Tag Archives: 30 before 30

AFI Top 100 List finally COMPLETE!!

3 Feb

Truth be told, back in November I only had 2 films left to watch.  Then Netflix decided that it did NOT want me to complete my list, and despite the last two films being at the top of my queue, and it being very unlikely that there were tons of subscribers clamoring over them, Netflix nonetheless kept sending everything and anything else EXCEPT those films.  Last night, I realized that I could, ta-da, finish the list by watching films through Amazon’s streaming service, and TA DA, here we are!!  I have now watched all 100 films on AFI’s Top 100 list.

AFI 100 yearsThe 100 films are all great films, but Westerns as a genre are overrepresented, as are films from the 1960s and 1970s.  The films from the 1940s and before are very clearly classic films, but once you get into the 1960s-1970s, it seems like several of the films selected were a function of just being the favorite films of the AFI members.  I think a top 100 film should be timeless and resonate with the viewer, regardless of the viewer’s time or background or circumstances, due to universal themes.  Many of the films from the 1960s and 1970s on the list were so heavily dependent on context that they were boring and virtually meaningless to me.  In particular, All the President’s Men, Easy Rider and The Last Picture Show stood out as films that hardly spoke to me at all, and I think just didn’t belong on the list.

There were a number of films that I absolutely loved that I probably would not have watched at all, were it not for my quest to finish this list.  Singin in the Rain, Sunset Blvd., The General, Network and Do the Right Thing all stood out as amazing films that I only picked up because of this project.

30 before 30: Baking a Babka

15 Nov

Wow, I’ve only got a couple days til I run out of time on my 30 before 30 list! Sure, I didn’t hit some things, but I’ll get to them eventually.

Last weekend I had a super-fun time crossing off Item 26: Learn to Bake a Babka

My friend, Amy, of Straight from the Oven Bakery was my teacher for this adventure. I have to admit that for years I thought babka looked gross, and then I tried one she made, and thought “WHAT HAVE I BEEN MISSING FOR ALL THESE YEARS?”

Babka is a beloved Jewish dessert, that is a chocolate and cinnamon stuffed bread. It has a shortbread-like quality because it is stuffed with butter. My initial goal was to bake a babka (as in one), but a single recipe actually makes either 3 big loaves or 9 mini loaves. I ultimately went for 1 big loaf and six mini loaves. They freeze very well, but shamefully I only froze 2 of them. And we’re almost done with all the rest of them. Whoops.






I’m glad I had such a great instructor for this activity.  The recipe for babka has about 9 steps, which is about 4 steps more than I’ll usually tolerate.  I have a very low threshold for baking effort.  Although baking took a few hours, the steps were not complicated, and the payoff was delectable.  It’s fair to say I’ll try this again.  Even though you have to invest a fair amount of effort, you get a ton of babka out of it, so this is perfect to bake if you are looking to make homemade gifts.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to help myself to another buttery slice of babka!

40 Before 40: Call for Ideas

25 Oct

My 30 before 30 list will be drawing to a close in less than a month.  I have accomplished many of the things on the list.  There are a few I won’t get around to, but I’m not worried about it.  The point was to get myself to get around to actually DOING things I have been wanting to do.  Stressing myself over crossing everything off a to-do list isn’t the way to go.

Once I hit the big 3-0, I’m going to start on a 40 before 40.  I will probably carry over a couple unfinished things from my 30 list (see: go for hot air balloon ride).  But since I’ll have 10 years to work on my 40 before 40 list, I plan to have several more grand goals.  One goal I have in mind is to hike up to Macchu Pichu with Mountain Lodges of Peru (this will also involve me learning how to hike, and learning to LIKE hiking, which are no small feats for me).  There will probably be several travel goals on there, and goals to take certain kinds of classes (I’d love to take some cooking classes, particularly a knife skills class).  Maybe I’d even like to set a goal of learning something other than just the most rudimentary photography skills.  Of course I will also set some goals related to my career, whether it involves publishing articles or benchmarks on building my own client base.

What Would You Have on your 40 Before 40 list?

Completely Gratuitous Photo of my Kid Helping with the Shopping. Because She is Cute.

30 Before 30: PostSecret, and other Misc

17 Oct

1.  30 Before 30: PostSecret

Well folks, I did it.  I sent in a postcard to PostSecret.  I selected the postcard about a year ago, and have literally been carrying it (blank) in my purse ever since.  Even when I changed purses, the postcard moved to the new bag.  I am not a person of secrets.  What I wrote can hardly even be called a secret.  But I am a person that is terrible at letting go, and terrible at forgiving, especially myself.   I wrote about something that makes me sad enough to not talk about, and by writing it down and sending it away, I’m trying to let myself let go of it. 

