Friday, December 21, 2012

Home for the Holidays

Being a twenty-something, the word "home" has come to mean something beyond where my parents raised my brother and I. From an early age, having moved several times, I realized that home wasn't a physical location (ok, well not entirely a physical location) - it was where my family was. Where I felt the most loved, and the place where I could most be myself.

Even in college, the word "home" started to evolve as I found my place at school, and in my fabulous sorority. Now I had two families - my Zeta family, and my real family. But wait, then came the amazingly close friendships I formed with several people during my time at MU - so close, that I began to consider them a part of my family. Slowly home evolved into the groups with which I felt truly in my element, as I did with my own family.

Now that I'm out in the real world, I don't go home every day to my parents, or to the same friends from high school and college that I still identify as parts of who I am - I come home to PG and our little one-bedroom apartment. Now that's home. We have a couch that we hate, cooking skills that seriously need improving, and a mound of things to sort through and find places for... and it is absolutely perfect.

Pondering this idea of "home" earlier (as I watch the white death creep into PA), I realized that having multiple homes shouldn't be confusing, rather, it's a blessing. I'm lucky enough to have places and people across the country that I can go home too. Whether it is my apartment in the Pitts, my parent's house in Kansas, or with friends in a variety of locations, I am never far from home.

A few of the many "homes" that will be on my mind this Holiday Season - set to the tune of "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.


Let me come home.

Home is...

...wherever I'm...

...with you.

Oh, home.

So even though I can't celebrate the Holidays in all these wonderful corners of the country, they will all be on my mind during this special time of year.

Oh, and I'll be planning lots of visits for 2013!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Random Musings of a Sick Girl

You know that terrible feeling of being sick, when your head is filled with fog and putting together a sentence just seems... difficult. Welcome to my life, at present. My typically-coherent mind is, instead, currently filled with random phrases and streams of words that usually mesh, but just aren't coming together at present. Sigh.

So, I decided that today, I wouldn't push myself. Wouldn't think too hard about this post - I do have to get some things accomplished at work today, after all.

Enjoy my stream of consciousness..

Why don't I feel well? So not a fan.

Instagram - really?! If you sell pictures of my precious puppy or semi-pathetic DIY crafts without my consent, I will destroy you.

How do I get a grumpy pet? If Grumpy Cat has taught me one thing, it's that sour-hearted pets can be especially lucrative.

No matter how little you've eaten in the past day or two, a large lunch at work is a horrific idea. Unless you are permitted a mid-work nap. In which case, where is this heaven that you work?

Why is the ice and water machine so far away?

Am I REALLY done with my Christmas shopping? If so, why do I keep adding things to virtual carts every two seconds?

I have the TV to myself tonight for a solid few hours. What do I watch first? Glee? Nashville? Cue confusion.

What are the odds that I can get PG to come 30 minutes home, make me dinner, rub my back, and listen to me cough and complain, then drive 30 minutes back out for guys night? Slim? Too soon to abuse the living situation? Ok, moving on.

Why do I morph into Grumpy Cat when I don't feel well? Smile, dangit!

Facebook - you addicting, addicting fiend, you.

What's on my to-do list?.... Nope, not doing any of that.


Alright, everyone. That's all I have today. Stay warm, and take lots of Vitamin C!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

No Words

"What do you say?"

Since the tragic slaying of 20 children and six teachers in Newtown, Connecticut, I have heard that phrase in a variety of settings, all equally challenging.

What do you say?... To the loved ones of those who lost their lives.
What do you say?... To a grieving town.
What do you say?... To a nation left stunned in the wake of yet another act of mass murder.
What do you say?... To parents who have to send their kids off to school this week.
What do you say?... To teachers who have to face their kids in a place that they used to see as a safe-haven.
What do you say?... To politicians when the issue of gun control is brought into the spotlight yet again.

And what I have found after a few days of reflection is this - there are no words.

There is no explanation, no rhyme or reason, no wisdom that can mend a nation of broken hearts. Try as we may, our words, no matter how well-crafted or thoughtful, can only fall short of bringing back the lives that were lost on Friday.

