Shopping Spreeeeeee

20 Mar

My bank card somehow was compromised and someone made a fraudulent purchase on it over the weekend. (This fraudulent purchase was $40 at 7-11.  I’d like to hope they at least got something interesting with it, like 40 hot dogs).  Luckily I check my bank account all the darn time and was able to identify the fraud right away (and there was only one, phew!).  I got the bank on the phone and took care of it immediately. This means that my bank card is now no good and I have to wait for a new one. This is good timing for my card to get stolen because I am in a mood to shop! shop! shop! Lacking a card will keep this stupid expensive impulse under control.

These are some things I want want want:

Kate-Spade-Tequila-Is-Not-My-Friend-Terry-Tote

I’ve been eyeing this Kate Spade tote for ages.  It’s finally half off, although way more than I want to spend on a tote. Then again, I’ve been wishing and dreaming and hoping for this bag, so it may be worth it for the peace of my little mind.

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We can has springtime? Maybe? Possibly? Or I could put this fun springy dress on and stay indoors and sip iced tea and pretend it’s springtime because it feels like it’s never ever going to get warm again.

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The necessity of these shoes needs no explanation.

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I’m not hipster enough to pull off wearing this sweatshirt in public, but it’s super cute for lounging at home.  Also, I am writing this post at night sitting in front of the TV, and I just realized that the sweatshirt I am wearing is 13 years old. Time for a new one, right (or at least one with non-fraying cuffs….)

Perfect tacos take out @SMOKEbbqtacos

19 Mar

Tacos are trendy in Pittsburgh right now.  I don’t mind trends.  Trends mean intense focus on quality and creativity.  How can you lose with that?

It’s probably a good thing that Smoke Taqueria is cash only.  I never have cash.  And if they took cards, I’d probably be getting tacos there every single day.

On Friday night, like most Friday nights, Mr. Beez and I were beat.  The idea of cooking dinner was just too much.  Even mac & cheese was too much effort.  Tacos from Smoke were perfect.

If I had the self-restraint of a normal person, two tacos would have been more than enough to fill my belly.  I, however, have no such thing.  Three tacos it must be!  I had the wagyu brisket, the roast pork, and the chicken and apple.  The tortillas are pillowy and the meat juicy and flavorful. Each of them were divine.  Mr. Beez also had the wagyu brisket and roast pork, but for his third taco opted for the lamb taco on special for the evening.  That taco had gyro-style toppings, but the meat was chunks of lamb (instead of gyro mystery meat).  I didn’t pick it because I assumed that the lamb would be gyro style.  When I learned that it was actually chunks of meat, I was very jealous of his meal choice.

Smoke has a pretty small dining room.  Due to the uncertainty of dining space and our banshee of a toddler, we always opt for take out.  Smoke makes everything fresh, so that can mean a wait.  It is worthwhile to call in ahead of time, instead of having to wait around in the dining room.  Their menu isn’t available online, but they will email it to you if you call. Go for it!

SMOKE Barbeque Taqueria on Urbanspoon

Pittsburgh St Pats Parade

18 Mar

Mr. Beez was a band geek in high school and marched in the Pittsburgh St. Patrick’s Day Parade several times.  There are tons of Irish people in Pittsburgh, and the Pittsburgh parade is the second largest in the country (NYC is No. 1).  The St. Patrick’s Parade holds a special place in Mr. Beez’ heart, and he gets very excited for it every year.

I tried my darndest to be on my best behavior.  Mr. Beez always graciously goes along with things I want to do, even if he is not interested in the slightest.  I, on the other hand, wear my heart on my sleeve and have a very hard time keeping it in when I am not happy to be doing something.  On this particular morning I was freezing my buns off, tired, and constantly getting jostled by obnoxious drunk people.  It was hard for me to not be a jerk, but Mr. Beez said that I did not totally ruin his time.

Baby Beez seemed to like the parade ok.  Like me, she was freezing cold.  But she did have fun watching all the commotion.

She was a big fan of the loud, big trucks, the Irish dancers, and the dogs (there were Irish Setters, Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds and others). 

She didn’t pay much mind to the hordes of revelers.  I’m talking HORDES.

