre-fireworks…and we got to watch from their dock.  The gorgeous, long, firework show was bought right to us.


Keeping my seat warm.



July 5th


Morning, kayak.



Chipotle and milkshakes on the way home. A family Zoom. Starting our 4th game of Pandemic Legacy in one day!  At night, scary fireworks (or were they gunshots?) outside.


My heart, my joy, my HOME.


July 6th


Telling the charcuterie board to “Say cheese!”


WILL TODAY BE THE LAST AND FINAL GAME OF PANDEMIC SEASON ONE?!! (haha, no.  We plan on loosing this game so that we can set ourselves up for an alley hoop during the last game.  AW, I LOVE THIS SO MUCH, really trying to milk it.)
Today, I ordered new sunglasses, thanks M&D! And, had a Molly hang: We re-lived our Bandera, Texas days adding new realizations: “I’m red white and this is my friend Blue.”  (we even dressed like it). Hot mich ultra = a beer latte. “This makes me want a nice, frothy, hot beer”.  While reading we drank Victory beer (which UNBELIEVABLY we BOTH had) while re-reading about our “victory lap” as in: “We felt like we were doing a victory lap (with lots of slow claps) on the way from Bandera driving back to Austin.”.
Some other gems:  “If that’s true I’m gunna be embarrassed / And it is true and I am embarrassed” – Molly
The specialist moments are with your closest friends, I’m talking to you Blue.


July 7th
Welp, it happened.  Collin and I finished playing Pandemic. We did an alright job at saving the world but we had the best time ever! “Congratulations and my condolences on finishing pandemic” – Katie.  That night I watched TV, including Michelle Obama, Becoming.


July 8th
Today, I found out that my bar will close for two more weeks (at least).


Love, all.


After tennis, we went out for my first sushi during quarantine, with Angie. Thanks for the treat, Col!  Followed by Dairy Queen.  With our bellies full of sushi and cream, we headed back home where I had a fantastic chat with Patrick and binge watched The Big Flower Fight.


July 9th
My final spin in Mouse (or so I thought)…
Katie’s sweet thoughts re: My car being sold: “My wildest dream is that it will be sold to someone who is neighbors with Helen’s car so they can bop around and park next to each other once again in a beautiful reunion!”
Klavon’s ice cream for the first time. And, the season finale of Dead to Me. Followed by… a Molly hang!: Tiramisu has a smokey taste and flavor.  Would you ever choose that if there was anything else?  Does he like whisky? | Personally, I like the messiness of headphone wire because it helps me find them.  | My friend and I invite you to understand the inner working of a telephone which we do not and will never understand. | Samers, makes me think of Uncle Billy. | rHonda. | Giving blood is a mitzvah it’s the dictionary definition \ the dic def. | Ex: the dick def of compatible: Molly’s cold and wants to warm her reptile hands on my warm body.
“I wonder what me thinks about that.  Let me ask me.” ❤ ❤ ❤


July 10th
Happy birthday (party) to Emily!!!
First to arrive and last to leave, “the only thing fashionable thing about me is my outfit!”  We had an outdoor hang before the weather started to turn…


“I love twisters.” – Em
“It’s going to blow over.”  – Julie


Reminder to self: When it’s my turn to wash the car…put soap on the roof before it rains. It was a SUPER fun night, with fantastic food, great people, and I love celebrating all things Emily! ❤


July 11th
The morning after the night before is one of my absolutely favorite days with Collin.
THIS ONE included Thai food delivered with some iced coffee that saved my life.  What a gift! Of course, I binge watched TV and didn’t leave the house The Big Flower Fight and Somebody Feed Phil.  Watching the travel shows I PINED for travel. I hadn’t done that before, deeply MISS traveling, adventure, packing each day, new people, and saying YES.  Today, I felt like I really wanted to travel again.  I re-read some blogs. The one I linked is about Morocco.


July 12th


“Happy birthday, Emily!” – GaTa

We drove to Ohio to meet the famous Uncle Matt and Aunt Jenny!  Then, went through a drive through food fair at the Camden fair ground.  Super Vogue.  We met up, in our cars, got everyone’s order, and all came out the other side for a good, ol’ fashion birthday picnic.  It was delicious. The best blooming onion I have ever had.  Due to Covid, we didn’t get sausage fed to us but…we did bond with Emily’s family.  And I gained a new Aunt and Uncle!  At night, it was my own family zoom and the fantastic “Expecting Amy”, which I HIGHLY recommend. It was INCREDIBLE watching her open up, she’s so tough, strong, relatable, funny, and articulate.


July 13th
A chat with Rebekah, she’s so helpful!
We then headed to the Central Blood Bank to donate blood. (Reminder to the team: Next time we can donate is September 7th).


A life-giving afternoon.


For lunch, we ate Hello Bistro by the fountain (until we had to move.) And then, sigh, my darling, precious Mouse drove up Canton Ave, the steepest street in the entire USA, as a final hurrah before I sold her.  I wanted to use her clutch for all it was worth.


Selfie with my favorite car.


Except, PLOT TWIST, at the last minute I pulled an audible…and went from selling Mouse to….KEEPING MOUSE!!!! I felt like I had just gotten a new car!  I’M KEEPING MOUSE! (for now!) “We choose joy!” – Collin said. AND HE’S RIGHT!!  That evening I had a workout + hang with the girls 🙂  Molly and I appreciated quarantine for improving our long-distance relationship.


July 14th
It was a homey morning: Cleaning out the fridge, organizing the cabinets, Collin, my amazing boyfriend (you’ve heard of him) did my hair AND the laundry.  He’s a saint. Our afternoon involved the cutest picnic-in-the-car date, sushi Tomo (YUMMY), home-made dates on crackers (dates on a date!), and an important parallel parking lesson. Our evening consisted of going to out sea and listening to music that you might find on a cruise ship:



Taking the scenic route.



This pandemic has reiterated, over and over, friendship matters.
Red, white and,


PS: Victoria (via Helen) introduced me to the 1 Sec Everyday App! I’ve been really liking it. Here’s a link to what my past month looked like, condensed to 60 seconds.

My birthday’s when we say it is.

23 Jun

In my (herd’s) world, if we weren’t experiencing a global pandemic, this would have been major furry-prep time.  I have to acknowledge it.  Anthrocon, the fur-tastic event that gives me all the wags was missed this July but (furry) puns and thoughts are a year-round constant for this Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever doggleganger.  And, going camping for my birthday was a purrfect op-paw-tunity for distraction.  Thanks to a rain delay, Collin and I actually went camping a few days after my birthday, which worked out even better.  We called it my ‘birthday weekend’ (even though it was the middle of the week).  And our celebrations lasted for almost 10 days (culminating with this trip).  The rain delay meant prolonged birthday festivities and I was able talk about our camping trip with friends before, helping build my excitement and anticipation.

