Sunday, January 25, 2015

Changes In The Air

In a most devastating turn of events, SkyMall has filed for Chapter 11. It's infamous catalog has been suspended and employees have been laid off. Yes, I know that like myself, you are thinking that it's not completely pointless to fly anywhere now, but there is hope. Acting Chief Executive Scott Wiley stated on Friday that, “We are extremely disappointed in this result and are hopeful that SkyMall and the iconic ‘SkyMall’ brand find a home to continue to operate."

Thus, in the face of this quintessential first world problem, it is imperative that we remain vigilant and hopeful in our dedication to solving our other first world problems and our cantankerous urges to splurge with products offered from SkyMall (or as I love to call it, "the company that sells every thing that I never needed"). So The Steel Trap has devised a plan of sorts: if we all buy something from SkyMall, we can save the company, right? RIGHT?!?!? Okay, fine. That might not work. It's been a long time since I had an economics class, BUT if my plan actually would work, here are the ten items that I would totally buy:

Ice Shoot for Icemakers
At $24.99, "you'll no longer have to deal with cleaning up ice off the floor. Just place the multi-use ice funnel up to any ice machine and fill any container easily and mess free. It's perfect for filling hydration packs, blenders, large bottles, ice packs, coolers and thermoses." Damn right, SkyMall. America needs this. I need this.

Oval Office Presidents' H.M.S. Resolute Desk

At a cool $5,499.00, "this historic desk is a replica of the one created from the timbers of the British H.M.S. Resolute, given to U.S. President Rutherford Hayes in 1880 by Queen Victoria and used by most American heads of State since. A presidential 6-feet in width, this solid mahogany masterwork features hand carving that includes a nothing-short-of-amazing American eagle on little John-John Kennedy's opening panel and an enviable, tooled antique brown leather top with gold tooling. This extraordinary Victorian replica boasts letter and file drawers hidden behind doors with metal pulls along with three shallow drawers up top to hold your mighty presidential pen. Sure to be the signature piece in home or office, this stunning work is almost unparalleled among pieces that carry a rich American history." And, SkyMall offers curbside delivery on this item. Boom! I can now reenact my favorite scenes from Scandal in the privacy of my own Oval Office.

Kitty Washroom Cabinet 

At $99.98, cat lovers can hide "the messy litter box inside this handsome piece that instantly enhances the look of your bath, kitchen or laundry room.. The front swings open like a door so you can easily scoop or change the litter. Two shelves offer added storage and display space; the stainless steel bar gives you a convenient place to hang your scoop." We can also hang the pooper scooper next to our hand-towel. Wait... is that kind of gross?

Personalized Sand Names Print 
At $39.99 - $69.99, "this memory will not wash away." I agree. This is much safer than a tattoo.

No Blind Spot Rear View Mirror
At a priceless $59.95, the "mirror automatically reduces the headlight glare of trailing vehicles by 50%, clamps to your existing rear view mirror without requiring the use of tools or adhesives, and is entirely shatterproof." AND this "is the rear view mirror used by police officers and professional racecar drivers to eliminate blind spots. The patented, seamless mirror has a 180-degree field of view (standard mirrors offer only 52 degrees) that provides a distortion-free reflection of rear traffic across an entire five-lane highway, and it allows continuous monitoring of adjacent vehicles from the moment they begin to pass until they are visible in your peripheral vision." How are these mirrors not standard in all vehicles by now? Thank goodness for SkyMall.

Great White Shark Sculpture
At $299.00, you can "stop your neighbors dead in their tracks with this enormous garden predator!" That's right. "More than posies will be pushing their heads up into your garden when you add our Great White to your plantings! Cast in 28 lbs. of quality designer resin and almost a yard high, he is realistically hand-painted and sculpted for maximum impact with his wide mouth and menacing teeth. If you'd rather boast about your deep-sea adventures indoors, Great White is ready for wall mounting behind your bar!" Who doesn't want Sharknado 3 on their property?

NFL Casserole Kimono
At $38.99, the "insulated casserole kimono is the ultimate tailgate tool. This nifty kimono keeps dips and casseroles warm or cold while making it easy to carry." Yes, indeed. Because every time I make a game time casserole, I wonder why I don't already have an Japanese traditional garment with which to transport it.

