Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Steel Trap's Oh Twelve In / Ahhhht List

What's in and ahhhht according to me?*

Ahhhht / In
zombies / fairy tales
bottled water / tap water
occupy / objectify
brief marriages / lasting marriages
binge drinking / fake drinking
Dane Cook / every other comedian
Old East Liberty / New East Liberty
retail credit cards / lay-a-way
Joe Paterno / ?
Todd Graham / Paul Chryst
calamari / octopus
complaining about your job / being thankful for your job
Pajama Jeans / vintage sweat pants
getting engaged / getting married
Oprah / Anderson Cooper
Tim Tebow / RG3
Glee / Smash
Trader Joe's / Aldi
New Year's resolutions / New Year's revolutions

*all of which are to be taken with a grain of salt

Thursday, December 29, 2011

In /Ahhhht List

The Washington Post has published its 2012 In/Out List; and WOW do they ever have big news for us! According to writers Monica Hesse (@MonicaHesse) and Dan Zak (@MrDanZak), Pittsburgh is "in" and Portland is "out." I cannot describe how huge this is for the Burgh...  It's like if Pittsburgh just competed in a "Glitz Pageant" on Toddlers & Tiaras, and it totally won the Ultimate Grand Supreme. Totally.

Interestingly, several other in/ahhhhht declarations are making me smile broadly.  For example, I am relieved that Lululemon gear is "out" and hand-me-down sweat pants are "in." This means that the sweat pants that I have been wearing since 1996 are acceptable (see, everything comes back around!); and also, this gives me a justifiable reason to make fun of people who are spending too much money in Lululemon's latest shop on Shadyside's Walnut Street. $98 for yoga pants? Hey 1%! Enjoy those. In addition, I am thrilled that #SWAG is "out" (for those of you who use Twitter), and that #PLUR is "in." Yup. Peace, love, unity, and respect are in the limelight. Hopefully the ignorant catch on to this one. Google+ is "out," and I am glad because it still doesn't make sense to me.  Fortunately, Pinterest is "in" to fill the weird anticlimactic void left by Google+. I set up an account on Pinterest not too long ago and have found it incredibly captivating thus far. Check it ahhhhht. Lastly, thank God goodness that Tebow is "out," along with Groupon. My eyes are a little tired of rolling at the slightest mention of such overexposed concepts.

On the contrary, I must admit that I was a quite disappointed to discover that Greek yogurt is "out." And just when I was converting people left and right...  Also, I have to disagree with the declaration of Spotify being "out." Is there a "dislike" button around here somewhere? I love Spotify and will tell anyone who will listen. See? I just told you and you listened.

Stay tuned for my Oh Twelve In/Ahhhht List...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Matthew 5:13 (Salt Of The Earth Reviewed)

"You are the salt of the earth. You are the salt of the earth. But if that salt has lost it's flavor it ain't got much in it's favor. You can't have that fault and be the salt of the earth!" -Matthew 5:13 (with a little interpretation from Stephen Schwartz)

Salt of the Earth (in Garfield) certainly doesn't have "that fault," which makes its name quite appropriate. From start to finish the experience was filled with great flavor (and consequently, great texture and taste); and although it's not dahntahn, Salt of the Earth is a true representation of Pittsburgh's "Third Renaissance."

Salt is exactly what Pittsburgh needs. Why? Well, from the outside, patrons know that they are in the Burgh, which is good because Burghers like familiarity. Salt sits near a classic Pittsburgh intersection (like so many in this neighborhood-based city) that serves as a melting pot of diverse areas. There's East Liberty with its surging redevelopment, and Friendship is over yonder waving hello. Bloomfield, Shadyside, Morningside, Highland Park, and Lawrenceville are just a few blocks away as well. But, from the inside, patrons could be in any bustling, chic, urban environment, which is also what Pittsburgh needs... urban dining without the Terrible Towel hanging on the wall and the yinzer accent reverberating.

With an open kitchen and both communal and private dining areas, Salt of the Earth has an understated ambiance. Metal sculptures with light features; neutral tones contrasted with blacks, grays, and charcoals; wooden and metal furniture; and traces of IKEA; all work well together to create a warm atmosphere. The absence of color doesn't last once food and drinks complete this picture.  