I think I could learn to love the St. Patricks Day Parade if: (1) it were warmer, (2) it were warmer, and (3) it weren’t so overrun with drunk people.  I understand it’s St. Patrick’s day, and drinking is part of the festivities, but it made me a little on edge worrying that someone was going to wallop my kid.  I’m generally not the kind of person who expects that kids should be welcome everywhere.  Would I take my kid to East Carson Street on St. Patrick’s day? No.  Would I take my kid to Market Square on St. Patricks day (even though they’ve promoted it the last couple years as “family friendly”)? No.  But I don’t think it’s too unreasonable to bring her to a parade. 

This grouchy post goes with my grouchy theme for the day.  I was grouchy yesterday about the victim blaming and completely inappropriate sympathy for the defendants in the Steubenville trial (See Hello Ladies for a perspective that actually gets it right).  I’m still grouchy today because IT IS SNOWING OUT and even if you don’t believe that groundhog, WINTER IS SUPPOSED TO BE OVER. Grouch grouch grouch grouch grouch.

Milk Money: IMMEDIATE need for @HaitianFam1st

16 Mar

Kervens smile, holding milkSo often giving money to a charity is abstract.  You donate to an organization, that organization works on research or advocacy or “awareness” or sometimes even concrete projects.  Still, it’s rare to fully get your head wrapped around exactly what your dollars and cents are doing.   And of course everyone has their own pet projects, so it seems for every contribution you make, 3 more organizations or friends promoting organizations come up who need help as well.  I, again, find myself joining this chorus.  But this time the need is immediate and the results tangible.

I love supporting Haitian Families First because this is a bare-bones organization and you really SEE how your contribution is making a difference.  There are some necessary administrative costs (as there are with every organization, but HFF does a good job of keeping these down), but other than that, the money goes directly to the mission itself: Helping Haitian families.  And most importantly, helping Haitian families help themselves.  HFF focuses on projects that enable families to become self-sufficient. Amazing things all around.

But in an organization like this, there is no margin for error.  You depend on everything going right, because it has to go right, because there’s no room to catch up if it doesn’t.  And recently, HFF hit an unexpected roadblock and needs some help.  The latest shipment of milk and formula was contaminated.  Here in the US, we could just take it back to the store and demand a replacement.  Things aren’t that easy in Haiti, especially when you have a whole lot of people to feed. They need to ship in replacement milk and they need to pay for medical services for the kids who got sick.  No money means no milk. And no money means no medicine.

HFF is running a campaign through CrowdTilt for the money they need to get the extra milk (and get it fast).  The full campaign isn’t looking for that much and every little donation will help.  Think about how much you pay for a gallon of milk at the store… $5? $6?  Maybe you’ll kick that cash towards these kids who definitely need it.  I contributed today.  I hope you will too.

Milk Week: Help Haitian Children Access Milk

4:50 am is a thing?

15 Mar

sleepylolcatI don’t know how these doctors and nurses and other people who wake up super early do it.  My alarm goes off at 6 am, and every morning I am full of hate.  Left to my own devices I’d probably wake up around 7:30 or 8, but 6 still feels brutal.  Twice this week I’ve suffered through that ungodly clang at 4:50 am.  Once for a poorly scheduled personal training appointment and once for a terribly scheduled deposition.

The getting up part really isn’t the worst of it.  I woke up fine, got ready and got where I needed to get in a timely fashion.  Then around 7:30 am it all came crashing down.  I spent the rest of the day moaning sleep, I need sleep!

I’m sure early risers go to bed earlier than I do.  Last night we had an event with our synagogue, and I didn’t get to bed until after 11pm.  That made the 4:50 wake up extra terrible.  Some people can function on 4 or 5 hours of sleep. I do much better on, say, 10 hours of sleep.  Not that I get it. But I’d love to.

Sleep has been a big focus of mine lately.  I had an old fashioned check up on Monday and chatted with the doctor about how I’ve been seemingly sick over and over and over since January.  Then I told her about how I’m out the door fairly early in the morning, then have work all day and then often have events in the evening and that doesn’t get me home until like 9 at night most nights.  Well duh, I’m exhausted and more susceptible to being sick and then getting sick.

I’ve officially been ordered by both my husband and my doctor to not stuff my calendar to the gills with this, that and the other thing.  This declaration comes at a good time.  I’ve got a trial I’ve been prepping for, and my work schedule doesn’t allow for me participating in many happy hours, get togethers and dinners anyway.  Til that jury verdict comes in, it’s all prep, practice, rest, repeat.

