Thursday, March 26, 2015

Afternoon Commute

Truth be told, I am not really a Jason Derulo kind of woman. However, this song is perfect for a drive home with the windows turned down and the volume turned up. Enjoy!

Song: "Want to Want Me"
Artist: Jason Derulo

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Twenty-four thoughts and ideas for the twenty-fourth day of March...
  1. I am pretty excited about the upcoming Yelp's Under the Big Top event. Here are the details: It's a 21+ free event on Thursday April 2 from 8-10 p.m. at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh (10 Children's Way, 15212). There will be a complimentary sampling of food and beverages from 30+ vendors and a variety of entertainment with everything from magic to sideshow acts. All that is asked is a $5 donation, which will benefit the Children's Museum. You can RSVP by clicking here! #yelpsbigtop
  2. Look for a guest blogging event to pop up on April 1, which is Wednesday of next week. The best of the best local bloggers will be writing for each other's blogs in a super swap all orchestrated by one of my favorite bloggers (AJF of everybody loves you...)
  3. I became privy to a really juicy piece of gossip yesterday. Of course my first instinct was to tell at least two specific people, and then I remembered that I would only be perpetuating one of the qualities that I dislike most about people. So the story ends here. 
  4. I filled out an online application at a dog breeder over two weeks ago and they still haven't gotten back to me. So the search continues for Mojito's puppy sister.  
  5. And if you want to judge me for using a breeder, go right ahead. But I actually need a hypoallergenic dog that does not shed, and I cannot get one of those at a shelter as much as I would like to do so. Okay? 
  6. No matter how nice the private rooms for events are at Rivers, you still have to walk through the casino to get to them. That's a problem.  
  7. I cannot figure out if I like Secrets and Lies or not. Anyone else out there have an opinion?  
  8. Did I download the entire Empire soundtrack? Yes. Yes, I did.  
  9. If I want you to know about my personal life, I will tell you. The most undesirable situation would be for you to ask others; when I find out, it will only encourage me to keep you even less informed than you already are. You may have noticed that I rarely post anything on here regarding my most personal relationships. There's a reason for that.  
  10. Is this weekend Palm Sunday? How did that happen?  
  11. I went to Giant Eagle last night and discovered BOGO pork chops and steaks so if anyone wants to come over for dinner, the door is open. Not really. But if you knock, I might open it.  
  12. I don't think I like pig roasts.  
  13. To whom it may concern (in particular, those of you who so thoughtfully gave me amazing birthday gifts): Your thank you notes are in the works. Please do not think that I am ungrateful; I am just at a loss for time. You will see my penmanship in your mailboxes soon enough! xoxo
  14. Does anyone out there like Milky Chance as much as me?  
  15. More often than ever, I find myself questioning the criteria to determine if something is newsworthy or not. Ted Cruz on Obamacare? Angelina Jolie in menopause? Some girl crying while playing her flute during March Madness? 
  16. I refuse to celebrate St. Patrick's Day because I am not Irish.  
  17. Imperial Teacher's Store is closing its Monroeville location and everything is 40% off.  
  18. If anyone sees me in my Wichita State University sweatshirt, you can rest assured that I am not on the bandwagon. My cousin ELG is an alum. We all support each other.   
  19. Last night's spring snow wasn't too bothersome. Everyone's complaints on facebook? Yes. Those were bothersome. 
  20. This piece, called "The Hell on Earth Known as Justice" made me chuckle. Credit goes to KHP for posting it online or else I would have missed it!  
  21. One of my best friends in the entire world will be one of Pittsburgh's 50 Finest this year, working her hardest to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. It's going to be an eventful summer (pun intended)!  
  22. I just turned on a rerun of Criminal Minds, and I was all "Why is Andrea Zuckerman trapped in a storage facility?" So this was what Gabrielle Carteris had been doing with her time. Who knew? 
  23. Is there a benefactor out there who would be willing to send me on a vacation to somewhere warm and exotic?  
  24. The more that I write The Steel Trap, the more that I long to be able to truly speak my mind. Oh the irony of not being able to express oneself on one's own creative outlet...

Monday, March 23, 2015

Gluten-Free. Flavor-Full.

Rise Bakery (2409 18th Street NW, Adams Morgan, 20009), promotes itself as a "gluten-free bakery specializing in bread, bagels, and pastries." That is an understatement as I found Rise Bakery to specialize in so much more... character, creativity, and customer service to name just a few noteworthy aspects.

Frankly speaking, Rise Bakery doesn't need any press from The Steel Trap. I think that The Washington Post has that covered with not one, but two pieces: "Rise Bakery brings gluten-free sweets and breads to Adams Morgan" and "What's in store at some of Washington's newest bakeries", both of which provide legitimately positive reinforcement to what any patron would experience.

Founder and owner Michael Koritko has an excellent team behind the counters and in front of the ovens, a team that is taking his and their own inspiration(s) and creating culinary magic; if I hadn't known that the baked goods were sans gluten, I would have never known. The products available to local (and now nationwide) customers are simply delicious and are of exemplary quality.*

The price point is excellent, especially for being a specialty bakery; the selection is commendable, with everything from bread to bagels to croissants to pie pops to pies to cupcakes to biscotti to vegan! In addition to the daily fresh baked offerings, there are plenty of frozen baked goods for customers to take home and enjoy at their own pace. And with some café tables for a quick "dine-in," Rise Bakery also offers plenty of beverage options including coffee, tea, and milk to make one's visit complete.

