Sunday, February 26, 2012

Progress (ie, lack thereof)

Since my last post, I have succeeded in doing the following:

1) Not studying Italian
2) Buying a tunic at H&M

Here are my excuses for 1) and 2):

A) It's hard to read at home when you teach during the day.  Especially when the books aren't in English.
B) I wanted the tunic before Lent, but I received the coupon for it after Lent.  It goes with EVERYTHING: jeans, heels, leggings, boots, flats. You name it. It was dumb NOT to buy it.

The good news is that I saw a lot of stuff I wanted when I was out with Leslie on Saturday, and I did not buy ANY of it.  So that's good? Right?

Ron came home today after a really long trip consisting of 14 hour days for 10 days straight.  He literally walked in the door, gobbled the eggy sandwich I bought for him at Wawa, poured the coffee down his throat, walked upstairs to bed, and slept from noon to 6pm.  He woke up because I made dinner for the first time in, like, weeks.  I think today is the first day in ... a month? ... that I went to the supermarket. I'm not joking: When I woke up this morning, I had nothing in my fridge. Well, not nothing: white wine, moscato, Skinny Girl cranberry cosmo, milk, mustard, ranch dressing, half a lime, grated pecorino romano, and chestnuts from December that never got roasted.  I'm not even sure what I ate while Ron was gone.  I bummed at least two dinners off my mom and another one off of my mother-in-law. I remember drinking a lot of coffee and finishing a bottle of red wine.  That's it.  There's a Pop Tart somewhere in there too.  And a lemon basil cupcake from Valley Forge Flowers that literally made me swoon.  Holy crap, it was one of the best confections I have in months. Months.

Anyway, I made dinner tonight.  (I forgot to take a picture, but I'll grab one tomorrow.)

I hate how the coffee pops out of the top of the lid. I forgot to grab a second one to cover it up. An aside: this past fall, I was wearing (what I consider) a higher-maintenance outfit at school--white cotton sleeveless blouse with this blue and white striped cotton skirt with this awesome Eiffel tower applique.  You know how it is: white blouses attract wrinkles and stains.  And the skirt is more white than blue ... can you see where this is going. One of the basketball coaches sees me walking across campus and he yells, "HEY HOW YOU DUNE???" I tried to reply to him but I was trying to put up my umbrella with my huge school tote on one shoulder, my unbalanced purse on the other, while dealing with a coffee in my non-umbrella-ed hand ... the purse drops to my elbow, the coffee jolts, the drips fly into the air ... and fall in a perfect streak all down my front.  I went from looking twenty-eight to just eight in 2.5 seconds flat.  Nice.

Damn coffee lids.

Meanwhile, it's been looking like March around here. I took this picture at 5:45pm this evening.  Look how bright it is.  Hope, people.  This is the image of Hope.

The cats are loving it.  Penny has literally been turning herself inside out to go out on the back deck, but Pearl is satisfied with an open window.

I hope it's a fun week. We'll see.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What are you doing for Lent?

I'm a bad Catholic. "Bad" as in, "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It's been 16 years since my last confession."  Nope, not making that up.

Actually, now that I think about it, I don't remember the rest of the script.  Confession has a script that you follow ... and I'm just realizing that if you tossed me in a confessional and told me to be my Catholic self, I would fail miserably. I do still have the Act of Contrition memorized, but the order of the script is pretty much gone.

Please note, I'm not taking pride in this. I'm simply stating facts.

One of the things that I still like about my particular religion is Lent, the six weeks and odd days that lead to Easter.  (Lent ends before Easter ... I think on Good Friday.) Of course, as a kid I preferred Advent: Advent's only four weeks long and the prize at the end of the game is Christmas.  Since college, however, I've much preferred Lent.

Lent, when taken seriously, is a true test of the will.  It's like New Year's resolutions but there's a lot more self-loathing and personal judgment involved (thus, making it more challenging and potentially more satisfying).

My family cannot talk about Lent without also talking about (wait for it ...) sugar.  When I was growing up, my mother gave up "candy, cake, and cookies ... and potato chips. And any complaining regarding this 'sacrifice'" every year. EVERY year.  My mom (if you regular readers haven't picked up on this) is a hard ass.  (Mom: this is a compliment. Don't freak out.)  Another way of saying this is, "She's a Scorpio." Same thing. Anyway, the day after Ash Wednesday would roll around and--snap--she magically stopped eating this stuff. And she didn't touch it again until Easter.