But that doesn't mean that words can't be found, or that they are powerless in a time of crisis.

Political views aside, watching President Obama address a grieving town, reading the names one by one, his face riddled with emotion, made a statement - he's only human. He's a father too. He is grieving alongside those who put him into office. He left all that is going on in DC to offer what comfort he could. His words made a difference.

Thousands of letters have been sent to Newtown. Outside of the U.S., the world is grieving with us, and memorials are popping up across the globe. They cry for us, and speak of their own experiences of tragedy, explaining how they grew from loss. Their words make a difference.

In the shadow of tragedy, the NFL maintained its regularly-scheduled games on Sunday, with each team and player making their own statement about what occurred. Perhaps the most moving of these tributes was that of Victor Cruz, who called the family of a young victim and unwavering fan, Jack Pinto, to offer his condolences, and to show them that no one is unaffected by this loss. His words made a difference.

And now here I am - a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend, a granddaughter, an American, a blogger, a human being - and I must ask myself, what do I say?

I say I'm sorry. I say I'm devastated. I say that I wish the tears I've shed over this tragedy since it occurred could, in any way, ease your pain. I say that I, too, am left questioning this society in which I live.

But I also say that there is hope. I say that we have a responsibility as human beings, and as citizens of this country to act. To do something, anything that will prevent this senseless act from happening again. I say that we must protect our children. I say that I believe they are in a better place. And I say that I am with you, Newtown.

In a time when they are hard to find, there are words.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Dave and Busters @ The Waterfront {a review}

What do my Sundays consist of? Watching football, checking my Fantasy Football lineup, and watching more football. And that's a wrap. So when I was invited to check out the new Sports Lounge at Dave and Busters at The Waterfront, I was all over it!

The last time I was at D&B was for our corporate outing a few months ago, and the facility was undergoing some serious construction. Having been to my fair share of D&B locations (Chicago, Cincinnati, etc.), I had developed a general idea of what to expect during a standard outing - old-fashioned dining room, plenty of children, and games.. lots of games. So when I found out that the renovations revolved around the creation of a sports bar, I was intrigued, to say the least.

And let me just say, when you walk in to the front door of the new-and-improved Dave & Busters, feel free to leave any preconceived notions at the door. I almost did a serious double-take - am I in the wrong place?? You're immediately greeted by an enormous TV screen and trendy-looking reception area, and it is instantly clear that they weren't just renovating - they were out to change their brand.

Whoa, where am I??

So let me break it down for you...

DECOR. Don't get me wrong, the old dining room reminiscent of Cheers is still fully intact, as are some of the older sections of the facility that feature games such as billiards and shuffle board. While D&B wanted to change their image, they wanted to make sure that they lost zero existing clientele in the process. Kudos.

The renovations focused primarily on the creation of an upscale-looking bar, along with a massive sports lounge...

On a raised platform just past the hostess desk is a raised bar and sitting area. Complete with white leather chairs and bright lighting, it's like a mini, trendy urban bar at the heart of The Waterfront. While the manager pointed out that this area draws lots of women (bright lights and pretty bottles ooooh), the Beer Tubes and big screens keep the men coming in droves.

Right across the football field-themed hall is the expansive sports lounge. I don't think that our group spoke for a solid 10 minutes after first being seated at our high-top booth because we were too busy trying to see what was happening on ALL of the TVs. And there were loads of them. Gone are the crunchy plastic booths, having been replaced by over-sized (and super comfortable) leather booths and chairs. And don't worry, I'm pretty sure there isn't a bad seat in the house, especially on Sundays! While the atmosphere was still family-friendly, I felt like I was out at a bar, as opposed to Chuck E. Cheese. Thankfully.

Moving back through the lounge you arrive in a room boasting plenty more TVs, plus leather couches, chairs, and party space - complete with free Wi Fi. The Pittsburgh-themed decor makes you feel like you're in a typical Pitts bar, as opposed to a chain restaurant, and the lounge feel is super inviting. I can absolutely see myself grabbing a drink and watching a game back there, and am planning on it!

FOOD. Standard bar food, for shame! The massive menu features any, and everything you could possibly want - whether you are out with the family, or catching a game with some friends.

