Monday, August 28, 2017

Phipps Conservatory: SUPER. NATURAL. Glass Art by Jason Gamrath

A few weekends ago, we went to Phipps Conservatory to see SUPER. NATURAL. Glass Art by Jason Gamrath. This has been on my summer To Do list and I'm really glad we finally got there because it's a wonderful exhibit.
In addition to the glass orchids that greet you, there are glass Pitcher Plants.
And glass Venus Flytraps.
I don't go in the butterfly room because the path is steep, but I love seeing SP's butterfly photos.
More beautiful glass flowers..
I'm not sure what kind of flower this is but there were blue and purple ones.
Pointy purple flowers.
More orchids.
A frog outside in the sustainable landscape pond. We also saw fish and tadpoles, but no turtles.

We both really enjoy spending an afternoon waking around Phipps. I'm happy they were able to acquire some of the Chihuly glass (from the 2007 exhibit) and glass  Longfellows & frogs from Frabel (from the 2009 exhibit) and hope they'll keep some of the current exhibit's glass art as well. If you haven't seen SUPER. NATURAL. Glass Art by Jason Gamrath yet, we highly reccommend it.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Thursday Thoughts on Friday

I did not feel well yesterday, so no Thursday Thoughts. I still don't feel good. I'm having one of my indigestion/gas/food poisoning/massive cramping episodes. I have no idea what it is or what triggered it, I just know that around 11 pm on Wednesday I started getting the really bad abdominal cramp pains. I had no appetite yesterday. I ate 2 yogurts. That's it. Around 9 pm last night, I had a gagging episode with a little puking. Awesome. I couldn't sleep in the bed last night because my abdomen hurt so much. I slept in my recliner with a heating pad on my tummy. Then this morning I had a horrible poop attack. Every time I eat a bite of food, a cramp spreads across my abdomen like the times I had food poisoning. There's also lots of gurgling. It sucks.

Last Saturday, I pulled my phone out of my purse and it was super hot. And dead. It wouldn't charge, wouldn't power on, wouldn't respond to any of SP's tech magic tricks. So I'm using a 4-5 year old phone that is driving me nuts. I think the plan is to fix our phone issues tomorrow (SP's died the same way last May and he's using an old phone older than my old phone) but SP might have to just bring my new toy to me since as of right now I feel too ill to leave the house.

So. Everything is definitely not awesome.

What We're Eating (or, in my case, What I Was Supposed To Eat):

  • Grilled lamb with roasted cauliflower and farmers market tomatoes
  • Grilled brats with grilled zucchini
  • Rice Krispies Treats

What We're Watching:

  • We finished Ozark and liked it. 
  • We started Iron Fist. It's better than we expected but it is a little slow. We figured we should watch it before starting to watch The Defenders.
  • The new season of Worst Cooks in America started. But it's a celebrity one and I don't enjoy the celebrity seasons as much.
  • The season finale of Animal Kingdom is next week. I'm curious to see if/how Smurf gets out of jail and what's going to happen between Baz & J.
  • The Game of Thrones season finale is this weekend. I know, people poked all sorts of holes in last week's (well, this season's) plot, the characters decisions, the travel time, but I'm still really enjoying it. 

What I'm Reading:
Nothing. We were busy all last weekend. This week I was busy with other things and then I got sick so all I want to do is sit in my chair and sleep, which is what I've been doing.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Black Tea Cherry Popsicles

Our second homemade popsicle attempt was these Black Tea Cherry Ice Pops.
The thing I like about popsicles is that they're quick and easy to make.
The thing I don't like is that many "recipes" use an ingredient I can't stand: coconut milk. Or some kind of low fat/fat free yogurt, or some kind of fake sweetener. I just want fruit and a bit of sweetener. Like this recipe that SP found in a Costco Magazine.
Brew strong tea. Puree with cherries, sugar, and honey. Pulse in some more cherries. Pour into molds. Freeze.
The dark cherries make a very dark popsicle. Don't be like me and wear a white shirt when eating these! You can see tiny bits of pureed cherry in the popsicle. When we ate them, the first thing I tasted was the tea. That was followed by the cherry flavor. Then it finished with the honey flavor. These are really tasty. It's supposed to make 10. Since we have only 6 molds, we kept the leftover liquid in the refrigerator and refilled the molds as we "emptied" them.

Recipe here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Gin Harvest Cocktail

Usually on Sunday, around 3 pm, we'll decide it's cocktail time. Last Sunday, SP decided to try a new cocktail, one called Gin Harvest. I don't care for gin, so he was on his own. I stuck with bourbon. He found the recipe in the latest issue of Costco Connection July 2017.
Gin, cucumber, lime, mint, simple syrup. He said it was refreshing and tasty. I might like this if we swapped the gin for vodka. Maybe next week I'll try that.