Now, we have to add a footnote here. If this were a professional paper, you would find this in tiny print at the bottom of the page: "It must be noted that my mother's Irish Catholic family believes in breaking Lent on Sunday.  Other people, specifically my Italian Catholic father-in-law, calls such practice 'The Behavior of Heathens' and a product of the 'Church of What's Happenin Now?'  In response to these objections, please see the following citation of Michel Martin's Tell Me More on NPR (April 22, 2011), regarding an interview with a priest who explains that the church does not disapprove of breaking Lent on Sunday.  This is absolutely acceptable with the traditions of the church."

So, some years mom literally touched nothing with sugar for six weeks and three days. And some years she would occasionally break on Sunday. Typically, her style is more the former than the latter.

There was the year that she gave up coffee. BAD idea.  Pretty scary actually.  She stuck to it and then later swore she would never do that again. We made her promise that she would stick to her promise.

I haven't really done anything in a few years. If I'm being honest, I really haven't tried hard at all since junior year of college ... sooo ... eight years.  (Whoa. Eight years since junior year of college?)  That year, I did the whole "candy, cake, and cookies ... and potato chips" and took it really, really seriously. I just wanted to know that I could commit to something and follow through.  Maybe I was thinking that this was good training for both of my senior theses?  Or for grad school? Who knows, but I lost a lot of weight without even trying which was really cool, and I promptly gained it all back by the fall semester, but it was fun while it lasted. I tried to repeat my efforts the next year, and I could not get my act together.  It was baffling. I have no idea why it was so hard to take this task seriously, but I couldn't do it.  Maybe it was because I was working on two senior theses? And my attitude toward everything non-theses related was (for lack of a better expression), "Screw this"? That Lenten "can-do" frame of mind was simply not happening for me.

This year, I want to try again but I don't know what I want to do.  Of course, I have waited for Ash Wednesday to pass to consider seriously this question. I've been tossing around a bunch of ideas, but only two are really sticking.

First, I want to do a money detox.  Specifically, I really want to consider the state of my closet.  Maybe you've heard this stat? It's something like, "People only wear 20% of their clothing 80% of the time."  Don't quote me on that, but I know that I've heard something like this.  I think I'm one of these people. If this is true, then I should get rid of a lot my stuff and not buy anything to replace it.  I'm pretty sure six weeks will give me a sense of what to do about this.  The incentive for following through is pretty obvious: watch the dollar signs add up in my checking account.  But, let me remind myself: Plenty of Ash Wednesdays I have said to myself, "Oh, this won't be so bad" and it ends up awful to control.  So, we'll see how this goes.

The other thing I want to do is study Italian for 20 minutes a day.  I could just cry thinking about all of the vocab I've lost, the exception verbs that elude me, not to mention my complete loss of the subjunctive.  I was on my way to mastering how to read the Sicilian dialect, but then I graduated and it all ground to a halt. It's a sin.  Really: THIS should be the first thing I mention if I ever do go back to confession.  The other day, I thought to myself, "Yeah, but how am I going to do this?  Review lists of verbs? Work on random grammar exercises?" and then I remembered how I studied for my graduate French exam a few years ago: Pick up a goddamn book written in the foreign language of choice, grab a dictionary, sit your ass down, and get to work.  Right now, that's my plan for that component: Just grab one of my Italian books off of my shelf, my falling-apart dictionary, my other big, fat, heavy dictionary that supplements the falling-apart dictionary, and make like I'm in college again.  I can honestly say that I really care about this.  This I want to continue indefinitely into the future.  I have 20 minutes every day. Right?


Oh, falling-apart dictionary: ti voglio bene.  We spent so many countless hours working together from 8th grade all the way through college.  Don't worry: You'll never get tossed in my recycling bin.

It is just occurring to me that I need to start on this stuff tomorrow if it's going to count. How did Lent sneak up on me like this?

Ahh, la domanda della mia vita: How does everything manage to sneak up on me?

Monday, February 20, 2012


Some random bits and bobs to start the week.

What better to start with than creme brulee?  (There's an accent somewhere in there, and foreign terms ought to be italicized; but, I don't know which E gets the accent, and I'm too tired to care--much less figure out--how to include accent marks in Blogger. And I'm not italicizing something I'm going to write 100 times in one post.)

I love creme brulee.  This simple statement is partly explanatory of a fundamental breakdown in communication between myself and my immortal beloved when we are served with dessert menus in a restaurant.