Boyd & Blair, Gozio Liquorice, Cranberry, Prosecco ($10)
If you have reservations, I recommend arriving early. This isn't because Salt is unprepared. No, this is to allow time to grab a seat at the bar and sample one of Salt's signature (and quite creative) cocktails, and then take a good look at the menu which encompasses the entire East wall of the space. As is evidenced in many restaurants, Salt uses chalkboards (both up and downstairs) to present their menu, which is broken into three categories: Starters, Mains, and Ends.

Everything we (JTP and me, that is) tried was full of flavors, textures, and tastes that we would easily recommend to anyone. The portions were optimal, and the combination of ingredients (as provided below) created dishes that were startling bursts in our mouths, but were also fulfilling and satisfying. In short, nothing disappointed; and although we will try new items* on our next trip to Salt, I would order these again without hesitation and with gusto!

Octopus, white bean, chorizo, cilantro, botarga, almond ($13)
This was the most tender octopus that I have ever eaten, and the salsa verde (cilantro) really added a complementary touch. As I was savoring, I was hoping that the main course would be just as fun!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi, beef cheek, tongue, chestnut, papaya ($11)
JTP went for the gnocchi; and after a few bites, he declared, "This is a big hitter." If one has the chance to meet JTP, he or she will soon discover that his "declarations" are quite declarative. Thus, when it comes to food, his statements can be taken for truth.

Scallops, mussels, sunchoke, artichoke, pancetta olive ($24)
This was a very refreshing entree, due largely to an underlying citrus flavor. The scallops were seared to perfection. Generally, mussels have a strong flavor, but these were small enough that they supplemented rather than distracted from the dish. Oh yes, and the olives... in a word: delicious.

Hangar Steak, broccoli kimchi, wild rice porridge, ginger ($21)
Prepared medium rare, this light and tender beef melted in our mouths. The kimchi "made" the meal by providing a miniature explosion. To us, kimchi needs to be both spicy and crunchy, and this was exactly that.

S'more, chocolate, elderflower, graham, malted barley ice cream ($8)

I don't know if I even know enough adjectives to describe this dessert dish adequately; but I will say this: if one needs a change of taste or just something to end the night well, this is it. If one looks closely at my picture, he or she will see that there is an object in the upper left that resembles a pork chop. It's not a pork chop. That is one of two roasted marshmallows, which when combined with the other items on the plate, creates a dessert that makes the s'mores I was eating at Girl Scout camp look less appealing than a well drink. The elderflower reminded me of pomegranate seeds, which was a nice garnish. JTP and I shared this treat, but I could have easily gorged and finished it off all on my own.

Overall, we were in Salt of the Earth for a little over an hour, which was the ideal amount of time for an evening meal on a weeknight. The service was knowledgeable, helpful, and polite; and we were never without anything that we needed.

Lastly, I truly appreciate that Salt of the Earth offers tap water to drink; as there is nothing wrong with drinking this tasty beverage option in Southwestern PA.

Salt of the Earth on Urbanspoon

4 stars (4/4)

*JTP is looking forward to the Duck (parsnip, haluski, pomegranate apple butter, brussels), and I anticipate trying the Pork Loin (farro, mushroom, pear).

Friday, December 23, 2011

Everything But The Book (Club)

Everything But The Book (Club)* wrapped another meeting last week, and we discussed The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. We all agreed that Nick Carraway (the narrator) is bisexual (might I add, that this was the third time I have read this book, and I just discovered this... dense, I know). If you don't believe us, revisit Chapter 2. Enough said. ESD also watched the original film adaptation (1974) to prepare, and we speculated how aspects (i.e. casting, the motifs of heat and time) of it will compare with aspects of the upcoming adaptation (2012). With Baz Luhrmann in the director's chair, we have faith that this new version will not disappoint (like the 2000 TV adaptation did).

And that was about it, because we had a much more pressing activity in which to participate: The First Annual Everything But The Book (Club) Re-Gifting Grab Bag! It was a hilarious exchange, and we all walked away with something useful (believe it or not!): The Who DVD Collection, a holiday mug with hot chocolate mix and marshmallows, a shortbread cookie scented candle, a snowman figurine, a toiletrie bag, Eiffel Tower stationary, and Biggs & Featherbelle products. We left the option open for trading/stealing and no one budged...

Up next (third week of January) is The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee.  

