Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesday Top Five: Birthday Goodness

This is a continuation of what I hope is a continuing tradition here on The Stained Tartan.  Again, I give all credit to Cory's The Bruin Brew Blog for this idea. Cory, we should coordinate! Sam, you are more than welcome to this action as well.

This week's Top Five:
"Scott's Top 5 Birthday Things"

I was going to do memories, but that is too specific, these are the top five things I enjoy about all of my birthdays. These span from when I remember getting Abu when I was younger to now (by rough estimates 18-20 years).

1) Wiener Schnitzel
I turned 13 in the lovely country of Germany while visiting relatives, this coincided with my discovery of my absolute favorite meal: Wiener Schnitzel with SpƤtzle. Really this can be any type of Schnitzel, it is not tied to just veal. On that birthday, Erica arranged a wonderful outing with family and younger neighbors in their area in to the forest near her house. I remember being told that there was going to be a surprise, and that there was a timing requirement. I don't really remember what we were doing before hand, but I do remember walking out of Erica's house to see a huge horse drawn party carriage, with long bench seats, and a stripped red covering. I am guessing this was smaller than I am remembering, but 12 or so people climbed on, and we took off in to the forest. It was amazing. Once we made it out of the city, Erica pulled out containers full of food, most notably little, bite sized Schnitzels! With my mother being super mom, she figured out how to make Spatzle (which she has taught me, and it is not very easy...), and every birthday I have been home, she has made this very special meal for me.

2) LazerQuest
For those of you who live in Spokane (especially if you were a boy between the ages of 10 and 20, or if you were a parent of a bot between those ages), this seems like a given. For those of you who have not had the pleasure, LazerQuest is one of the greatest things ever. They say 'Laser Tag at its finest,' but that is an undersell. LQ exists inside of the old Spokane Armory. You strap on a vest and gun and you find yourself in a multistory, huge maze with mirrors, smoke, crow's nests and ambush spots. You fight it out against such villains as The Baroness (my mother), Admiral (my father), Mocha (Chelsea), Drake (Russ), MastaPoo (Drew)... and one of my favorites that I remember Dr. Evil (Eric Peterson). LaserQuest was (and should still be) a birthday staple for me and my friends (including my first Lock-in for Russ' birthday). First LQ, then Pizza. What more could you want. Anyone want to go in August when I am home?

3) Mom's Cake
Like a lot of people, your mother tends to be a driving force for birthday traditions. When we were little (I assume she did this for Chelsea as well) she would ask us what we wanted on our cake. We would have some sort of theme, and we could pick anything we wanted for her to decorate. Just one rule: No Faces. My Mom would make the coolest decorated cakes ever. Some of them that I remember (these are a little fuzzy, I think I may remember more pictures of these cakes than the actual cakes) a Genie cake (for an Aldin party), a Ninja Turtle cake and many other greats. She was a pro. Then as we got older, she started changing up the substance of the cake. As was mentioned earlier this week her Super Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Awesome Cake is up there in notoriety, but that was more for Chelsea and Penny. For me, she mastered the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheese Cake, amazing.

4) Summer Birthday
I don't really know how to explain this one. As my Birthday is at an awkward time for a 'September to June' understanding of the year, it is often over looked (much like late December and early January Birthdays get overshadowed by Christmas, I know Dad...). So I don't really expect all that much when it comes to my b-day. I expect most people to not remember it, or not be around. This does not bother me, and it actually makes the well wishes and festivities all the more meaningful. It makes me really happy whenever someone goes out of their way to mark the day.

5) My 20th birthday, specifically the day before. I cannot really go in to detail about this, but for those who were there know what I am talking about.

Come back next week, same time, for more top 5 picks from yours truly. If you want to contribute, let me know what top 5 things you want to know!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Ohio is the place for Grilled Cheese

Last week I was able to get the old video camera out, dust it of and shoot some video. Mr. Rohrer is taking a class from a seminary about the sacraments of the Anglican church, and was in need of a video of him performing a mock (dry, whatever you want to call it) Communion. I met up with him on Friday morning at St. Andrew's church to film him. Afterwards, he took me out to lunch at Pamela's. It was great. He is a very interesting guy, with lots of fun stories. A large topic of conversation was the practices and culture of the Saudi people (he has spent some time over there working).

I have a healthy respect for the culture of the Middle East (and in some ways I think they are far more sophisticated than us 'westerners') but I have little to no interest in visiting. Just throwing it out there.