In other news, SMOKE TAQUERIA for dinner tonight, yesssss!

Funny Thing, That

12 Mar

I start a trial next week, so I downed a cup of coffee at like 9pm so I could get some work done, but now I’ve done enough work and I want to go to bed but I’m still all awake. Also I made a personal training appointment for 6am tomorrow because I am stupid.

So funny thing. I got pulled over for the first time ever today.  It was in the crime-ridden depths of the Squirrel Hill business district.  I have never been pulled over before, and I was so nervous that as I was pulling over into the only possible place I could stop my darn car, I scuffed another car.  The officer stopped me because my registration was expired. Except it’s not. It’s valid (and so is my insurance! and my license!) I just hadn’t put the sticker on my license plate because [insert very good reason here].  Anyway, the officer took my papers ran them through his computer, then gave them back to me and didn’t write me a ticket or give me a warning or anything because I didn’t do anything illegal to begin with.  But he did scold me for scuffing the other car and told me I should probably leave a note.

I considered not leaving a note because I am a terrible person and because it really genuinely was only scuffed (I could have probably buffed the mark out with my sweatshirt sleeve).  But if I didn’t leave a note, I know karma would GET ME.  So I did. I left one.  And I’ve been expectantly sitting by my cell phone all night. Except the person who owns the car probably saw it and thought “this is dumb. I can buff this out with my sweatshirt sleeve.” And didn’t bother to call.  Nonetheless, I’ll be hovering over that cell phone for days to come.

All right yinz. Time to go stare at the bedroom ceiling in caffeinated agitation until my 5am alarm goes off and wonder WHY ON EARTH WOULD I SCHEDULE PERSONAL TRAINING FOR 6AM?!

Oodles of Noodles at Ramen Bar

11 Mar

One evening last week I just wasn’t feeling it.  I was feeling sickly (that’s been a theme this winter apparently), I was tired, and I just didn’t have it in me to cook dinner.  I texted my Mr. Beez, “I want nooooodle soup!”  Lucky for us, Ramen Bar recently opened in Squirrel Hill, and we love us some ramen.

The menu is not yet available online, but that was hardly an issue. I told Mr. Beez to just pick up whatever. As long as I got noodle soup, I’d be happy.  Mr. Beez, in his usual fashion, spoiled me.  He picked up two ramen bowls for me– the pork & garlic bowl and the kimchee bowl.

Ramen Bar is generous with the meat and veggies. In the case of the pork and garlic bowl, there was clove after clove after clove of stinky delicious garlic.  Mr. Beez had the Tom Yum soup, he said it was very good, but he was ogling the pork and garlic bowl I had, and wished he’d have ordered the pork and garlic instead.  This noodle soup hit the spot.  I followed it up by crashing at about 7pm. Soup and sleep are perfect on a sicky day.

I had the kimchee soup for lunch the next day, and it too was awesome. Big chunks of chicken, stinky but not too spicy kimchee, chewy tasty noodles.  Ramen bar is going to be in heavy rotation in our takeout selection.

Ramen Bar on Urbanspoon

Straightjacket, Meredith Towbin @mtprose (2013)

10 Mar

Straightjacket_ByMeredithTowbin_453x680A book is shaped as much by its reader as its author.  There are books that I read while younger and loved, but picked up later and could not stand.  There are also books that I struggled with and put down, only to revisit years later and completely fall in love.  I wish Straightjacket had been released when I was in high school, because I know I would have obsessed over it.

Meredith Towbin is a prolific blogger who I’ve been reading for a while (can’t remember how I came across her blog, but probably through Rainbowmaker Emily Levenson).  A few months back she announced on her blog that her book was picked up and would be published.  Then publication day finally arrived.  I didn’t have much in the way of expectations, because it seems like everyone with a blog has a book nowadays.  The price was low and I was looking for an easy read, though, so I decided to give her YA novel a try.

Straightjacket follows the tortured romance of star-crossed lovers Anna and Caleb.  Caleb is, or claims to be, an angel.  Anna is plagued by crippling panic attacks.  They meet in an inpatient mental health facility and tumble into love, and decide to check themselves out and run away together.  Each Anna and Caleb have parent issues and demons and all kinds of struggles, but they are determined to be together.