Him: "How about the flourless chocolate cake?"
Me: "How 'bout not?"
Him: "Ok, what about the chocolate lava cake?"
Me: "What about it?"
Him: "What about the chocolate torte?"
Me: "What about something NOT chocolate?"
Him: [Long pause; staring at each other over the menus; neither one of us blinks; I carefully go for the dagger hidden in my boot ...] Finally: "What are you talking about?"

I like chocolate. I do not desire it on a regular basis and I rarely think about it in restaurants.

[Aaaaaaaand there goes the loyalty of 60% of my readership. It was nice while it lasted. I knew they wouldn't like me forever.]

Over the years, I've realized that I actually pick desserts based on texture, not flavor.  The general rule of thumb: If it's silky, I want it.  (This is also a good rule of thumb for blouses, hair, sheets, and body lotion.)

I want the silky dessert; Ron wants the chocolate. We always say that we're going to split dessert and then we never do because our respective choices are so offensive to each other.  UNLESS, there's pecan pie on the menu: THAT is the one thing we can both agree on.

Last week, we had creme brulee.  Ron's made this before, but not for a long time.

What would Nigella say?: "Little lovelies, so eggy and smooth, dotted with vanilla gorgeousness." Probably something like that.

I've never actually made creme brulee, so I can't say too much about the actual making of it. I do know that Ron uses Alton Brown's recipe and I can tell you that it's pretty damn close to perfect.  At the very least, it's as perfect as Ina's marshmallows.  (Seriously people: If you're not in the habit of being friendly with sugar, you really should be.)

Alton's recipe will fill four typical ramekins.  Personally, I like a thick crust on top, and I don't care if it's a little too ... how do you say? ... brulee-d.  But, both of us agreed that we overdid it on the first two: too much sugar, too much heat for too long.

They were still incredibly lovely because with one solid swack of a teaspoon, you reveal this underneath:

Ramekins are the perfect size: You don't want anymore once you're finished, but you aren't wishing that you had any less.

A note about hardware: Ron doesn't have one of those cute little blow torches that you buy at Williams Sonoma for the express purpose of finishing a creme brulee. He uses the scary blow torch that he keeps in the basement ... the same one that he used to install the hot water heater three years ago.  It's slightly terrifying, but he knows what he's doing. I'm thinking carefully about this now, and I'm pretty sure the blow torch has been used in the kitchen for food more often that it's been used in home improvement projects ... not sure how I feel about this unofficial statistic.  I'm also wondering if such cooking techniques are slightly carcinogenic?  Don't answer that.

We tried brulee-ing again the following night, and we're pretty sure we got it right: less sugar, less heat for less time.

We probably won't do this again for three more years.  It's ok, though: Nobody should be eating this very often.

And now, we shall commence the Hodgepodge:

Lovely orchid from my momma on Valentine's Day--my first (orchid, that is).

My sister gave me this cool black and white toile (what is up with the French in this post?) T shirt for Vday, so I paired it up with a turquoise cardi and royal blue cigarette pants.  According to one of my fave former students, I was "Like, WHOA, totally visible from across the cafe."  I was assured that this is a compliment.

Longwood with my mom over the weekend:

Witch hazel

The BIGGEST foxtail fern I have EVER seen! It's the coolest thing ever. It's like a cross between a muppet and a space alien. Someone needs to paint a face on the container. (I'm sure a classy place like Longwood would totally go for that.)

If you've ever since a cat's tail get puffed, this is exactly what it's like.

Foreground: yellow clivia, this particular color developed by Longwood for Longwood.

Background: forsythia!  Forsythia = Easter

 What would Nigella say about these?

"Look at these dear, jam-stained babies."

"Good enough to eat."

One of these days, I will teach myself to write after 8am and before 10pm.  The voices in my head need to learn to talk louder during those hours.

Hard determinism on the docket tomorrow.  Still need to find the news clips I want to use in class.

For now, off to bed.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My favoritist Vday

Two years ago, it looked like this on my back deck:

It looked just like that until Easter.  Everything at school was turning into a mess. My whole syllabus was shot to hell because our class kept getting cancelled.  I was reaching a point where it was hard to care if we accomplished anything at all that semester.  Valentine's day was around the corner, and guess what? They were calling for another 2 feet of snow to arrive for the holiday.

On the Tuesday before Valentine's day, I was slowly starting to go nuts: It was impossible to go anywhere without freezing your ass off or almost crashing your car on black ice; said syllabus was shot to hell; my students were lazier than ever because we hardly ever met for class; cabin fever was setting in ... big time; I had hit a huge impasse in my dissertation and was becoming deeply, horribly, sadly lost in the existential abyss that is, "If I don't finish, do I still matter? What if I don't finish? WHAT IF I DON'T MATTER?"; and, generally speaking, I really hate snow because it makes me sad and mad.