Saturday was a day of food for me. I spent the day with Gwyn, and I don't know if she necessarily sees it the same way... but for me, it was all about food. Gwyn was house sitting for Jackie. Jackie lives in Highland Park, right next to a place called 'Food, Glorious Food!' And with a name like that, how can you not want to check it out. This place fits a rather unique niche, during the week they use their space for cooking parties and cooking classes (I think), then on Saturday (only Saturday) starting at 10 they open up as a high end bakery and delicatessen shop, selling more or less what they made during the week. It was a rush. We were 6th or 7th in line (out of 30 by the time the shop opened up. The people in front of us were buying hundreds of dollars worth of cakes and pastries. We just wanted to try something.  They had so many things, I really wanted to just stand there and ask questions about everything, but there was a huge line... Ugh! We ended up getting a slice of Black Orchid Cake (dark chocolate cake with a mouse on top), some Stratta (Croissants with egg, mushrooms, sausage, and peppers, similar to breakfast casserole, but fancy) and a Pumpkin Roll. All of the above was great.

From there we hit the road for Akron Ohio. There Rachel (who is Cory's sister, Cory being one of Gwyn's friends from College) was having a graduation party. I was the 'Hey, I am here with her' guy. There was some amazing BBQ pulled pork and great wings. It was fun to relax, play some CornHoling (something that is huge over here... I didn't even know) and enjoy the summer. From there we headed up to Melt in Cleavland. I have talked about this glorious place before, and it was just as good the second time.
We are that cool.
In honor of you, Mother, Birch Beer (left). Gwyn also got 'Griffin Cider' (on the right)
On the Left: The Parmagedon, The Right: The Winter Chicken
I got The Parmageddon, a sandwich with Grilled Onions, A Vodka Kraut, 2 Pierogies and Sharp Cheddar Cheese (I also added some Bacon). Gwyn got the spicy Winter Chicken, Grilled Chicken smothered in a chipotle sauce, melted with Pepper Jack. Both were amazing. I love that establishment.

In other news: Last night the YadGrad study was held at Jackie's house (she had returned from her trip by then) and in honor of my birthday she made me a cake! I was super excited, seeing as I love cake, and that someone made it for me. Then I got my piece, and something stirred up inside of me. It was the same cake that my mother makes for some birthdays, Super Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Awesome Cake (The one with the pudding in the batter.. made in a bunt pan). I got super excited! It was just like home!

My "Not-Cousins"

I recognize that I may have my facts off a bit in this story. Ages my be off. I don't remember Names very well. Timing may vary from other accounts. If you spot a correction, please let me know (but be gentle) and I will fix the mistake. Bear with me...

Let me tell you all a story, turn down the lights, take a sip of your hot beverage, and close your eyes...

I hope you did not actually do those last two things. You are reading this silly, you need your eyes. And don't be ridiculous, this is summer, hot beverages are absurd.

Anyway, long ago, the family of one H. J. Hogle moved from the beautiful and sunny state of California to Poughkeepsie, New York (I had to look up how to spell that). The honorably H.J. in this story is my dearest Gramps who was being moved by IBM to New York to work with their, correct me if I am wrong, Education department there. The rest of the family included my lovely Grandmother, my Aunt Donna, and my mother. My mother was middle school-ish aged and my aunt was in elementary school (see my note above, as I am sure I am wrong). Upon moving to New York, they were blessed with some great Neighbors, some they still are in contact with to this day.

Karen was one of these neighbors, along with her sister, long ago living next to my mother's family. Karen is a fan of culture and large music venues, and is the mother of 3 (... I hesitate to put a number here, I could be wrong) younger children who don't fully appreciate such things yet. But, good news, she has three awesome nieces who love Taylor Swift (and are more appropriately aged). Karen decided that an outing was necessary, and when looking for places Miss Swift would be playing, found that Pittsburgh was going to be the closest to Poughkeepsie. This is where I come in. From talking to Mom, and I am guessing my Grandma and Aunt over the years, learned that I was living in Pittsburgh. A few months ago, I received a very energetic email detailing their plans for Pittsburgh, and was asked if I could meet them for some lunch/dinner before the show. Of course my response was: 'Heck Yes!'

First up on the afternoon tour of Pittsburgh: the Incline! This is a must of course, and I believe everyone enjoyed the ride (well maybe...) and the view was great.
Yeah Pittsburgh!
From here, we headed in to Downtown for an early dinner at... you guessed it: PRIMANTI'S! When talking about where we could eat I was informed that the girls 'are very picky.' But after mentioning that you get fries on your sandwich, that all were sold on such an awesome idea.
Those are the faces of joy...
I know it is super impolite to take pictures of people eating... but it is Primanti's!
And a great surprise, Gwyn also joined us for dinner. And interestingly enough, it was Gwyn's first time at the establishment as well. She has lived here her entire life, and has never enjoyed the greatness.
This may be my all time favorite picture of Gwyn.
For those of you who are seeing these pictures, savor them. I recognize that I just posted 3 pictures of women eating gigantic sandwiches. And some do not like this, so I may take them down if asked. I am just saying, savor them....