I actually hope my card is not published on the site.  I am not seeking a sense of community from my words.  I love reading other peoples’ secrets, but for me, the act of writing those words and dropping them in a letterbox was so much more moving than having someone else read them. 

2.  Get Moving.

Hello Ladies shared this message on Monday, and its been “running” through my head ever since (haha):

So true. I need to get myself to the gym, stat.

3.  SWAN Day, Yinzpiration, One Young World, and I’ve got nothing.

Pittsburgh is overflowing with BIG IDEAS right now. 

Last Monday, I had the fantastic and fun experience of being interviewed along with my friend Sandy for SWAN day. SWAN (Support Women in the Arts Now) Day is a multinational celebration of women in the arts, and in Pittsburgh the No Name Players take the lead in interviewing women in all ages, editing and distributing the footage to women artists, and organizing an exciting performance evening to showcase the works.  I was proud to participate as an interviewee, and Tressa and Don (the No Name Players) were so friendly and fun.  The 2013 Celebration will be on March 23, 2013, so mark your calendars now! I am so excited!

Kate of Yinzpiration is back in the swing of interviewing inspiring Pittsburghers.  Yinzpiration is one of my favorite Burgh Blogs, because it’s a concrete reminder of how devoted and hardworking 20 and 30-somethings are to making Pittsburgh and an amazing place to live, as well as a reminder that in Pittsburgh there is always opportunity and support to take your Big Idea from idea to reality.

The One Young World conference starts tomorrow in Pittsburgh, and WOW, just WOW. Delegates to that conference don’t just have Big Ideas, they have BIG IDEAS.  When I hear about the work those young people are doing, I wonder what the heck have I been doing with my life?  These delegates are tackling global issues without fear, with real results. 

I want to have a Big Idea.  I want to do something that is interesting and clever and inspirational.  I’m not talking quit my day job for an art project– I actually really like my day job, and I suck at art.  But I want to have some kind of Big Idea that makes a difference in our City, and I have absolutely no idea what to do.  I’m totally awesome at the logistics side of things, I know I can make something come to life.  I just don’t have any idea how to get that Big Idea.  I know that I have readers who have had a Big Idea, and have made it come to life. So readers, how did you get your Big Idea?

30 Before 30– Sahside Step Trek #steptrek

6 Oct

It’s been radio silence on the 30 before 30 front for a while. I’ve been making my way steadily through the AFI Top 100, and I have a few things coming down the line. Some things I know I’m not gonna get done (not going to do a hot air balloon ride before Nov 18, because I don’t want to blow $500 on a novelty right now, and vacation happened so that whole pay-off-the-credit-card thing did not), but I’m not stressing myself over this. My purpose for the list is to have FUN, and to finally get around to doing things I’ve wanted to do, but haven’t made time for. Some of the things I’ve gone above and beyond with– for example, I’ve had several legal articles published, and Baby Beez is a total pro at please/thank you (sometimes a reminder is needed). As my 30 before 30 draws to a close, I’m working on thinking up a BIGGER and BADDER 40 before 40. It will mostly be travel focused, and be on a larger scale, since I’ll have ten whole years to get through it. Now, on to the day’s adventures!

We made the Southside Step Trek a family outing. Mr. Beez enjoys hiking, and he totally spoils me, so he agreed to do the trek and he carried Baby Beez in the beco carrier. Climbing the steps of the Sahside is way easier when you do NOT have a 25 lb toddler strapped to your back. Last year the Step Trek was on Yom Kippur, so that was a no go. I almost bailed on the outing today because the sky was drizzly, but it cleared up beautifully.


Grouchy face


The Southside slopes combine history, charm, and industrial grit. The views from the hills are breathtakingly picturesque. The streets are small, winding and inconsistent. If it weren’t for the Step Trek, I probably would have never explored the slopes. It’s almost entirely residential, and I wouldn’t have seen much reason to go wander around a neighborhood where, on my own, I would get terribly lost. The Step Trek is an awesome event to get a glimpse of a part of the city you might otherwise not see, to support a helpful neighborhood group. and to have fun with friends or family while having some exercise. The stairways are separated by fairly long flat paths, so you don’t have to be in the best of shape to be able to complete the trek.


Thanks to Pittsburgh’s working class mill town history, the city is covered in city stairways that millworkers used to use to go to and from work.  The stairways are frequently designated as streets, so if you every try to get around using a GPS you may get the unique treat of being instructed to make a turn onto what you discover is not a street at all! Instead, it’s just a stairway that is identified as a street on maps….. Recalculating! Recalculating!