The day of: Europe officially barred U.S. travelers due to covid-19.  My club was closed. We’d been trapped in the Dreamflat for MONTHS.  This had (probably) been the longest I’d gone in the past decade without packing a bag for an overnight trip; I was rusty, out of practice, and itching to travel…four months with zero overnight trips.  As I put my toothbrush in her to-go container, it felt magical to be stretching my atrophied packing muscles.

That morning, (even though it was July and my birthday is in June) Collin, wished me a happy birthday and then ‘we’ made one of my favorite breakfasts. (Does it seem like I often say “my favorite breakfast”?  Is this because 1. I love breakfast or 2. Collin spoils me by almost always making – I mean, ‘we make’ – my favorite foods.)  This time we had a deconstructed egg roll bowl with no left overs. Never mind that I accidentally melted a plastic spoon onto our wok while cooking, I’m the birthday girl.

We continued operation camping-prep and headed INTO THE WOODS! It was rHonda’s first time off-roading (as far as we know).  Col and I both kept looking for a clutch (shout-out to Mouse.)  It was a two night camping trip, which was nice as our first night wasn’t our last and we left the tent set-up.



Moraine State Park, Bear Run Campground.



Primitive camping.



A birthday party for two.


“We’re in it now, Trav”, Col told me as we drove up.  It was the most perfect campsite; I hopped out of our car overflowing with joy.  My eyes sparkled as they took in ALL THAT NATURE!  To live in the present, I put my phone on airplane mode, something I hadn’t done in awhile.  I realized I had truly been missing not having cell-phone service.



This is.THE.BEST. (Thank you, Bill, Collin, and campsite P-15!)


A HUGE thank you to Collin for being in charge of the fire. The tomahawk – now called hawk – came in handy — and not just for target practice.  Col worked hard to get the fire-resistant wood ignited (daily) and tolerated so much smoke in his eyes (it burns!) for the sake of providing good cuisine and entertainment.  It was because of him that we had mouth-watering subsistence and s’mores at every meal.

That first night, when it got dark, I rediscovered how downright cool I feel in a headlamp.



July 1st 2020, what a way to mark that this year is half over.


Above: That’s our breakfast cooking.



“You really nailed my birthday present” – me



Just your average glow-up.


“Good morning, I love you! Now, am I sore because I worked out with Molly on Zoom yesterday? Or, because we fully slept on the ground?”  These were the type of rhetorical questions I asked as we woke up to the birds chirping, and took deep breaths of fresh, forest air.

For breakfast, Collin taught me what a Moon Pie is and I’ll never be the same.  We sat by our morning fire watching the eggs, veggies, and our eyes get smoked.  Crackles of burning wood complimented the scene as I took a moment to absorb the serenity.  It was a happy birthday weekend.

When breakfast was over we gleefully headed on a drive to see the entire north shore of Moraine State Park.  The scenery and roads were like a natural amusement park for rHonda.  We stopped to pick wild blackberries and I said “This is so fun, babe!” approximately 33 times that day. Which is how you know the trip was fun. We took a stroll on the beach, checked out multiple marina’s, and spent at least three hours driving around the entirety of Lake Arthur.



This is how Lake Arthur looks from the north.


After a long day of exploring, we chose to hit up Shmily’s for some well-deserved ice cream and continue our geographic expedition by checking out the rest of the Bear Run Campground. Only ONE time during our entire stay did a car did pass our camp site and it was very memorable.

For dinner, Master Chef Collin made steaks in a cast iron pan over a fire that (take a guess who started?) he started.  Super sexy.  Those two nights in the woods were enchanting.  The sleeping on the ground situation could be improved upon (next time) but other than that it was darn.near.perfect.



Steak, butter, shiitake mushrooms, toasted ciabatta and onions. Is your mouth watering?


In the evening we played Pandemic Legacy TWICE and WON BOTH TIMES!! This really was a charmed trip.  In the morning, before we left, we wanted an adventure on foot and chose to hike the southern part of Lake Arthur.  I, personally, preferred the southern shore; it’s smaller, prettier and has better views.  The trail we chose was called Sunken Garden.  Now and forever whenever we pass the Portersville exit on I-79…I’ll think of this ❤



Lake Arthur from the south.



Leavin’ me beggin’ for s’more.



As I always say, I’ll never take sleeping in a bed for granted.
I hope to smell like smoke for a week.
smokey ‘mi



Rugged, happy campers.

3rd month in Quarantine. (please don’t end).

14 Jun

NOTE: I’ve been feeling torn about when to publish this blog post, not wanting to cloud any messages and posts from the throngs of people who are feeling empowered and finding their own voice.  It’s a humbling time to be alive.

In my own world, news broke that the bar where I work will be closing (again) on today (It’s Tuesday, June 30th) It was only open for 3 weeks.  I went to work (for only) one day before my desire to stay snuggled and safe in this quarantine love-bubble prevailed. I have a feeling that Collin and I will look back on this time in our lives and say that it was one of the best, so, I’m doing my best not to rush out of it.

On a totally unrelated note, it feels really, really, really good to be up writing this blog post in real-time.  Yay! Lately — and who hasn’t had free time lately, let’s be real — I’ve been re-reading past, travel posts — Germany, Kazakhstan, Australia. — along with NYT articles about our failing government and my white privilege.   With international travel being in the state that it is — I enjoy rereading my old blogs for an escape, for memories and for visuals that they conjure up.  Did you know, for example, that when I was in Greece I did a “who wore it best” Greek salad edition?  I wouldn’t have remembered it either, because my memory can’t be trusted.  But the blogs? I trust them.

I also finished editing a historical fiction novel for my old babysitter, Tonya.  It was fantastic. Well-written and interesting, it’s based in Guatemala.  I’ll let you know when she publishes it.  It made me wish I had written more when I traveled; had more details documented.  Especially from those earlier countries I visited like Cuba, Iceland, and Nepal.  Looking back, a post per country was.not.sufficient.  (Maybe one day I will publish a couple of previously unpublished blog posts, but don’t hold your breath.)

In the heat of the moment, it’s hard to know what to document; difficult to know my own place in history, which parts of the story I’m going to want to look back on, to emphasize, and what my responsibility is.  Combined with the fact that living in the moment is endlessly more fun. And these blogs – as Helen, Molly, and Patrick know — are a pain to write but a pleasure to re-read.  Will I ever want to go back and revisit these quarantine posts? It’s impossible to know, but I’m appreciating how unique of a time it is to be alive. Here’s my third post from this pandemic:


Home sweet home

Home sweet home base for three months non-stop.


May 15th, rain
Allegheny county moved to yellow!
– Yoga (on Zoom) with the best teacher.
– Shabbat Shalom, Molly and Dave.


May 16th
–  Trisha in the park, followed by homemade mojitos on the porch.
– Cookies, again.
– Ariann & Senneca’s, burgers and a fancy kale salad.
– Fact: Nacho cheese Doritos are the best way to start arson and have it not be detected.
– Tobo Chico = sparkling water Joey recommends.
– Babe, you look amazing in that green sweatshirt ❤


May 17th
Day one: Turning the air con on inside of the Dreamflat.