Gin Harvest

1 oz lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
4 cucumber slices
4 mint leaves
2 oz gin

Add lime juice, simple syrup, 3 cucumber slices, and 3 mint leaves to a cocktail shaker. Muddle together. Add ice and gin. Shake. Strain into a glass. Garnish with remaining cucumber slice and remaining mint leaf.

1 serving

Monday, August 21, 2017


It's been a while since we dined at Dinette. To be honest, if we're driving into the city for pizza, we want Mercurio's pizza and gelato. This past weekend, after our niece's birthday party, we tried to go to Mercurio's, but the streets were all cordoned off and we couldn't get to our usual garage or find street parking that was OK for the wheelchair, plus it was still raining. So we decided to go to Dinette (which has easier parking). I'm glad we ended up at Dinette because it was a very good meal. We each ordered a glass of white wine. Here's what we ate:
Watermelon Salad (Fennel Fronds, Ricotta Salata, Scallions, Lettuces, Nicoise Vinaigrette).
Grilled Peaches & Burrata w/ Mint, Black Pepper, Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Pizza: Roasted Cherry and Sungold Tomatoes (Red Kale, Potatoes, Walnut Pesto, Fresh Mozzarella).
Pizza: Berkshire Prosciutto (Arugula, Parmigiano Reggiano, Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato).

Everything was delicious. The watermelon with salty ricotta and briny olive vinaigrette was excellent. When we make peaches and burrata at home, we use tarragon but the mint was just as tasty and I think I might now prefer mint to tarragon. SP loved his roasted tomatoes and crunchy kale while I was super pleased with all the parmesan atop my pizza. Yum!

We were too full for one of Dinette's desserts. We were too full to walk down the street to Millie's for ice cream. We both really enjoyed our meals and had some pizza leftover for lunch on Sunday.

Dinette Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, August 18, 2017

Kings Family Restaurant

Does everyone have a "place" that in high school or college they always hung out at with their friends? My brother's place was Eat'n Park. One year for his birthday, a bunch of friends each gave him a mug filled with enough pennies to buy a cup of coffee at Eat'n Park. For me and my friends in high school, the place was Kings for mozzarella sticks and coffee. When we'd all return during college breaks, we'd meet up at Kings. I can remember lots of ice cream desserts, too, and the time my friend L ordered a sundae but didn't want the whipped cream so my friend C asked if she could have L's whipped cream in a bowl and the server looked at them suspiciously and asked if they were going to do something weird with the whipped cream. C turned bright red and stammered that she just really liked whipped cream.

I hadn't been to Kings in years until a few weekends ago when, after a Saturday morning spent coloring my hair, we were super hungry and decided to grab lunch instead of heading home. There was a lot of debate. Fast food like Wendy's? I'm a sucker for the junior bacon cheeseburger. Pizza? SP swore there was a great pizza place between The Dairy Bar and the library. (If you grew up in the township we grew up in, you'll know where I mean when I say The Dairy Bar.) Too late we thought of Aladdin's but we had no desire to try to turn around on Rte 19. We ended up deciding on Kings for my nostalgia and because SP, I think, had never been there. ????!!!!
Sadly, this time there was no coffee. No mozzarella sticks. No whipped cream shenanigans. SP tried the Ham It Up! Omelette (diced ham smothered in oozing cheddar jack cheesy goodness) with fruit cup and 2 blueberry pancakes for his sides.
I chose the Morning, Noon and Night Melt (bacon, ham, 2 fried eggs and apricot-bacon jam and American cheese, between 2 slices of sourdough bread) with hash browns on the side.
Thank goodness our server suggested getting the apricot-bacon jam on the side. I liked, but didn't love the jam, it and it was actually a little too sweet for me. For me, it was a huge sandwich. I managed to finish it, but I was stuffed. I also ate the crispy, brown bits of the hash browns. That's the best part!
It was a decent brunch and our server was very friendly and I appreciate the heads up on the apricot-bacon jam. This Kings has been around for a very long time so I suppose it's not surprising (but still sad) that it looks kind of rundown and not super clean. I'm sad that some things like the Frownie are gone and I could swear once upon a time they served many flavors of ice cream, sometimes atop waffles -? Maybe I'm misremembering the ice cream and waffles.

Anyway, it was nice to take that little walk down memory lane.

  Kings Family Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Thursday Thoughts

My niece is off to college today. I can't believe she's that old already! I can still remember when I started university - moving into my dorm room, meeting my roommate for the first time, all those new & fun & scary things.

Meanwhile, another niece turns 7 this weekend so we'll be at her birthday party.

The sunflowers we planted are finally blooming. I like to sit in the living room and gaze out at them. They make me smile.