The Step Trek is phenomenally well executed. The trek is self paced, and at check-in, you get a booklet with a map and written directions, complete with interesting historical facts. There are two routes, Black (3.1 miles) and Gold (2.6 miles). With the little one in tow, we opted for the shorter one. Had we not been hauling her around, it would have been fun to do them both. Each of the routes takes 60-90 minutes, so completing them both would be a long endeavor, but doable. The routes are very well marked with signage, which is so amazingly helpful.


Mr. Beez designated me as “navigator,” but I’d be better known as “lostmaker.” Thanks to the excellent signage, we managed to stay on path. Kudos to the Step Trek for an event well planned!





The Virgin Mary and a fallout shelter…if praying can’t help you, come hang out in our bunker…




Trekking is hard work!



30 Before 30: First Class!

16 May

We took our trip back from NYC in style– with an upgrade to first class!

Sittin’ in the fancy seats!

OK, the flight from JFK to PIT is a short one and on a regional jet, so the difference in quality between first class and coach wasn’t that much, but we had celebrated a little too enthusiastically at the wedding, and were in no state to be stuffed into stiff little chairs.

I only fly about 6 times a year.  When I started plotting out my 30 before 30 list, I quickly learned that “fly first class” would be trickier than I imagined.  I don’t fly often enough to get any kind of courtesy upgrade, and buying first class tickets would mean paying out the nose (No, I will NOT pay $500 to fly RT to New York).  You can request to purchase an upgrade at the gate, but flights these days are usually SO full that none are available. And a very grouchy clerk at one airline barked at me “NO, WE DO NOT SELL UPGRADES. EVER.” Yeeesh, lady!

When we first approached the podium and requested to purchase an upgrade on our flight home, there was only 1 first class seat left.  Mr. Beez graciously offered to buy it for me.  Then, it turned out that 2 people didn’t show, and so we wound up getting to sit together in first.

So this is my summary of my experience in first class: I got to drink tea out of a real cup. They gave me a cookie.  The chairs were a bit more comfortable than in coach.  That’s about it.  It was certainly nicer than coach, and I’ll keep pestering those gate clerks about the availability of upgrades, but I’m not going to pay double for any first class fare.

The cutest wedding in the history of all weddings!

15 May

Although we did fit in a little vacation time, the purpose of our trip to New York was to attend the wedding of our friends Jen and Tom.  Jen is an incredibly talented and creative artist– musically, visually, she masters it all!  Their wedding was so charming and so FUN.  Also, the food- DELICIOUS. They had these amazing passed appetizers, and then a family style dinner of Peking Duck with lentils, short ribs with rice, and fish with vegetables. SO GOOD.

We sat next to Jen’s friend (whose name escapes me), who sewed her amazing wedding dress, and dance skirt! I spent the whole dinner lavishing him with praise for his talents, he was swimming in it.  He, and all the other guests, were super friendly and approachable, which made this wedding extra-fun!

He did ask me if we have horses in Pittsburgh. I told him there are horses in the ‘burbs, but we do know how to drive cars here. I don’t think he believed me.

These two can’t get any cuter! Jen serenaded Tom, and then he joined her onstage for a duet so adorable I almost died of the cute!  Going to one of Jen’s comedy shows is more what I had in mind in my 30 before 30 goal of seeing her perform, but with my schedule between now and November, it looks like that might not happen. But Jen DID perform here, so I’m counting this!

The beautiful Manhattan view from the rooftop deck!

They had a fantastic DIY photobooth, using an iPad!


The Big Apple: Per Se

14 May

I have probably looked forward to dining at a Michelin-rated restaurant more than any other item on my 30 before 30 list. I ticked this one off the list this weekend, with an unforgettable visit to Thomas Keller’s Per Se. Per Se is everything everyone says it is, and more. Anyone who gives this restaurant anything less than 5 stars is the kind of person who can never be fully happy, and will always manage to find some little blemish in an otherwise perfect experience.  Per Se is perfection.  It was blissful, and in a way sad.  After that meal was over, I realized that that was that.  I have experienced the pinnacle of my dining experience.  No other meal will ever compare.  Even if I go back there for another visit, a second meal won’t live up to the magic and surprise of the first visit.

Mr. Beez and I excited for this adventure!  Our friend, Anthony, joined us but he was busy taking the picture.