Italian Replica Globe Bar
At $189.00, you can wow your "guests with the Old World charm of our elegant 22" dia. Italian-style globe bar, wrapped with replica 16th-century nautical maps from the National Museum of Science, Florence... Opening from its hinged meridian to reveal artistically hand-painted interior frescoes reminiscent of domed ceiling contraspecto ('view from the heavens'), our Toscano-exclusive work of furniture art boasts secure spots for your treasured bottles and glasses. A trio of handsome, turned hardwood legs rises from rolling casters and a circular lower shelf, allowing additional storage and a celebration that can be moved anywhere!" Clearly, this is a must-have. It's got a "view from the heavens" for goodness sake.

Bracelet Assistant
At $24.95, this is one of those gadgets that makes me angry because I didn't think of it first. "It's like having an extra hand! No need to ask anyone for help. Bracelets are tricky pieces of jewelry, since you can use only one hand to deal with many different types of clasps, fastenings and ties. However, all these can be managed with our hand bracelet aid - Bracelet Assistant." Because bracelets are so very tricky.

Mischievous Moose Bottle Holder
At $32.99, now you can bring "some whimsy into your home with this playful animal bottle holder. This Ceramic moose holds one standard wine bottle in its mouth while it balances on its back. It's a fun way to add character to any decor. Give it with a bottle of wine and you'll delight your host." Does this go well with the aforementioned Italian Replica Globe Bar? Hmmmm...

Final thought: maybe I need to organize a 5K to raise awareness as well? Who's with me? #SaveSkyMall

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Things I Learned From My Ex(es) Part 8

Editor's Note: By now, you should be familiar with this gimmick series. I added a page above that is dedicated specifically to these fine gentlemen. In this particular instance, I revised this post after I originally wrote it. I had the rare opportunity to spend some quality time with him in recent months; this is the result of that time together. 

The One With Whom I Jammed Out To MC Lyte in a Geo Tracker
  • [He won't remember this but] I learned that the feeling of someone standing up for me will never, ever leave me. 
  • I learned that most swimmers have a great physique. 
  • I learned that I loved competitive swimming. 
  • I learned that getting a tattoo of oneself on oneself isn't as silly as it sounds; for some people it works. 
  • I learned that some break-ups are inevitable. 
  • I learned that it's very difficult to be rejected whether it's for the best or not.
  • I learned that some people can be friends forever whether they realized it or not.  
  • I learned that having the car door held open for me never loses its luster. 
  • I learned that my perception of our relationship was merely my own, my memories were only what I recalled and how I recalled them. 
  • I learned that it's very rewarding to ask the questions that you always meant to ask (even if it is seventeen years later).

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The First World Problems Of HGB & MAB cont.

Since the last twenty-eight posts of this nature, I have been accumulating many contributions from family and friends in addition to the ones that MAB and me experience on our own. Like the past several times, this particular list piled up quite quickly, which begs the question: Is life in the first world getting to be too hard for us?

