Friday, August 29, 2008

Head Over Heels

We were invited to attend a Gala event called Head Over Heels to benefit concussion research and the UPMC Department of Orthopedic Surgery. It was black tie event but we went a little more casual than that - not many of the fellows can afford tuxes and formal gowns for their dates so it seemed okay. I wanted to take more pictures but it didn't seem like the most appropriate thing to do. I did get a couple though. Freddy Fu, the head of Miguel's program, was one of the honored guests.

This is us at the table, a little later in the night, after dinner. They gave out these feather boas with flashing lights in them and black sunglasses to all the men. The other picture is just what the inside of the ballroom looked like.

Just a couple more shots of us sitting at the table. They gave out these great chocolate high heel shoes with candy flowers in them for party favors - yummy! Overall it was a really fun night and I finally had the opportunity to meet some girls to hang out with - working from home makes it difficult to make new friends.

Strangest thing I've seen in Pitt - oops I mean the Burgh since moving here

Okay - so I realize we have some very, shall we say, interesting sights in Los Angeles but this sighting in Pittsburgh took the cake as far as I'm concerned. So here's the scene, Miguel and I are in the Prius on our way home from brunch driving through a neighborhood we weren't familiar with. Just an aside, GPS is a very interesting technology but sometimes you just wonder - "Where the heck is she taking us????" - which is what we were thinking at the time.

Anyhow, so here we are driving up this street and ahead of us I can see something in the road - I asked Miguel what it is and he says "I think it's a peacock." "A Peacock?!" I exclaim -not believing it possible. As we get closer we think this is one ugly peacock - and alas we exclaim in unison "Its a TURKEY!".

So that's him (or her as I can't tell the difference) - not a bad picture considering it was taken through the window of the car!

Okay, so enough about turkeys. Not much has been happening lately - we are both back to our normal work schedules so adventures are few recently. Miguel did find himself a local coffee shop to frequent called Crazy Mocha. Unlike CA, there isn't a Starbucks on every corner here - instead there is a little dive bar on every corner and I am not kidding about that - these Pittsburghers love their suds! Here is a pic of Miguel at the shop on a Sunday morning and yes their logo is a goat drinking coffee - nothing crazier than that right?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Brunch on Sunday the 10th

Sunday was probably one of the best days I've had here so far. I made reservations at Lidia's Italy in the Strip District for brunch. I think I mentioned that in one of my previous blogs but basically she is about the only "Celebrity Chef" that I know of so far that has a restaurant in Pittsburgh. The brunch was fantastic!
Basically, you start off with your choice of a mimose or bloody mary - here is Miguel and I imbibing in our morning cocktails.

Next, they bring you a basket of marvelous, baked on the premises, breads and pastries along with fruit infused butters - there was some slices of rosemary bread, some chocolate chip and walnut scones, a sugar donut twist and a cinnamon crumb muffin - YUM!


The next thing you are offered is a buffet of fresh Italian salads and sliced meats along with some marinated vegetables and different varieties of olives. It may not look great in the picture but everything was delicious! The salads were mostly made with beans of all varieties and had wonderful vinegar based dressings.

Once you have had your fill of that, it is time for your main course. You can order off the menu or choose to have their house featured pastas of the day. The pastas are brought to your table just off the stove in a pan and then served on your plate - there are 3 varieties and it is all you can eat. If you order one of the entrees, you are served just a single plate. Not that that's bad, cause we couldn't eat more than one serving of anything - too much food but so yummy! Here are the pastas - I wish I could remember at this point what each of them featured but that was a week ago. I know the ravioli was a gorgonzola cheese and maybe mushroom and one of the pastas was made with sauteed squash but all the pastas are also made on the premises.

Lastly, you are welcomed to enjoy the dessert bar which features Italian cheesecake, tiramisu, a chocolate ganache tart and some Italian cookies - sorry I forgot to take pictures of the desserts.

Here is one last picture of the inside of the restaurant - they had these really beautiful and interesting "chandeliers" which looked like they were made of some type of handblown glass.