From dinner we walked around downtown for a bit and then headed over the Heinz where the show was going to be. There were a ton of cowboy boots and plaid 'farm shirts' and plenty of bedazzled cowboy hats.
Crossing the Clemente Bridge. Gramps, this would be over the Allegheny river.
As you can see the weather is not optimal, but it did not rain all that much. There was some sprinkling early on, but it ended fairly quickly (I think). After making it to the entry gates, we parted ways, and the girls headed in to the show. I was informed the next day that it was: "AMAZING!"

The whole afternoon was filled with lots of story telling and chatting about New York, both now and back in the day. It was very fun to share the city with Karen and the girls. There may have to be a trip up to New York in the near future!

Now that I have tried to avoid misinformation, and have realized that I have a bad memory for detail, I apologize greatly if anyone feels as though something was misreported.

If I get more pictures from Karen, I will be sure to post them. Oh! And a word about the 'Not-Cousin' title: when later asking me about the afternoon, Gwyn referred to them endearingly as my 'not-cousins.' I like that idea.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pearl and the Beard

So you all may have noticed that on my top 5 media picks for this summer, a band called Pearl and the Beard received an honorable mention. Well, I think they need to highlighted, they are getting their own post.

First off, click this, and put it in the back ground to listen while reading the rest.

Pearl and the Beard are a Trio of great and accomplished musicians who deliver what I will call modern urban folk. Their line-up: a guitarist, a cellist (someone who plays the cello) and a percussionist, all with beautifully unique, yet harmonic voices. Their music is something else. I highly suggest to anyone who likes solid vocals with equal amounts of acoustic drive and a passion and humor for what is played.

Gwyn first informed me for this band back in September, and I have been listening to them since. Tonight they put on a great show at the Garfield Artworks. Gwyn was literally giddy with excitement, it was great to see. She even got a song dedicated to her.

I know you are all thinking about this, so I will dispel any rumors, I did get a shirt and it is great. Pictures will come soon as all were taken on cell phones.

I would also like to give space for Brad Yoder. He opened. And he was also great. I think that I heard of him from Jessie or Drew... but anyways, I am looking forward to hearing more of him.

For more information: Pearl and the Beard and Brad Yoder 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Found it. Finally

Last night was another Monday night movie. This week was 'Hangover Part II.' I would say it is right on par with the previous movie. In fact, the story line was more or less 'ctrl+c' then 'ctrl+v' in to a new script. It was funny. I cannot deny it that, but not something that I would watch with my mother (sorry mom).

Anyway... that is not all that important. What is important is that I finally found a suitable Mexican place in Pittsburgh. I know! Let the jubilation begin! As many of you know, I really enjoy Mexican food. Really really enjoy it. And I was spoiled living in the Tri Cities with places like La Fama and Hacienda Del Sol. I have been looking... nay, longing for a place that could fill the void in my life after coming here to this town far away from Mexico. Where people think Mad Mex is amazing and great Mexican food (it is not either of those things, at best it is an attempt at a weird derivation of Tex-Mex)

I met up with Gwyn to help her with a load of stuff for Goodwill (she has now filled 8-10 trash bags with stuff to toss (and as she put it:  'Not trash, but stuff that she is getting rid of') and 2 full car loads of stuff for Goodwill, it is impressive how much stuff she collected in her room), then we set out to find food before the movie. We were a little crunched on time, so we headed towards the theater to streamline the process. As we were rounding the corner on to Carson Street she asked if I wanted to go to Emilianos. I said heck yes.

First off, the number one thing that gets me excited about a place: chips and salsa. (previous to this experience, I had not been served chips and salsa at a restaurant since El Sombrero in Spokane right before I left for PGH). Second thing that raised my excitement: I didn't know what some of the menu items were. As in they were actually Mexican derived things! Not just a whole bunch of derivative 'Burritos' and 'Quesadillas.' Third, and I don't mean to hold this against anyone or any place, I like all people of all races and creeds, but the staff were Hispanic. Fourth: the food was great, and filling, and cheap. I told Gwyn: "We are coming back here. Often." To be honest, this place would never make it in the Tri, but for Pittsburgh, it will work.

I know you were all worried. But you can relax, I found a decent place for Mexican, you can sleep at night now.

Tuesday Top Five: This American Daisy is going the Speed of Jericho

First a side note: I am starting something new, as a way to keep up the blogging over the summer, and to provide place for new content. I give all credit to Cory's The Bruin Brew Blog for this idea. As soon as he gets back to me, we can start having a cross blog event. I may even be able to get Sam in on this.

