Monday, August 25, 2014

Help Me, Help Yinz Part 9

It never ends, does it? 

Dear "Essential Baby," 
I teach English 10 during periods 5, 6, and 7. Please enroll in my class. Wait. Nevermind. I think you need to go back to elementary school where you can have spelling class too. 

Dear "Nephew Tommy,"
I think that you might benefit from proofreading before posting. "Lost of associates" should be "loss of associates," right? And FYI, "good" is an adjective, and adjectives describe nouns (or pronouns), not verbs. That job is for adverbs, and in this case you should have used the word "well."  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


I've said it before, and I'll say it probably 800 more times. Some stuff isn't meant to have its own post, yet should be posted. So here is the latest list... twenty things on my mind on the twentieth of August.

  1. I would chose donuts over cupcakes any day. Unless they are filled with jelly. Then I would chose starvation. 
  2. I don't want to admit it, but I am going to have to break down and buy a Tervis
  3. Binder clips might be my favorite office supply. And yes, I have Vera Bradley ones. 
  4. Speaking of our dear friend Vera, Macy's is now carrying her products. Overexposure? 
  5. Don't ask me, "Are you having fun yet?" at work. There is no room for that sarcastic inquiry in my professional life. 
  6. I cannot determine how I really feel regarding the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This is why I simply donated and posted Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby" video instead.
  7. I finally jumped on the Alex and Ani bandwagon. I got the monogrammed B and the pineapple. Next up will be an H and a G so that the B isn't lonely.
  8. I am experiencing stress and anxiety daily. Feel free to tell me to calm myself down and remind me that this too shall pass. 
  9. My playlist on Spotify for driving is called "Vega$," because that is the name of my car. I add new songs to it weekly and delete the songs that have been overplayed. Here are a few of what I have been playing heavily: "Chillin" by Wale, "Nirvana" by Sam Smith, "Mess is Mine" by Vance Joy, "Shake it Out" by Florence & the Machine, and "You and Tequila" by Kenny Chesney. 
  10. Paper Mate's InkJoy pens are actual joy. 
  11. MAC Pro Longwear Concealer ($20) is my new favorite beauty product. Not only does it conceal my adult acne facial issues, but it doubles as a fantastic base for eye shadow. The MAC 195 Concealer Brush ($24) is also pretty great. 
  12. My house is for sale/rent. Help. 
  13. Casey's Pizza in Turtle Creek has the best Italian Hoagie that I have had in a very long time. It's perfection on a bun. 
  14. Someone should buy me a set of monogrammed copper mugs for Moscow Mules. Take note. 
  15. I literally used to make fun of people who inappropriately overused the word "literally," with their every other word literally being "literally." And now, it has backfired literally because I literally cannot stop using "literally." 
  16. I have tried about fifteen different dry shampoos. Suave has the best, with a lightweight effect and a light scent. Oh, and it's cheap! 
  17. I think that I am going to share more recipes on The Steel Trap
  18. Red Bull. It gives me wings. 
  19. Nude hosiery. Just say no. 
  20. Smile at a stranger. You never know how much it may mean. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Awesome or Flawsome: Stray Boots Steeltown Strip Snack Attack Tour

Stray Boots is a Brooklyn-based company that offers interactive walking tours in dozens of cities (national and international); tours allow people to explore neighborhoods in a new way... they are smart phone guided scavenger hunts of sorts, which means that you can do them on your time, at your own pace, with whomever you so please! Just download the app, select a tour, pay the well-worth-it $10 fee (pay with iTunes or PayPal), and get started!

Not long ago, Stray Boots contacted me regarding their Pittsburgh interactive walking tour, the Steeltown Strip Snack Attack. Of course I was more than thrilled to take the tour, and review it here on The Steel Trap. Here is the description of this particular tour from the Stray Boots website: "It may be a little neighborhood, but it's got huge flavor! Take a journey through culinary history as you wander the old factories of the Strip and find some of the best food Pittsburgh has to offer. From biscotti and pierogis to popcorn and monster sandwiches, there's something here to satisfy even the pickiest palettes. Along the way, get a glimpse of the culture of this historic district and learn how it became a must-see spot for serious foodies. So strap on your walking shoes, loosen your belt, and get ready to get snacking!" Clearly, this had The Steel Trap written all over it! So this past Saturday, myself and four lovely friends (SSA, EAM, TRT, & RRM) strapped on our boots sandals and hit the Strip District!

We started at 21st and Smallman, and the tour wove us through the Strip District in a refreshing way. Not only did we learn interesting information about a variety of topics, but also we ended up in some pretty cool spots that were "new" to us in addition to our old favorites. The tour challenged us to look for things we hadn't noticed previously, while immersing us in the bustling, ethnic atmosphere of the Strip that we have come to love. Because we determined the pace of the tour, we had the freedom to explore too without interruption. At one point, we all agreed that this would be a great idea for a first date and/or a great activity for visiting relatives. We cannot wait to try other tours in other cities!

Therefore, the Stray Boots Steeltown Strip Snack Attack Tour is officially awesome!