So that was our Sunday morning, after this amazing meal we were so tired we took naps. Later that night we went to a dinner at a country club sponsored by one of the surgeons at UPMC. It was a welcome dinner for the new sports fellows. The country club was gorgeous and the surrounding landscape absolutely beautiful. We had a very nice time and I got to meet the other fellows and their wives along with some of the staff from UPMC.
Unfortunately that night everything went downhill when we got home. I have no idea why it happened but I broke out in hives from head to toe! I was itching all night long from about 11 p.m. until 3 in the morning. Luckily Miguel had some claritin that I took along with some benadryl and finally it subsided. The worst part is, I had it almost everyday this week - seems as soon as the claritin and benadryl wore off - about every night at 6 p.m., it set in again. Miguel thinks I'm allergic to something but I haven't ever had allergies. Other's have told me it's nerves but honestly I'm not stressed or anxious. Yeah - I don't love Pittsburgh but believe me, I know there are worse places I could be. I can find the beauty in Pennsylvania for a year. Anyhow, last night I seemed to be "rash" free so I'm hoping it was a fluke and everything will be fine from now on.
I'll continue to keep you all posted on what's happening in the 'Burgh. Hope everyone is well and happy!

New Adventures in the 'Burgh (better than calling it the Pitts right?)

So last weekend we did a few new things that were kinda fun - not California fun by any means - but fun nonetheless. Our first big adventure - and my biggest accomplishment thus far - was getting Miguel to agree to go for a walk in the morning across the Hot Metal Bridge. I know you all saw my pictures from that a few posts ago but here is one of Miguel on the bridge - the sun wasn't in full force just yet but it was a gorgeous morning.Saturday night, rather than stay home and watch more cable, we ventured to Station Square, supposedly a "hot spot" on the South Side. Picture the scene of Third Street Promenade or Universal City Walk in LA and then decrease the size by 3 and take away all the interesting shops - now you know what Station Square is like. Oh yes and about all you are left with is some chain type restaurants (the obligatory Hard Rock Cafe), a fountain that WISHES it could rival the one at the Bellagio Hotel in Vegas and some Mom & Pop gift shops - believe me in Pittsburgh you are never more than 10 feet away from a store selling Steelers paraphernalia.

This is the fountain I was talking about - the water "supposedly" moves along to the music. And when I say music, I'm not talking about good music, we are talking about the likes of Shania Twain and Keith Urban - YIKES! Plus the water only moves up and down not side to side like the Bellagio.

Let me back up a little bit, when we got to Station Square, our intention was to take a one hour tour boat ride, but as luck would have it, they had closed down for the night. However, they did have a pretty neat little area to walk down that gave a little history of Pittsburgh and a great view of the city from the shore of the river.

The other thing that was pretty funny was that right near the dock, there are schools of carp and the beg for food! Whenever they see "tourists", they come up close to the dock and open their mouths up to the surface of the water. It was a little bit dark so we didn't get great pictures of them but I tried so here is what I can share with you.

These are pictures of the walkway to the Clipper Fleet with the timeline painted along the walls.

Okay - so I think I have exhausted the room for this post so I'm going to continue with a new post for our outings on Sunday.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Week Two - Not much new

The week started off a little adventurous. I convinced Miguel to accompany me to the Strip District downtown. The strip district of Pittsburgh is known for its ethnic markets, fresh fish and meat markets and all kinds of restaurants and bars. Here is a link to the history of the Strip District for anyone interested: Upon arriving (we got an early start) at 9 a.m., we stopped at Pamela's P&G Diner. This diner was described to us by one of Miguel's fellow fellows (ha-ha) as the best breakfast in Pittsburgh and boy it did not disappoint! They make these crepe style pancakes stuffed with all kinds of fruits and nuts and of course topped with whipped cream. Pair that with a tall, cold glass of milk, an egg and some sausage and you just about have to roll yourself out! We luckily got there at the right time and were able to be seated right away - 15 minutes more and we would have been standing outside in the sun for sometime. Here is a sample picture of the French toast they serve (I got this one off the internet, unfortunately couldn't find a pic of the pancakes).

By the way, I had fully intended to take my own pictures but unfortunately my batteries in my digital camera died and I was left pictureless. But, rest assured, it will not be my last trip to the Strip District and I promise you all some pics the next time. As a matter of fact, I just made reservations for brunch tomorrow at Lidia's Italy - a restaurant in the strip district owned by Lidia Bastianich, who has a cooking show on TV and has about 13 Italian cookbooks available. I'll let you all know how it is and promise to take pictures.
This week was my first week back to work and it was 4 ten hour days working from home. I actually enjoyed it - the time went fast but boy was my butt killing me by the end of the day! What was great is that I don't have to commute and because of this, we have had home cooked meals everyday. I've been making great use of my crockpot since it is so hot here and to turn on the oven at night is just ridiculous! So far our menu has consisted of Pork Chile Verde, Greek Feta Chicken breasts, Short Ribs with a balsalmic zinfandel sauce and lasagna. Tonight I am preparing meatloaf in the crock.
One of the things I have discovered about Pittsburgh is that the food really isn't very good. The restaurants are all the same on the South Side - meat, meat, fried, fried, beer, beer all in GINORMOUS proportions! We went to the only Mexican restaurant here on Thursday night and I can honestly say it is unlikely I'll be going back - it was by far not what I am used to! Needless to say, cooking at home has come in handy and both Miguel and I have actually lost weight and it definitely isn't cause we're working out! The other thing I discovered about Pittsburgh is that the gyms here SUCK! I haven't found one that I love but thanks to my phenomenal trainer, Harry Grant, back in California, he has helped me over the phone develop weight training programs that suit the lack of equipment available here. It's worked cause I've been sore for 2 days!
Anyhow, that is the update for this week - Apologies for no pics but I'll have some later!
Pittsburgh Paula