Cue drool

How do you decide what to get when you're staring blankly at a menu, with no idea where to begin? Ask the waitress, of course! It's a good thing she was friendly and super knowledgeable, because a less patient person would have had a difficult time dealing with our indecisive table! For starters? Pretzel bites, and spinach and artichoke dip. In both cases, the portions were large, and the quality was high, so we were all happy campers. Wanting to sample something unique to the D&B menu for my entree, I had the Philly Steak Burger... pretty self-explanatory, but it was a cheeseburger with steak, onions, mushrooms and peppers on top. MMM!

Oh, and that thing in the top right photo? A skinny long island. I dare those of your 21+ to not find something delicious on the drink menu. Dare you.

GAMES. Fine, I'm competitive. By the time we got our game cards and left the booth, the tension between the two couples in attendance was palpable. It was going to be a quiet car ride home, that's for sure.

Walking into Dave's Arcade made everyone feel like a little kid again. You want to play. You want to win. You want to buy something ridiculous with your tickets. As an adult, it also brings a seriously competitive spirit, aided by the bar in the middle, but it's all in good fun! Right PG???

Anyway, the arcade boasts an enormous assortment of games, from staples such as Pac Man, to newer gems like Fruit Ninja. While we mostly stuck to our classic favorites (basketball, skeeball, and racing), I'd be lying if I didn't say we were absolutely drawn in to the massive Connect Four board, or the trivia game. At the end of the day it doesn't matter who wins or loses... because I just say I win everything either way!

Overall, a great, great afternoon! The staff was super friendly, and clearly had that place figured out, from the dining room, to crowd control, they were on it! The food was delicious, the drinks were even more delicious, and the variety of games ensured that I worked off my massive lunch in no time (seriously, sweating).

Thanks to D&B for a great day. Now go check it out!!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

That Just Happened Thursday {v3}

I don't embarrass easily, I just don't. But this week's version of That Just Happened definitely brought a little extra red to my cheeks.

When I have single friends, I looove to try and set them up. No, I'm not obnoxious about it, but if I find a great guy, I'll definitely do my best (and then let them take it from there).

Cut to Tuesday.

I ventured out to dinner with a good girlfriend of mine to hear about her recent adventures in a far away land (from me) known as The World of Single Girls. Geared up to hear her latest gossip, I instead found myself in a very different situation in which she vented to me about being lonely, worries over never being able to find anyone, and so on. De-pressing.

In an effort to cheer her up (and make her laugh a little), I start going on and on about this great guy I know, how they'd be perfect together, and sharing some uhhh less than flattering details about one night during which he was absolutely slammed. We were laughing, she seemed interested, and the night took a turn for the better.

Until I hear some poorly held-in laughs coming from the table behind me. The kind of laugh where you are clearly laughing at someone or something in particular, but do not want to be heard. I looked around, and no one had fallen, no one was wearing anything they shouldn't be, and nothing embarrassing had happened during the basketball game that was being aired. Hmm.

I was confused until I stood up to visit the ladies room and realized that two of his friends were at the table behind me. The same friends who had been out was us during his infamous romp that I had just shared in great detail, and who had just heard me go on and on about their friend for, oh, about a half hour.

All they said - "Hey, she does look like his type." Cue laughter. Cue embarrassment.

Oh well, maybe one day at their wedding we can all look back on this and laugh!

Check out other "That Just Happened" moments through this Thursday Link Up hosted by Samantha @ Hooah and Hiccups, and Kaitlyn @ Wifessionals.

Oh, and while you're checking out Hooah and Hiccups, make sure to enter the Holiday Giveaway for a chance to win oh-so-fabulous prizes, including a month as the premier sponsor of The Pitts! GO!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Big, Big Day. Huge. {Part 2}

I know, I know. I promised pictures ASAP in yesterday's post. But guess what? After ironing for about an hour, finishing organizing, and starting to pack, ASAP is right about... now! Sorry, sorry.

So without further ado...


...In-between (argg)...

... After!