As always, you should know that anything posted on facebook and Twitter is totally fair game. It's just too easy for me to pluck your first world problems from there and drop them here on The Steel Trap. I have screen shots for days. Note: Just because these are written in first person point of view, doesn't mean that they are mine. Or does it? You decide.
  • This will come as a surprise to nobody, but oh my goodness malls are depressing. 
  • We got a new PC and the room in which we put it is doesn't have internet. So I cannot use Google Drive to handle my life.
  • All of these two hour delays are really messing up my workout schedule. 
  • How come whenever I drink I want a dog? 
  • I am such a weird type of cheap. I will drive for a hour to avoid paying for parking but buy everyone everything at the bar. 
  • I couldn't go into my child's preschool to sign papers because I wasn't wearing a bra. 
  • We switched cable providers and I have to learn the channels all over again. 
  • I am trying to decide what I dislike more, driving a truck through a one lane construction zone on the turnpike or intervals on the treadmill. 
  • My husband fired our cleaning company because they only stayed for forty-five minutes instead of the two hours for which we pay them. I actually had to clean my house myself. 
  • OMG. The contractors are sanding the walls outside of my temporary office and I cannot think. 
  • When I scroll with my left hand through my newsfeed, I think I am hitting things accidentally. I apologize for liking weird things. I think I need to find an activity besides facebook. 
  • I just found a fortune from a fortune cookie in my pocket and it's the most depressing thing I ever read because it says, "Joys are often the shadows cast by sorrow." And then I realized that my hoodie hasn't been washed in awhile.
  • So Bob Seger, of all people, is not on Spotify. Like at all. I'm listening to "Night Moves" through YouTube like some kind of ANIMAL. 
  • I made a pot of beef broth today then dumped it on the floor when putting it in the refrigerator. 
  • Real text message sounds on television should be illegal. 
  • Why does my iPhone autocorrect the word "tabled"? Doesn't it know that I religiously attend school board meetings? 
  • I need to back to using an mp3 player. I am tired of having my music interrupted by phone calls. 
  • I had to go up a size in Target swimwear because the bottoms they’re featuring this season have too much ruching on the rear (AND no, I didn’t gain any weight. I tried on my skinniest pants when I got home just to confirm that I wasn’t losing my mind.)
  • I can’t watch Netflix in my apartment for more than five consecutive minutes because the other 999 residents have set up illegal routers to use their wireless printers and it’s taking away from the real wi-fi. 
  • The young man who ran into my car didn’t hit it hard enough for the fix to be worth the price of the deductible, but he hit it too hard for me to ignore the dent. 
  • My iCloud storage is somehow always full. 
  • Fox hasn't updated its On Demand and I cannot watch the latest Empire yet. 
  • We drove all the way to White Oak to go to an actual Pizza Hut restaurant because we were craving it and the French dressing on the salad bar. When we got there the salad bar was closed. 
  • The Pizza Hut across the street from my house has $.50 draft nights on Wednesday nights from 5-8 p.m. I have class on Wednesday nights from 5-8 p.m. 
  • Both my parent’s home and my current home are over ninety minutes away from an airport, so I have to add an additional three hours on to every trip home. 
  • I’m considering the following factors in my current job search: distance from a Nordstrom Rack, whether or not I will have access to a Target, and what type of grocery stores are in the region. 
  • I filled up my tank when gas was $2.25/gallon last week because I heard it wouldn’t go any lower. I drove by the RaceTrac today and it’s $1.90/gallon.
  • The heat in my car has decided that it only has two settings: full-blast or no-air-flow-whatsoever. 
  • I won 100 pairs of shoes in a contest and when the shoes arrived, they came with a strict note that said I must give away 98 pairs of them. 
  • I had to pay a $25 processing fee to get my passport renewed (in addition to the actual passport’s cost of $170) and the cashier didn’t laugh at me when I asked if I could order an unprocessed passport. 
  • I got a free sample of a product for curly hair in my monthly Birchbox, but I don’t have curly hair. 
  • I can’t [legally] catch up on Pretty Little Liars because I don’t have a cable provider to log into the ABC Family app.
  • My employer sent an email to all staff members. Six people replied to all. 
  • The only thing more annoying than people who send game requests are the people who constantly complain about the people who send game requests. 
  • You know what drives me cray cray? When someone adds "that's just my $0.02." They should have to send me two pennies, which is my personal $0.02 about that. 
  • Today I ran four miles but then I ate four pieces of pizza. 
  • The internet is sooooooooooooooooooo slow. Why? Because apparently a shark bit the underwater internet cable. 
  • When are Keurig machines going to become standard in hotel rooms? Looks like I will have many long days without Tully's French Roast on my ski trip to Utah. 
  • With all of the medical advances we have in this world, why can't they make kid's medicine to not taste like crap? 
  • Trivia Crack. Again. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Farm To Table To Me

Choosing to have brunch at Eighty Acres Kitchen & Bar (1910 New Texas Road, 15239) was one of the best decisions I've made all year. Yes, I know that we are only nineteen days into Oh Fifteen, but so what?!?! My experience was beyond noteworthy, which brings us to this review.

Why brunch? Because it's the perfect meal of which to dine with friends! In this case, I was reconnecting with MEB after many years and life experiences. We needed a brunch to make sure we were able to cover everything we'd missed (and everything in between). Looking back, anyone who overheard our conversation may or may not have thought we were recapping General Hospital.

Eighty Acres is a very easy drive from the city (376 East to 22 East to the Golden Mile Highway), and is housed in a former Vincent's Pizza location. However, I never would have guessed that this charming and pleasant restaurant was once a factory for greasy, sloppy pizza. Eighty Acres' interior is thoughtful and tasteful, with a view of the kitchen, an expansive bar, a side space for semi-private dining, and a large, open dining room with plenty of natural light.