The type of breakfast I eat, nowadays.


– Potted those plants in a planter that isn’t ours.
– Pasta fagioli for dinner, at Dad John’s.


May 18th
Currently, the most used condiment in the Dreamflat = our prized sweet & sour sauce.
– Deconstructed egg roll, for brekkie.
– Using up all of my smiles with Katie Barbaro before seeing Brian.
– Logically, no smiles for scary Brian.
– An all day hang with my favorite wee Emily. Including a cull!
– Scooter rides with both Emily and Collin ❤


May 19th
– Yoga
– Patrick in the great outdoors! (Burger King and Arby’s milkshakes.)
– Not completely unrelated, off brand Tums for dinner.

Notes from my time with Patrick:
– Our cars got to meet and hang out!
– A woman driving down the rural road asked:  “Are you looking for the goats?”
– Two (very) large vanilla milkshakes and two different types of fries.
– Gunshots in the distance, apparently it was turkey season.
– One FOUND Geocache and one, on the bridge, we DNF.
– We saw those goats, tho.
– Yoga mats on the road side, relaxing in the grass.
– Air hugs goodbye ❤



Having isolation-ship time, but together.


May 20th
– A successful scooter AND stick shift lesson with my boyfriend.
– “Babe! There’s something going on across the street. Grab the cushion, it’s like watching real, live Cops.” – Collin, during his favorite evening to date, in quarantine.
– Our (surprise) final SUSH (for now). Congratulations on a job well done!

May 21st
– Taco salad for breakfast, YUM.
– Emily scooted by to drop off my wallet, and then spearheaded a scooter outing because it was gorgeous outside.
– Both Helen and I are now relishing the lack of stress when it comes to SUSH.


May 22nd
Collin did yoga five days this week!

Omg, is that a new guitar?!

– The yummy dinner at Hanna’s new apartment.
– An evening porch hang with “Tinto de verano” (red wine with ice), Minn who has “never had a bad rhino”, and Bill, who texted Doug: “Collin is playing Kanye on the guitar, I think you should be here.”

“Man, that was fun.” – Bill, at the end of the night, giving us a compliment.

May 23rd
Today, Col quoted yoga around the house.  HEART EYES.
– An outdoor comedy show!
– The coolest jukebox and the best slice of homemade, cherry pie.
– A (funny to me) sneezing fit.
– Wild night: Wolf of Wall Street comedy show; midgets wrestling, broken clipboards.



Being reunited ALWAYS feels so good.



May 24th
– An early morning, making chicken salad, before we headed up to FL.

– Collin fell asleep in front of the blow dryer 😂


May 25th
– Col drove Mouse home (!)
– At Momma Candy’s an idyllic Memorial Day cookout, complete with cookie cake.


May 26th
– Emily and I did our research and proudly voted by mail.
– A double date with BELLA AND VB ❤


May 27th
The day my unemployment came through 🙂


A long scooter ride.

– Tonya, in the SUSH waiting room 💜
– Just the two of us, with sparklers on the porch.
– Netflix: Night on earth


May 28th
– I put air in the tires of Pinksburgh II: You looked like you were struggling. “What about me looked like I was struggling?”
– Vegging out, watching a “live” Inside Number 9; Disney plus’ short film, Out; Taylor’s city of love concert.


May 29th


See if you can spot my dinner: Matzo meal coated chicken, to die for Mac & cheese (with my favorite shaped pasta), & green beans

– Went on a 7 minute run.
– Followed #plantydroppers (and felt inspired to be the hashtag I’d like to follow).


May 30th
A trip! We rented a luxury Cadillac & planned to find the best ice cream in all of Ohio🍦😃 Col let me pick the music.  Our firs stop was in West Virginia at a Cherokee shop before we ended up in Zanesville, Ohio, as tourists.  First stop: Mission Oaks Gardens where we enjoyed the grounds, searched (unsuccessfully) for a Geocahe, appreciated the soft garden and both got to pee outside.



One with nature.


Zanesville is the former pottery capital of the world.  We saw Vasehenge, a Y bridge, and another, unsuccessful (stinky) Geocache, before our FIRST TIME IN A RESTAURANT (since the pandemic). At a place called Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl where we got, you guessed it, ice cream.  Wow. I mean, WOW!  We only tried one ice cream spot because our data was conclusive: PICTURED BELOW IS THE BEST ICE CREAM IN ALL OF OHIO!



That hot fudge is only $0.30.


On our way home, we visited Dillon road, along with a cool, hand-cranked river locke, and went antiquing because we’re “never going back to Zanesville again”.
“Antiquing. I’m not into it.” – Collin
“Didn’t you pick out the antique mall for us to go to?” – Sammi
“Yeah I thought we could find some cool old guns and things we could sell for thousands of dollars, but I was wrong.” – Collin

We spent the evening at Mike and Kendall’s, and wrote a yelp review:
Great people with lovely ambiance, drinks, and decor  – on Mt. Washington
<> <> <> <> <> 


May 31st
A lazy day
– Binge watched TV shows (including Run)
– Made cauliflower pizza (plus 3 bowls of mac & cheese)
– Used the blanket that smells like Findley Lake
– Took a nap
– Ordered DoorDash, Thai
– Mingled on the family Zoom
– And was told, accurately: “My babe has not left this couch in awhile.” – Col.
– The whole day wasn’t a waste.  Here’s a fact from Night on Earth, episode 1: Stars are 200 times dimmer than the moon. And the Moon is 4,000 times dimmer than the sun.


June 1st
– Col did my hair (again). What.A.Saint! Reminder: Our next apartment needs ventilation.
– Marta made a book about drawing that both Patrick and I ordered.
– I cleaned the entire house, top to bottom.


June 2nd
Black Lives Matter.
– “Something’s going on with the washing machine, mark my words.” – Collin
– Finished Inside No. 9 and ranked all of the episodes. Our fav? Cold Comfort. WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS SHOW.
– Collin makes the best homemade soup.
– “How the frick did a good boy like me get the dirty glass?” – Col


Patrick arrived at the Dreamflat, YAY!


– Scoot scoot!
– Played the hardest level of Pandemic, with 6 epidemic cards, AND WON!


June 3rd
When Collin does yoga with my mom MY HEART COULD EXPLODE! He’s getting so good.
– Red, White and Patrick thrift store shopping.
– Waffle cone Wednesday at Happy Days turned into a fun adventure with ice cream on the back of our scooter.  Patrick, held two cones, one was dripping: “Is this the fastest way home?”, he asked. “I’m reaching the point of overflow”.
It was joyous, I couldn’t be happier! “I love ice cream! I love the scooter! I love you guys!”
– Deconstructed egg roll for dinner, MMM!
– Tree Identification: We found our first tree by noticing the label. Hint: Look for natural context ‘clues’.
– American Sycamore? American Healthyless.
– “Dang” Re: How unique Ginkgo leaves are.
In the evening, Patrick and I talked about travel.  We re-read past blog posts and felt some of the same emotions that we got to experience while traveling. Can’t wait until we can plan another trip together!


