Tag Archives: Pittsburgh

I Have Moved in With Amphibians . . . and Crickets.

Whew! Moving, well, sucks. Sorry, mom, I know how much you hate that word.

But it does. Suck.

On Sunday, we got all of our stuff schlepped over to our new apartment in Ohio, and we sweated, groaned and struggled to do just that. I have places that hurt on my body that I did not even know had the ability to ache.

Oh, well, it’s over now, and we spent much of yesterday evening beginning to get all of our crap organized. We still have a long way to go.

On an exciting note, however, we absolutely love our new home. It is by far the best place either of us have lived. We even have a laundry room! And for those of you who have been spending your quarters on coin-operated machines, you know just how glorious that little factoid is.

We are back in Pittsburgh now, and will be spending the next three and a half weeks with my parents. Dan has some work to finish up here before we make the final move to Ohio.

It has been a while since I have slept at my parents’ for more than a day or two, let alone bunked with my youngest brother, Isaac. So, needless to say, last night was an “interesting” experience. Dan, of course, shared a room with the teenage brother (Luke) who passed out nice and quietly last night. Lucky for them. (;

I, on the other hand, not only roomed with Isaac, but seven other animals and a bag of crickets. Isaac owns a gecko, two frogs, baby turtle, lizard and food for a few of the critters (gecko and lizard) to munch on. Add the amphibians and insects to my two cats sleeping on my bed with me, and I felt like Dr. Doolittle last night.

I nodded off to Cooper and Emerson crunching their kitty food, water swirling in the turtle’s aquarium and, of course, Isaac’s childlike, incessant questions (gotta love him) of “What if the world ended right now?” and other matters of the sort. When the crickets started chirping at 3 a.m., I considered submerging my head in the turtle’s water or smashing Gary the gecko’s cage over my head.

I exaggerate, but I am wondering if perhaps Isaac could at least consider turning off the multicolored lights that adorn the cages. Dimming them?

I woke up in the middle of the night, unsure if I had stumbled into a bad, bad, horribly-themed college keg party.

With amphibians.



Filed under Eat, July 2008, Pray, Run

Weekend Wiffle Ball and Sushi . . . Oh, Geez!

Wow! What a busy weekend. I did one thing after the other and, before I knew it, it was over. It’s always a bit sad to say goodbye, but it is also nice to start the week off having had a great weekend.

On Thursday evening, I went for a run with my brother, Luke, and sister, Amanda. We hit the trails in Schenley Park and had a fun, albeit sweaty, time. It was hot! I had a bit of trouble breathing the thick air, — even at 6:30 it was still in the high 80s — but made it through the 40-minute workout anyway. Luke is training for soccer and Amanda is gearing up for a marathon, so I was traveling with quite the athletically-inclined pair!

Thank goodness for Anthony, my sister’s boyfriend, who greeted us at the end of the trail with water bottles and Edy’s Whole Fruit popsicles. Yay, for Anthony!

After our run, we hit the Squirrel Hill sidewalk sales where I got a cute sleeveless shirt for $1.00 (Yes, $1.00!!) at Avalon and a used copy of one of my favorite movies, Now and Then, at the Exchange. Both stores are places where you can trade clothing and accessories (Avalon), or DVDs, CDs and records (the Exchange) for money or items of equal value. You can also go in and check out the many items that people have traded in, purchasing them at a much lesser cost than you would if you were to purchase them new. I love the idea of reusing everyday items, and the sidewalk sale fulfilled my recycling dreams! (;

While we browsed, I had a honey green tea with tapioca pearls (boba) in the bottom. If you have never had these babies before, they are quite tasty. They are also pretty high-calorie, –about 100 calories every seven — so I do not drink boba tea often. I did not finish this one because the tea was a bit too fragrant for me.

Friday morning and afternoon was work, work, work and then, pack, pack, pack. I cannot believe we are already moving this Sunday! After many hours spent with the computer and boxes, Dan and I decided to take a short walk (about a 1/2 mile) and do some quick shopping at Whole Foods. We also sat down at one of the tables indoors, cooled off and ate some sushi. Mmmm … this was so yummy.

Saturday was another exercise session on the trails. This time my sister and I walked, and my brother, Isaac rode his bike along side of us. We made a plan to meet on the trails, but completely forgot there was a grand prix this weekend. The event caused some major blockage of the entrances to the trails, and it took about an hour for me to finally get to my brother and sister. I was on the trail and they were not allowed access it. So, I walked by myself until they found me. It was frustrating, but also quite humorous when my sister told me she feigned tears to woo a security guard into letting her on the trail — it didn’t work. (Giggle.) Oh, Amanda! Once I met up with them, we walked for about 45 minutes. My bum was a little sore after almost 2 hours of walking!