The characters are fairly one-dimensional, and the book is driven by the plotline of Anna and Caleb’s love and struggle. As a grown up old lady, I’m more interested in character, but I know that as a teenager, the lack of complicated characters wouldn’t have bothered me a tick.  I would have connected deeply with the struggle, and passion and parent conflicts of each of the characters.

Towbin is spot on with the YA genre. This is a perfect book for brooding teenagers.  I’m too old to fully connect with it now, but can appreciate how much it would have impacted me, had I read it when I was younger and moodier.  Nice work, nice work.

Making the Most of Your First Legal Job Search After Law School @thelegalintel

7 Mar

My latest Young Lawyer column for The Legal Intelligencer:

You’ve graduated law school, passed the bar, and are raring and ready to go into practice.  Unfortunately, the job market has not been kind to its newest members.  Recent statistics show that only about half of new law school graduates have secured full time legal employment.  Qualified candidates abound, and it is essential for you to distinguish yourself from the competition.  Now that bar prep is behind you, you can take advantage of some newfound time for your job search as well as complementary activities.

Get Involved in Your Local Bar Association

 Many bar associations offer free memberships to lawyers in their first year of practice, and it is well worth the money (and more) to take advantage of this opportunity.  With far more candidates than there are open positions, networking is key. 

 Most bar associations offer committees and divisions for every possible interest, and all are equally valuable in networking opportunities.  By establishing yourself as a leader within the young lawyers division, you can make friends with other young lawyers who can give you a heads up when their firm is hiring, and maybe put your resume in the right hands.  Becoming involved in practice area focused committees will introduce you to more seasoned practitioners who may personally be making the hiring decisions.

 There is no one division of the bar that is better than any other in terms of networking potential.  Regardless of how you choose to associate yourself, assuming a leadership role is essential.  Show initiative, dedication, diligence and above all, friendliness, and you will stand out when a colleague learns of an open position. 

Pursue Pro Bono Projects

 Pro bono representation provides a valuable community service and is the ethical duty of every attorney.  It can also serve as a teaching ground for the nuts and bolts of basic practice.  Pro bono representation in conjunction with your local bar association is frequently covered through the bar association’s malpractice policy.  There are diverse opportunities for pro bono involvement, including serving as counsel in protection from abuse hearings, drafting estate documents through a local Wills for Heroes project, or preparing expungement petitions.  The pro bono committee or coordinator of your local bar association can point you in the right direction for these engagements.

 Pro bono practice is also a good entre into getting to know other local practitioners.  If you confront a legal issue with which you are unfamiliar, do not be shy about reaching out to more senior practitioners and asking for their thoughts.  Bouncing legal theories off a more experienced practitioner will increase the quality of your representation.  It also will not hurt that a more experienced colleague will get to know you and get a sense for the quality of your legal abilities.

   Publish! Publish! Publish!

 Legal newspapers, blogs, and bar association publications are continuously seeking high quality articles for publication.  Publishing articles on an area of law you are passionate about can help guide your job search.  For example, if you long to be a litigator, a well-worded article on a change in local procedure will catch the attention of attorneys in that field.  Changes in substantive law or procedural rules, new legislation, and noteworthy court decisions all make for useful, attention-grabbing articles.  Do not get hung up on the academic.  An article that makes the reader’s job easier—by concisely identifying the legal issue and giving practical advice for dealing with that issue—will best catch the attention of other practitioners.

 The guidelines for submitting an article are usually easily available in the publication itself or on its website.  You are better off authoring the full article ahead of time instead of just a pitch.  You can always put together a quick abstract later if the publication requires it.  You should only pitch your article to one publication at a time.  However, if the article is not picked up by one publication, feel free to pitch it to another.

 Be aware that local and small industry publications generally do not compensate their contributors.  The value in publishing is developing your own research and communication skills, and attracting the attention of other local attorneys who can help you in your job search, or possibly offer you employment themselves.

  Catch up on your Community

 The world is much larger than the practice of law, and your efforts toward legal employment should not be exclusively focused in the legal community.  Use this time to get involved with your community at large. 

 Nonprofits of all stripes are always seeking volunteers.  Arts organizations and charities need volunteers to solicit contributions for benefit events.  Better yet, most benefit events need volunteers for the event itself.  As a volunteer, you will forego the steep ticket price, help out an organization in need and have an opportunity to mingle.