Because Eighty Acres offers a menu with both local and seasonal ingredients (including the bar options), the selections vary. With that in mind, MEB and I felt that the current brunch menu was close to perfect. We ordered a sampling of items, and we thoroughly enjoyed each one.

Bloody Mary ($7, bacon-infused vodka with fresh mozzarella-stuffed pepperoncini) 
On the "bar" there were several kinds of pickles, peppers, stuffed olives, hot sauces, and spices (everything from the basic salt and pepper to Old Bay). Now, I know my limits so rather than take the risk of making a terrible Bloody Mary, I had the bartender make mine. She did a nice job, and I was quite pleased. The fresh mozzarella-stuffed pepperoncini were a nice addition, and I could have eaten about 800 of them. 

Bacon Jam, Pear Crostini ($5, bacon jam, pear, arugula, toasted sour dough)
Perfect for sharing, this starter was a true balance of sweet and savory, crispt and delicate. The arugula added a surprising layer, and I could not help but make a mental note to add these ingredients to my next grilled cheese concoction at home. I did comment that I wished Eighty Acres sold the jam, because I would have purchased more than one jar. 

Sour Dough French Toast ($7, seasonal fruit compote, maple syrup, vanilla whipped cream)
Shirred Eggs ($9, two eggs baked in creamed spinach, Yukon potatoes, aged cheddar)
Our waitress recommended both of these dishes; each was priced well, and each portion was hearty without being overbearing. MEB and I shared these and as was the case with the Bacon Jam, we enjoyed ourselves. Regarding the Sour Dough French Toast, the whipped cream wasn't too sweet and the berries provided a pop of tart; regarding the Shirred Eggs, the dish was complimentary of itself with the bitterness of spinach and richness of creamy, cheesy eggs.

We also tried the Maple Glazed Bacon ($4), which was delicious, and we shared a dish of vanilla gelato for a final taste of sweetness. Note: choosing the gelato wasn't easy as Eighty Acres also offers freshly baked goods from Ali's Marketplace (gluten-free) and desserts from Spinola's Bake Shop, both in Murrysville.

Brunch demands more of a warm feeling from staff and a menu of comforting food; on this chilly winter morning, Eighty Acres was the best place we could have been. Thus, go there. And if you want to take me with you, please do. Brunch, lunch, or dinner, I am getting hungry just thinking about a return visit.

(3.75 stars, 3.75/4)

Eighty Acres Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Fourteen thoughts and ideas on the fourteenth of January:

  1. I don't care how many articles circulate about discrepancies in American Sniper. I am going to see it on the big screen. 
  2. I made the executive decision to go away for my birthday in March. To my D.C. friends and family: here I come! I want to be super tourist-y. I might even wear a bedazzled American flag shirt. 
  3. Mitt Romney? 2016? Really?  
  4. I cannot express how happy I am that Parks and Recreation is back! I laughed so hard during the first five minutes of last night's premiere, that I may or may not have nearly fallen off of the treadmill. 
  5. After that, I was glued to the television for an entirely different program: CNN's "The O.J. Trial: Drama of the Century." Even though the infamous Bronco chase is very fresh in my memory (as is the reading of the verdict on television in the UAHS library), I have a renewed fascination with the entire trial. Has it really been twenty years? 
  6. It's Pittsburgh Restaurant Week!  
  7. The word fleek. I literally cannot. 
  8. Pippin comes to town next week!  
  9. I am out of lined paper in my classroom. If anyone would like to make a donation, I would be grateful. My students will be grateful too (years down the road when they realize that the work I made them do was for their benefit and not mine).  
  10. This is the most disturbing thing I that have read in awhile.
  11. It's almost Valentine's Day (if you don't believe me, just go to any big box retailer), which means that I will asking for submissions for the "I Knew It Was Over When" gimmick. Get your stories ready! 
  12. Some of the questions on Trivia Crack are so grammatically incorrect that it's physically painful to read them. And then I figured out how to report questions like this so all is well in my universe.  
  13. Mojito needs a haircut. He's starting to resemble a very tiny Ewok. 
  14. I have said this like 800 times on The Steel Trap. If you want to know something about me, just ask. Privately. There are several ways in which to do so, and its very bizarre that with all of these options, people still go through second and third parties.