Friday, February 27, 2015

As Seen On TV: The Face Blanket

I think that I could get away with providing this infomercial without an explanation and seasoned readers would be able to "hear" my thoughts and ideas while watching it. But today I am feeling generous. It's Friday afternoon. It's sunny. So if this happens to your first time visiting The Steel Trap, you are in great luck. Everyone else can read along and see if their instincts about my thought process are accurate (God bless them if they are). Thus, I bring to you... The Face Blanket!



0:22 Hmmmmm. I never realized how cold my face must be at night. Thank goodness for...

0:23 ...The Face Blanket! THE BLANKET WITH A BREATHING HOLE!

0:32 Wait. I can breath air while saving on heating costs and camping outside? Thank goodness my cousin MLB sent this infomercial to me!

0:33 Why is someone covering the man's face while he enjoys a fine meal of nothing on the same CorningWare dishes that my grandmother had? Is this real?

0:36 TOTAL WARMTH AND COMFORT IN ANY SETTING!

0:37 Like, taking a group nap near cement blocks!

0:45 LUXURIOUS SOFT FLEECE! Define luxurious.

0:48 ONE SIZE FITS ALL! And it has a "specially designed breathing hole," for ALL of our noses!

0:53 I thought that the point of wearing camo was to camouflage oneself? That blue is a bit brilliant. Snuggies come in camo, right? I also thought that one needed to see a target before shooting it?

0:59 I love the "but that's not all!" moments in an infomercial. Like this one when I became informed that if I was a teenager, I could "use it as a prop while they sneak out of the house." Again, doesn't one have to see where one is going when trying an evening reconnaissance mission?

1:04 That's it! I can "become instantly unrecognizable!" Perhaps celebrities should throw on a Face Blanket to hide from paparazzi? Or maybe if I am on a bad date, I can put on my Face Blanket and my date won't know who I am?

1:07 Or I see one of my many exes at a party, I am covered with my Face Blanket! Literally!

1:13 But here is the biggest selling point of all! USE IT WHEN YOU'RE NOT IN THE MOOD! The Face Blanket just became my go-to bridal shower gift. It's unisex and prevents sex!

1:18 Please explain to me how you can climb a mountain in this? That isn't putting safety first at all.

1:22 SAVE THE PLANET! The "soft, luxurious fleece" is made from recycled plastic! So, it will also keep you warm by melting to your face if you get too close to an actual heat source. Nice.

1:28 I really don't want to "be the one with the cold face." Look at that poor girl! Audrey Griswold totally could have used a Face Blanket when looking for Christmas trees! And they are only $9.99! That's not bad actually.






Sunday, February 22, 2015

Happy Blogiversary! (Year 4)

Today marks four years for The Steel Trap! Strangely enough, I started this endeavor on a snow day and we had two of those last week, and possibly more this week. I guess the weather is consistent? Ha!

By now, I've settled into a routine with my writing, which is actually nice because I feel like I've hit my stride. At the start of each month, I open with a "Housekeeping" post to recap anything that I've experienced recently and announce anything to which I am looking forward. Monthly, I post one or two restaurant reviews if I can find the time (and finances); I casually post music recommendations for everyone's afternoon commute; I make lists of my thoughts and ideas that don't warrant whole posts to themselves; and I collect and blast everyone's (along with my) must troubling and stressful #firstworldproblems. In between all of that, I occasionally write about current events and review new products or experiences to see if they are "Awesome Or Flawsome." It's a good gig.