This week's Top Five: 
"Scott's Top 5 Media Pics for The Summer"

1) This American Life (Radio)
Gwyn introduced me to this wonderful program. This is a weekly radio show that is produced out of Chicago's WBEZ station and aired all over the place on NPR. The format of the show is a little loose, but a topic is chosen, then the rest of the show centers around that topic. At the moment I am listening to 'Georgia Rambler' where 9 people went to small towns in Georgia to find 'The Most Interesting Person in Town,' and is a series of interview and small town stories. Other episodes have covered criminal cases, they dive in to political situation, economic situations... Really anything they find interesting, and that is the cool thing, they ask questions that most people are also asking in their heads. And they present it in a fair, clear, yet light manner. For those of you who don't like finding radio shows (other than Click and Clack's Car Talk) you can listen to the program online here or get the podcast! It is great. I have been going through the archives, one by one.

2) Pushing Daisies (TV, originally on ABC 2 seasons, now Cancelled)
I think best described as a humorous CSI - Law and Order mix, set in Wonderland, with a bit of a twist. The show follows the story of a Pie maker, Ned, who can bring people back to life by touching them, but then when he touches them again, they return to being dead. This may seem morbid, but they are very tasteful about it. And the visuals are simply stunning and magical, the 'world' is very imaginative and colorful. The dialogue is witty and fast. The characters are great. One of my new favorites. If you have Netflix (Mom, Dad... nudge nudge...) I highly suggest checking it out via streaming.

3) Jericho (TV, originally on CBS 2 seasons, now cancelled)
Joe, one of Larry's old roommates, suggested that I watch this, turned out to be a great suggestion. Story of a small mid-west town that is trying to survive after the majority of the large cities in the US were destroyed in a nuclear attack. Lots of diverse characters, lots of back story, lots of drama and action. Not as bloody and dreary as most post-apocalyptic narratives, very realistic and conceivable. I don't think everyone would enjoy it (most likely why it was cancelled), but worth checking out.

4) Speed of Darkness - Flogging Molly
Yes, it is true, Flogging Molly released a new album. I was alerted to this from a e-mail from Chris, where he said he didn't quite know what to think of it, and asked if I had heard it. We came to the conclusion that while it did not rise to the standard of Drunken Lullabies, it was still a decent album. From my own raiting, I would say that it is not as good as their first 3 albums, but it is great compared to Float.  One thing that I really enjoy about the album is how it centers around Detroit, and seems to be sung to the unemployed working class. It gives the album a feeling of depression era disparity, that works really well. A little more folk-y then punk-y, certainly something for music fans. The video for 'Don't Shut them Down' is beautifully done.

5) X-Men First Class
I don't know what number this is in the line up, possibly 5th or 6th of X-men movies, but it might be my favorite out of all of them. Covering the origins of Xavier and Magneto and the start of the X-men, this film was both action packed and emotion packed. I thought for a comic book movie it had great acting, and of course great visual effects and action. I don't really have much more to say then, go see it.

Honorable Mentions:
Going out in Style - Dropkick Murphy's (new album)
Endgame - Rise Against (new album)
Pearl and the Beard (band)
Sucker Punch (movie)
127 Hours (movie)
Insidious (movie)
The Other Guys (movie)
The Sorcerer's Apprentice (movie, surprisingly good)
The Academy Is... (band)

Come back next week, same time, for more top 5 picks from yours truly. If you want to contribute, let me know what top 5 things you want to know!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Album Graecum

Long ago I was invited to be part of the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. I was ejected from the competition when I recieved the word that I previously thought was 'Albumgreekum.' Today, after searching for it and seeing three links (two of them to my very own blog post about the event) I was able to finally resolve this long curiosity.

The word is actually 'Album Graecum.' Which is a little silly looking back, as this is actually two words... I was tricked out of the competition. If you want to know more about this lovely thing, I direct you to the Wiki page for it, here.

The story thus far

It is Thursday, which is a great day for me. I only work a half day, and then the weekend!

Work is going ok, but I don't know if this project is going to actually work, which might cause some job security type issues. Also I got my first paycheck in about a year yesterday, it is such a good feeling to get paid. :)

Yesterday I was invited to play some Frolf (or Frisbee Golf) with Ryan (a guy from Shadyside) and one of his friends. He said 'Knob Hill Park,' so I plugged it in to my GPS. 90 minutes later I got there. Turns out it is on the other side of the city from where I was at work... lame. But the Golf was not. It was a pro course, a full 18 holes with Tee boxes, really nice baskets and well taken care of trails. It was fun to get out of the city and traipse around the woods (I threw my disk out of the fairway, a lot). Again, still weird that they have 'forests' of deciduous trees here. The ground is covered in leaves, and there is a 'canopy.' I do kind of miss Evergreens... then I think about how much I dislike the smell of sap on a hot day, and almost puke a little...   Ryan and his friend were way better than me, but the round was still a lot of fun. I know I need to work on my Frisbee skills. Drew, you would have been great.

After this, I headed back in to Oakland for Movie in the Park! I got my Maximum Flavor fix, and headed in to the park. Last night was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I do love that move. I was a very relaxing evening. Perfect temperature, perfect movie, good company. Lots of fun.