Lastly, for your amusement, here's a list of the other topics as discussed by Everything But The Book (Club):
  • The simple fact that all of life's lessons can be learned from swimming, and swimming lessons. 
  • Why General Hospital endures and remains addictive.
  • What exactly goes on in a Unitarian church.
  • Sacred underwear.  
  • Why a man who uses "Sex is so precious" as an excuse is utterly dismal in every aspect of his existence. 
  • Our "homework" assignment of listing our New Year's resolutions (both broken and unbroken) for our next meeting. 
*We got a new member, NXK; and she seems like a very nice woman. Hopefully we did not scare her away with our unabashed use of profanity, tangents, and True Blood digressions. 

Facebook Comment Rule #2

Facebook Comment Rule #2: Don't be the first person to comment on your status that you just updated. Ever.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Complete Facebook Status Update Rules

Upon request, I have compiled my Facebook Status Update Rules into one complete list. You're welcome. Like any writer, I realized that some of my work needed editing, so I tweeked a few here and there. Interestingly, it appears that my writing has grown since I started The Steel Trap in February. And for the record, once I learned about Rule #24, I realized that the list had ended itself. 

Also, Janelle Sheetz of Musings from Fayettenam thinks that these need to be "required reading." So now you can pass this list on in one link to anyone whom you think needs a little "insight."

The Complete Facebook Status Update Rules 

Facebook Status Update Rule #1: Don't complain about the weather. To everything there is a season. Duh. Be grateful that you are alive and surrounded by nature itself.

Facebook Status Update Rule #2: Don't post status updates that demand to be reposted. It's bullying. I am not going to have seven years of bad luck, I don't support cancer, I don't hate my sister, and I don't believe in animal research, okay?!

Facebook Status Update Rule #3: Do not post depressing song lyrics. No one [really] cares. Here are your options: (A.) Get a Twitter account. (B.) Get a therapist. (C.) Get a pint of Ben and Jerry's and eat the whole thing (D.) All of the above

Facebook Status Update Rule #4 (courtesy of KWK and BLB): Do not update your status compulsively. If you find yourself "checking in" and updating [less than] every ten minutes, you need to visit immediately.

Facebook Status Update Rule #5 (courtesy of MRF): Do not concern your facebook friends with questions regarding your dinner selection. "Pork chops or chix pot pie?" is not a status update, it's a cry for help. Part of being a domestic goddess is shopping for and planning your menu on your own. Good luck.

Facebook Status Update Rule #6 (courtesy of RLB): Don't swear in your updates.

Facebook Status Update Rule #7 (courtesy of AHP): Avoid posting too much about your fitness. It's exhausting. This doesn't mean we aren't rooting for you. But you should know that we are not going to give you a trophy, okay?!

Facebook Status Update Rule #8: Check your security settings (on your home and on your facebook page) before you tell 300+ of your "closest" friends that you are away from your home. You might get robbed.

Facebook Status Update Rule #9 (courtesy of WNJ): Please do not write status updates about your dreams from last night. They're boring enough in person, and even worse on facebook.

Facebook Status Update Rule #10 (courtesy of KWK): Don't "like" your own's redundant. We know you like it. Duh. You posted it.

Facebook Status Update Rule #10.5 (courtesy of MVB)*: Don't be the first person to comment on your status that you just updated. Ever.

Facebook Status Update Rule #11 (courtesy of SB): Use the "Like" button sparingly. Overliking status updates screams insincerity. You wouldn't tell every single person in a room that you like what they just said, would you?

Facebook Status Update Rule #12 (courtesy of BLB): Please refrain from updating your status regarding up-to-the-minute news about traffic and/or weather conditions while you are driving. It's just not safe.

Facebook Status Update Rule #13: Proofread.

Facebook Status Update Rule #14: Do not be a habitual "facebragger." It desensitizes your facebook friends, and they will be unable to decide when you really deserve a "Good Job!"

Facebook Status Update Rule #15: Do not post comments that degrade another person's race, sexuality, gender, or ethnicity. It's socially inappropriate. Sure, you have First Amendment rights... but your speech isn't really "free" if your derogatory and cruel words continue to ostracize other people.

Facebook Status Update Rule #16: Do not lie (especially when emotions are involved).

Facebook Status Update Rule #17 (courtesy of WNJ): Do not share your allergy woes with 300+ of your "closest" friends. Guess what? We have seasonal allergies too. Complaining isn't going to solve your runny nose, itchy eyes, or miserable temperament. I am pretty sure that a CVS just popped up around the corner, and there's probably a Walgreen's across the street. Go there. Buy stuff.