Anyway, here are the top ten posts (hyperlinked) of the past blog year with my commentary in brackets:
  1. "Oh Brother" [It's no surprise to me that this post is number one. It was also shared the most times on my social media outlets. My opinion on the entire matter remains the same.]
  2. "Missed the Mark" [Similarly, this is in its rightful place as number two. My opinion also remains the same on this matter. I'd love to see this Mark dude sometime. He'd be in for quite a shock.]
  3. "Awesome Or Flawsome: Sheetz Walking Tacos" [Wait, what? Who could anticipate that a simple review of Sheetz's Walking Tacos would come in third place? Not me. Thanks again to JRT for assisting on this fun adventure!]
  4. "Will You Sign My Yearbook?" [Gosh, I love yearbooks. How was I not on yearbook staff in high school?]
  5. "On The Corner Of Comfortable" [I have been back to Ten Penny a few times since this review, and have been quite pleased. The experience is improving, and I cannot wait to enjoy the atmosphere once the weather is warm and the windows are wide open!]
  6. "Awesome Or Flawsome: Pizza Cono" [This grosses me out even more now.]
  7. "Things I Learned From My Ex(es)" [I had a hunch that this one would be well-received, and I was right. Clearly this initial post's success launched an entire series;  it also spawned many messages from various exes asking when and if they were going to make an appearance, and brought forth a few surprise moments when people told me that these posts provided hope that someday they would look at their experiences with my outlook. This of course proves that I can never truly predict where writing will take me.]
  8. "34" [I made this list on my thirty-fourth birthday, which featured memories from my birthday celebrations over the years. This year's birthday post (coming up in um... less than three weeks!) will have a different tone and will be written on location; of the hundreds of things I've written on here, this walk down memory lane is very re-readable for me personally.]
  9. "Things I Learned From My Ex(es) Part 2" [I really hope that someone figured out to whom this post was referring and sent it along to him. I also hope that he had a good laugh.]
  10. "True Grit & Grace" [I cannot believe that I haven't been back to Grit & Grace since I wrote this review. Duly noted. Now I just need a date.]
As I said last February and the February before that (and the February before that), "it looks like I am going to keep on keepin' on." I also plan to "continue to maintain my current practices of not using profanity in my posts, of keeping people as anonymously initialed as possible, and of writing with sincerity. It's not easy to write with my heart on my sleeve, but if I've learned anything through this experience, it's that there is no other way to write."

Hopefully more and more people will become connected with The Steel Trap by liking it on facebook or by following @The_Steel_Trap on Twitter (even though my Twitter game is sporadic and mostly nonsensical). Anytime someone shares my posts, comments on my posts, or mentions a post in person (I particularly like the, "Hey! You're The Steel Trap!" moments), I smile with contentment. Unless of course, someone writes nasty comments. Then I laugh. Would this be a good moment to say that I am "#blessed"?


Happy Blogday! Happy Blogiversary! Blogseltov to The Steel Trap!
I am sincerely grateful. No really, I am. 
-HGB

Friday, February 20, 2015

Awesome or Flawsome: The DUFF

CBS Films just released a new teen movie called The DUFF, and in January I got to attend an advance screening with my students at the Manor Theatre in Squirrel Hill.


It's very true that I do love a good teen movie. At a young age, the genre captured my heart with Grease, which led to a a true appreciation for The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off... then of course there are others like Grease 2Can't Hardly Wait, Clueless, Bring It On, Mean Girls, and 10 Things I Hate About You. How could I resist such "masterpieces" that encapsulate teen drama, first dates, awkward phases, and reminders of hilarious things I once wore? But I digress.

The DUFF follows Bianca, who according to her childhood buddy/neighbor/token jock Wes, is the DUFF or "designated ugly fat friend" in her social triangle, and her imminent quest to lose the moniker. At its core, this movie is a modern and refreshing twist on the Cinderella fable, but with a lot less of the typical Cinderella allusions and a lot more social media references, coming-of-age lessons, and the ever-so-comical Ken Jeong.

I recommend this movie for both teenagers and adults, especially fans of the genre. Clearly, audiences will be as entertained as they could expect from a teen movie; with such a likable cast, memorable characters, and relatable plotline, it will be hard for anyone to leave the theater without smiling.

The DUFF is officially awesome.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The First World Problems Of HGB & MAB cont.