For those of you who might not know, my parents got a puppy last week. He is super cute!

Baseball Baseball Baseball

These events are rather old. I mentioned a while ago (2 weekends ago) that I got to got to two baseball games really close to each other. They were great.

The first one, Friday June 3rd, was the first game of a 3 game series against the Phillies. Based on previous fun (and cheapness) of the 303 section, Gwyn and I really wanted to go back. Also, friday nights are T-Shirt Nights! Everyone at the game gets a free shirt!

First note about this particular evening was the absurd parking. Once downtown, it took a good 45 minutes to realize that there were no parking spots, and make it out of downtown to the Strip, where there were lots of spots. The Three River Art festival was going on, so there were a ton of people downtown. People do not believe me when I tell them that I never once paid for parking in the Tri Citties, and only rarely paid for parking in Spokane.

Anyway, a trip from Gwyn's house that should have taken 30 minutes, ended up taking an hour longer, so we go to our seats a little after the first inning. But we did have a gigantic plate of Chicken Nachos, and some soda, and free t-shirts! We quickly forgot about the lameness of PGH parking, and enjoyed the game. Our seats where great. They were the farthest to the right in the right field grandstands, but in the front row (so no one in front of us). To our right was a fence and then the Allegheny. It was great. And the game was great. It went in to super over time (I think, I could be wrong, but in to 12 innings). But the Pirates did end up winning, which is always fun.
Yep. I am that in to it. For the record, that is my first Free Bucks shirt
I know the one thing you really want to know is all about the shirt. This would be my second free Pirates shirt (the first one I got with my Dad last summer when I first got here). It is a black shirt, with a P in the middle. The P is 'filled in' with a Yellow and White plaid. It is sweet! You can kind of see it in the pictures below as I wore it to the game on Sunday...

And that is a nice segway to Sunday! One of the familys at Shadyside have season tickets that they were not able to use, so they gave them to Jackie. Jackie called me the Thursday before and asked if I wanted to go, I said HECK YES! So it was Jackie, myself, Matt and Katie. Matt works with the Youth as well, and is a great guy, Katie is Matt's wife. She is equally as awesome.

Right after church we headed downtown for a 'Pittsburgh Afternoon.' We stopped at Primanti's on the way in to add to the ambiance (and to cover lunch). The we headed over to the park. It was a beautiful sunny day, a little on the hot side, but not unbearable. I definitely got a little red. When we got to the park I realized where our seats where. They were front row, right next to the plate. We were closer to the batter than the pitcher was. They were great. Certainly a different experience than Friday's game.
This would be free shirt number two
Can't complain about this view
Matt and Katie!

This game was the last of the games against the Phillies, and the Pirates had won the previous two games, this would mean that if the Bucks won, they would also be at .500 (which is a big deal here). It should also be noted that there is a healthy and strong rivalry between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Something that is rather interesting to me as the two cities are kind of analogous to Seattle and Spokane, one city is next to the water, one is more inland, one city is the largest in the state, the other is the second largest. But there is no rivalry in WA. Here there is a strong dislike for the other city. During the game they put up texts and tweets from fans, my favorite was 'Primanti's >> Cheesesteaks LETS GO BUCKS!' This is a bit of an anecdote, but on the news this week, there was some group that made a list of 'The Dirtiest Cities in America' Philly was number two on the list. The news stations played that up, it had nothing to do with Pittsburgh, just bashing on Philly.

Anyway, because all of these games were weekend games, there were a lot, I mean a lot, of Phillies fans. You would look out over the stands, and see a lot of Red (which is disconcerting on a free T Shirt night where people are given black and yellow shirts to wear, and there were still a lot of reds.) So now to where I was going with all of this Philly/PGH stuff. I have noticed something interesting about Pittburghers, they are kind of apathetic to certain things, the Pirates being one of them, but as soon as someone tries to tarnish anything related to Pittsburgh, the locals get super riled up. It is like the brothers who constantly make fun of each other, but as soon as a neighbor makes even a little joke about one of them, there is an all out fight. This is what happened at both games with the Phillies. The Phillies' fans would start a chant, or a cheer, and then Pittsburgh would drown them out. It was like a 'Normally we don't really care, but now that you are here, we are putting on the gloves and are ready to fight.' It is highly amusing and fun to watch.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

More weekend activities. (A great group game)

So this should really go 'after' or below the post about cake. I mentioned Strawberry Festivities and group competitive games.

Friday afternoon/prevning the Church put on the 20th-or-so Strawberry Festival, a festival oriented towards kids with lots of games with prizes, Pony rides, facepaint, tattoos, balloon animals... so on and so forth. I was helping with the YadGrad sponsored Strawberry Patch, where there was 'bug' infestation (or washers) and the kids had to help up collect (at least 10) bugs with a magic wand (or magnet stick). It was very fun, and very busy, the Church was able to fund raise a lot for the Sojourner's House (a local Mother and Children Shelter.) I was glad I could help out.

