Fashion Forward Fridays Reader Submitted: Meet Jodi!

What would you do without fantastic friends? Well. I wouldn't have had a fashionista for Fashion Forward Fridays to share with you today without this friend. Knowing that I would be moving and not really have time during the week, and especially not today, to find someone to feature, I called upon my trusty friend Jodi to send in to be a reader submitted fashionista. Jodi was one of my first friends I met when I moved into downtown and I love this cute and simple, kinda hipster, look she's got going on.

I emailed Jodi the questions I usually ask people on the street and since she's a writer herself and she has so much personality in her responses, I'll just let her explain her style in her own words...

Clutch made by another friend, Laura Greenawalt.
What do you consider your style to be?
I think my style is pretty relaxed. Jeans and tees have always been my go to. The kid in me will always love a good graphic tee and I also love color, so I try my best to have at least one colorful piece in my outfit.

Where are your favorite places to shop?Target. I LOVE Target..it's kind of ridiculous. I also shop at Old Navy and some online shops like ModCloth and Threadless.


highlight reel.

I saw this quote on another blog about a year ago and kept it and then edited it 
into this photo recently since I've been seeing a lot of negativity online this month. 
I understand that feeling, especially as a blogger. And ESPECIALLY as a recent graduate.
It is so easy to compare ourselves with everyone else, when in reality everyone is having rough days. 
Everyone tries to only put their best face out through social media (and in person, too).
Everyone struggles at some point, but don't let your struggle be because you're comparing yourself to someone else. 
You don't know what's going on in that person's life that they are purposefully hiding.
And you don't know who is looking at your highlight reel while you're putting on your best face too.
Alright. Off my soap box now and back to crying while I pack up my apartment.
See? We're not all fabulous, all the time.


My "last" Pittsburgh weekend

I am one for the (over) dramatics. If you didn't know that by now. But as I have hinted at recently on Facebook and Twitter, I am moving soon. My lease (which I have held for two years now) is over on the 31st. And since this building only rents to students and I am no longer, I am giving up this prime location in downtown and moving back in with my parents to save up some money while I start my career. I haven't lived with my parents for longer than a week since I moved out six years ago to start my undergrad at Seton Hill...wow.

Since my brother is graduating with his master's degree on Friday, I plan to be out of here on Thursday so we can just enjoy his day. So this past weekend was my "last" Pittsburgh weekend. And it was fantastic! Thankfully, I had off everyday this weekend so I could really enjoy it, too! (I say last in quotations by the way, because it is silly to say I'll never be back, my parents do not live far from Pittsburgh and yes, I still plan on keeping up with blogging since I will be back fairly often.)

Here's a look at what happened during this wonderful weekend:

Friday - My beautiful friend Heather and I headed to Station Square for a late dinner and drinks to kick off the weekend! We stopped at Houlihan's first for yummy pulled pork sliders and fries and half prices mojitos. Then we realized we were the only locals and the only people under 30, so we headed to a "lesser known" place that is technically called Dirty Hairy's but that everyone really calls Ref's (is it's old name). Which is much more local bar scene and one of our favorite places.

Neapolitan style restaurant in Market Square.

Saturday - Sleeping in for the first time in months (!!!!!!!) and then MJ surprised me by sending me on a mini- scavenger hunt to figure out where we were going to have dinner. Which I assumed from the start was Il Pizzaiolo, a new restaurant in Market Square, where his friend Spencer works. You can bet your bottom dollar that you will soon see a review about this place because it was fabulous! Then we just soaked in each others awesomeness (10 points if you can name the movie I stole that line from) and walked around downtown for a bit, and hung out in my apartment talking for awhile. And then we took a drive around town until we decided we were hungry again and of course, agreed on Eat 'n Park's midnight breakfast buffet in Squirrel Hill.

Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community - logo on one of the church's windows.
Sunday - Eric and I went to church at Hot Metal, as usual. It was PACKED since it was the first week for summer service, meaning only one service per Sunday, instead of the usual two. So many people that it was standing room only. And I was sad that this will be our last service there for awhile, since this church is just indescribably awesome. Afterwards though, we went out for lunch in Aspinwall to use our Chili's gift cards and saw a flea market, so we stopped there on our way back into the city and found some great deals, even though most people were packing up by the time we got there. Eric and I both snagged some vinyl and I also got a great vintage purse and two bracelets.