Since the last twenty-nine 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. Even more so than the past several times, this particular list piled up quite quickly, and when I hand wrote it for editing purposes, I could not believe what had accumulated. It all 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.
  • Why can't I make enough money? 
  • I spent $45 to get my car cleaned and detailed only to have a surprise snowstorm destroy it less than twenty-four hours later. What was once momentarily shiny and black is now once again dull and grayish. 
  • I have to do the dishes every night before getting a shower. This is so that I can get enough hot water running through the upstairs pipes. 
  • I attend a monthly training where the host location provides a decent lunch of pizza, hoagies, chips, cookies, and waters for $7. We typically put the money in a bowl on the honor system. Apparently the money was short last month, so this month, we are not being provided lunch. I had to pack my lunch. 
  • I had to comfort a parrot who was scared awake by nightmares. 
  • Like all these people think that Fifty Shades of Gray is a love story. Fools. 
  • It's 8:30 a.m. and all I can think about are fresh lobster rolls. 
  • "Your dishwasher will be delivered in between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m." Thanks for the very convenient heads up Best Buy. Thanks. 
  • My shower has no clue how to mix hot water and cold water to make warm water. It either melts my skin or sends me into hypothermic shock. Eff you shower. Eff you. 
  • Why is there not a way to remove yourself from a group text? I HATE GROUP TEXTS. iPhone- get it together. I paid a lot of money for you. Come up with something stat. 
  • Our travel agent was able to meet our budget for both of our trip options. Now we have to chose between Hawaii and the United Kingdom. 
  • I used press-on nails because they are $6 and I don't like paying the $30 for a manicure. On the way to my engagement photo shoot, one popped off. Of course. 
  • Why do I always run out of shampoo before conditioner when the bottles are the same size and I use the same portion of each one, each time? 
  • I lost my cell phone somewhere between my car and my house. Now I am downloading Skype so I can talk to my mother and have her call my phone. 
  • In an early morning meeting, someone kindly pointed out that the tag in my dress was sticking out. As I was reaching behind me to tuck it in, I heard, "No, it's sticking out in the FRONT, under your chin." 
  • Why do loaves of bread have an odd number of pieces? I hate throwing out that extra piece. 
  • I was all like, "Yay! I get to read a physical book!" And then I totally tapped it to try and turn the page. 
  • There's nothing like getting stuck behind a garbage truck on the way to work and being unable to pass it. 
  • When it's tax season, and you aren't getting a refund... 
  • I was staying at my parents' home (where I have not lived for over a decade) and they took my kids out for the night. I had the house all to myself, had settled into the couch, and realized that I didn't know how to work the television or remote control. 
  • We are out of coffee. All I can think about is coffee.
  • [during the Super Bowl] Thanks Nationwide and Weight Watchers for for making me feel sad and fat respectively. 
  • Sirius gave me two weeks of satellite radio as a promotion starting on the day after I had surgery, a surgery that rendered me unable to drive for two weeks. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

It's The Raffle To End All Raffles!

Hi everyone! Some of you are aware that I volunteer my time and efforts as a Pittsburgh CLO Ambassador. Part of our work involves planning and hosting an annual Wine Tasting and Silent Auction, which is an amazing event with the proceeds benefiting the Pittsburgh CLO's educational programming.* Since the event's inception, the Ambassadors have raised almost $1 million!

As with any successful fundraiser, we have a raffle to help us reach our goal. Each Ambassador is asked to sell at least twenty tickets, which brings us to this post. It would be such a blessing if you could contribute to this good cause, or share this post with anyone whom you think would support us!

Here are the details:

  • Tickets are 1 for $20, and 5 for $50.
  • Only 2000 tickets are sold, so your odds are pretty high! 
  • Grand Prize: A trip for two to Burgundy, France! Stay in a luxury hotel for three nights, including breakfast. You will enjoy a welcome drink with the hotel's owner courtesy of Hotel Le Cep-Beaune. Your roundtrip air transportation is courtesy of Delta Airlines; your roundtrip train tickets from Paris to Beaune are courtesy of Christina O'Toole of Travel Leaders/Travel in Luxury. The total value is $5000! 
  • First Prize: $1000 Gift Certificate courtesy of Henne Jewelers! 
  • Second Prize: Dinner for two courtesy of Meat and Potatoes and two tickets to Boeing Boeing at the CLO Cabaret! The total value is $250! 
  • Winners are drawn at the 18th CLO Ambassadors Wine Tasting and Silent Auction on March 6th! 
  • Winners do need not be present to win. 

Please contact me at heidibalas@gmail.com if you are interested in supporting this good cause! Thank you in advance! 

XOXO
-HGB



*The portion of their educational programming that is most near and dear to my heart is the Gene Kelly Awards, which is an awards program modeled after the Tony Awards that celebrates excellence in local high school musical theater. I've been involved actively with the Gene Kelly Awards since 2002, starting as an intern and now serving as a judge. It has been one of my most treasured experiences, and is something that I will support tirelessly for as long as I possibly can.