Next Monday is a solar eclipse. A lot of our friends are headed south to TN or KY to be in totality. I asked SP if he wanted to go away to see it but he said no because of work. So we'll be seeing it from here where I think we'll see 81% of the sun covered (I might be misremembering what I saw on a website for our area).

What We're Eating:

  • Shrimp Salad with Grandma's Tomatoes & Cucumbers in Vinegar
  • Chicken Salad on multi-grain English muffin with spiralized zucchini & garden tomatoes
  • Cherry Popsicles

What We're Watching:

  • Orphan Black ended. I suppose it ended the way it should have, the way we all really wanted, and yet I felt somewhat disappointed and I'm not sure why. But gosh was it satisfying when Helena used that screwdriver and Sarah used that gun.
  • Broadchurch ended. The case was solved. I don't want to say much because it just ended last night. We think Broadchurch is a fabulous show and loved all 3 seasons (season 2 was a little weak, but 1 & 3 were so darn good). As usual, despite the crime being solved, it leaves you feeling sad and devastated for all the characters.
  • Game of Thrones. Drogon liked Jon! Gilly revealed an important thing that Sam didn't hear because he was too preoccupied being mad about his maester training! And so much more! Two more episodes this season.
  • We started watching Ozark on Netflix. We're enjoying it. We have the last episode to watch and it's 2 hours long, so we'll finish it tonight.

What I'm Reading:

  • I had a lot of books on hold. I figured they would not become available at the same time. When I reserved them, some said 33 holds, or 100+ holds. You know what happened. By last Saturday I had a pile of 7 books. I read two. So now there's 5. My library account tells me 2 more are in transit. So there will again be 7. Help!
  • I read The Poacher's Son by Paul Doiron. I really liked it. Not just because it's the kind of book I most enjoy, but the characters & setting were different. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series (this was the first of 9 books)
  • Resolve by JJ Hensley. It's set in Pittsburgh, and written by an author who lives in Pittsburgh. I really enjoyed it. I was hooked form the beginning and couldn't put it down. 
  • The magazine pile was up, then down, now it's up again. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sienna on the Square

This past weekend we ate at one of our favorite restaurants: Sienna on the Square. As usual it was delicious and service was great. Here's what we ate:
An appetizer special of yellow watermelon, prosciutto, arugula, some kind of nut, and balsamic drizzle. Yummy.
Calamari ('nduja aioli, parsley).
Ora King Salmon (fregola sarda, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, lemon emulsion, pea shoots). SP said it was tasty.
Mafalde Bolognese (veal, pork, beef, tomato, milk, onion, carrot). At first I was upset that the Meatball & Ricotta Flatbread is no longer on the dinner menu. But after tasting this - oh my gosh - so good.
Parmesan Cake with bourbon peaches. Yum.

We went home with happy bellies.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Pittsburgh Botanic Garden

A couple of weekends ago, we decided to visit the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden near Settlers Cabin Park. I'm surprised it took so long for us to go check it out since it's only about 5 minutes from where we live. 
It was a beautiful day when we went, not too hot, not too cool. Along the trails are mailboxes with information inside about the trees, flowers, shrubs, etc.
I love how the pond is now clean and alive after years of coal mine contamination.
We went across the bridge and stopped partway for a closer look at the lily pads and flowers.
Lots & lots of lily pads.
The site says there is a mile of ADA accessible trails. Perhaps, technically, this is correct, but some parts, like the path leading to the gazebo near Dogwood Meadow, get quite steep and there are lots of rocks and tree roots that made it very bumpy and difficult. We ended up leaving me off to the side while SP went on and then circled back. The path to the Lotus Pond is not as steep but can be quite bumpy with rocks and twigs big enough to stop the wheelchair and send me lurching forward. The path across the bridge and up to the Asian Woodlands is pretty steep and we had to take me backwards up the hill because of how steep it was and the rocks and ruts. A wheelchair with different casters or a motorized one would probably not have as difficult a time as I did.
But I survived, no mishaps, and thank goodness for the seatbelt on the wheelchair! Across the street near the parking lot are the apple orchard, log house, and heritage chickens.

We really enjoyed walking around, and sitting on the benches. Next time, I think I'd take a book and sit near the pond while SP walked the non-accessible trails to the Hermit Hut, Apiary, and Giant Bird's Nest areas. There were a lot of families there and the kids seemed to enjoy running along the paths and reading the information in the mailboxes. Definitely a good place to spend a beautiful summer day. I imagine it'd especially beautiful in the fall when the leaves are changing colors.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Thursday Thoughts

A couple of weeks ago, when SP was at the farmers market, he bought some peaches. The peach lady told him that the peaches are early this year and the season would likely end earlier than usual. We figured that meant that there might not be fresh, local peaches for our annual Labor Day weekend peach pie, so we decided to make it early this year. We made it this past weekend. The peaches were really juicy and it was a delicious peach pie. All gone now.