Quilt and shams: Crate & Barrel
Yellow and Ampersand Throw Pillows: Crate & Barrel
White and Yellow/White Pattern Throw Pillows: Target
Grey Euro Shams and Matching Bed Sheet: IKEA
White Down Comforter: Mine!

While making the bed, I wondered aloud to myself if this will really make a huge difference in the room. I mean, it is what it is, right? Wrong. The deep, warm tones absolutely cozied-up the room, and it feels much more "full" than it did before. I'm mildly obsessed with the addition of the grey, and I was lucky enough to find sheets and shams in a tone that went well with my existing carpet. The reds and yellows also look about 1000x better against the black furniture than the light pastels did.

Long story short - this was long-overdue, and a huge success!

Full disclosure - the pictures of the closet will have to wait. After all of my prepping (not of the doomsday variety, though that show is hilarious) I was absolutely exhausted, so I plopped down on the couch to catch my favorites - Ben and Kate, New Girl and Mindy Project.

Thoughts on last night's episodes:
- Ben and Kate: No new episode?! I'm calling you out, Fox...
- New Girl: Funnier than usual. Glad that Sam is back, but if CeeCee and Schmidt don't get back together I'm going to freak out. Seriously.
- Mindy Project: NOOOOO! Hearts broke across America last night - I actually really enjoyed Josh and Mindy's chemistry, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't love the mini Office reunion.

And that was my night! Friends often ask if I'll miss the peace of coming home to an empty, quiet apartment every night, able to do as I please... and never once have I said yes.


Perfect post to link up with Lindsay @ Southern Lovely for Show and Share!

And Savannah @ Rolled Up Pretty for Whatever, Whenever, Wednesday!

Happy Wednesday!


PS: Check out Samantha @ Hooah and Hiccups' HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY to win a free month as the Premier Sponsor of The Pitts {and other fabulous prizes}! Do it, do it now!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Big, Big Day. Huge.

No, the world isn't ending. And no, I didn't just spot (and subsequently start dating) Channing Tatum while he films his movie here in The Pitts.

But it's still a big day.

It's bedroom renovation day! I actually took my own advice that I offered up in Man Up, and, after doing some serious Cyber Monday shopping, I have a complete new look for the bedroom. After tearing into the box last night I am absolutely in love with every single item I purchased, and I am so excited to make the switch tonight! Though I'm not looking forward to ironing everything... I'm a wrinkle freak, leave me alone.

Of course, the bedroom renovation would not be complete without the wrapping-up of my massive closet clean out, which I actually managed to finish last night while watching Glee and Monday Night Football (I'm a complicated lady) - obviously I took an enormous deep breath after completing that bad boy. Funny story: I actually woke up facing my closet, and didn't know where I was for a second. I did THAT well.

Well, you can be the judge of that.

There are definitely still things I need to do, such as find new things for the walls, but I figure if it is going to really be a representation of my roommate and I, we should probably work on those things together!

Aren't I thoughtful? (And humble..)

Want pictures? Stay tuned! I'll be posting them later tonight.

Once I'm done ironing. Sigh.

Talk to you in a few hours!


Monday, December 10, 2012

It's the Most Hectic Time of the Year

Tis the Season, everyone! The season to spend six and a half hours plowing through crowds at the mall in order to ensure that all of your Christmas shopping is done in time. Come on.. that can't just be me!

Before I dive into Christmas Shopping Extravaganza 2012, I wanted to provide a quick update on my post about the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party I attended Friday night. What did I end up going with?? Drum roll please....

Christmas Gift Bags!

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, we brought it back. Easy to create, hilarious to wear, but not in the least bit sturdy (see picture #4). How do you make these delightful costumes? Easy, easy.

1. Cut out the bottom of a large gift bag, and remove the handles.
2. Slip the bag on and measure both for strap and bag length.
3. Create straps using the holes created by the original handles. I recommend securing with tape!
4. Stick a big bow on the front!

And you're all set! Now, you are wearing things that rip easily, so please keep this in mind when plotting what to wear underneath. I went with a black turtleneck and leggings, just to be on the safe side!