So afterwards, Gwyn and I went over to Mitch and Cassidy's for a little Game night, there were 4 other people there (for a total of 8 people). After the other group finished a very full game of Settlers, we were taught a new 'game.' This game does not have an official name, but is great. The basic rules are as follows:

1st, everyone takes a small strip of paper and writes down something, anything they want to. Examples: Bacon, The State looks down on Sodomy (if you are not privy to Blink 182, this is a song lyric), There are 140 Calories in a serving of Jelly Bellies, Spinnaker, Hide your Kids, Hide your Wife. So really anything. Depending on how may people are playing, each person can fill out more, we did our first round with each putting in 2 slips, then second round with 3 slips.

So each piece of paper is thrown in to a pot.

Then everyone is split in to two teams. The teams then alternate guessing in the following round style:

1st round: Catchphrase style guessing. The person up can use words, but cannot use words in the phrase. No motions, no "rymes with..." or "first letter.... " This is basic guessing, so things like (for Battle Axe): "It has a wooden handle" , "sharp edge..." " cutting."

2nd Round: Charades. The person up cannot make any sounds. They may only use their body, and motions. Like Gestures.

3rd Round. One Word. The person Up must choose one single word. They can only say that one word, and may not do the following: Add any intentional inflection or tone shift to ad emphasis. Move their body to indicate a clue. Use more than one word. Use hyphens.

4th Round: One sound. The person up must choose a single sound. It can be an onomatopoeia, like pow or snap or drip, but it can also be a UUUgghhh!! or Eh? There can be emphasis, but it must be repeated over and over again, each time the sound is repeated, it must (to the best of the ability of the person up) be the same.

So you start on round one, each team has a minute to get as many as they can right. Once the minute is up play stops, whatever the person was on gets put back in the pot, and the pot is transferred to the other team. Each person on the team must be 'Up,' we just went down to line. At the end of each minute spat, the total number right are tallied to the teams score, and the slips are set aside. This continues until the pot is empty. At this point the slips are returned to the pot, and you move to the next round (style, whatever you want to call it). Once the 4th round of hilarious noises is complete, the scored are totaled and the winner is the team with the most points.

It is important to note, that in the first round, you need to pay attention to the clues in general, because you will be seeing/hearing them again in later rounds. That is what makes it so very fun is that it is a memory game as well, and a communication game.

It was a great game that was very entertaining. I would most certainly play again.

A Weekend of Cake

So My weekend started yesterday with a day full of cake making and strawberry festivity, with a dash of competitive group gaming.

First the Cake making. So this Sunday, as some of you may be aware, is Pentecost. For those of you who do not know, it is more or less when the Holy Spirit descended on a bunch of witnesses, there was some fire, and some tongues on fire, and then there were a bunch of new Christians (which for the faith only being around for a whole 50 to 100 days (this is disputed), this is a big deal). You can also go here or you know, to a Church tomorrow,  to find out more. Anyway, Shadyside uses this day as the Church's birthday, and as an extension holds a birthday celebration for all of the Church members. For any good birthday, you need cake. And if you are me, you make a special cake like the ones found here or here.

After work on Thursday, I stopped by the local Walmart, and picked up some cake mix and frosting:
You can do so much with this...
 Then on Friday I started making the 6 total cakes I would need to complete my project. I spent most of the day baking, doing laundry and watching Jericho (great show... ).
This is only the beginning.
 A side note about the weather here. It was super sunny all morning, and was up until 1:30. Then at 1:45 I heard a faint smacking on the air conditioner in the kitchen, and then realized that I needed to turn the lights on to see because it was so dark outside. By 2 is was down pouring, complete with marble sized hail, and lots and lots of lightning. Of course I went outside to watch it, I love a good rain storm. Then by 3 it was back to being super sunny. So weird.

Ok, so on Friday I completed 2 layers of 'Classic Yellow' stacked, with a layer of chocolate in between, and then 2 layers of Funfetti with white frosting in between. So then Today (Saturday) I completed 2 layers of Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting in the middle. I then packed up and transported the monstrosity to Gwyn's house (I was helping her with some remodeling/cleaning/lifestyle changing).
My canvas. I feel like a Marble sculptor.
At this point, I started cutting.
I realize that there are not that many pictures of me... here is proof that my hair is normal.
Mmmmm Cake.
Frosting Time.
One of the benefits of having an art master around is much more efficient and proficient color selection and sprinkle (or Jimmys if you are from Pittsburgh) placement. Thanks to Gwyn who was my color mixer and selector.
First you get the sides, then you get the top. C done and Jimmied
We mixed a lot of frosting.
Almost done... but something is missing.
Ah yes, the P 'hole'
There was a little debate as to the implementation of the 'P.' It was either cut out the P hole, or just frost it. If it were to be cut out, it would athsetetically look better, but it would be very hard to cut out, and very hard to frost. There is also a general rule of thumb that you want to maximize the about of  cake in the cake, and not cut out, so based on the presented arguments, the P hole was simply frosted in.