We fully expected the servers to be pompous and judgmental. They weren’t.  They were friendly and joking, and perfectly attentive without being pushy.  We had FIVE people waiting on us– constant, but unobtrusive.  The wine list is loaded on an iPad…it had to be 50 pages long. I have an experienced palate for cheap wine. I was completely lost on this.  Amongst crowds of wines $900-$15,000, I managed to find the “cheap-o” wine at $100.  There wasn’t going to be a thing on that list that disappointed this girl, who rarely drops more than $12 on a bottle ($15 if I’m feeling fancy).  I have no idea what the wine was that we picked. But it was fantastic. Because this is Per Se and that’s how things are.

At Per Se:

MY PURSE HAD ITS OWN CHAIR. Not like an empty chair at the table, a teeny tiny little stool JUST FOR A PURSE. I couldn’t take a better picture because I would have had to crouch down on the floor and that would just look too weird. (For the record, the girl at the next table over was taking pictures of everything TOO.)

I truly don’t have the vocabulary to describe Per Se.  The first bite of each dish took my breath away, and I could only muster a “This is really good .”  There are so many adjectives to describe a sublime meal. None of them worked for me here.  All I could think to say, with each and every of the 9 courses (and then some) was “This is really good.” 

A description of each course would fall flat in comparison to the taste and texture.  The pictures are the best substitute I can offer.

This was the first dessert of FIVE consecutive desserts.  First was this cheese and sweets plate, then a raspberry parfait, then we had chocolate layer cake (Anthony opted instead for a grapefruit concoction), then they brought over a tin of macarons and other sweets, THEN a waiter came by and offered us truffles and fancy chocolates from this enormous, exquisite box of chocolates (I forgot to take a picture of that part), and THEN they even sent us home with a little bag of candies.  FIVE DESSERTS. IN A ROW. FIVE.

Ok, so this one isn’t a dessert. It’s just the sugar for my coffee. But even the presentation for that was impressive.

And here we are, fat and happy, at the end of our long and DELICIOUS evening.

Fancy Stationery

15 Mar

Getting fancy personalized stationery and sending lovely letters to friends is on my 30 before 30 list.  At first I was hoping to go for some exquisite, high-end Crane stationery, but then I discovered that the pattern I like starts at $480.00 for 25 cards. NOPE.

I then decided to go with something more realistically priced.  I was considering Minted and Tiny Prints, and ultimately decided to go with the latter because I had ordered other invitations and products from them before (including Mr. Beez’ and my wedding invitations) and was very very pleased with their quality and service.

The stationery arrived yesterday, and I’m so pleased with it.  The cards are smaller than I anticipated, but I would have had an idea of the dimensions if I actually bothered to read the dimensions in the listing.

I considered not sharing photos of the stationery here, because it is printed with my full name.  However, anyone with a rudimentary ability to use Google can figure out my real name.  I don’t do a very good job of hiding behind this “BeezusKiddo” business.

I love the striped backs of the cards, but I’m not too keen on the Tiny Prints logo on the back.  I later realized that I should have called and asked if they could make the cards without the logo.  They have really great customer service, and it very well may have been a possibility if I would have just asked.

Time to write some letters!

Our Month Without Take Out

5 Mar

One of my 30 before 30 goals was to go a month without buying carry out. January was my month for this goal.  I put in an exception for planned outings with friends, since most of my social activities involve food or drinks.  Without that exception, it would be a long and lonely month.  Of course, the exception overwhelmed the rule.  In the course of the month, I participated in ten planned meal outings–outings coordinated in advance, with friends, and in a real sit down restaurant.

Despite the numerous restaurant meals (you can only imagine how many more this would have been in a typical month where carry out was allowed), Mr. Beez and still saved a good chunk of cash.  We made sure that when we went to the grocery store, we picked up plenty of cans of soup, microwave meals, and other quick fix options.  None of these are ideal meal choices, but a can of Campbells is still much cheaper and healthier than yet another fried rice dinner.  (I’m not claiming canned soup is healthy, it’s a block of salt, I know that…it’s just better than having a million meals of carry out).

What I learned in January had nothing to do with food.  It was a month of learning that “Good Enough is the New Perfect.”  At the end of the month I wondered if I should do a do-over, and make myself have a full month of no restaurant food whatsoever.  I realized that that doesn’t fit with our family’s rushed lifestyle. Even if it meant I finished the month a few pounds lighter and with a few more bucks in my pocket,  I would have spent the month stressed, without seeing my friends, and unhappy.  I did the best I could, I’m carrying practices from that month over to the rest of my life (I bought 17 cans of soup at the grocery store this week), and I’ve accepted that even though I didn’t get a “perfect score” it is still OK.