Sunday was more packing. I packed the entire closet! I also got rid of a lot of clothing that I haven’t worn in ages and it felt good to purge. Later that night, Dan and I made our way over to my parents’ house for our traditional Sunday night dinner. After dinner, we geared up for a new Shannon family tradition — wiffle ball! I have been a cheerleader the last few times, but this time I joined in and, boy, did I work up a sweat. I typically completely stink at all sports involving a ball, so I was completely surprised when I actually hit the ball! I even made a few runs into home plate. Go me! (Sorry for the dark picture.)

I wanted to focus this post on fitness because I promised to show you more of what I do for exercise. I used to be a hardcore exerciser and, while I am still pretty adamant about it, I have learned a few lessons along the way. One being that it is OK to slow down every now and then. When I was younger, exercise had to be my way or it didn’t count. Now, I have learned that it is OK to not always take fitness so seriously and have some fun à la a wiffle ball game!

I am curious: What is your favorite way to exercise? Has your philosophy changed over the years?

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Filed under Eat, July 2008, Pray, Run

Weekend Goodies and a Breakfast to Die For!

Wasn’t the video this morning just fabulous? I loved watching Matt Harding takes his dance moves across the world . . . just totally inspiring.

OK, folks! So, it’s time for the weekend 30-Day Challenge wrap-up. Here goes…

Friday: Lunch was one of the yummiest sandwiches I have ever had — seriously! Dan had marinated a few huge portobello mushroom caps the night before, so I roasted one and put it between two toasted slices of whole grain bread. I also added lettuce and about 1 tbsp. of Lemonaise Light. Notice the cranberry-splashed water in the background. A little bit after lunch I was craving something sweet, so I had a bowl of green grapes and perfectly-ripe blueberries. What a perfect foodie afternoon!

My brothers were visiting on Friday night because we were going to work on our bikes Saturday afternoon, so we splurged on some pizza and ice cream treats. I had two medium-sized pieces of pizza and, later, a Snickers Ice Cream Bar. We watched movies and had a blast!

On Saturday morning, I got up early and went for a 4-mile run. I forgot my watch, so I am not sure what my time was, but I think I was cookin’ it along pretty well! It felt good to be done with exercise early. After that, I was back to my usual self at breakfast— munching on one of my favorite cereals! I had a bowl of Quaker Oatmeal Squares with about 1 cup of soy milk.

Before we trekked it over to FreeRide, I had a small bowl of whole wheat shells with about 1 tbsp. of Smart Balance Omega Olive Oil “butter” spread and a few dashes of onion salt. My stomach was kind of bothering me, so I decided to keep it a little on the bland side. We worked on our bikes for four hours (more on that later!) and then headed home for some dinner.

Whew, we were tired! But we did manage to whip up some food before relaxing for the night.

The boys had chicken and tortellinis and, since my stomach was still bothering me, I kept it simple with some toast with peanut butter and hot green tea. I was feeling much better by the time I hit the sack. Must have just been a little bug.

Sunday morning’s breakfast was a huge treat: My sister, her boyfriend and I took the boys to the infamous Pamela’s! Poor Dan had to head off to work, but we thought of him with every bite! (:

Now, if you are not from Pittsburgh, you will not understand the glory that is Pamela’s, but let me try to explain. They have these amazing thin — and kind of crispy — pancakes that are as big as your plate. And strawberries and cream-stuffed crepes. And California French toast. And home fries with big chunks of potatoes. And …. oh, I could just go on and on.

I am so, so bummed, but I forgot to take a picture! Ahhh! I was so focused on eating my California French Toast (whole wheat raisin bread, dipped in egg and cooked up for your eating pleasure) that I completely forgot to snap a photo! But check out the picture (at left) of the strawberry crepes — that is what my sister ate and, boy, are they delish, too. My sister and I also shared a side of the oh-so-good home fries.

After that feast, I was so completely stuffed that lunch was definitely out of the question; especially, since we ate a later breakfast.

But, don’t worry, my eating adventures were not over just yet! After running a few errands around home — and packing some boxes (yep, it’s already moving time) — my brothers, Dan and I went to my parents’ house for our usual Sunday night dinner.

We had some great food, and I loaded my plate with corn on the cob, salad, grilled green beans and potatoes, and about a 2.5-oz. serving of ahi tuna. Again, a fabulous meal!

And, now, here I am, back to Monday, and starting the week anew. This weekend was fun, albeit a little bit indulgent, but it’s always nice to splurge!

Tomorrow is the last day of the Challenge! Meet back here to talk about some of the things I have learned, and for run-through of today and tomorrow’s meals.

Enjoy the evening! (:

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Filed under Eat, July 2008, Pray, Run

Recycle, Reuse and Drink Cranberry Juice!

So, Wednesday night did end up coming to a close with two of the chewy-licious brownie cookies from Whole Foods. (; I also had a glass of water with about 1/4 inch of 100% cranberry juice at the bottom.

Just a note: The cranberry water is just my way of jazzing up my water a bit. The pure juice is sooo thick that it only requires a tiny bit at the bottom to give the water some extra punch! Something about the cranberry juice is so refreshing and I really enjoy it added to my water once or twice a day. In addition, it’s super high in vitamin C, and research shows that it helps to prevent urinary tract infections. Not that I am particularly concerned about that, but, hey, it’s good to know!

Yesterday morning’s breakfast was a bowl of my favorite . . . Quaker Oatmeal Squares! I love this stuff — just in case you didn’t know that already! I had it with about 1 cup unsweetened soy milk. (P.S. You might notice the Coke bottle way back in the left corner there. Don’t worry — that’s from my younger brother who was visiting on Wednesday. Coke is not a part of the 30-Day Challenge! Plus, I hate most soda. Every now an then, I will have a Diet Coke, but that’s about it.)

Lunch was a small bowl of leftover mac & cheese. This was a really yummy, creamy batch if I do say so myself! But I didn’t have too much of an appetite, so I did not go overboard.

Of course, I did save room for one more cookie after lunch! I have a love/hate relationship with these treats. They are so delish, but I hate having them in the house because they are hard to resist!

After lunch, I continued working until Dan got home. We had a date to go to FreeRide, and left around 5:45. Now, let me explain to you a bit about FreeRide: I had heard about the bike co-op program from a conversation I had struck up with a girl at a coffee shop one day. I told her I loved her bike and wanted one, too, and she told me about FreeRide, a Pittsburgh co-op program where people can go and use old bikes and bike parts to build a new bike. Cha-ching! “That sounds awesome!” I told her. And it was totally up my alley — I love the idea of reusing otherwise discarded bikes and bike parts to make something new.

So, Dan and I — two people who desperately want to start using bikes instead of cars to get from A to B — made it a goal to build bikes before we more to Ohio. Well, once my brothers, sister and her boyfriend, Anthony, heard of the idea, they just had to do it, too! So, now we are all putting together and fixing up bikes, and we are so excited. They went and picked out their bikes on Tuesday evening, so Dan and I high-tailed it to FreeRide last night, so we could get the process started, too.

But don’t go thinking it’s all for free! The program works like this: There is a $15 entry fee, or you can volunteer for three hours before you walk through the shop and pick out your bike/bike parts. Then, once you pick a bike, you take it to one of the volunteers and he or she appraises it for what they think it is worth. Now, you can either pay the price, and then take your bike into the shop and fix it up, or you can “earn a bike.” This means that for every $8 your bike is worth you must volunteer for one hour in the shop.

Pretty cool, huh?

Dan and I paid the $15 entry fee because we wanted to pick our bikes out ASAP! After much looking and deciding, I found the bike of my bicycling dreams. Look how cute she is! I love that there is a rack already attached, so that I can add a basket for transporting groceries and things of the sort. She is definitely going to require some work — I need a higher seat, the wheels need a tune up, etc. — but I am psyched!

Goldie Jr. (I used to have a car named Goldie … Ha, ha!) was appraised at $30, so that means I can pay the fee or volunteer for about four hours. Dan and I decided that we are going to volunteer to pay for our bikes, and that means we may be recruited to do a number of things, including help other people fix their bikes (I better brush up on my bike knowledge!), make phone calls or sort bike parts.

Dan’s “bike,” on the other hand, will require a lot more work than mine, seeing as how it is only this as of right now . . .

See the orange and blue parts of the frame? Yeah, that’s his. Of course, he had to pick the most challenging project — Hee, hee! (:

After spending a bit more time checking out the shop, we decided to head home. FreeRide gets rather crowded after about a 1/2 hour of being open (they were open 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. last night), so if you don’t start working right away, then most of the bike stands are filled pretty quickly. So, since we took time to pick out our bikes, we decided to go back tomorrow afternoon and start working. All you have to do it tag your bike with a number given to you and leave it in to shop for next time.

I am so excited to be able to take Goldie Jr. home!

I am not sure if there are bike co-op programs in your area, but it is definitely worth looking into. What a great way to recycle and reuse, cut back on gas emissions, get a good workout, and have fun!

We didn’t get home until about 8 p.m., so that meant a late dinner. I hate eating that late, but I was happy with our night at FreeRide, so I dealt with it. I did some more work while Dan cooked up something delicious. We had mahi mahi with some sort of wonderful marinade, sautéed veggies and sliced baked potato “chips.” This was a superb dinner and a great way to end a fun night.

After dinner, I could not wait to get to bed — whew, I was tired! It was one of those nights where the distance from the couch to the bedroom seemed like a marathon. But I made it there and totally crashed! I slept for about 6 1/2 hours — still working on doing better with sleep.

And now, here I am typing away to you. That’s the update for now — I gotta go get some breakfast! Until later, have a great day . . . wherever you are!

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Filed under Eat, July 2008, Pray, Run

True Beauty Need Not Hurry, But a Cure Does!

So sorry for the long delay. It has been more than a crazy week. But here are the TEAM BEKAH pictures . . . finally!

Thank you so much, again, to all of you who contributed to Team Bekah: True Beauty, Never Hurries. We raised $595.00!! We had set a much higher goal and, although we wished we would have reached it, we are happy to have contributed what we did. This is our first time running this race as a team, so we learned a lot and are looking forward to next year!

One thing in specific that we learned: BE MORE ORGANIZED!! We forgot to make a meeting spot, and with more than 36,000 people participating in the race, that makes finding each other amongst a sea of pink a bit difficult. We caught up with each other throughout the race, but next year we will definitely have a plan!

I also wish we would have taken more pictures — I was bummed when I realized we did not have one picture of our entire team. My sister played camera girl this year, but next year I would like for us all to have a camera in hand. Again, next time, better planning!

All in all, however, it was a fabulous experience. It is so breathtaking to see that many people in one place, supporting one cause. The rain did not make a difference; those people were there to fight breast cancer, and the did it! It never fails to blow me away when I run past a father and son – or mother or sister or daughter or cousin or aunt or uncle – wearing an “In Memory Of” tag on their shirts. I hope that I could be that strong if I lost a loved one. I hope that I would be out there running.

We were all also so happy to contribute our fund-raising efforts in Bekah’s name. If you are curious about how she is doing, check out her blog. That gal just never ceases to amaze me — her strength is incredible!

I ran much of the race with my youngest brother, Isaac — you will see him waving in the picture at left. He has asthma, and we decided to do a walk/run in order to better help him cope with Pittsburgh’s hilly terrain. We had so much fun recognizing the little things — a young boy playing his guitar and sitting with his mom in their front yard, just watching the race. Their house was decorated with pink banners. Or the beautiful trees that lined the course, which ran through Schenley Park.

I love this race for all of those simple things, and of course the very big matter at hand, breast cancer, too.

Want to jump on the Race for the Cure bandwagon? You may still have time. Check here for a race in your city!


Filed under May 2008, Pray, Run

Happy Mother’s Day!

What a fabulous day to recognize the women who brought us onto this Earth — our mothers! Give the moms in your life some extra love today — your mother, aunts, sisters, godmothers . . . you know them, so hug ’em and tell them thank you.

TEAM BEKAH finished the Pittsburgh Race for the Cure today! It was rainy, but, nevertheless, just as fun as we expected it to be. What a heartwarming and truly touching event. Stay tuned for photos and more details tomorrow!

In the mean time, check out this story. It’s a little something I wrote for my momma … enjoy!

Again, Happy Mother’s Day!


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Filed under May 2008, Pray, Run

Undo Your Belt Because It’s Time to Eat!

I am not one to go crazy with food indulgences, especially during this new path of total health that I am headed down. But I do think there is a time and place to stuff your face a bit.

Last night, I arrived at that spot.

Dan and I went out with a few good friends to the Grand Concourse, a fabulous restaurant here in Pittsburgh, PA.

And I went a bit crazy. Well, I shouldn’t say crazy. I did indulge, but I actually tried to eat in moderation (some) of the foods that were on the not-so-good-for-me-list.

Appetizer was a seafood platter and Brie, then a salad and bread. Dinner was crab-encrusted Mahi Mahi with rice pilaf, asparagus and two glasses of wine. And, then . . . drum roll please . . . came DESSERT!!


This ridiculously good dessert is called the chocolate truffle cake, but I just call it the ridiculously good dessert. I absolutely love this oh-so-wonderful creation.

However, here is the thing: I left the restaurant, and did not feel full or stuffed to the max. I felt like I had indulged, but within reason, and that was a much better feeling than going home so full that I am in pain.

I love to eat. But, like last night, I am trying to learn to take less bites of Brie when I know I want dessert, or not eat ALL of the 2 pounds of rice on my plate. Ya know?

So, what are your indulgences? Do you plan on indulging this weekend? If so, how have you learned to moderate your extravagant choices a bit in order to be semi health-conscious?


Filed under Eat, March 2008