 With time to spare and elections on the horizon, it is also an ideal time for you to canvass on behalf of your favorite political figure.  Young professionals’ organizations are also ideal for making connections, both in your job search and for long term business-building purposes.  It is hard to go wrong with community involvement– pick an interest and run with it.  You will better your community and make invaluable connections.

Meet People, Make Friends

The best opportunities are often happy coincidences.  “Networking” can be a dirty word, suggesting self-interest and shallowness.  Think of your job search as a time for meeting people and making friends.  While you will hope that they can keep you in mind for employment opportunities, also think about what you can do for them.  Respond “accepted” to as many events as you can and offer to help out the host.  Attend alumni events for your university.  Participate in “town hall” community meetings concerning local issues.  When folks hear you are a lawyer, they may well call you about legal advice that you as a job searching new graduate are not yet capable of giving.  Build up your relationships with other lawyers so that you can provide appropriate referrals, and you will receive thanks from both the lawyer and the client.

 Submitting resumes alone will not find you a job.  You need to approach this search period as a full time commitment to making broad but meaningful connections.  The job market is in employers’ favor right now, and it is in your best interest to set yourself apart as a candidate.  Leadership, enthusiasm, and developing a positive reputation in your community are all positive steps to distinguishing yourself in that next interview.

Reprinted with permission from the March 7, 2013 issue of The Legal Intelligencer.  Copyright 2013 ALM Media Properties, LLC.  Further duplication without permission is prohibited.  All rights reserved.

Comfort Food, All the Way @BurgatoryBar

6 Mar

I planned to do a post that is actually not about food today, but then the snow came pouring down, and it’s so cold and dreary out, that I just couldn’t help myself.  It’s time for comfort food.

When Pittsburgh jumped on the burger craze bandwagon a couple years back, the local burger mainstays of Tessaro’s and Fat Heads were joined by the likes of BRGR, Burgatory and Wingharts Burger and Whiskey Bar.  I’ve diligently made my rounds to all of them, and must say that Burgatory is my favorite.  The downside of Burgatory is that it seems to be everyone’s favorite.  The last time I wanted to go there for dinner on a Saturday night, I looked up their online reservation page and the wait was five hours.  Suspecting that this absolutely must be some kind of website glitch (why would a restaurant even keep a five hour waiting list?) I called. It wasn’t a glitch. The wait really was five hours.  Needless to say, we didn’t get dinner there that night, and we don’t have the opportunity to go very often.

On the way home from the airport on Monday evening, I needed Burgatory. Like to my very core. There would be no making it home if there was no stop at Burgatory first.  Lucky for us, at 7 pm on this Monday evening, there was no wait whatsoever. 

I spend entirely too much time reading and drooling over the specials listed in Burgatory’s twitter feed.  I was dying to have the Chai shake that was on special for last weekend, but sad for me, the weekend shake specials really are limited to the weekend.  I was brokenhearted, but opted for the Prantl’s Burnt Almond Torte shake instead, spiked nicely with Amaretto.  It was sweet and creamy and everything that makes an excellent shake excellent.  I’m usually a chocolate shake drinker, but the almond flavor of this shake was delightful.  My only complaint about the shake is that I can’t finish it without getting ill.  The shake is enormouse milkshake size, and comes with the mixer cup with even more shake in it.  It’s perfect for sharing, but Mr. Beez and I don’t have matching shake tastes. It would be perfect if they could offer a 12 oz mini shake.  Until then, I’ll just have to leave a lot of shake pathetically un-drunk. Ah well.

I love that they offer a make-your-own burger option, with a huge variety in toppings, sauces, rubs, etc.  Too bad for me that I get too excited about ALL THE TOPPINGS and want everything, and inevitably end up with some disgusting combination of like guacamole, pancetta and a fried egg with kona coffee rub.  Yeesh.  Mr. Beez goes for the pick-your-own menu, and since I am unskilled at such selections, I stick to the menu.  I went for the Meat Your Maker burger, which featured dry aged wagyu beef with a sweet onion crust, gruyere, roasted tomatoes, field greens and truffled shallot aioli.  It was heavenly. I could go for another one right now.

Because Mr. Beez and I fail at parenting (or from Baby Beez’ perspective, we are awesome) we let Baby Beez have her own vanilla milkshake.  This meant that she totally ignored her hot dog, carrots, and chips. But I guess it’s not all a loss. She got plenty of dairy that night from the shake. Healthy bones, healthy teeth, folks!

Burgatory Bar on Urbanspoon

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