June 4th
– The best breakfast with so much food, and then “Big tree fall hard.”
– Amazing, long scooter ride through River View park.
– Hours of culling with my bestie. Including…the hardest cull of our lives: Packing up the furries.
– Photosynthesis, a buzz kill (the board game not the scientific process).
– Watching Patrick’s 8th grade graduation ❤


June 5th
-First (and only) day back to work


June 6th


❤ ❤ A successful FL family excursion ❤ ❤


June 7th


Happy birthday, Pearl!

– I’m very into this plant identification app.
– Ray’s first time in the Dreamflat, welcome!
– “Do you remember when you shot a sparkler off of the porch like it was a wand?” – Ray


“Yo. You wanna bite fight?” -Col



June 8th
– A planned TV day! Garth Brooks, 13th Amendment, Schitt’s Creek.
– And… all the dessert: Hot mug, frozen banana. I was in classic mouse-cookie mode.
– Spent time editing Katie’s book ❤
– “I get in trouble because my sandals aren’t working right.” – Col


June 9th
– Yoga
– Whenever we leave the room, on a journey: “I Forgot that You Existed”



June  10th
– Half-off day at the thrift store.
– Dead to Me (a TV show, not how I feel on the inside.)


June 11th


That sky AND no traffic?! I’m gunna miss this place.


– A party at Michelle’s with Mike and Kendyll.
– Note to self: HOW GREAT WAS IT IN THAT HOT TUB?!!!
– Collin got his passport! 🙂


Cheers to many more.



June 12th
– Peppi’s sandwiches, in the park
– Dumb squatter on our porch, will Collin be able to fall asleep tonight?
– Haha, had to go retrieve the letter I (accidentally) sent to the wrong address .


June 13th
– Watched Liz Miele’s YouTube special.
– Double date with wee Em and the Tall One in that amazing backyard. SUCH a great spot to hang out! Those lights! We missed mini-golf and almost didn’t leave.


Trouble makers who love each other.



FOUR! (as in, how many of us were on the date.)


June 14th
– Continual emphasis on long scooter rides.
– Played cornhole at a cookout with Bill’s dad, also named Bill.
– Martini (!) with Doug – he puts the “u” in dog. We happily hung-out as his second choice.


Highest point in Allegheny County, allegedly.


And, just like that, we’ve wrapped up another month.
Black Lives Matter,

Another Month in Quarantine

14 May

I have an acute awareness that it’s going to be hard to readjust to life outside of quarantine.  I anticipate going through quarantine withdrawal.  So, I’ve been obsessed with chronicling the experience.  (Which is absolutely worthless, in terms of function.)
And yet, here we are.  The truth is, I am self-isolating with a funny, happy, loving, professional comedian. And, I get to laugh all the time. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

My quarantine calendar:

April 14th
First thing’s first, I filed for unemployment. (Spoilers, I got rejected.)
– Welcome back, for one week only, Blue Apron


The only thing I like better than taking pictures of food, is eating.


April 15th


On our walk we thought caliper was a tree because it was written on tree markers. It is a not.  It is a tool for measuring.

– Beans & greens for brekkie. Banana bread with chocolate chips for dessert.
– Angie, Ziva, and coffee from the Bean Thru.
– “Plant emergency!”


Our very first SUSH show! I practiced.  Collin was nervous for me.



April 16th
– Binge and snack

Me: “Why are you so wired today?”
Col: “I dunno…Probably cause I drank 4 maybe 5 Dr. Pepper’s.”


Fine View fitness trail.


“Who’s pig do we have to slaughter to get invited to your party?” – Schitt’s Creek


April 17th
– On our morning walk, haunting screams coming from the 6th street bridge.
– Hamburger helper on steroids, a new Blue Apron favorite.
– Well, I thought it was funny (a comedy show).


April 18th
Weekend vibes before a spiral into…


April 19th
…a black hole.


– Trader Joe’s, Aldi, and Giant Eagle.
– My bestie, Emily, to the rescue by the aviary, with a Heineken.
– Collin made 59 cookies.


A cookie making factory.

April 21st




4/22 is 4/20, too
– The best breakfast I’ve ever had. Sunny side up eggs, yummy bread cooked in bacon fat, ripe avocados, sliced tomatoes, all eaten with my hands, full on messy.
– Mimosas, sub tequila
– Hey Siri, “Are birds a mammal?”  Who, who needs to know?
– A Patrick phone hang 🙂
– Collin, in the kitchen, making food that will make our taste buds explode.



Look at this TALENT


April 23rd
– A perfect day. Again with that breakfast!
Collin started a podcast called Hell Gigs! Listen, subscribe 🙂
– Chicken tortilla soup for lunch.  Mmmm.
– A Molly hang, with notes. At 26 minutes I looked at my timer: MAY DAY.  This was the day before Molly was going to have arrived in Pittsburgh. Lesson one: Do this again. 
April 24th
– Yoga in the morning


Homemade eggplant parmigiana and incredible salad.. ARE YOU KIDDING ME


– An Emily FaceTime with hours worth of culled clothes.


April 25th
– Aunt Marjean received half the envelope with no pop tabs.  5 days later, we received the other half.
– Hello Bistro.
– Hen, roasted.
– Really nice night time snuggles.


April 26th
– Arugula pizza and mint ice cream.  Because? It’s Sunday.
– The last episode of UnOrthodox
– The funnest painting project!


Qu-ART-antine: The best thing we’ve ever made together.


– A family Zoom, washing the couch cushions, and a book to edit.


April 27th
– Anthrocon is officially canceled.
– 126 days until move in Bae.
– A deconstructed egg roll.
– “Is this our life now? Listening to the police scanner?”



A good view.


April 28th
– Too Hot to Handle; including stalking cast members & texts with Emily to fuel the fire.

April 29th
– HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BELLA! It’s a great day for a great day 🙂
– Collin made cabbage noodles and I ate 3 bowls.
– Didn’t get through once but…called the unemployment office 872 times.
– SUSH birthday edition, featuring The Brulee of Hellie.



A social distancing porch hang with Emily on Bella’s birthday ❤


April 30th
– A
social distancing hang with Nick.
– CAA potential hookup; thanks, mom!
– Brought toddle into bed. Disgusting.


May 1st
– Collin was my hairdresser.  I thought Joyce might be out of a job but Collin said he would “pay her double to never have to do that again”. We shall see.
– Burgers from Riley’s Pour house.
– UCB ASSSSCAT. They’re on Zoom and we’re on Zoom and now I’ve left Zoom.


May 2nd
– Missed our anniversary. (We did, however, accidentally, have rainbow cake.)


Hanna moving out day. Congratulations!


“Today a bird dropped to it’s death next to me. I have not recovered.” – Col
– Song and story swap with Cousin Richard.
That backyard firepit lyfe.