This is how I feel every day. How I've felt every day since November 8. I'm still struggling with finding the balance of being an informed person versus the fear, hopelessness, despair, outrage, frustration, and tears I often feel when reading the news.

What We're Eating:

  • Grilled Steak with salad & corn on the cob
  • Pasta Salad - lots of veggies: tomato, cucumber, carrot, grilled zucchini, roasted red pepper, kalamatas, green olives
  • Dessert: Peach Pie, leftover pizzelles

What We're Watching:

  • Game of Thrones. Finally, a battle with a dragon! Yes, I was cheering for the dragon. I was upset when Bronn hit it and the poor dragon yelped in pain. SP looked at me and asked if I realized it had just incinerated hundreds of people. Well, yes, but they were the "bad" guys! Can't wait to see Cersei's reaction. To find out Jamie's fate. If the dragon is OK. For Jon and Bran's reunion and what Bran tells Jon.
  • I am enjoying the second season of Animal Kingdom. I'm curious to see where the Baz-Smurf thing goes (how far it goes and how it impacts the other family).
  • We finished Kimmy Schmidt Season 3. I remain so-so about the show. Has some good moments, Has some rather silly stupid moments.
  • This coming week: Season (and Series) Finales for Orphan Black & Broadchurch.

What I'm Reading:

  • I finally read The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. Really good book. Lots of feelings and I'm not sure I can really express them,
  • I also read Michael Connelly's latest, The Late Show, which is not a Bosch or Lincoln Lawyer novel but introduces a new character, Renee Ballard. As usual with a Connelly novel, I couldn't put it down. I read it in a day.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Thursday Thoughts

I cannot believe it's August already. I also cannot believe that GA nephew is back in school already! It seems way too early to have summer over and be back in school.

Last weekend we smoked for the first time this summer. Pork. It's yummy and smoky. We made the usual barbecue sauce to go with it.

Our Saturday dinner out was at Burgatory since we were still doing some errands in the area. As always, I created my own burger. I never get a beef burger. I really wanted chicken with fried egg and bacon but in the end, since we were eating chicken this week and since I had eggs for breakfast that day, I decided on the crab burger with smoked gouda, bacon, tomato, greens, cucumber with whole grain mustard on brioche. As always, I managed to eat only half, so I had lunch for Sunday.

What we're eating:

  • Smoked pork, homemade mac & cheese, sliced farmers market/our garden tomatoes
  • Chicken Saltimbocca panini
  • Pizzelles

What We're Watching:

  • We were sad after last night's Broadchurch. No spoilers, but what a sad ending to the episode.
  • We started watching CNN: The Nineties. We're only halfway through the first episode. And feeling old.
  • We watched Lost City of Z which was pretty slow and boring. The story was interesting, it was just too slow.
  • We also watched Colossal, which we both really enjoyed. 
  • And we watched Kong: Skull Island. Fun. Held our attention.

What I'm Reading:
Not much. I have no idea what I'm doing that I haven't found time to read. I did read 3 or 4 magazines but I have yet to crack open a book I've had checked out for 8 weeks now. Maybe I should just give up and return it?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Yard House

My final Hawaii food post - only because I feel obligated to write about every place we ate, especially if I have photos. For dinner on our first full day in HI, we went to a chain restaurant: Yard House. I'd been to one in Las Vegas and remembered it being fine. We did make a reservation, probably a good thing because around 6 pm it was very crowded with a lot of people waiting for a table. Even with a reservation we had to wait a bit. We were seated in a gigantic booth. I wasn't too thrilled because a booth is never terribly convenient for someone in a wheelchair and also because it was big enough for 6-8 people and it was just the two of us.

Anyway, I ordered a Passionfruit iced tea and SP a Blackberry-Jasmine green iced tea. Both were very good. He also ordered a Maui Brewing Seasonal beer. Here's what we ate:
SP's Clam Chowder (New England style, chopped clams, potatoes).
My Classic Ranch Salad (iceberg & Boston lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, sweet corn, jack, cheddar, croutons, buttermilk ranch). I'm not a fan of corn so SP ate it.
SP's Tacos: a Baja fish taco (cabbage, cilantro, pico de gallo, guacamole, sriracha a├»oli) in a regular taco shell and a Carnitas taco (roast pork, grilled onions, pico de gallo, guacamole, pineapple) in a vampire shell."Vampire Style" is a  taco wrapped in a grilled, crispy cheese-crusted flour tortilla shell. He said they were good.
My Roasted Turkey Club (Swiss, crushed avocado, bacon, tomato, lettuce, mayo, toasted sourdough, fries).

Our food was fine, nothing great, large portions (well, mine) and for the Waikiki area, not too expensive. Lots of beer choices. Our server was terrific. I just left feeling rather let down and I'm not sure why because I don't have anything bad to say.

Yard House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato