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Two Years in Pittsburgh: the best is yet to come.

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Some days it’s really hard to grasp that it’s been two years since we relocated. Some days it feels like forever… others, I have fresh nightmare-like relapses of the anxiety of movers and boxes and finding an apartment and getting lost amidst the glass structures of the PPG campus. But as time passes, I feel more-and-more out of touch with Cleveland: the city and its development and new restaurant openings… and, sadly, its friendships. While we still have no firm commitment of how long we’ll be staying in Pittsburgh (and, no, we will not be going back to Cleveland), the purchase of a house this past year makes the decision to be here a bit more permanent than temporary (who can even believe that it’s already coming up on a year since we bought the damn thing!).

For now, remaining in Pittsburgh remains a part of our short-term plan.

First things first, my first year review of being a ‘Burgher. Many of these aspects, I can still relate. I really love it here; I don’t think I’ll ever wrap my head around how other transplants have “issues” with things like: finding stuff to do (or finding things, in general) or “fitting in.”

After two years:

I almost know my way around. Even if I still get turned around in the east end and the south hills. And missed the memo on the West End Bridge being closed after Steelers games. But I finally know of at least one or two neighborhoods in the West End. And what the West End Circle is. I can finally spell Monongahela without looking. Shit… maybe not. I’ll work on that. I learned the bus and T system. I can usually find my way home without checking Google Maps.

I’ve deepened my friendships and made new ones. I’ve lost friends. I’ve blocked people-who-probably-should-never-be-my-friends. I have friends to text when I want a margarita. And a favorite place for margaritas. I have friends to call to gossip over brunch. And a favorite Thai place. And a favorite place for cupcakes. I know at least three local skating rinks and their times for open skates. I have connections when I need help with events, marketing, charity, social media, writing, job search or suggestions for the best damn place in tahn. I started working part time with a wonderful local non-profit. I became a chairperson in a local professional organization. I took the role of Head of Marketing in another. I volunteer. I flyer. I adopted another cat…

Gratuitous Cat Photo!

I have a favorite date place with AB. We also have a favorite happy hour. I have a favorite view. I have a quiet, tranquil space just steps outside a bustling downtown. I volunteer. I work sometimes from coffee shops. I have a museum membership, season tickets, favorite annual events and fundraiser parties — and places to shop for just the perfect outfit. We have a local farmers market — we even grow our own produce in a community garden plot within our neighborhood! I finally have a dentist, aesthetician, hairdresser and doctor that I trust, respect and recommend. We recognize our local news people. We know the names of local “celebrities” and can finally be “in” on the local jokes. We can even commiserate over “that other team” with fellow transplants (heh).

Yet, I proudly wear my Black and Gold.

I’ve developed a deep connection with my new city. Well, I suppose it’s not so “new” anymore. I want to shout about it, promote it, be involved… shoot people down when they dismiss how awesome it is here (or at least shoot them a dirty look). I continue to be absolutely in LOVE with Pittsburgh. I love it even more now that we’re part of a close-knit neighborhood with stoop-party-friendly neighbors.

Does two years in officially make me a Pittsburgher? Eh, maybe?
But belonging here isn’t something I need to prove anymore.

Happy Yinzerversary!

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{you smell like a girl} Perfume: Because smelling like soap is just boring

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{you smell like a girl} Perfume: Because smelling like soap is just boring

I’m a whore (I know, duh!)… a PERFUME whore.

Ladies all have their shameless indulgences (mine happen to also include vintage coats and shoes). But there’s something indulgent about smelling pretty that puts my girly side into overdrive. When it comes to beauty products, fragrance is a small luxury that doesn’t cost much. I’ve acquired quite the collection over time (since a bottle can typically last me 3-5 years). Smelling like soap is boring — and dudes like their lady friends and bits to smell nice — but layering my scents during/after the shower doesn’t work for me because perfumed body washes and gels or anything anti-bacterial hijacks my moisture and terrorizes my skin cells. And never, ever put that stuff in your vag… you’ll get an infection, for serious.

I can’t wear scented lotion because of my eczema. So, screw you Bath & Body Works and your intolerable skin irritants.

I’ve been obsessed with fragrances since I first stepped into a Body Shop in my junior high school years. And they let me mix my own perfumed oil — if I so wanted — but I simply chose strawberry. And wore it for most of the 7th grade. It’s a wonder how I didn’t end up a hooker. My (sexual) preferences may have changed over the years, but the top choices in my collection are men: (now discontinued) Calvin Klein Truth and (not pictured, and empty… and possibly discontinued) Yves St Laurent Babydoll.

My oldest scent — and by that, I mean the one I’ve been wearing the longest… or is it because it’s an old lady scent? — is Fracas by Robert Piguet. I received a small bottle of it from my stepmother in a Christmas stocking. It oozes gardenia and is decidedly not an everyday scent — buut a special occasion perfume, for certain. If I wear enough of it, I can clear a room. Guess that means it is an old lady scent. No matter. OLD MEN LOVE ME TOO.

Sadly, I no longer have bottles of Lemon Baby Soft or Unforgettable by Revlon. I hearted those both in my younger days so hard.

I regularly wear Kenneth Cole Reaction (to be honest, I think this might be a male scent or unisex, but it smells neutral) and this LIV GRN C2C organic stuff (a sample that’s new to me and going through it quickly) because they are both incredibly light and clean smelling.

I tend to go more for green, spicy or  oriental blends, musky or woodsy scents, and only make exceptions for a few floral favorites. Very rarely will I pick something with a strong front note of fruit — citrusy, yes (I love grapefruit); fruity, no (who wants to smell like a god damn caramel apple?!). Which is totally opposite of where my love of perfume grew. I love the smell of Birthday Cake body wash, but I do NOT want to smell like it (I keep it in the shower, however, for a pick me up).

I’ve had the best… ahem, sexy time success with wearing LaVanilla and Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue.

Serious Mood Lifter: Happy by Clinique
Girls Night: Betsey Johnson
Black Tie: Coco Mademoiselle

SAMPLES! Yes, I keep those too.

The two newest bottles in my collection are Lolita Pacific Creation and Gucci by Gucci — both included in a Sephora box that I “won” in a silent auction at a recent charity event. I could not be happier with their inclusion in that gift. I match scents to my mood — or sometimes, to what I am wearing (I imagine that my clothes have feelings too… what? that’s not weird). And right now I am absolutely bathing in Yogini, a sample from my December Birchbox.

Perfume. I told you that I was obsessed.

Do you have a favorite scent? Does your partner like a certain scent on you?

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{holiday spirit} Mel’s Christmas Gift Guide to Get Your Holly in Her Jolly… or something.

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{holiday spirit} Mel’s Christmas Gift Guide to Get Your Holly in Her Jolly… or something.

Cats: It's what's for Christmas!

Two years ago (!!), I posted a Mel’s 12 Days of Christmas Gifts Guide for your Lady Friends that STILL gets a ton of hits this time of year. And actually gives me a bit of the uncontrollable chuckles. Seriously though, have I been phoning in all my posts this year?

But that was Cleveland; now, this is Pittsburgh. Shit just got real, didn’t it?

I’m a huge fan of local shopping because I despise malls and crowds of meanies and overachievers and sales fliers… especially this time of year. Likewise, online shopping has saved me from doubling my prescription of Xanax and/or having an assault conviction on my record. But Christmas is creeping, so get Web orders in soon.

Some of the following are on my own Want List, and this gift guide is a mix of both local and online favorites:

1. Am I the only female currently obsessed with these monthly shopping clubs? Much in the same vein as the Monthly Wine Club or the Monthly Beer Club or the Monthly Hideous Decorator Plate from Franklin Mint, you can subscribe your lovely to a year’s worth of t-shirts (StyleMint), shoes (ShoeDazzle) or beauty products (Birchbox). Or lingerie (Adore Me), if that’s your style. Just make sure you’ve been dating the girl long enough that you actually know her cup size… and her shoe size.

UPDATE: I JUST FOUND ONE FOR SNACKS!

2. There is not a girl on the planet who does not like cheese. And if she says she doesn’t, she is either a) lying or b) vegan. In either case, you probably will not live harmoniously in dairy for all eternity. At least, NOT IN MY HOUSE. Not that there’s anything wrong with Veganism… oh boy, MORE CHEESE FOR ME. Check out the Cheese of the Month Club from local awesome, Penn Mac.

3. PittGirl of That’s Church did a perfect job putting together an awesome Yinzer Gift Guide. Check it aht for local flair and fare. Or if you’re especially artistic or talented, make her something JUST FOR HER.

Pssst: One last chance to shop I Made It! (the original) this Wednesday, December 7.

4. Sporty gals need love too! Ahem, check out page 13 in this month’s Pittsburgh Magazine for Black n’ Gold (and Blue) gift ideas for local sports fans.
{/shameless personal plug}

5. Keeping with a Pittsburgh-centric theme, here are a few of my favorite things (local boutique): Pavement, Wildcard, Pageboy, Zipper Blues and Louis Anthony Jewelers. Some other of my favorite, famous fashion bloggers in the area would also recommend Jupe Boutique (I still have yet to make it over there, for shame) or Highway Robbery (for a woman who loves unique and vintage in the same sentence). Shoes. Jeans. Jewelry. Stuff for the House. In that order, converted in years of relationship status.

6. An outdoor enthusiast is a girl after my own heart… wait, what? Check out local organizations like BikePGH and Venture Outdoors (which includes specials with Kayak Pittsburgh) for yearly gift memberships. Maybe she’ll invite you along on a paddle tour of the city or a nature hike. Or maybe you’ll continue being a lazy ass in your Zubaz. Your choice. Know that one option begets sex. The other, will be the smashing of your big screen TV.

7. PSA: a self-conducted twitter survey shows that women want more sex this year. HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES, male species. And that’s a gift; not a resolution.

8. NEED MORE ELECTRONICS FOR STREAMING HILARIOUS CAT VIDEOS. And, oh yeah… reading. I asked for a Kindle this year, but not because I don’t like regular books (as the overly-full shelves in my house suggest); just that I want to replace my nightly iPhone games ritual with something more than making up words via Scrabble tiles. And if it’s in electronic form, I’ll be more apt to use it in bed (ahem, FOR READING, pervs) — and my iPhone just plain sucks as an eReader. Also: I never have room to pack books when I’m traveling and already carrying-on AN ENTIRE SKATE BAG.

BIG Ideas: Kindle (and similar eReaders) for your lovely Book Worm, iHome travel speakers for your jet-setting Globe Trotter, or an old-school Polaroid camera for your photography junkie (HELLS YES!). LDR? Get her on Skype (on the regular) with a computer-mountable video camera. Or if you’re Daddy Warbucks, an iPhone for weekly Facetime chats.

9. If you know her taste in novels or non-fiction is more old-school (read: paper), check out local bookstores: Awesome Books (in the Penn Avenue Arts District AND its new “pop-up” location downtown) and the East End Book Exchange at the Pittsburgh Public Market. A book is still one of my favorite gifts. True story.

10. This is where my practical side takes over. If my partner purchased me a package of lessons or classes for one of my favorite activities or pastimes, life for him would be all HJs and BJs. Haha… yeah, right. Has she shown an interest in aerial aerobic classes? Art or pottery? Piano? (*squee!*). Ears up, boyfriend: start listening to your girlfriend’s passions. I would like AB to purchase me the actual Jillian Michaels, but since she’s not available for sale (only threesome fantasies), personal workout sessions with a local trainer would be a nice runners-up prize.

Word to the un-wise: if you selected, pole classes, you go straight to the coal-in-your-stocking and not-getting-any-for-a-long-while pile. And a likely bonus of spiked-heel-in-your-ball-sack.

11. Dating a comic or cartoon geek? There’s a ToonSeum membership for her.
Better than flowers: gift her a Phipps Conservatory membership.
A membership to the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh includes the Museum of Natural History, Science Center, Warhol & Museum of Art (Groupon today, yinz!) — one pass to fit all her varied personalities and interests. Don’t you dare call her crazy.

12. Ladies, love a guy with a big… *cough* heart. Has she been talking about adopting a cute cat or adorable puppy… or a bitty bunny rabbit? Surprise her with an afternoon trip to the Animal Rescue League to socialize with some of the local shelter animals (I never recommend the gift of “here’s a kitten!” without prior agreement or conversation in place). And if you’re both not ready to become parents (or she’s already borderline Cat Lady), show her that it’s NOT ALL ABOUT HER by donating to a local animal rescue organization or shelter in her name (or in that of her existing pets). Or sign you both up for volunteering.

I fully encourage and support the holiday being about more than gifts, but organizations like Toys for Tots exist because everyone needs a little “break” from the yearly sadness and seriousness. Give what you can, where you can… and offer your time, if money is a concern. Year round, n’at.
{/serious tone}

And keeping with blogging tradition and such, I shall have a men’s version up next, with help from the one-and-only AB (now properly dressed in his Arrogant Bastard shirt from Stone Brewery, gifted to him last Christmas. ‘Cuz I’m awesome too).

Ladies: anything else on your Wish List this year?

Top photo, courtesy of jbudoner via flickr.

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Toonseum Giveaway: 2 Winners!

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Short contest, sure — but AWESOME, nonetheless!

Congrats to selected random winners (per random.org):

Commenter #1: BARB

Commenter #5: AMY

Contact me in the comments or via email so I can mail you your passes. And enjoy the TOONSEUM! Thanks again to Toonseum for all the passes. Cheers!

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{pursuit} of becoming a cat lady

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{pursuit} of becoming a cat lady

I’ll take crazy over sane any day, if it means I can give cuddles to this female cutie:

Chelsea Cat

Stop being so cute!

At least I’m not a LONELY cat lady.

It would be a serendipitous trip to East End Brewing Co. to have our growlers filled after Rudy’s vet appointment. Upon recognizing the Animal Rescue League, I made a quick turn-around to go inside to “just see.” Any animal lover knows how those trips usually pan out. We have talked about adopting another “friend” to Rudy, but it wasn’t the “right time” for a variety of reasons. Before Rudy became too complacent (or curmudgeonly), I wanted to introduce a second animal to the household.

I suppose this past Saturday, was the right time for us — and for that sweet, almost-two-years-old feline, Chelsea.

And I feel warmth in my heart, knowing that is one less adult cat stuck in a cage at the Animal Protective League kennel. Seriously, I nearly had a breakdown in the adoption room that we couldn’t choose more than one. There are so many cute kitties — and we were honestly stuck between two different cats (our apartment cannot handle THREE, thankyouverymuch).

So… now we have two cats of similar age and personalities — only one overweight white one who-shall-not-be-named that is TWICE the CC’s size (my nickname for her… I’m not sold on her given name, Chelsea).

But seriously, these cats need to learn how to get along because I’m about emotionally spent. HOLY Ceiling Cat, feeding time is stressful around here…

Consider adopting an animal with the Animal Rescue League or making a donation to their organization. And if you DO go visit the cats, do NOT open the cages or touch the cats without permission (ahem, AB!).


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