I came up with a great idea at 2pm that day. I had already received notice that my class was cancelled for the next morning (because two more feet of snow were coming), so I told Ron that we should go to Simon Pearce because I really wanted some wine and cheese.  And, I wanted an excuse not to wear pajama bottoms for two hours.

So, I put on my pantyhose and fancy shoes (and a dress: don't worry), and that's where we went.

I called and made a reservation for 5pm because the snow was supposed to start at 7pm.  The guy on the phone was like, "Well, you probably don't need to make a reservation tonight ... you're probably going to be the only people here."  Typically, their dining room was full (because we were always there on a weekend).  We walked in that night ... and two other people were at a table.  It was awesome.  Floor to ceiling windows lined one entire wall of the dining room, and the best seats were along those windows.  We literally had the entire bank of windows to ourselves. I could barely take it--I knew the odds of this happening again were slim to none.  I can't believe that I don't remember what I ordered ... I'm pretty sure that I had soup and a cheese plate.  I definitely had a fancy cocktail.  I think Ron ordered an entree ... I really wish I could remember.

We would always look in the store after dinner.  You know me: If it's sparkly, I want to look at it.  The weight of the individual pieces always surprised me. Even the champagne flutes are really heavy in your hand.  Yet if you drop one of these suckers, it'll shatter into a million pieces like it's nothing.

Fun movie fact: You know the movie Sweet Home Alabama? Guess who produced all the glass for Jake's glass studio?

You guessed it.

My favorite favorite favorite.
That particular night, I saw that they had small heart-shaped candy dishes.  They did NOT cost an arm and a leg, and I really wanted to get one.  But, I didn't.

I thought about getting one for entire year.  Not joking.

Chairs lined up in front of the huge "ovens" where you could watch glassblowing demos.
I don't know why, but it was the best night ever.  We drove around for awhile and looked at all the houses lit up in the snow before we actually drove home. Maybe it was the best because it was a Tuesday, but we were acting like it was a Saturday?  Maybe I secretly liked having all of my classes cancelled for the billionth time?  Maybe I love cheese even more than I thought?

The next morning, it looked like this outside:

And the day after that, it looked like this:

Strangle me. Now.

Eleven months later, my mom texted me: "Simon Pearce is GONE. CLOSED."
My response: "What are you talking about?"

One night, Simon Pearce closed its doors ... and nobody found out until the next morning that they wouldn't open again.  Seriously, it was my most favoritest place.  The store would remain open for another month, but the restaurant was done.  After checking a million online sources to be sure that this was true, I ran right over there: I wanted my heart-shaped candy dish.

A few weeks later, the whole building stood vacant and it's still vacant.  I hate driving by and seeing it that way. I hate it.

Can I tell you how glad I am that I dragged my camera with me that night?  Who knows why I brought it. I'm just glad that I did.

If I had to pick, I would go with 2010: Favoritest Valentine's Day so far.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Buona Festa di San Valentino!

My house is so overrun with candy and cookies right now that I hardly know what to do with myself.

In honor of the holiday (and the Valentine's Day party we were hosting on Saturday night), Ron made a fresh batch of marshmallows.  (We use Ina's recipe ... it's the best.)  We stocked the fridge with champagne and sparkling pink lemonade and braced ourselves for all of the sugary goodness that our friends were bringing to the party.

Footnote: We realized Saturday morning that this was the perfect excuse to get a giant tray of soft pretzel nuggets from the Philly Pretzel Factory ... omg, like I've said before, I love bread and pretzels might be my favorite incarnation of bread.

The weather totally stunk (it was hit or miss with the roads icing), but a lot of our friends stopped by anyway.  Amy made sure that Maya was dressed for the occasion--how cute is this baby?

Steph modeled her valentine on her purse.  Everybody had something red or pink on for the occasion (even some of the boys ... I asked Ron if he would wear one of my felt hearts to work on 2/14 if I made him one, but he just stared and blinked at me.  I understood that as a No.  I guess that's not very professional in a corporate office.  Academics wouldn't know anything about that.)

The only group shot I have was taken on the Fuji Instax ... WHY did I not ask Ron to grab the good camera and take another??  I swear to God, my brain literally turns off when I have people at my house and it is SO NOT HELPFUL.