Ok, now for the Christmas Shopping Extravanganza. Let me preface this by saying that I, jokingly, predicted that it would take me six (count 'em, six) hours to complete everything on my list. In reality I was thinking three, knowing that my Uggs and holiday spirit would not be able to survive the mall for that long.

Six and a half hours later, I was on the couch surrounded by shopping bags and rubbing my feet. Why oh why oh why??? Simple really: who is able to accomplish all of their holiday shopping in one store? If you can, you may leave now (but first email me about how you managed this feat). Sure, I could go to a department store and find something for everyone, but I refuse to let my own laziness get in the way of the happiness of my loved ones at Christmas time (awww).

Not helping? My nasty little habit of not being able to stick to the list I so carefully prepared before venturing out. But I can't help it, sometimes I'm moved to shop! Laughing? You're about to feel awful about that...


Every time I walk past Build-a-Bear, I never seriously consider stopping in. Who would I build a bear for? I have things to do, places to go, so I move on. But when I saw two Marines standing in front of an almost-full box of bears and stuffed animals outside of the Ross Park Mall location, I was literally moved to shop. Hence, the cute little guy above was born, and quickly handed over to be given to a child this Christmas. The actual story is much longer, and more filled with tears because of two adorable kids donating bears in front of me, but I'll save that part for another day. I hope he finds a wonderful home!

But I wasn't done yet. My impulse shopping got the best of me again at Walmart where, while picking up a few cleaning supplies for the apartment, I noticed a rather empty-looking box for Toys for Tots once again. Naturally, I headed straight to the toys section and picked out an adorable Barbie and a pair of Playskool cars to contribute.

Why all of the random giving? I honestly couldn't help it. As I wandered store to store, I spent plenty of money on the people in my life (and even a little bit on myself). Usually, I just want to get in and out as quickly as possible. The parking lots are disastrous, no one seems to be in the holiday spirit, and everyone is looking out for themselves as they plow down the halls. But seeing all of the people making gifts to donate at Build-a-Bear really snapped me out of my funk. Why not spend a few dollars to do some good? Why not take some time to better a child's Christmas? My BaB and Walmart adventures combined took under 30 minutes, but I truly believe that it made a difference.

And I still feel wonderful :)

How are you do-good'ing this holiday season?


Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Pitts - Fun Facts

WOW! I can't believe it has already been eight months since I moved to The Pitts. It has been an incredible journey so far, and I am looking forward to starting the next chapter here in the next week. Where has the time gone??

While I have devoted this blog to blurbs and anecdotes about my personal growth while living in Pittsburgh, every once in awhile I really have to "Pitts-it-up" (spice it up, but Pittsburgh style). I mean, if I didn't write about Pittsburgh and my blog was titled "The Pitts", I'm pretty sure the entire city would show up outside of my apartment building wielding torches and pitchforks, calling me out for a brawl in Market Square.

If you couldn't tell before - I can be a wee bit dramatic, but only when humor can be found in my ranting (for the most part).

So I'm dedicating today to the lovely city of Pittsburgh. As with any city, you can spend hours pouring over travel guides, websites and tips from friends to get a sense for the area, but until you go out and experience for yourself, you're just accepting someone else's interpretation as fact. Lame. Super lame. 

Here are seven of my fun facts about The Pitts that i have discovered thus far...

1. "Stillers"are, in fact, not individuals who work in a distillery, or who stand still all day. It's a Pittsburgher's way of staying "Steelers". Same goes for "buggy". No, not the cute little English baby carriage that came to my mind, rather another word for "grocery cart". Madness.

2. I heart Charlie Batch. There is something so noble about accepting your role as a back-up, and then truly reveling in your opportunity to step into the spotlight. I also loved his man-tears when he defeated the Ravens.

3. Robinson Town Centre has everything. End of story.

4. Traffic in Pittsburgh fluctuates dramatically in ten-minute windows. If I leave ten minutes early for work, the roads are empty and I cruise on through. If I leave ten minutes late, my commute is extended by about 30 minutes on average. In this instance, procrastination does not pay.

5. Pittsburgh is about five hours from several key destinations for me - Five hours from PG (for now), five hours from the newly-transported LS, five hours from my grandma's. Not too shabby.