My flea market finds - vintage purse, Queen Elizabeth coin bracelet, wooden beads bracelet, Frank Sinatra record.
Monday - Appreciation of the freedom we have thanks to those who served and continue to serve our beautiful country and the packing of my apartment went into overdrive and mostly everything is packed up and sorted by now.

I plan on tackling the last bits of my room and the kitchen today, and I should be all done. And later tonight, I am heading to the South Side for dinner with a couple friends and to see Eric perform at an open mic night...the adventure just never stops in the city.


Fashion Forward Fridays: Tidal Cool Creations!

Recently I was approached by Pretty Living PR to feature one of their clients, Tidal Cool Creations and thought that this company would be perfect to include with Fashion Forward Fridays. Although not considered a Pittsburgh-based company, they are located in Cleveland Ohio, but have showed their previous collections at Pittsburgh Fashion Week and are growing to even greater fashion heights.

I love the mixture of hard and sweet elements in this new collection, Primary. It is very much my style and I connected to it's mix of edgy and girly instantly. Below is my interview with the Tidal Cool Creations designer, Andrea Howell, and some inside looks as to what to expect from this up and coming brand. Enjoy!

How did Tidal Cool Creations come to be?
I launched Tidal Cool Creations a few years ago as a creative outlet, and was designing and sewing commissioned items as a side job and hobby. Last Spring I auditioned for Fashion Week Cleveland (the first audition or submission I'd ever done) and was accepted. Upon hearing about my acceptance into the show, I decided to go all in, quit my career in restaurant management, and focus 100% on my clothing label.


A POP'ular Pittsburgh Place

Pittsburgh Popcorn. Many different flavors. Six different sizes. Yummy. While I have been here before, I know that I've never featured it on the blog, so you'll have to accept my phone pictures for now and go check it out yourself. They have four locations throughout the 'burgh and for my out of town readers, yes...they do ship their products nationwide. I suggest the Chocolate Caramel or Fruity Loop.  
Or really, any of them.


I'm Finally Writing a Review of Red Beard's

Hey there. About a month ago I mentioned how some friends and I checked out a new restaurant downtown and that I would write a review of it soon. Well, this isn't what I'd consider "soon" but here it is. Red Beard's is now downtown. It is wonderful and you should check it out.

Red Beard's Logo
Red Beard's has another location in Mt. Washington and now that they are located in downtown, around the block from my apartment, I am in love with them. When I went there for the first time, everything was so very new and I was overly excited just because it was a different choice to the downtown options. It was the second day that this location was open, so it still smelled new and the staff was still learning the menu and specials and getting into their flow, so I didn't want to blog about them right away. So I have gone back a couple times now and it is clearly one of my favorite spots for easy dining and late drinks with friends.

The atmosphere downstairs, of course, is very mid-priced bar and upstairs has the more restaurant feel. While the menu is pretty much the typical cuisine you'd expect for a what would be served at a bar, it also has a vibe that is more chic or "clean" in my opinion. Bar food isn't what I normally go for but Red Beard's is able to give you the simplicity of typical bar food with the added ingredients of a local bistro. Since that first visit, the staff seems like a now well-oiled machine, but a machine that is still personable and friendly and welcomes you at the door. Red Beard's in this new location is a great place to be able to get a quick, yet delicious, meal before seeing a show in the Cultural District and the perfect place to celebrate a Pirates or Penguins win after the game. Or if your in the area for any of those things, or just roaming downtown (or Mt. Washington) during the day, stop in and experience it for yourself - I'm sure you'll enjoy it!


Nothing Says Summer Like Frozen Yogurt

Razzy Fresh is located in two places in Oakland and in Squirrel Hill.
The Razzy Fresh three-step process.

Two sizes of frozen yogurt cups.
Some of the yogurt flavors.
Some of the toppings.
My finished product.

Tempting, I know. Nothing says summer like a cup of frozen yogurt, especially from such a bright and beautiful place like Razzy Fresh. In three locations in the city and priced by the ounce. Nothing better on a Monday too, right? You should go out and treat yourself to some, like MJ, Isaac and I did yesterday. Friends and frozen yogurt, come on guys, what better way to spend an afternoon.


Fashion Forward Fridays: Meet Ericka!