So currently the creation is wrapped in a very elaborate foil covering that only Chelsea could truly appreciate. In leu of trying to transport it to my house, then take it out of my car, and then get it to Church in the morning, it is residing on the Rohrer's stove for the evening. Thus only one trip.

I would say another successful cake made. Ill let you know the reception tomorrow.

An idea that my mother gave me while talking about this cake is what to do with the left over cake material, or negative cake. Larry really enjoys this, as the remnants only last a few day (if not hours) in the house. But this time there was going to be 3 cakes worth of remnants. So my mother suggested Cake Balls! Which turned out great! The general idea is to cover small bite sized balls of Cake in chocolate. So after crumbling the leftover from the Funfetti cake (or the P), some frosting was added to help stick balls together. Then the balls were rolled in melted chocolate to form covered balls. These turned out awesome. Some work needs to be done on the correct implementation and chocolate use, as the chocolate we used was a little sticky, and made rolling difficult. But still they turned out great!
So much cake...
And covered.
As you can see, Gwyn did a lot of work on these, she perfected the roll technique. We ended up making about 2 dozen of them, they are awesome! Certainly looking forward to experimenting with this desert!
The damaged Kitchen

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Or Lightnight bugs!

I saw my first Pittsburgh Firefly this evening. The group of us were walking from Point Brugge to Highland Park after a successful Frisbee night, and low and behold: A firefly!

Don't worry, I told everyone that we don't have such glorious bugs in Washington. And then I told them about Dad, Uncle Jerry, Chris, Cory and myself loosing our firefly virginity two summers ago. And how awesome that was.

To all of you men, I wish you were here with me so we could frolic in the grass again.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Call out

Also I am calling Chelsea and Caleb out. Are you guys going to write anything for your visit here? Mom and Dad sure did a nice post ;)

I just realized that I never did post about that. If you guys don't want to (or don't remember) I can throw up some awesome pictures. And by throw up, I mean post, not actually puke... that would be gross.

New Creation

First off, has anyone actually used any of my recipes? If so let me know how they turned out, and take a picture! I will post your feedback on the recipe itself. You can be part of this blog too.

Last night, I tried a variation of one of my favorite things in the world. I feel as though I may be preaching to the choir, but I love Fajitas. Specifically, I love my mothers fajitas. I know they are 'simple' and not super fancy, but I have never had anything quite like them. It may just be the memory associated with them, anyway... In high school, my mother made fajitas close to .75 times a week (if you are wondering that is like 2 times in three weeks, not quite every week, but certainly more than every other week). And my father put up with it. Thank you both. If you were wondering, you can find more about them here.

So this week, I decided to try something a little different. I present to you: Gwyn's Pittsburgh Fajitas. Take the aforementioned fajita recipe and add Asparagus to the onions and peppers and French Fries. The french fries were an homage to the tater tots my mom would serve with fajitas (but I am in PGH, so they had to be Fries), and the asparagus was due to Gwyn's love for the plant. They turned out great. I think I am going to try this more often, adding other types of veggies to the mix, I think zucchini would work, and mushrooms. Hmmm... it is a whole new world.

So this week is my first real week at my internship. Things are going well. I have a bonified workstation set up here, and I am making progress on my project.

I feel like my weeks are rather established now (mostly to my own doing). Tuesday nights is bible study. We are reading all of the short books, and at the end we can say that we have read half of the Bible, it is great. And there has been some really good discussion. Wednesday was Frisbee night (long story of how that got started) but is now Movie in the Park night. Similar to Smoovies event in the Tri, the parks here set up a large screen and show films after dusk. All for free. This week (aka today) is Batman (to clear up any confusion, this is the Michael Keaton and Jack Nickleson version from the 80s, not the Christian Bale version from 2000s). This is going to be held at Flagstaff Hill, if you remember your Pittsburgh Geography, this is next to CMU and where we went sledding! Then Thursday nights are the new Frisbee nights. I started these events to get people outside, and to experience new parks/neighborhoods. Each week we go to a different park to throw a disk around. Last week we played some half court Ultimate, it was a lot of fun! There is also a side objective: after getting worn out, there is a chance to experience local, and new food near the park we are at. I am really excited about this. Tomorrow we are at Highland Park.

Ok, well I should get back to work. Look forward to a recap of this past weekend (lots of baseball) but I want to get some pictures in first!