Facebook Status Update Rule #18 (courtesy of Jack P. Burgh): Do not update your status on Fridays by quoting Rebecca Black's lyrics. Watching her viral video for less than 30 seconds will reassure you that this ruling is appropriate and quite overdue.

Facebook Status Update Rule #19: Do not use your status updates as a wedding day countdown. We get that you're excited. We already knew that you are a bridezilla. You've spent hours telling anyone who will listen about your "totally unique" shower(s), and the cute little boxes you ordered for your cute little cupcakes, and your registry updates (someone bought the Kitchen Aide mixer! OMG!)... But seriously? 2.3 million couples get married in the United States every day, which means that about 6200 couples will be getting married on the same day as you! Yours isn't special to most of your facebook friends. To quote AMS, "Just sayin'!"

Facebook Status Update Rule #20: Show some humility when posting about your wedding. You have single friends, some of whom are probably your bridesmaids; and your friendships will remain strong if you refrain from being self-absorbed on facebook (and in real life).

Facebook Status Update Rule #21 (courtesy of KLP): Don't complain about circumstances that you have created for yourself (i.e. being hungover, being tired from doing something fun, spending too much money on a new Coach purse, etc.) Check out White Whine- A Collection of First-World Problems for more information.

Facebook Status Update Rule #22 (courtesy of JAS): Do not create natural disaster-related "events" and/or "locations" of which to check yourself in on facebook. You just jumped off of the cliff into tastelessness. I am sure that the people in Richmond are REALLY amused at your lack of wit as they sit in their rubble-strewn homes. Please take notes from these earthquake-related tweets on Twitter. I don't condone their insensitivity; however, they are edgy, which is why they are hovering on the cliff in the gray area between tasteful and tasteless... you know, where humor exists.

Facebook Status Update Rule #23: If you are a local celebrity, please stop posting statements that make your fans drool. I understand that you have a need for validation within the local forum. However, rhetorical questions; generic, insincere statements; and "crowd pleasers" will only get you superficial popularity. Perhaps every now and then you should aim for getting respect. It lasts longer.

Facebook Status Update Rule #24 (courtesy of Craig Ferguson, and recommended by PJW and WNJ): Before updating your status, PLEASE ask yourself the following questions (in order):
  1. Does this need to be said? 
  2. Does this need to be said by me? 
  3. Does this need to be said by me now? 
*Cross-referenced with Comment Rule #2

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Steel Trap On The Small Screen Again

Here's another commercial for Savoy; and this time my thumb is featured. No joke, at 0:18 seconds, there's a nice shot of my thumb making a toast! Yes, everyone... my thumb, along with my signature thumb rings have finally gotten their 15 minutes 2 seconds of fame!

The Dark Knight Rises Trailer Released!

I am speechless.

Make Someone's Christmas More Special

Check this ahhhhht: "Strangers pay off layaways at three Kmarts in region"

The Post-Gazette ran this story on Saturday; and once you read it, you will understand why I felt compelled to share it with you all. In my opinion, this concept is a brilliant way to help others in need during the holidays... I am especially happy that it happened in a Kmart near me.

I suppose that this story tugs at my own heartstrings because I have very clear memories from the 1980's of waiting in line with PSB at the Hills layaway counter. More specifically, I distinctly remember sitting on a bottom shelf and "being good" while she paid on the bill. My parents used the layaway option for school clothing, birthday presents, and Christmas presents, which was smart because they paid on the bill a little at a time instead of racking up credit card debt. When it came to school clothing, I truly appreciated the day when we got to bring the layaway home. It was always worth the wait. Likewise, Christmases were always special and I know that my parents (and Santa) were able to get me many of the items on my list because of layaway.

With that in mind, if there is a Kmart nearby and you are feeling generous, you still have a few days left to make someone's Christmas more special. I know that I am going to try!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Breaking News!

Hooray! Wahoo! Kennywood is getting a new ride for the Oh Twelve season! I love when Kennywood gets new rides! They put them on billboards! It's on the local news! People get excited! I have an excuse to use exclamation points!

Called the Black Widow, this ride looks to thrill and induce vomiting. According to the Post-Gazette, "The new Black Widow will swing a circle of 40 seated riders back and forth like a pendulum while at the same time rotating them counterclockwise. At its peak, riders will hang 146 feet off the ground at a 120-degree angle from the center -- feet above their heads -- while moving 68 miles per hour." 

This attraction will replace the Pitt Fall; and although I will be sad when I can no longer see the familiar Pitt Fall from miles away (there's something comforting about knowing that Pittsburgh landmarks are always in place... the Kaufmann's clock, the inclines, the Hornes' Christmas Tree, etc.), I must admit that I haven't ridden it in over five years. Something about my feet dangling like two miles in the air got increasingly more unnerving with each attempt. 

Will I be riding the Black Widow? Probably not. Age brings the wisdom of knowing my limitations; and consequently, age has increased my riding limitations. Anything that involves a combination of circular movement, a swinging motion and centrifugal force is a recipe for nausea. So yeah, you can find me eating a corn dog happily from the sidelines... getting a stomach ache the old-fashioned way! 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Last Minute Shopping: Clothing Edition

If anybody has relatives or significant others that have been rather elusive about their holiday wants or needs, here are four amazingly absurd, yet truly practical ideas (as JBS, JHN, SAA, and JGS so thoughtfully have suggested):

First, there are the Jeans Lounge Pants, which are a similar concept to my ever-useful, yet rarely worn Pajama Jeans. Found in Sky Mall (of course), "These lounge pants look like a ripped-up, much-beloved pair of denim jeans--but they're actually super-soft cotton with amazingly realistic front-and-back printing and a much more forgiving stretch." I am counting the days until Gabriel Brothers gets these in so I can see them for myself! Perhaps I should buy these for JDB... they could replace his navy sweatpants that he wears with the black Steelers sweatshorts over top. 

Believe it or not, there's another denim product would make a great gift... "Ballroom Jeans!" When I initially heard of "Ballroom Jeans," I thought that they were Dancing With the Stars' response to Pajama Jeans. But no, rather than providing comfort and style during a foxtrot or swing routine, Duluth Trading Ballroom Jeans let you "crouch without singing soprano!" So if your guy's wish list requests pants that help keep his voice in the bass, tenor, or alto range(s), then I recommend these! In addition, this is the perfect gift for the male in your life whose pants aren't as commodious as he needs them to be. Check ahhhht the commercial below for further information regarding this unique product (and don't forget to analyze the highly-complicated "crotch gusset").

And for women, there's the Trendy Top! This item is an inexpensive body-shaping garment that claims to be "The top that's not!" In addition, it will allow the wearer to "Put a Stop to That Muffin Top"; have "No More Peekaboo Panties"; and "Look Chic and Lean". Furthermore, the Trendy Top is "Easy to Put On" and "Super Comfy." The bonus is that this is as close to maternity apparel as one can get without actually stepping into the Liz Lange section of Target or Motherhood Maternity. It's actually more of a belt than a shirt, but who's getting technical? Go ahead and get this fashion gem for your loved one... she'll either love you or hate you for it.

Lastly, animal-shaped knit hats seem to be taking the fashion scene by storm. Just last month, JGS and I found some very interesting ones at Gabriel Brothers for only $3.99! Although these are more of a stocking stuffer, I cannot imagine a female ahhhht there who wouldn't want to look like a pig or a frog during "Snowprah Winfrey!" My suggestion is that you had better get dahn Gabe's to get these while supplies last!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Festivus For The Rest Of Us!

A few days ago I realized that I have an understated fondness for non-commercialized fabricated holidays. To clarify, I am referring to completely contrived holidays that serve no other purpose than to make the participants happy... like unniversaries, unbirthdays, Christmas in July, Candy Holidays, etc.

The perfect example of this would be "Sally's Birthday!" which I just celebrated for the first time on December 3rd, 2011. Here's how this shook ahhhhht... A few of my friends (WNJ, PJW, & JWR) went to pick up some dessert as their contribution to our pre-Bill Burr-show potluck dinner. I had given them some pretty serious hints regarding my opinion of how chocolate would be the ONLY ACCEPTABLE DESSERT to compliment the meal. Of course, being resourceful fellows, they pulled through with a delicious ice cream cake from a local [Dormont] joint, Carini's Homemade Ice Cream and Gelato

Apparently, no one had come into Carini's to claim this less-than-aesthetically-pleasing cake. I mean, seriously? I am relieved that the real Sally didn't get this shoddy display of frozen artwork for her birthday. Sadly, I think that I could have written a better message on here with my left hand (yes, I am right handed). Either way, the guy at the counter offered the cake for a fraction of the initial cost. It's not like the cake lacked flavor... it was actually quite good with a layer of fudge, then chocolate cake, then more fudge, then chocolate ice cream and finally icing. And so, the holiday of "Sally's Birthday" was born! From now on, December 3rd will be a day for good friends, homemade pizza, salad, libations, and ice cream cake followed by live comedy and losing your car in the parking garage. Sounds like fun, right? 