It has been beautiful in Pittsburgh this week! And beautiful weather means obviously cute outfits. I have been seeing a lot of maxi dresses with jean vests recently and have decided that it's my new favorite thing. So when I saw Ericka, I thought she would be perfect for Fashion Forward Fridays today.

Ericka in her cute look for summer in the city!

Ericka said that she thinks her style is low-key and that she just goes with the flow and whatever is appropriate for the weather and the day she has planned. She likes stores like Forever 21, Rainbow, Macy's, H&M, and Dots. And she suggests that everyone should dress for their body type, that everyone looks best in what actually fits their body. She also said that she disagrees with the third-worst-dressed listing that GQ gave to Pittsburgh because she is from Pittsburgh and sees all kinds of great fashions from different people. So, if you see me, you'll probably soon see me copying a look like this from Ericka and I hope that all of you have a fantastic weekend!


Meeting Andy Warhol

Wall along the entrance to the museum.
If you've been around this blog for a while, then you know that I have a (possibly larger than) minor obsession with Andy Warhol. You probably know him, or at least have heard of him as the king of pop art. He was quite possibly one of the most keen observers of the world around us and knew how to make everyday objects into art, and he was from a suburb of Pittsburgh. He's one of my favorite artists because what he calls "pop" I call designing, or advertising, which you also probably know, I love.

Andy once said, "I don't want to get involved, I just want to watch." Which is what I did in his museum yesterday. Because of International Museum Day, The Warhol was free to visitors, and although it is always free for Point Park students, I had the day off and this finally gave me the push to go. I made my way from top to bottom (well 6th floor to 1st since the 7th and 2nd were being prepped for new exhibits) and took my time, though I could have stayed much longer. The 6th floor, filled with Andy's films, the 5th and 4th with the pop art that everyone is probably most familiar with, the 3rd with his "Time Capsules" and Interview Magazine covers and the 1st with the timeline of his life, August 6, 1928 - February 22, 1987.

I loved being his observer. Going alone also allowed me to take the time I wanted to, although I made note that I should have gone there earlier so I wasn't worried about the fact that the museum closes at 5pm, but that just gives me all the more reason to go back, like I plan to. But now, even after I have studied Warhol in college, read books about him and saw a play about him, I now feel like I know him. At least know him better. The museum is a fantastic way to see inside the mind of the unbelievable Warhol, his actual works and works inspired by him and I encourage you to visit. Especially because you aren't allowed to take photos of the exhibits, so you won't see any more visuals here, meaning you have to go see it all and experience it for yourself! Enjoy!


Bob Your Head & Smile with Donora

All photos property of Donora.

About a month ago, my brother and I were planning on going to Brillobox in Lawrenceville to see one of our favorite local bands, Donora. Naturally, I planned that I would be able to get two blog posts out of the deal, one about my first experience in Brillobox and one about a local band I love. We got there an hour and a half early, knowing that the venue is smaller than most and that they were going to have to push people away. We just didn't expect to be those people. The Donora show was sold out almost two hours before they started and we were headed out of the city to an Eat 'n Park.

Now, why do you need to know this little anecdote about Donora instead of me just diving in to tell you all about them and their new EP? Because for the longest time, I could count the number of people who know who Donora is on one hand, and two of those fingers included myself and my brother. Now, one of their songs is in a Nationwide commercial and they are selling out shows around the city, and you need to know about them before they get too big to mention on this little blog that encourages its readers to go to things and listen to bands before they become too famous to mention. So, here I am, mentioning them and spilling out my love for them, to you my readers, whom I also love, before they become too big to mention. That totally made sense right?

You cannot help but love them - just by looking at them - just wait until you listen to them!

Donora currently has two CD's out and about floating around, being awesome. Their first, a self-titled work of art and the second, "Boyfriends, Girlfriends" which is also amazing. Now, they have this EP called "Play Nice" which is swoon-worthy. My favorite song on it is "Float Away" which, like all of my favorites of theirs make me, 1) Want to dance, 2) Just "smile I can't help it," 3) Randomly quote their lyrics, 4) Bob along with the beat in the car, and 5) Blog about them.

I don't know how to describe Donora without just saying that their lyrics will instantly make you smile and are easy enough for you to learn right away to sing along with and that they have the most infectious beats and floating melodies. You want to listen to them. You want to love them. You will be happier because you did. Yes, that was me doing hypnosis through the Internet. Trust me, they will bring an instant smile to your face and a total What is Love/Night at the Roxbury moment to you, and come on, who doesn't want another reason to do that...in double time? Listen to them here and follow them here.