6. Pittsburgh. Loves. Beer. It seems like every new restaurant I try out has an extensive list of craft beers that I can barely pronounce, let alone know what they are.

and #7 (which is more of a plea than a fun fact)...

7. The Ft. Pitt Tunnel desperately needs to be expanded to three lanes in either direction. I know it is virtually impossible, but please drive through it and tell me you feel differently.

So there you have it - a small sampling of the things I have learned about the great city of Pittsburgh since my arrival a whopping 8 months ago. I'm still adjusting, but I am appreciating my new surroundings more and more every day. 

Share a fun fact about where you live!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

It's the Ugliest Time of the Year

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is that time of year again - time to get UGLY! And no, I am not referring to the startling statistic that the average American gains 15 pounds* over the Holidays. For shame!

*100% myth, people! The average person gains 1-2 pounds according to this article by CNN. But still.

No, no, I am referring to Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties. My absolute favorite. Why, you ask? Because this is legitimately the ONE theme party in existence (that I would actually attend, I mean), where it is 100% normal to where jeans, boots, and a massively over-sized, heinous sweater. Does it get more comfortable than that? I think not.

Having just received an invite to the first UCSP (ok, I abbrev'd) of the season, I've got ugly on the brain, and am obviously feeling the time crunch here. Where, oh where can I turn for inspiration?

Oh - probably pictures from the last five years of ugly sweater parties that I have attended.

Cue inspiration!

First one. Still living in the dorms. Homemade. Magic!

Yes, I had bangs. No, I didn't like them.

Wasn't for a party, sadly. This is what happens on Spring Break in Breckenridge.

Sorry, PG, had too. Aren't we just adorable?? Yikes.

So that is my foundation for this Friday's outfit-planning. Mind you, this is not a complete picture of all of my Holiday-partying. I couldn't dig up a picture of the party my friends and I wore over-sized Christmas gift bags and leggings to, but it was 100% adorable, and I am not above repeating it this year!

Per usual, ideas are appreciated. I suggest that you help me out, or else I might end up wearing this...


Monday, December 3, 2012

A Change Will Do You Good

"I’ve been thinking ’bout catching a train
Leave my phone machine by the radar range
Hello it’s me, I’m not at home
If you’d like to reach me, leave me alone
A change would do you good
A change would do you good"

- "A Change Will Do You Good", Sheryl Crow

All weekend that oldie-but-goodie by Sheryl Crow was stuck in my head. All. Weekend. My fondest memories of that song date back to the middle of my 4th grade year when my family and I uprooted from my hometown in Massachusetts, and took up residence outside of Scottsdale, AZ. Talk about a change. This song was playing on the radio as we pulled away from my childhood home, and I obnoxiously sang along and bounced around while my mom sobbed. And she'll never let me forget it.

But since then, the song has been one of those "guess-what's-on-the-radio songs" for us, and a signal that times they are a-changing.

So, what was changing for me this weekend?

This disaster zone.

Can't even look at this picture without grimacing. Judge away. But when I'm living on my own, it's my space to do with what I please - even if what I please is to apparently prep myself to be featured on an episode of Hoarders.

Per my Man Up entry, I'm about to add a roommate. And while we'll eventually be expanding to a bigger and better place, this ONE closet is going to have to suffice in the meantime. Gasp.

Anatomy of my closet:
1. Top Shelf - Sweatshirts. Yes, I have that many of them. And I'm pretty sure I spy my fedora up there too.
2. Main Rack: A healthy mix of my summer, fall, and winter wardrobes, along with two complete hanging racks of jeans. Why???
3. Floor: Three (count 'em, three) storage boxes... and I had no idea what was in them until this weekend. And laundry.

Needless to say, my cleaning out of this war zone was pre-empted by about 20 minutes of staring at it and asking myself "WHY?", but after that I got to work. And I'm happy to say I've made progress! Thanks to some hanging shelves and the removal of my out-of-season attire, it's getting there. And I always feel better than usual about donating to Goodwill this time of year. 

My goal is to complete the project this weekend, at which time I will post pictures galore, along with some serious patting-myself-on-the-back-ness. 

Have you made a big change lately??