May 3rd
Trash AND recycling night (again?! Where does the time go?)
– Blackklansman, a movie we loved.
– Geocaching around the corner. DNF.
– Family Zoom, it must be Sunday.


May 4th
– The computer AND my stimulus check arrived; oh glorious day.
– Played catch outside on a wonderful, long walk.


May 5th
– Sammi day 🙂  Plants galore, a perfect Thai lunch special, Gigi’s cupcakes, and at night, a show of my choosing: Inside Number 9.


May 6th
– Scrappy, sadly, lost a freezer.
– Emily’s friendship, I acquired my first “new clothes” since this all began.


SUSH: Pre show hang!



SUSH: Post show hang!


May 8th
– Market District Giant Eagle shopping trip.
– A surprise present, a quarantine knife!
– Homemade schmaltz to go into that homemade, matzo ball soup.
Molly asked me to be her MOH!!!!


May 9th
– Angie’s surprise sweet 16 birthday. Monopoly Cheaters Edition.


May 10th
– Mother’s Day
– Nate let us drive his BMW


May 11th
– Inside Number 9, before we have to delete our free subscription (or so we thought…)
– An afternoon hang with Helen, we don’t need Aaron.

May 12th
– Cried about not being able to buy a cheap plane ticket to Norway this year.


May 13th
– An out of body experience. Napped for two hours. Woke up to more matzo balls.
– Texting on Instagram with a plant doctor
– Bed at 3:30am, just kidding, 12:30am. Cracking myself up.



May 14th
– I’ve never seen so many matzo balls together for me to enjoy; so special; so beautiful; 5.



All the glory.


– 109 days until move in Bae.
– Findley Lake hang with omg that steak dinner.
– Family game night 🙂 Are you having fun? “A moderate amount” – dad
– When everyone went to sleep we finished season 3 of Schitt’s Creek.


Happy too,

My First Month in Quarantine

13 Apr

Right now – and for more than a month – we have been sitting tight, with not much to do. The current status of this pandemic requires a forced release of control and some people are, understandably, struggling.  There is so much discomfort in not knowing what the future holds.  Although, heads-up, I do think that coming out of this is going to be much tougher than coming in; like reverse culture shock.   Looking for things to remain the same, I have a feeling that people might wind up a bit crestfallen.  We can’t anticipate all the ways that this global pandemic is going to change the way that we travel, communicate, learn, do, buy, dress, go out, teach, work, and date  Although, goodness knows, the internet is certainly giving guessing a go.

On my end, I don’t mind giving up control.  I don’t mind things changing.  My experience backpacking has been full of things not going the way I expected, flights getting canceled, entire itineraries changing, a new country being thrown into the mix, cars breaking down, hitchhiking, rain delays, and seeing the world in all of its mess and glory.  AKA, I have spent a decade developing the “go with the flow” side of my personality.  So, a sudden change in plans – especially when a month doesn’t turn out like I had expected – is already in my repertoire.

Yes, I had some travel plans get canceled (Mystery Trip 2.0, for example) but I’m doing my part to fight Covid-19, I’m staying home. Actually, on the whole I’ve been craving less travel.  And so, this past month of self-isolation and stationary lifestyle has suited me.  Recently, I wrote about how my time in the Peace Corps was eerily reminiscent of parts of my time in quarentine.  I feel very well-versed at doing nothing and being happy.

My favorite analogy between quarantine and travel that I’ve come up with so far is to draw a parallel between self-isolation and a road trip (remember those?) because the day to day decisions involved in both are so banal; Should we stop for gas now or in a little bit? Sun chips or Sweedish fish as a snack?

During quarantine, I’ve kept a calendar of events which includes gems like “Trash AND recycling day” because that’s an actual bullet point on my agenda tonight.  So, without further ado, my quarantine calendar:



Madness at Trade Joe’s


March 13th
– I had a t
ailgate with Em, pre-Costco.  With lines the size of amusement parks.  THANK GOODNESS for that extra freezer space those girls lent me.
– “The only time getting tested and finding out you have influenza A is positive.”–mom
– Hellooooooo, Collin!


March 14th
– Entertained ourselves with outdoor PAC man.
– St Patrick’s day party with “dare Jenga.”
Farewell to live comedy — for now — at the St Mary Fire hall show.


March 15th
The world is closing its borders and seemingly shutting down.
– Hotel breakfast; whipped cream and Kashi cereal; I absolutely love being a grownup.
– Party for the Health of It and the musical discovery: “Still of the Night.”

March 16th
Pittsburgh is closing all bars for 2 weeks.

Collin, literally every day: I just wanna Netflix and Chill.
The week everyone needs to stay inside: I MUST go outside, run around, and burn off all of this energy.



A fairly empty schedule, in direct contrast to how long this blog is.


March 17th
Quarantine and ch(elp)ill
West Virginia, the last state to report a case of Covid-19.
– A unique St Patrick’s day celebration with Aunt Marjean, Cousin Dwayne, and a fantastic, new, pop tab obsession.


March 18th
Happy birthday, Colleen!
– Apple bread, filming funny videos with Collin, Photosynthesis,
and a Bitcoin purchase.

After getting grapes thrown at me I retreated and, while screaming, laughing, crying yelled “there are no grapes in my pants!”

“Goodnight, baby doll.”
“Goodnight! You made me scream so many times today, it was so fun.”



That bed is heaven.


March 19th
One week since Collin arrived.
– Read an article titled “Freezers sell out as consumers stock up,” and I get it.
– From now on, when we say “sprinkler kisses”, you know what to do.
My face brushed is the best part of shower day.


March 20th – Friday
It’s hard to know what day it is.

– Finished my taxes and subscribed to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.


March 21st…


I’ve been eating well.


March 22nd
Sunday morning bliss: We watched E
x Machina and played Monopoly.

“This pasta is done perfectly. Which is crazy ’cause it was frozen and made in the microwave.” – Collin


March 23rd
“Shelter in place”, officially.
– THIS MORNING I HAD COFFEE. (and now I can’t sleep).
– Our new set up for work = looking at each other.
– (Obviously) this quarantine has been great for my blog life.
– Lunch time discovery: We need two microwaves.
– Fleabag, Season 2


March 24th
Every day’s the same:
9am Wake-up / 9:30 Out of bed / 9:45 Start work
11:45 Change / 12
Workout / 1:15 Stretch
1:30 LUNCH / Free time / 5pm Dance
9pm Make (the same) schedule for tomorrow


March 24th


“I could tell you so many Assembly of Gods.”  – Getting to know Kendyll better, and loving it 😂


March 25th
It was a no schedule day!
–  Zoom Yoga taught by mumzy.
– I like it the best when I’m lounging all-up-in Collin’s space.


BBQ frozen pizza, add broccoli and corn


March 26th
– Cardio day in the park
– Read a
Michelin Star chef article about gnocchi… and then I got gnocchi!

“This is the worst experience of my life. I’m not kidding.” – Collin making fudge, after the wax paper ripped for the second time.

Live hard, laugh hard; the Sammi Travis story.


March 27th


Comedy in my living room.


March 29th
– Egg salad for breakfast because I live with the BEST chef!


March 30th
– A concert hosted by Elton John (our first).



Family Zoom.



An evening porch hang.



March 30th
Woken-up abruptly….they were towing cars out front :/


Thanking workers at Allegheny General Hospital.


– Surprise, a quarantine present which makes me into a human toddle!
– A phone call with Rebekah, my expensive friend. I felt sparkly after.
– In my own living room, the Banff Mountain Film Festival.


Actually, I don’t have too much to complain about.



March 31st
Food shopping day!
– “This is wild, this is so fun!” – me, at our Doce Taqueria car picnic.



Ever seen McKnight Road this empty?


– A Scale bug attacked all my houseplants.  “A pandemic of a different scale,” Dad said.
– A pandepic hang with Molly 🙂  This is just, like, available to us.


April 1st
– A new April Fool’s Day tradition = Michigan roast
– Played Cards Against Humanity with Emily and Laura!  One quick note for the makers of this online game, taking all the cards (by accident) shouldn’


April 2nd
– Tennis while we still could.


April 3rd
– Those “famous nachos”.


April 4th
– A hunt for the ages!


April 5th
It’s both trash AND recycling day, a big night in our household.
– Chatted with foreign friends; Paula on the cruise ship!; Katie K.; Ira.
– Pork chops for dinner and a lemon poppy seed cake (sans poppy seeds) for dessert.


April 6th
– American Dreamer, the stressful movie thriller with Jim Gaffigan that we liked.
– Clapping in gratitude for the health care workers and a short walk to see the full, maybe pink moon.
– Beto’s reheated…but we kept the cheese cold.
– A “Hoseparty” hang and game night with my parents 🙂



If you can’t handle me at my worst than you don’t deserve me at my best


April 7th
A new low: I didn’t leave the house once today.


April 8th
Samantha Traverstein (I’m Jewish now.)
– Chag Pesach!  A sedar through Temple Sinai with homemade matzoh anointed with olive oil. The best I’ve ever eaten, even with the wax paper.
– Two Guvners, National Theater of London, a play.  [2012. James Cordon (pre talk-show).  And Christine Patterson, an underrated actor.]

Q: “What are you looking forward to tomorrow?”
A: “Waking up and being happy.”





April 9th
– A package from Sam Dorky! Pittsburgh, like I suspected, has really fast mail service.  It’s so fun to have the same exact flavored items in two different states.
– A scallop pasta dinner and then, the funnest Molly hang!  Lesson number one:  Let’s do this again.


April 10th


Spring has sprung.


In the middle of the night: Does it sound like someone’s here?
Don’t you dare kill my roommate.


April 11th
First time filling up the car with petrol since March 13th.
– Homemade, to-die-for brookies.
– Hi, Trisha and Joe!
– The Amazing chicken lunch special at the Sesame Inn by a gorgeous, flowering tree.
– A second sedar, hosted by Aaron.
– Helen’s Instagram live comedy show!
– Forbidden Island, the board game.

“Are you busy?” – Collin
“No, why, what’s up?” – me
“Could you, like, maybe google how to get gorilla glue off of your skin?’” – Collin, after fixing a wooden spoon in the kitchen


April 12th
– Tonya contacted me ❤


Googled “big bunny”, was not disappointed.



There goes the cat. – Wendy
I wanna see the cat. – Betsy
I don’t believe they have a cat – Marvin



April 13th
– Started Schitts Creek and, unrelated, we froze Little Debbie’s Swiss Rolls.


It’s only Quarantine if it’s in the Quarante province of France. Otherwise, it’s just Sparkling Isolation.



I’m not taking this Sparkling Isolation for granted.
Sparkle sparkel,

Wisdom from the Corps; How my time in quarantine is similar to the Peace Corps

5 Apr

“Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”
— John F. Kennedy.


From March 2010 – May 2012 I served in the United States Peace Corps, stationed in Jamaica for over 2 years.  Now, April 2020, 8 years later, I find myself sitting on my white couch in self-isolation, thinking back to those years and feeling totally prepared to fill each hour, which, after a decade, turns into a day, after an eternity, a week, and, after an eon, will turn into the month of April.


“Travel teaches us new ways to measure the quality of life”. – Rick Steves


I’m including links to past Peace Corps posts which I HIGHLY recommend reading because, 1. honestly, what else do you have to do, and 2. I was a way better writer back then (probably because I was reading so many books).


Here’s a time I almost. ate a bug.
Here’s one about being a single woman in Jamaica
Here’s my day to day.
A favorite called “Excess vs. Not quite enough.
This one’s a quick one: It was SO HOT where I lived that…
And finally, while there, I updated my resume


Below is an excerpt to show you just how little I actually did while in my 2012 quarantine, I mean, in the Peace Corps:

“I’ve been in Jamaica for 14 months and here’s what I have to show for it:
My community knows who I am.
I am a proud dog owner.
I can pretty much speak and understand patois.
I have re-discovered a love for reading.
I am the walrus coo-coo-ka-choo (?)”


TBH, there are some marked differences that make this 2020 quarantine much easier.

A.   I have a boyfriend living with me! (WAHOO!!! Peace Corps couples, hot dang did you guys have it good).
B.  I have running, hot water and air conditioning.
C.  This pandemic will not last 27 months. (RIGHT?!)
D.  Netflix, duh.


But, here are TEN ways my Peace Corps experience is just like my quarantine:

  1. There’s an emphasis on home cooked meals and harder to make recipes.44432_629715288489_2670673_n.jpg

    Pizza with whatever ingredients us Peace Corps volunteers could find.  (I think that’s ketchup.)


  2. The temptation to adopt an animal(s) to keep you company.

    A photo of actual dogs I adopted.


  3. Sharpening of weapon skills for either agriculture or civil unrest.39506_628166023229_5824424_n.jpg
  4.  At home workouts with whatever water bottles, cans, and bags of sand you have available.

    Dance party; party of one.


  5. Crossing boarders…in our own minds. Dreaming of where in the world we might have been or are planning to go.248509_743898249919_6754115_n.jpg
  6. Projects (like arts & crafts or home improvements).

    Andy, Angie, and is that Valina? Repurposing old tires into garden beds.


  7. Grocery shopping is an activity to get excited about!!


    Looks like she’s going to bake  “bammy” (out of cassava root) for dinner


  8. Laundry

    This laundry is “hand-washed”.  (Hand washed means something else in this climate.)


  9. Making friends as you can. In Jamaica, it was cockroaches who laughed at insecticides; you sprayed them and they got bigger.

    A parade of ants.  I mean, new friends.


  10. Taking time to intentionally go outside and notice the sunsets.24824_609341158409_5449305_n.jpg


This quarantine will end; you will look BACK on this period of time and, my instincts say, due to what memory does to your brain, you’re going to remember it fondly.


“Di ting sort out.”



On an unrelated and completely lighthearted note, I wanted to share some fun sports facts for a much needed diversion:  The New Zealand rugby team is called The All Blacks. The New Zealand basketball team is called The Tall Blacks (take a minute here). And, there’s one more — they have a badminton team — The Black Cocks.  That’s for real.  And, the very first article that comes up when you Google it is: “Black cocks hard for New Zealand to swallow”.

Doesn’t that country seem like it has a really good sense of humor??  Probably the best way to handle all of the pain in the world.  I mean, not necessarily for all of the people who are actually having a difficult time but definitely for those of us who are required to sit on the couch.


Three goals. Two years. One love.

In solidarity,

The month before

12 Mar

We’re going to pick this diary, I mean blog, up with Valentine’s Day perfection.  Rachel cooked fish and Collin and I rediscovered the BEST Blue Apron, although the highlight was a vegan mousse (made with avocado).  Dinner was followed by comedy at The Lamp, aka the coolest spot in Greensburg.


A favorite for a reason.



The girls are back in town


Later, I got lost at Arcade on my way to a special green room invite.


February 15th
Hanna’s birthday party, with left over pizza and lots of clapping.


Birthday girl and co.


February 16th
Happy birthday, dad!
Home cooked dinner in FL with, once again, the best Blue Apron.
THIS was the day that
Collin got the wifi password at my parents house. #milestone


February 17th
Happy official birthday, Hanna!
Yoga and pickle ball! We found our couples sport. A basket in the hoop! Swish.
Lunch at Wegmans with the fam 😍


Stay at home dates are the best type of dates (post-traveling, pre-quarentine)


February 18th
Happy birthday, mom!
Out to eat at Yuzu for ramen with Emily and Laura, plus, gifted a Taylor Swift t-shirt! Giggles during impressions of Smellenour.


February 20th,
And now, my working life begins (So I thought.)


February 21st
If you need me, I’ll be at work

Things I’m grateful for tonight:
This bed. Breathing through both of my nostrils.  My clean body. These clean sheets.  My favorite pajamas and my favorite sleeping socks.


February 22nd
191 days until move in Bae.
I’m sore from the gym.  Advil helped!
I finished a blog and Nate was at work 🙂



A perfectly cooked, microwaved meal.


February 23rd
Nailing the ratio: TOTALLY THE BEST


The most amazing day off, spent with Joe and Trisha


Geocaching.  One we found, one we didn’t. And I ended the night laughing until I cried.


February 24th
My most lucrative day at work in 4 years. And it was in February, go figure.


My best friends are hanging out right now ♥️ #MolAndCol #colly



February 25th
A day in court with full family support. Lunch at delicious Cafe Brugge.
A well-deserved night off. A 3 hour phone call with Bel 😍
And, the Love is Blind addiction continues.



February 26th
Final Ethiopia blog gets posted!


Things I’m grateful for:
Brian was at work!!! Thank goodness.
I’m sore from the gym.
The ability to leave work early.


February 28th


Welcome (back) to America!

With Emily, Laura, and Chris, Atria’s has the best happy hour.
I f
ollowed the amazing driver — aka, wee Emily — to Laura’s house using only right turns.  Nick Lackey started out our music playlist (I do, I do, I do) before being joined by Mariah Carey, Miley Cyrus, and Taylor Swift. I’ll never forget the Pretty Girl Rock, where sweetheart Em knew every word and every move ❤

These blueberry cookies:  “They are breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” – Laura


February 29th
Leap year!

Birthday Brittny

An outdoor h
ot tub! That cool, cellophane bathroom. And, I met their human skeleton.  (Still less than one year since Collin and I started dating.)


March 1st
I started my taxes.  (Which I love.)


March 2nd
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! (Or should I say, “Happy Cookie-versry!”)


“This is without a doubt the best cookie I have ever had” – Collin Chamberlin


March 4th
Rebekah, life coach “to do anything amazing in life you need a butt load of energy!”


March 6th
Friday. It’s been too long, I need to see Collin.
Also, what’s going to happen with this virus?!


March 7th
A ten hour drive to New York City. Almost immediately, I got to laugh
until I cried.


March 8th
Bagels for breakfast and then a Locke and Key binge. We watched all of season 1 that weekend.  Plus, house hunting in Sunnyside!  Followed by delicious tacos at a restaurant and a
lmond-milk ice cream at the Stud-flat.


March 9th
The sweetest morning snuggles.  I threw myself off of the bed for a sneeze.  We visited Roosevelt Island where I d
idn’t share any hugs with Katie instead, we took headshots by the lighthouse and went geocaching for a multi-cache…but were 38 miles off (read: unsuccessful).


Physically separating, incar-light.


March 10th
Back to the ‘burgh.
Colleen was the first to register for the furries! 🙂


March 12th
Allegheny City Brewery.  Was this to be my last hang with Emily and Laura for a while??


March 13th
Happy 39th wedding anniversary, m & d!
A HUGE grocery store shopping trip and…
The day Collin had his exodus from New York City.


Sparkle sparkle,


Birthday Boy in the City

2 Feb

It was the best homecoming.  When I left Pittsburgh, I apologized to my room for leaving.  And when I came back?  I gave her a HUGE hello.  But first…I landed at our adorable Pittsburgh airport (voted 2017 Airport of the year #neverforget).



Getting ready in the airport bathroom. Classic.


And drove STRAIGHT to the Pittsburgh Improv where my boyfriend, Collin Chamberlin, met me at our favorite spot (in a parking lot).  What a feeling it was to hug him after over a month of being apart!



BONUS: I watched him perform!


Jeremiah, Kendyll, Mike, (and a surprised Jan and Jill) were all there.  At midnight, the staff sang “Happy Birthday” because, drumroll please…
duh duh duh duh duh (this is how I imagine a “drum roll” in writing sounds).  It was officially Collin’s birthday! 

After cake, we headed to the Dreamflat — Nate left it so nice ❤

February 2nd
COLLIN’S BIRTHDAY; aka my first Collin’s birthday.
In the morning, the handsome birthday boy got to open his cryptic present filled with lots of cards from friends from around the world! And a homemade geocaching (inspired) puzzle to solve.


11/11/2017 – Answer: A signed, Bruce Springsteen vinyl (single).



The family party!


(where Colleen gave me a phone pep talk <3)

At night, Brian and Andrew hosted an EPIC Super Bowl party!!!


with all the best food and all the best company.


Highlights included:
– Watching Pearl (try to) go under the TV to get her toy…and watching her come back out.
– Brian, hoisting me up and running around the room. What strength!
– “Ask your parents if they are watching the Super Bowl.” – Andrew
 “Yeah. I hate this halftime show.” – Dad
Katie Sowers 🙂 female coach, Kansas

Lowlights included:
– My car broke down and we had to leave it at Andrew and Brian’s house. Thank goodness for them letting me (always) store mouse at their house.


36 hours after arriving home, Collin and I flew Jet Blue to New York City – thank you, Bri! –  chilled in the lounge, heard our names over the intercom (just how I like it), and had a layover in our favorite Boston.