Since it's the holiday season, it would be dahnright remiss for me to leave ahhhht a mention of perhaps the most beloved of the fabricated holidays: Festivus, which Frank Costanza (George's dad on Seinfeld) created in reaction to the rising commercialism of Christmas. Coming up on the 23rd, this special day involves an aluminum pole sans decorations, an airing of grievances, dinner, and feats of strength. 

Therefore (in the true spirit of Festivus), I have created my own list of grievances. Please don't misunderstand... I am not a Scrooge (although I wouldn't mind diving into a pool of money like Scrooge McDuck). But everyone needs to vent once in a while...  so, in no particular order: 
  1. Black Friday. You know, the day when it's acceptable to stab others in the name of Christ. 
  2. Radio stations playing Christmas music* for an entire month. I wonder if station execs know that there are other religious people ahhhht in the world who are just trying to enjoy their version of December? Other religious people who follow other religions and who aren't too keen on hearing "Merry Christmas" and/or "Happy New Year" sung in Spanish. Or "Jingle Bells" sung really quickly in a sultry voice. Or how "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" (not only is this song's title in passive voice, but it's violent... poor Grandma). Yes, Pittsburgh. As if the variety of our radio stations isn't bad enough, we will be able to hear the hits of the 60's, 70's, and 80's for only eleven months ahhhht of the year. 
  3. Totally stupid Christmas decorations. To quote myself, certain thematic decorations are "totally stupid." Can we please start a vigilante group called Citizens Against Totally Stupid Decorations? Targeted items include but are not limited to: inflatable yard ornaments; those weird faceless Willow Tree figurines; signs that read "Dear Santa... define nice"; and anything that looks handcrafted but was really made in China.  
  4. People who think that Hanukkah is the Jewish Christmas. 
Now that I've aired my grievances (and I feel much better), I would like to share this gem of a video, which compiles the Festivus-related clips from the infamous 1997 Seinfeld episode "The Strike." Enjoy! 

My holiday wish? For people to start fabricating more hilariously contrived holidays to make the year more well-rounded and balanced. If there are many other days that provide good-natured happiness throughout the year, then maybe the month of December won't seem as dauntingly commercial and stressful (to some). Like I said, wishful thinking. 

*There are only three acceptable Christmas songs and three songs only: (1) Baby It's Cold Outside (or as I sing it, "ahhhhhtside"); (2) Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree (because it's critical to Kevin McAllister's survival in Home Alone); and (3) Silent Night (because my great-grandmother used to sing it on Christmas Eve, and the tradition still carries on twelve years after her passing). 

New Word

unniversary (noun): a former anniversary that one gladly celebrates with joy over the break-up and/or liberation from a terrible relationship.

HGB: (to SAA) Let's go ahhhht tonight! It's my unniversary!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Twelve Days Of Sky Mall

Making a Christmas list loses its luster with every year that I get older. As time passes it seems that I have less and less "wants," and more and more "needs." For instance, this year I asked for sports bras, ankle athletic socks, K-Cups, Under Armour tank tops, and a refill on my Michael Kors fragrance. It is a list of nothing that I "wanted," and everything that I "needed." Don't misunderstand... I am fine with this list. Quite frankly, I'd be happy with PSB's homemade cinnamon rolls and a stocking full of stuffers. There's just a part of me that longs for the days of roaming the aisles of Hills and gazing up longingly at what seemed like mile-high vertical shelves of toys or flipping through the JCPenney toy catalog, dog-earing pages along the way. Some items I had hoped Santa would bring, and some I had hoped would be from PSB and JDB.

This year, I thought it would be fun to make a pseudo-Christmas list of items that I "want," from a catalog. And in my mind, the quintessential catalog for nonessential "wants" is the one and only, beloved Sky Mall. Thus, here's my new Christmas carol (soon to be a hit on WHGB FM): The Twelve Days of Sky Mall!

