Monday, September 1, 2014

Everything But The Book (Club)

Everything But The Book (Club) took a lazy approach to our summer reading with our official selection, The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. We didn't have an official meeting until last week, and we aren't meeting again until October because life is well, you know, life.

Mostly, everyone enjoyed the book. Wecker is on the heavy-handed side, but not even close to Charles Dickens. If you like historical fiction (turn of the 20th century, New York City), and if you like fantasy literature, this book would be an excellent fit (I'd loan you my copy but it's destroyed from being in and out of my pool bag all summer). We are pondering the appropriate actor to play the part of the Jinni, as he is a most fascinating character.

For our next gathering, we are reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Here is the synopsis from Strayed's website: "At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her." I don't know about you, but this is exactly the kind of book I need to read right about now!

And here is everything else that we discussed:

  • we are considering inviting JRW's husband to all of our meetings as he has proven to be an excellent bartender
  • summer activities
  • new cats
  • new houses
  • how stupid college freshman students can be
  • how traumatic sending a child to Kindergarten can be on the child parent


Housekeeping

And here we are on Labor Day, which happens to be the first day of September too! I am back at work, trying to navigate myself into both new and familiar routines; I am making progress toward relieving my stress and anxiety; and I am truly looking forward to what my future holds.

August was packed with so many fun events that when I looked back on my calendar to reflect, I just had to sit and shake my head at it all. From the 50 Finest Gala to Savor Pittsburgh to birthday celebrations to Steelers games to the Stray Boots tour to the Run Around the Square to my Fallingwater Sunset Tour to Pittsburgh Restaurant Week (and everything in between), August was a whirlwind. But it was refreshing in the sense that I had such fun with family and friends and it all happened in Pittsburgh... once again proving that there are some pretty incredible things going on here and that we just have to get ahhhhht there and do them!

September brings fall television, of which I cannot be more thrilled to watch! I am thinking that I will limit my prime time commitments to Revenge, Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, and the new Shonda Rhimes brainchild, How to Get Away with Murder; of course I will still catch up on General Hospital when I do laundry. September also brings football season, of which I do enjoy as well. Now, will you catch me at a bar wasting away a weekend day watching games? Nope. But you can catch me on Friday nights watching my kids on the field playing ball, cheering, or marching. And, if you hand me some Steelers or Pitt tickets, I will be right there tailgating and cheering like it's my job.

There's isn't much on my social calendar this month, and I am trying to keep it like this; I hope to go to Penn's Colony and Burghlesque, but nothing else unless someone asks me to do something interesting and adventurous. And, hopefully someone remembers my half birthday on September 13th (besides my cousin Little DS, since it's his actually birthday).

On a more serious note, I am very aware that some people are anticipating for me to divulge information about my relationship with JTP on The Steel Trap. Whether it's out of concern for either one of us, or out of curiosity, readers (and gossipmongers) want to know details. And that's fine. Much to their chagrin, I am not going to indulge that kind of writing, nor would I ever promote a blog post that revealed intimate details about any relationship with another person, especially someone for whom I care very much. That's all I am going to say about that... for now.

To close this monthly post, thank you for reading (and [hopefully] passing this blog along). August was another record breaking month regarding the number of hits to The Steel Trap; we surpassed 203,000 overall and we aren't slowing dahn! Much of that success can be attributed to my post "Missed the Mark" and being featured in a great piece called "9 Pittsburgh blogs that answer life's everyday questions" on Next Pittsburgh. We are also in the top 5 on urbanspoon (#2 to be exact... I have fallen from the top. OMG.)! As always, thank you for "liking" The Steel Trap on facebook, following @The_Steel_Trap on Twitter and @The_Steel_Trap on Instagram. I'm also linked up with bloglovin', which is another way for bloggers and readers to network and share their writing. Lastly, if anyone has anything that they would like me to cover, or a restaurant for me to review, please send me a message. I am always open to suggestions (you can take SAA's lead because she calls me with them at least once a week)!

Helloooo September!
-HGB

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. 
Sincerely, 
HGB


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."  
Sincerely, 
HGB

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

20

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.