I think one of the funniest stories of the night came from Laurie (the blondie in the above photo): She and Nick had planned to stop by with Leah, but the roads made them nervous and Laurie texted me around 7 or 8pm to tell me that they wouldn't be coming.  I didn't text back (remember: my brain turns Off when it should be On), and an hour later Laurie is standing at my door with the most gorgeous Valentine truffles you've ever seen ... but no Nick and no Leah.  I felt really bad: Why would she drive anyway if the roads were so questionable? (They were really questionable.)  The answer: Laurie--mom to an eight week old baby--had purposely made time to do her hair that day, dammit, and she wasn't letting a good hair night go to waste! "Are you kidding me?" she said. "We put the baby to bed right after I texted you ... and then we were just sitting on the couch.  So I looked at Nick and said, 'Well, I don't know about you, but I washed my hair today so I'm going to the party.  See ya!" And out the door she skipped.  It was a liberating moment for new moms the world-over.

Unfortunately for Laurie, it's biologically impossible for Nick to feed Leah ... so her cell phone lit up two hours later and it was time to go home.  The spell was broken, but Laurie didn't mind and out the door she skipped to go see her baby.

Laurie's truffles: they were like red velvet Oreos inside.
Since tonight is actually Valentine's Day, Ron and I have no intention of going out.  Typically, we go out the week prior to Vday, but it just never happened last week.  The only place I felt like going to last week was Simon Pearce, but Simon Pearce officially ceased to exist one year ago yesterday.  I'm still not over it. I didn't feel like going any place else, so we just skipped it this year.

I can't help it: I feel so old even though I know that I'm not. It's been eleven years since our first Valentine's Day:

Feb 14, 2001

Ron took me downtown to hear the Orchestra (at the Academy of Music ... the Kimmel Center wouldn't be finished for ten more months ... Can I just state for the record that the A of M is the most beautiful place in Philly? Hands-down/no questions).  I forget what time the performance wrapped up, but Ron said, "As long as we're down here, we have to go to Marra's." (Watch out--the link has music.)  I had never even heard of Marra's--which may have offended Ron or simply horrified him or maybe just made him feel bad for me--but it. changed. my. life.  OMIGOD: THE PIZZA!  I was telling my students about Marra's last week and ONE GUY in the whole room knew what I was talking about. I was like, "Isn't it true?? The pizza is so good and it's served to you SO HOT that it peels the skin right off the roof of your mouth. And you don't even care because it is THAT GOOD."  This other guy was like, "Yes. It is TRUE." Your mouth hurts for days after, but you don't care. It's not worth waiting for it to cool, and you understand that the pain has tremendous pay off. You don't care. You just eat the pizza.

We came home pretty late that night (on a school night, no less--I felt like such a rebel. I never did bad stuff like that. Uh huh: I was that girl).  I SKIPPED first and second period the next because I wanted to sleep in after such a fun night.  I NEVER SKIPPED anything in high school. Yup: That Girl.  Don't you feel bad for me?  It was the only time I ever gave in to Senioritis. The glory of skipping stuff that I didn't care about was fabulous.  The holiday literally lasted 24 hours for me.

I was seventeen. Such a long time ago.

Buona Festa di San Valentino!

Friday, February 10, 2012


Every time the middle of February rolls around, I start planning a trip to Pittsburgh out of habit.  It's been two years since this (used-to-be) annual trip has taken place, but old habits die hard.  When Leslie was an undergrad at CMU, February was an easy month for all of us: no major trips for Ron, no major grading (yet) for me, no major exams (yet) for Leslie.  We got lucky three years in a row: A LOT of snow fell during those Februarys, but never during any of our trips.  Pittsburgh is always cold this time of year, but it was never unbearable.  We lucked out.

I love Pittsburgh. I love it. I love it so much that I endlessly pored over real estate ads for weeks after each trip. (This was always brought to an end by Ron saying one of three things: 1) "You know that Leslie is going to graduate and move back to Philly, right? So you'll be out there.  And Leslie won't be."  2) "You know that you'll be five hours away from your mom, right?  So you'll be out there. And your mom won't be."  3) "It snows there. A lot. And you hate the snow.  A lot.  Are you understanding me?  If you live there, it will snow. More than once. Every year.") Oh well.