On the first day of Sky Mall, my true love gave to me...
One Inflatable Movie Screen! (This doubles as an air mattress. See! I am practical!)

On the second day of Sky Mall, my true love gave to me...
Two Magic Wand Remote Controls! (Don't mind me... I'm just taking my Harry Potter obsession to the next level.)

On the third day of Sky Mall, my true love gave to me...
Three Pierogi Ornaments! ("Yinz guys goin' dahn Light Up Night n'at? I heard they got them pierogi ornaments on the Horne's Christmas Tree this year! Can't wait to check it ahhhht!")

On the fourth day of Sky Mall, my true love gave to me...
Four BBQ Branding Irons! (Now I can brand "HGB" on all of my meat. And your meat. And my posterior.)

On the fifth day of Sky Mall, my true love gave to me...
Five Flavorstation Beverage Makers! (As my Uncle JFG would say, "This is primo." Who doesn't want fizzy beverages AT ALL TIMES?)

On the sixth day of Sky Mall, my true love gave to me...
Six Windshield Snow Covers! (I figure these will last about one per year. Hopefully within six years, I will have a garage big enough to fit a car and I won't have to scrape my windshield every morning from December-March.)

On the seventh day of Sky Mall, my true love gave to me...
Seven Bigfoot Tree Yeti Sculptures! (Harry and the Hendersons is John Lithgow's greatest performance, and everyone should have at least seven of these in their yard to pay tribute to this actor's performance in such a cinematic masterpiece.)

On the eighth day of Sky Mall, my true love gave to me...
Eight Badgy ID Card Printers! (Since I am on a salary freeze, I've decided to go into the fake ID business to make ends meet. Just beware... I am only printing ones that are from the state of Fayettenam!)

On the ninth day of Sky Mall, my true love gave to me...
Nine Toilet Dog & Cat Water Bowls! (This is a totally classy way to remind your house guests that you care about your pet... and since I've finally convinced JTP that I "need" a dog, this clever household accessory is clearly a "want!")

On the tenth day of Sky Mall, my true love gave to me...
Ten Adult Bear Hoodies! (Play dead?! Ha! Wear this shirt, and no bear will attempt to make you his/her lunch! Good thing I am getting ten of them!)

On the eleventh day of Sky Mall, my true love gave to me...
Eleven Brobdingnagian Sports Chairs! (This looks like the perfect chair for a tailgate filled with attractive women... nothing else gives the illusion of "I've lost weight" more than an over-sized piece of furniture!)

On the twelth day of Sky Mall, true love gave to me...
Twelve Realrock Landscape Rocks! (I've wanted a big fake rock for several years now, for no real reason other than to hide random things. Imagine a creeper's surprise to find a Bigfoot Yeti Tree Sculpture underneath... I mean, my true love did bring me seven of them!)

So what's on your list?

Monday, December 5, 2011

D's Six Pax and Dogz

For a long time, I denied my insatiable desire for a good hot dog (I know, I know... "that's what she said"). Sadly, I had developed into a once-a-year-hot-dog-gal, getting just one every fall at a Friday night football game (white bun with kraut, no condiments) Why? I suppose it was because hot dogs were "mystery meat," and a paradox to my pseudo-healthy eating habits. Simply put, I was getting good at suppressing my hunger for America's most traditional tubular food item (I suppose Twinkies are second on America's list, followed by a log of cookie dough, and Slim Jim's).

Moving to Edgewood in 2010 changed everything and the once-a-year-hot-dog-gal re-emerged as a once-a-month-hot-dog-gal. I could no longer ignore the fact that every now and then, I NEEDED a hot dog and a beer to "hit the spot." Thus, if you happen to be in the Regent Square area (where Edgewood, Swissvale, Wilkinsburg, Frick Park, Park Place, and the actual Regent Square neighborhood meet), I recommend stopping dahn D's Six Pax & Dogz for a quick bite and brew*.

The staff is friendly, the atmosphere is unique and bustling, and the menu is loaded with options. Most importantly, the craft beer selection is unreal. If "Hills is where the toys are" then D's is where the craft beers are. If you need statistical proof, the 80 reviews on Beeradvocate equate to an "A-," which is considered "excellent."