Some of the "goods" that are ready to take home
Options on options on options
Clockwise from top left: KEM taking her (my) Chocolate Mint Biscotti very seriously; Chocolate Mint Biscotti, Cherry Pie Pop, and Ham & Cheese Croissant; HGB (me) and Michael Koritko; Chocolate Almond Croissant and Bacon, Egg, & Cheese Pie Pocket

If I had to recommend one item it would be the Cinnamon Rolls ($2.50 each), of which I did not take a picture (most likely because they were devoured inhaled immediately). With enough cinnamon "goop" to lick off one's fingers and a texture so perfect that I am without words, I cannot imagine any instance in which I would not eat one of these in addition to anything else that I was ordering. They are that good.

So yes, Rise Bakery. Go there.

(4 stars, 4/4)

Rise Bakery on Urbanspoon

*While I am not required to eat gluten-free products for health reasons, I respect that there are a growing number of people who need to do so; thus, these people deserve baked goods and sweet treats that are just as desirable as what traditional bakeries offer. Right?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Beware The Heids Of March (or 15)

Here are fifteen thoughts and ideas regarding this past week of celebrating my 35th birthday:
  1. There is no reason why birthday cakes have to be actual cake. PSB made me a vat of tapioca pudding from scratch this year, and the candle stayed upright just long enough for me to make a wish and blow it out. 
  2. I have said this before but I just love getting real mail especially from people that I love. 
  3. Walking in my back door and finding a bouquet of fresh flowers waiting for me on my kitchen table is the most simple, yet pleasant surprise. 
  4. Birthday pedicures were previously underrated; now they are rated as a wholehearted recommendation. I mean, who wouldn't want a foot massage, a cup of pomegranate green tea, and a beautiful shade of OPI ("On Collins Ave.") accenting their toes on the morning of their birthday? 
  5. I don't even like Peeps but the Peeps & Company store at the National Harbor is nothing but fun. Who doesn't enjoy Hot Tamales in bulk and marshmallow scented stuffed Peeps?!?! 
  6. Ben & Jerry's The Tonight Dough Ice Cream is as incredible as I thought it would be. Imagine caramel and chocolate ice creams with chocolate cookie swirls and gobs of both chocolate chip cookie and peanut butter cookie dough. Yup. It's unreal; it's also a perfect flavor for Jimmy Fallon. 
  7. If you are in the D.C. area, you must check out José Andrés new restaurant, China Chilcano. I didn't do an official review, because I didn't want to "work" during the meal; visiting with the people I love took precedence. The entire experience was fantastic sans the Lengua de Pato (duck tongue). Never again on that one. 
  8. Pupatella Neapolitan Pizzaria is a great lunch spot in Arlington. Go there. 
  9. Dear Pittsburgh, Get a Taylor Gourmet. Please and thank you. -HGB
  10. Despite the fact that I am not a fan of Frozen, the animated short before Cinderella was kind of cute. [SPOILER ALERT] Elsa sneezes little snowmen. That's cute. Kind of. 
  11. I witnessed two orangutans having relations at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. One cannot un-see that.
  12. A full review of Rise Bakery is in the works... words cannot express how amazing this gluten-free shop is, but I am going to give me my best shot! 
  13. It's never easy to say goodbye to family and friends. Especially when one considers the family to be friends and the friends to be family. 
  14. If there was ever an instance when my life was parallel to Julius Caesar's it happened today somewhere on the PA Turnpike near Somerset. Yes. While I was driving, Mojito decided to hop on my lap and urinate all over me. Talk about a best friend stabbing me in the back. Et tu Mojito? 
  15. Please enjoy the highlights in the video below... and remember, as Sirius Black says, "What is life without a little risk?" (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). 

Friday, March 13, 2015

My Year In Books (34)

When looking back at the books I read in my 34th year, I have to admit that I haven't read nearly as much as I should have read (or could have read for that matter). I suppose it was just one of those years... Or perhaps it's the fact that much of my reading time is spent on students' essays along with books that I teach (and that I've read 800 times) like To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Antigone by Sophocles, Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, and The Friends by Rosa Guy.

As is tradition, in reverse chronological order, here is the summary of my most recent 365 days in books. Oh yeah, and for what they're worth, my opinions are briefly in [brackets].
  • Coaching Youth Track & Field [completely related to my life as a junior high track & field coach; not recommended for any of yinz]
  • The Bend of the World by Jacob Bacharach [ideal for Pittsburgh buffs and anyone who remembers the whole Freemarkets thing]
  • Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose [I cannot believe that it took me until now to read this masterpiece; recommended]
  • The Peach Keeper: A Novel by Sarah Addison Allen [not juicy at all; pun intended; eh]
  • Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed [I haven't seen the movie, but I enjoyed the parts of the book that I read; recommended for any type A adventurous female]
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn [800% recommended even if you have seen the movie already]
  • The Golom and the Jinni by Helene Wecker [much better than I expected, recommended for those who enjoy historical fiction and fantasy]
  • Seedfolks by Paul Fleishman [heartfelt, great book for young adults]
  • The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett [LOVED; the quintessential American detective novel; highly recommended]
  • Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell by Lenore Esposito [eh]
  • Copper Sun by Sharon Draper [graphic in all of the right ways for young adults; recommended]
  • The Whiskey Rebels: A Novel by David Liss [LOVED; excellent historical fiction; recommended]