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Our First week in Pitt

We finally have settled into Pittsburgh. All of our furniture was delivered on Wednesday which was an adventure. The doorways are so small that we had to take the door off the hinges and the feet off some of the furniture to fit it into the house. The movers brought all of our things in an 18-wheeler and if you know anything about Pittsburgh, you know the streets are narrow and often times steep. The truck barely fit on the street in front of the house which also has a bus line that runs along it. A traffic cop came by and warned them to make it snappy. We had to direct traffic, as we live on a hill with a curve, so people coming up had a hard time seeing the people coming down. It was an interesting but successful day. Spent most of Wed/Thurs/Fri unpacking. Miguel started work so he wasn't around much during the day.

Saturday morning, I decided it was time to explore my 'hood a little bit. Pittsburgh has 3 rivers that run through it and meet in the middle. The river running by our house is called the Monongahela and there are a number of bridges that cross it - the one closest to us is called the Hot Metal Bridge and it has a walking path. There is also a great biking/walking/running trail that runs along the river. So, I decided to walk across the bridge. I must say living in California, I never would have opted to walk across any bridge due to my fear of an earthquake happening while I was on it - silly I know but that's me!

Anyhow, it was a beautiful morning - sunny with a slight breeze and the walk was very nice - here are the pictures I took to share with you.

Okay so I was alone and had to take pictures of myself but here I am starting up the bridge - it was about 8:30 a.m.

This is the view looking toward the east - not much on that side - the west view is where the city is.
This is the East View from the bridge where you can see downtown - the tallest building you see in the middle is a UPMC facility.

This is the view walking back over the bridge - the large eagle ahead is the American Eagle Outfitters headquarters which is located on the southside.

This is a steel tree outside the American Eagle building.

This is the path along the river - once you come off the bridge, you can pick up the path and go about 10 miles round trip. The path goes right by the UPMC Sports clinic and the Steeler practice fields.

This is the UPMC Sports Clinic where Miguel will be working regularly but he'll still have to travel to some games and things along with other clinics.

Well, that's it for now. Today we may venture over to the Strip District so hopefully I'll have some good pictures to show you all later!


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Miguel's new Prius!

I totally forgot to include this story in my other blogs but it's pretty good (probably more entertaining for me but I'll share anyway). Miguel sold his truck in LA before we left and wanted to buy a Prius. He called a number of dealers and was told over and over again that there was a six month waiting list. However, some dealers (very few) will keep one or two on the lot and mark up the price so you end up paying more but he didn't want to do that either. So, he made a list of all the Toyota dealers in the Columbus, Ohio area and as we got closer we were going to call and see if anyone had one on the lot since Columbus is only about 3 hours outside of Pittsburgh. Well, the night we stayed in Dayton, Miguel made calls to all but 2 dealers and no one had any. We had pretty much given up hope but the next morning, while Miguel was driving, I called the last 2 dealers. The last call I made, I spoke to the sales guy and he said they actually had one on the lot that morning. It was a fully loaded model, silver and it was ordered by a former employee who backed out of the purchase. I told him we wanted to buy it and we would be there in 1 hour.

Okay, so we arrive at the dealership and there is like a mad rush to sell this car - all the salespeople are calling potential buyers - people waiting for this car. One sales guy (not ours), even tells us as we walk in the door that he has a buyer for the car arriving in 15 minutes and if we didn't get the paperwork filled out before him, he was going to sell the car to them. Talk about pressure! Well, Miguel looked at the car and basically told the guy to get the paperwork going cause he was definitely gonna buy this car. One of the best parts was, the guy who sold us the car had only been working there for about 6 months and the other sales guy that pressured us was their top sales guy - 8 years of experience. Even while we were filling out paperwork, we heard other salespeople calling potential buyers just in case our credit didn't go through or something - absolutely crazy!

Well, we won! Here is a picture of Miguel with his new Prius in our driveway.