New York City.  What follows is, essentially, my diary.

February 3rd
For the first time in 6 weeks I had an evening to myself.  I was productive af; got my inbox down to 15 and posted the final Guatebloga post (to be fair, that’s cashing in on Helen’s productivity).  Here’s a quote that I enjoyed: ”We love the cooperative game we call traveling abroad together.”  — Helen




Daliah listening to Ray’s instructions on how to cook Italian.


February 4th (and some other dates)
New York City bagels.  Again, productive.  
A cleared inbox!  Horrible therapy online. Geocaching in Astoria! During snuggles, *his* phone fell on my face.  I met the incomparable Katie Barbaro for a yummy Thai dinner.  And there was late night peanut butter off of a spoon.



Sam we am.



A bad comedy show that included a child.   Backlava with Barbaro.  There was also a morning walk that was canceled by the rain but we salvaged with bagels from Nate. The birthday boy told me that he is 0 to 60 and I’m 60 to zero.  The team upgraded to ‘premium’ Geocaching, I’m committed.  A nice hang with Steve at Gossip coffee (tea).  Luce, the movie, on Netflix. 

Katie Barbaro is on her way here! Joy storm is brewing!


February 8th
We spent the day in bed.   And the evening was filled with comedy!



A great show at The Beauty Bar.



Cousin Wendy and (not pictured) Paul  🙂


February 9th (or, maybe I’m getting the date wrong)
A long walk. 



Breakfast at The Thirsty Koala


Lunch with Wendy at Sweet Greens (thank you again!).  We did search for, but couldn’t find, a geocache.


From my notebook:
“Tonight was delicious!  New York City pizza! Followed by Insomnia cookies and a hang with THE Steve!”



Looking all famous or whatevahh


February 10th
A freezing cold walk.  A geocache retrieved!  



After going back a second time, we found it.





Double date bowling with pitchers of beer.



February 11th (I think)
Collin woke up with his arm through a hole in the blanket. “We’re homeless.”

A visit to Katie’s apartment! And a walk to look at possible condo’s I might buy.  The Brazil nut, date combo became my new favorite dessert.


February 12th (I am now certain that the order of this blog is off.)
A meeting with Phillip! 
And then cake pops, because, reminder, this blog is called “Birthday Boy”.



Katie’s first geocache!

Central park at night.



Reenacting our first, CRUCIAL hang at Whole Foods


At Whole Foods, it was the time of my life.  Here is my recap: Katie and I chose really good, healthy, inexpensive snacks and took.our.time.  (Including blood oranges, the hot food bar, sweet, sweet dates, Brazil nuts, and “geocaching” for pecans within the mixed nuts.)

I’m going to throw this out, directly.” – me
“Wait!!” – Katie
“Why?” – also Katie
“It’s a hazelnut.” – Sammi, the relentless food editor.
“That is a small almond!” – Katie, our hero.


At the cafe, a blood orange fell onto the table, not to be eaten.  Katie, put it in the trash pile but, alas, how quickly we forget.  I watched Katie find that piece of blood orange while saying “look what I found” with her eyes and simultaneously putting it into her mouth.  Before I could say anything, I watched Katie – still making eye contact – turn from pleased to disgusted, realizing what she had done.  She spit out the blood orange and the two of us laughed until we cried  ❤️
“I have ecoli,” said Katie.  “I can taste three diseases in my mouth right now”, she continued.
We both felt high. “This is how one feels if Sammi likes you”, Katie explained. 

On the walk to the train, Katie produced pocket chocolate that we both got to eat.


February 13th
Early airport run + a hang at one of our favorite lounges  😍 


Kings are born in February.
Happy birthday, Goose, I love you.



Sorry, ladies. He’s mine.

Best Friendship

1 Feb

I had a brief layover in Seattle AND I’M SO GLAD I DID! (what uncertain times we live in now). Not only was I thrilled to be onto the mainland (and off of all islands for awhile) but the best reason is (and always will be)… FRIENDSHIP!!!  HELEN AND PATRICK LIVE IN SEATTLE 🙂


The bomb dot com


Bel picked me up in a big white truck and impressed the heck out of me with her ability to park it in a compact spot.  (Later, Patrick ALSO impressed me with that same skill. Conclusion: My best friends in Seattle are really good at parking big vehicles into small spaces.)  

I slept so well (in an actual bed!) and had a real bathroom to use; (Thank you!) an incredible space, generosity, and forever best friendship!  On this trip, the only downside was that it was SUCH a bummer that I missed Victoria ❤  


Kitty kisses.


The very next day I visited Bella at her temp job which, ironically, was difficult to find.



A place of work or, my next obsession?


Helen, it must be said, got me into Geocaching.  She took me to find my first (and second and third) cache.  Good job, and I mean that literally.  🙂

We met up with Patrick and I got to enjoy Helen enjoying some drinks (that dry period is over!)  “What do you guys wanna do?”
“I think we should go Geocaching”. -Sammi
Question:  How do you go from one restaurant to another with adventure in between?
Answer:   Same way you turn 120 feet into a mile. Geocaching!





We laughed, longed for Barrel Thief burrata, listed all the provinces and territories in Canada (“Newfoundland and Labrador?  Oh, that’s the ‘and Herzegovina’ of Canada” – Helen) and ate some really incredible Thai food.

The next day I visited Bel’s private, residential gym, showered, and had some quality best friend time on the Instagram famous rooftop coupled with a fire pit and some wine 🙂



It’s even better than it looks.



For dinner, Patrick joined us and took us to a DELICIOUS Jamaican restaurant with festival, Ting, ackee, callaloo, and no salt fish.

After, Bella did my hair (THANK YOU!) while Patrick helped me brainstorm and create the puzzle that is: “Walter you doing for Collin’s birthday?” (THANK YOU!).  All the while, “Reputation” played in the background.

The next day, Helen and I both devoured and renamed a yummy kale-sadilla. And, I got to see Patrick’s great new apartment!!  We had lounge access and a fun, fast-paced, secret trip-planning session — which now we know was all for naught.  

Before, drumroll please….



One of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen.


…Cozying up to watch the new TAYLOR SWIFT NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY!

As we designed our perfect space, Patrick and I walked to get some cookies for the team, despite the rain.  Chip had 12 kinds of cookies…and we wanted one of each, please.  Plus ice cream.  


IMG_2058 2.jpg

Dessert distribution.

Despite wanting more time to sleepover at Patricks, hug VB, eat Helen’s breakfast (she was going to cook), meet Ashely, watch comedy, and a longing for that upstairs remote to work on that downstairs television, this Seattle trip was darn near perfect.  Obviously.


When P-Mart dropped us off, Bel and I stayed up as late as possible, with best friend chatter, not wanting to miss out on a moment of soaking each other up.  I was VERY grateful for the early morning (does it count as morning if it’s still dark outside?) ride to the airport.

And then, I slept for a full 3 hours on the tray table.

Zero wake-ups,