Grilled Chicken Sausage and Apple Pizza

Many of you have enjoyed pizza with me before (from Rocky's to Costco Pizza with LM guys to Jake's Pizza Night). Many of you have had pizza I have made before (Pesto Pizza with Mom, Continuation of Pizza Night With Jake and Bill). This one is for all of you. I decided to get a little crazy, to try something new.

I was inspired by what I think was a similar pizza at Rock City Grille, but I could be wrong. Using Jake's beloved whole wheat and honey dough, and mothers pizza sauce as a base for the creation, this was an attempt to use fruit in a traditional (well kind of traditional) pizza.

(I am writing this away from my recipe, I will update this when I get home)

Mother's Sauce (per Pizza):
8oz (one small can) Tomato Sauce
some Grated Parmesan Cheese (the cheap Kraft kind, in the green container, works the best. Don't use fancy cheese here)
some Parsely
some Oregano
some Garlic Powder
some Basil

This is a classic example of my mother saying "You know... use enough to make it work." She taught me how to make this, and it is really not that hard, you just have to be creative. Pour the sauce in a bowl, add the other ingredients, and mix well. Taste it and see if you want to add more. There will be approximately equal parts of Parsley, Garlic Powder, Basil and Oregano, and about double to triple parts Cheese. The cheese is what makes this great (I know, I know... cheese makes everything great). If you have something to dip (like a pepperoni) it makes this whole process super fun.

Mother's Sauce (see above)
Chicken Sausage (If you can get Applewood sausage, I got a bunch of this at Costco. It is great stuff)
1 Granny Smith Apple
1 Onion
A little Oil
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Shredded Provolone Cheese
Wild Jack Buffalo Sharp Cheddar (see below)

Pre-Heat the oven! To 500 Degrees!

About the cheese: I went to Market District (Giant Eagle's attempt at a good store) to get the cheese I needed. I went to the cheese section and asked the lady there for her suggestion on what I should get for this pizza. I told her what I was trying and she immediately went over and grabbed this pepper jack looking cheddar and said: "Honey, this stuff will go great." Then she gave me two plastic containers with shredded Provolone and Mozzarella. So if you are trying to make this exactly, look for a spicy cheddar, it can be as hot as you want it to be, this ended up adding a lot of flavor to the whole thing. This also added a lot of cost to the whole pizza. I think I spent $12 just on cheese. You can easily just get Mozzarella cheese from the refrigerator section of the store for a lot less, and it would work fine.

So in preparation: Chop and saute the onion in some oil, set a side. Cook the sausage and bacon. You can get creative here, you can cook the bacon in a fry pan, then saute the onion in the bacon grease (oh man... I love bacon onion.) Then boil the sausage, or cook the sausage in the fry pan too. I went with a more summer approach. I grilled both the sausage and the bacon. I didn't really know you could grill bacon, but it does make sense. Just be sure you watch it. It does give off a lot of grease, and that grease does like to catch on fire, just watch it. Once cooked, slice the sausage in to small rounds (or half rounds if you have large sausage) and crumble the bacon. For the apple, cut it in thirds, or fourths, cut out the seeds, then slice very thin.

Spread some corn meal on the pan/stone you are going to bake everything on. Roll out the dough in the shape of the pan/stone, transfer to the pan/stone. Spread the sauce on the dough (as much as you want, I really like the sauce, so I used a lot). Add a layer of Mozzarella and Provolone (this can be omitted if you are trying to cut back on the amount of cheese used). Add bacon and sausage, distribute over the entire pizza. Add onions. Then layer apple over other ingredients.
It should look similar to this!
Now add some more Provolone and Mozzarella, completely covering the other toppings. Then add the Sharp Cheddar.
Mmmm.... Pizza...
Now throw the pie in to the oven. This next part takes some finesse. Bake the pizza for about 8-18 minutes. This all depends on the pan you are using, the amount of toppings and the cheese you are using. You want the pizza to be cooked, but not burnt, and you want the cheese to be melt and bubbly. I would set a timer for 5 minutes, then check every 2 minutes after. You have all had pizza, when it looks like you would eat it, take it out.
Done. And great.
Take it out of the oven (if you are in my house, get the smoke alarms to turn off), let it cool a little, and enjoy.

Some notes on the dough: If you are getting to the point where the top is done, but the dough is not cooked all the way. Try this: Roll the dough out on the pan, but before adding toppings or sauce, put the pizza in for 3-4 minutes. This will partially cook the dough, and give it a head start when baking the whole thing.

Also invest in a Pizzazz. Penny gave me one a while ago. They are the greatest single kitchen invention ever. They make pizza so very easy. I left mine back home... I really wish I had it for this pizza.

I initially made this for Gwyn and myself. Her reaction was good, but it was too spicy so she had to eat it slowly. Larry tried it, he said that it was the best pizza he has ever had.

Because I didn't use up all of the dough and all of the cheese, I made another one the next week. This time for toppings: Onions, Peppers, Mushrooms and French Fries! It was also great.