The drive out there from Philly is sorta ... uh ... boring? monotonous? long? really long?  Let's say: long enough to make you think, "What's the point again? oh right--I remember. Wait, no I don't. Remind me?"  Each year, I made it a point to grab a bunch of CDs that I had been meaning to listen to and save them for that eternal stretch between Harrisburg and Monroeville (the first sign of civilization in Western PA).  As a result, certain albums (i.e., Fleet Foxes, Death Cab for Cutie, anything that was ever played on Gray's Anatomy, etc.) always, always remind me of February trips to Pittsburgh.  For the rest of my life, each time I hear "White Winter Hymnal," I will see a tractor-trailer dotted stretch of road before me, the wimpy-not-so-impressive Appalachian Mountains in the distance, and tall, grey-brown skeleton trees densely packed along the sides of the highway ... you can almost hear them wishing for their green-leaf clothing because it's so cold out.  That drive is long enough to make you say, "Thank GOD that's over" when you arrive ... but short enough where you think, "Oh, it's not so long" the day before you depart.

So herewith, a photographic hit parade of all things we did in Pittsburgh. There are a lot of repeats each year because I couldn't bear to give up some things to do new things.


Gorgeous church in gorgeous Shadyside
Special exhibit at Phipps Conservatory

Allow me to orient you: You are looking down into a reflecting pool which is mirroring the ceiling.

Mudge courtyard:

Day ...
... night.

Dozen cupcakes!
Omg, Dozen: I miss you so bad.  You're so cute.  Nothing in West Chester is as cute as you. I miss you all the time.  Every time I eat a cupcake at Starbucks, I want to cry because it's so not the same.

The Golden Triangle
Breakfast at Crepes Parisiennes
I totally forget where I was and who I was talking to, but I was raving to some total stranger about how much I looove Pittsburgh and how much I looove Crepes Parisiennes and this person says to me, "Hey, is that place in Shadyside? My brother used to work there."  Coincidences like that make my head explode.


Walnut Street in Shadyside
Dessert for breakfast at Prantl's bakery

The Warhol Museum ... it totally makes sense to me that this guy came from this city.
Dozen again!  Oh, I miss you Vanilla Vanilla.  I really, really miss you.
Crunchy French toast at Smallman Street Deli in Squirrel Hill: "Crispy coated Challah, dipped in fresh egg batter. Grilled to perfection. Served with butter and maple syrup."  This will change. your. life. French toast will have a whole new meaning for you.
Coffees and lattes at the Creperie.

Brown sugar and butter crepes with walnuts and whipped cream.
Creperie photo 2009

I hate being repetitive, but here we go again:

This trip was right after a huge storm--something like three feet of snow fell a few days before. The city was still recovering from this major inconvenience, and public parking was a mess (most of it was still under snow).  When we went to make our Dozen outing, a Pittsburgh resident yelled at us when he saw us feeding our parking meter: "Don't you DARE feed that meter! The goddamn, good-for-NOTHING Mayor [who shall remain nameless] of this GOD-FORSAKEN CITY has lifted all parking fees this weekend because he can't get the GODDAMN CITY CLEARED UP FROM THIS MESS.  DO NOT GIVE HIM ANY MORE OF YOUR MONEY. STOP! FEEDING! THAT! METER!" Point taken (and thank you!).  By the way, this guy was the preppiest, well-dressed, middle-aged person you've ever seen.  And he was yelling this at us from ACROSS the big parking lot.  Clearly, he was ... fed up.  This guy needed the arrival of the Spring Equinox badly.  And probably a light box for Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Or, maybe he just needed a cupcake?

Cosmo cupcake (cranberry and lime)

We toured the Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning (aka, Tower of Knowledge, Cathedral of Education, Tower of Wisdom ... it depends which one is on the tip of my mom's tongue while she's talking) on Pitt's campus:

The French Room
 These are actual classrooms.

The Norwegian Room
People take college classes in here.

The German Room
Really. It's true. I know somebody who did.

The Austrian Room
Walking back after touring the Cathedral--it was warm enough to unbutton our coats (typically unheard of):

"Maybe she's born with it ..."
Knit One in Squirrel Hill
Kards Unlimited! I love you!
Creperie coffee

She's just joking--there's nothing bad in there.

2010 creperie shot
Like I said, a lot of repeat shots ... I get attached to things and hate switching them around or giving things up.  This may explain why I'm wearing the same coat each year. (I won't lie: That was sorta on purpose ... I just made it a point to wear a different color scarf each year so that I could tell each year apart. What's REALLY sad about that last sentence is that I was in grad school at the time and I never should have had room in my head for anything so dumb.)

So Pittsburgh, I'll be missing you this month.  Sending you a big Valentine's Day heart from the other end of the PA Turnpike   --xoxo