What do I usually get? This might sound random (well, it is) but I usually go with the Scorpion (cheddar jalapeno kielbasa) on a traditional poppyseed bun with coleslaw on top. No condiments necessary. Trust me, it's a wonderful conglomeration of flavors exploding simultaneously. As for beer... I try something new each time.

D's Six Pax & Dogz on Urbanspoon

*Feel free to invite me. I am nice.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pittsburgh Dad

"What do you mean go to Pizza Hut? You didn't finish any Book-Its" is just one of the many things that Pittsburgh Dad has to say...

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "'Pittsburgh Dad' is an Internet sensation", and I happen to agree. He is sensational. With nearly 2000 Twitter followers, and 3551 "likes" on facebook, it's evident that others agree as well.

Since his emergence onto the social media scene on late October, Pittsburgh Dad has brought daily smiles to my face with his tweets/updates and his weekly videos. Because I work with children for a living, I find myself saying parental-inspired comments all day long; and thus, I have a true appreciation for Pittsburgh Dad's tidbits of fatherly wisdom and reprimands, all of which are spoken in authentic Pittsburghese.

While my parents didn't use his exact wording, I distinctly remember a time when I had to read a lot of books just to go to Pizza Hut for a personal pan pizza. You see, Pittsburgh Dad is bringing out the true humor in the way that Southwestern Pennsylvanians raise their children, treat their spouses, and root for their teams. It's good, authentic, and honest fun. Isn't that the heart of real comedy? Finding a way to laugh at ourselves?

If you haven't been following this hilarious online persona, I highly recommend you check him ahhhhht. On Twitter, he's @Pittsburgh_Dad and on facebook, he's just Pittsburgh Dad.

Awesome Or Flawsome: Extra Dessert Delights Apple Pie Sugarfree Gum

Not too long ago on Election Day, I was at the polls trying to spread the good word about a friend of mine who was running for our local school board. Working the polls is an interesting experience because a camaraderie quickly develops due to the shared experience of supporting the candidates and more importantly, encouraging citizens to use their right to vote. One of my cohorts was sharing gum with anyone who would take a piece. I was reluctant at first because I am a gum snob*, but when I heard that it was the "NEW" Extra Dessert Delights Apple Pie Sugarfree Gum, I couldn't resist trying it ahhhhhht.

Being a gum snob is limiting because I believe that the act of chewing gum has two purposes and two purposes only: (1) gum is to freshen the chewer's breath; and (2) gum is to prevent the chewer from eating. Any other purposes for gum are totally stupid (those of you that actually know me, can probably hear me saying this in your minds). Thus, if I am going to chew gum, then the flavor had better be so powerfully intoxicating that it both freshens my breath and/or curbs my insatiable appetite. With that in mind, I typically prefer gums with words like "ice," arctic," "blast," "avalanche," and "mint" in the flavor's name. Any flavor with those words or any combination thereof will almost always do the trick. Needless to say, Apple Pie flavor isn't anywhere close to my preference. And yet, I am not afraid to try new flavors. I am also a sucker for packaging that says, "NEW" on it. I mean, who doesn't want to be "in" on the latest innovations to any particular product?!

Here's what happened... I popped the piece in my mouth. The first flavor I tasted was apple. Interestingly, this flavor didn't taste like the average apple flavor of a Jolly Rancher or Apple Pucker. No, this version was more authentic. I thought to myself, "Okay, not bad." Actually, I probably announced my exact thoughts to whomever would listen at the polls. However, in my mind, I have more of a finely tuned inner monologue. Whatever. Next came the cinnamon layer. Yup, layers of flavor. Just like the apple flavor, this cinnamon didn't taste like the average cinnamon flavor of Big Red or Hot Tamales. No, this was a true cinnamon-sugary taste in my mouth. It was more sweet, than spice.

As I was chewing, I concluded that the overall effect was like eating apple pie filling without the crust and without the a la mode. And who really wants pie without those crucial elements? Not a gum snob like me. Sure it tasted good, but I was not refreshed and it actually made me want to eat real pie. Although this would have been a nice dessert for Willy Wonka to use on his three-course-dinner gum, it's not for me. Glad I tried it, but I'll never chew it again.

Extra Dessert Delights Apple Pie Sugarfree Gum is officially flawsome.

*I also refuse to purchase gum that has wrappers. I don't want that excess paper cluttering up my car and/or bag. It's pointless waste. Also, I am aware that this is just another quirk of mine.