Photograph courtesy of SAA's nearly defunct iPhone 4s
Recommended time: 10 a.m. on a Saturday morning, when the weather is pleasant. Begin hungry!
Recommended spending money (in addition to the $10 tour charge): $20+, as one could easily blow the bank in all of markets, shops, and eateries.
Recommended attire: Comfortable shoes, and a few reusable shopping bags to carry your purchases.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The First World Problems Of HGB & MAB cont.

Since the last twenty-one 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 last time, this particular list piled up quite quickly (LIKE REALLY 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. Note: Just because these are written in first person point of view, doesn't mean that they are mine. Or does it? You decide.
  • The laundromat is 1 trillion degrees and it's not cute. 
  • I always have extra pieces when I am finished putting together Ikea furniture. Hmmmmm...
  • I get a new bill in the mail every day. 
  • I have post concert depression. 
  • The Omni William Penn did not have valet service for the CFF Pittsburgh's 50 Finest Gala. I had to park my car myself! 
  • Why have I not received the ten headbands that I ordered for my baby girl from Screaming Owl? I am going crazy! I ordered them months ago! 
  • I went to the beach during Shark Week. 
  • My nanny's mom wants to be friends with me on facebook. I am not ready for that. 
  • I made an instagram and I already hate it. 
  • Stupid rain. Guess I'm not going jet skiing. 
  • My cell phone is not working! Callers cannot hear me but I can hear them, and it works fine with ear buds and Bluetooth. HELP. 
  • I will never find my name on a Coca-Cola bottle. 
  • They put peppers in my Eggs Benedict at brunch, effectively ruining its perfection. I hate peppers. 
  • It rained in California. 
  • I do not like the new Mountain Dew bottles. They taste worse than the old bottles, which were much worse than cans, and much worse than fountain soda. 
  • I want to get my car washed in the in-structure car wash but I don't to walk over to the parking lot twice and they are closed by the time I get out of the gym after work.
  • I get really depressed Wednesday-Saturday as all of my good TV shows air on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.
  • My roommate is allergic to dogs so I can't get a new puppy.
  • I came home from vacation and the entire hood my my car had rusted. 
  • I have to add another app to my iPhone just to read my facebook messages. 
  • I signed on at midnight exactly sixty days before my Disney World trip, and the Elsa and Anna Fast Pass was already unavailable. 
  • I wish that just once I would be able to plug something into the USB port the RIGHT way the FIRST time versus having to flip it 3-4 times. 
  • I need to reevaluate the TV stations I'm watching because all of the commercials are for calcium supplements, erectile dysfunction, adult diapers, and COPD medicine. 
  • There are only two episodes of True Blood left. Ever. 
  • I had to drive ten minutes out of the way to avoid the Squirrel Hill tunnels because I was on a really important phone call and it would have been dropped 3/4 of the way through them. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

“I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.” - F. L. Wright

It's atypical of me to start a post with a quote, but this one speaks to me and to the subject matter, which is the Fallingwater Sunset Tour... I've always said that if there's any proof of divinity, it's a beautiful sunset. I am happy to know that Wright felt similarly.

About a month ago, one of my dearest friends recognized that I'd been experiencing more stress than usual; he wanted to provide me with a truly special and meaningful experience to conclude my summer vacation. Bless his heart, because he found a way to surprise me, which is pretty much impossible: two tickets to the Fallingwater Sunset Tour. Needless to say, I was so thrilled that I would get to see one of my top five favorite places of all time in the summer (I'd only been in winter and spring), participate in an extended three-hour, in-depth tour (regular tours are one hour), have hors d'oeurves on the terrace (just like the Kaufmann's would have done), and TAKE PICTURES INSIDE OF THE HOUSE (you cannot do that on the regular tour)! And this goes without mentioning, but I will do so out of sheer gratitude, I was so thrilled that I would get to share Fallingwater with a dear friend.

And then I had to wait a whole month for the big day! Is that a first word problem?

We went this past Saturday; the weather was perfect, the tour was incredible (Cecelia was our tour guide, and she was superb), and I am still smiling from the entire experience. Here is a video that highlights my photography skills (or lack thereof, taken with the highly high-tech and uber professional iPhone 5):

A few notes... 
  • For starters, we entered the main house through the kitchen, which is different from the regular tour. You should have seen my face! I could have ended our tour right then and there, because I have been waiting to see that room for years! The space blew me away. For the late 1930s, the kitchen was well-equipped with every modern convenience to which we have grown accustomed, except a Keurig and a microwave; honestly, who needs those frivolous appliances when the view is breathtaking? 
  • Also, we were able to see the former staff quarters, which are now offices. That too was a pleasant surprise. I'll be a maid at Fallingwater any day of the week. 
  • I only took about twenty or so photos. This wasn't as many as I thought that I would, primarily because I was so captivated (yet again) by the space, both interior and exterior. There's something to be said about a life experience that you want to imprint in your mind and heart more than on camera. Needless to say, I did take a #selfie and photos of us on the terrace just because we could. 
  • The tour concluded with hors d'oeurves on the terrace. Being able to sit on the original patio furniture while relaxing and reflecting on what we just toured was priceless. We enjoyed cheeses, charcuterie, kalamata and green olives, pepperoncini, artichoke-parmesan dip, hummus, phyllo-wrapped asparagus, spiced nuts, iced tea and sparkling water, all while listening to the tranquilly babbling Bear Run. It was hard to leave...
  • ...but of course, I will return.