Fashion Forward Fridays: Meet Jeana & John!

Hello fashion fans! Today you are in for a treat because I have TWO people to feature for Fashion Forward Fridays. I had a free afternoon yesterday so I made my way up to the lookout area of Mt. Washington to take a few pictures of the city. But while I was there, I saw Jeana and John and could not pass them up for Fashion Forward Fridays.

John & Jeana - great shoes & tans.

They were just too adorable together and were in bright colors that it really made me want to feature them and have both of them be in this post. It's not all the time that you see an equally fashionable couple. And although Jeana was actually just coming to the area to visit John, a Moon Township native, they're clearly both fashionable and allowed to be featured.


Bowling & Birthdays

Saturday night, MJ and I joined my friend Jodi and a group of her friends to celebrate her 24th birthday with some bowling at Arsenal Lanes at 44th and Butler Street in Lawrenceville. If you're from the area, you've probably seen their television commercials that say they are "Where old school bowling vibe meets night club atmosphere." (As said by the New York Times.) Which is exactly what it felt like.

Remember a while back when I said I was a terrible bowler? Yeah, well, that's still true, but Arsenal Lanes is a great atmosphere to show off my awful talent. Or your great bowling skills, whichever. The lanes and decor are super old school and awesome. Vintage even. You can see the ball the whole time when it's on it's way back to you and there is carpeting on the walls. They have specials every day. The Smiths play through the speakers and since it's a bar, no obnoxious teenagers are running around and the drinks are cheap. Can you get any better than that in a bowling alley? I think not. Make a trip there soon - you'll be sure to have a great time, even if your bowling ability is sub par, like mine.

Also, wish Jodi a happy (belated) birthday in the comments if you so desire!

Proof that I was beating MJ for a hot second.
Left: some fun pin-up girl bowling pins on the wall. | Right: The birthday girl and me!


Congratulations, Runners of Steel!

Runners of Steel crossing the Andy Warhol Bridge

Congratulations to everyone who ran in the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday! I am proud to know so, so many of you! I am extra proud of Jennifer and Kaitlin who each ran their first ever half marathon. And to my friends who maintained an 8 minute pace in the half and the full. To the ones who did better than they did last year, who trained for the full but "only" finished the half, and who somehow maintained a stylish look while running all over the city. You all amaze and inspire me! Especially because none of you backed down after what happened in Boston, you trained harder and ran faster.

I'm also proud of the city of Pittsburgh, although it was so much harder to watch the runners this year because of extra security, it was worth it. The way the city changed it's normal plans to keep all of us who were downtown today safe and sound, was a great sight to see by itself. Thank you to everyone who took the extra precautions for this race. Although there was one death on Sunday, it was overall a safe and fun day. But my thoughts and prayers do go out to that runner's family and friends, peace be with you as you mourn.

Families being reunited with their runners in Point State Park after the marathon.

In other news, I was called "Miss Pittsburgh" by a random reader while I was at Point State Park. Good feeling. 
I love this city and I love all of you runners of steel -especially now, you are all incredible.


Farewell Fraley's Robot Repair!

One of the Downtown Pittsburgh's Project Pop-Up's is leaving. Fraley's Robot Repair wasn't really a store but I loved it so much! I thought that it was such a clever art installation and will be sad to see it's space without that little, lonesome robot. Robot Repair was created by Toby Atticus Fraley and features a small shop where a robot is left to fend for himself since his owner could never be found. The installation changed often to go with holidays, day-to-day activities and other themes, always interesting and humorous. But little robot is now moving on to California ...hopefully he'll find some company there. In the meantime, here's some recent looks into the shop AND if you're nearby, check out the going away party TONIGHT from 5:30pm - 7:30pm at the Renaissance Hotel's Braddock's American Brasserie bar, including $4 beers and $6 cocktails and of course, photos with the robot!

Store front of Fraley's Robot Repair.


Sadly digging his way to California...

The robot's map to the next location.


Peace'burgh: Love the Homeless

photo credit.

Last week, my brother and I volunteered with a few other members of our church, Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community, to make, pack up and deliver about 30 lunches to homeless people around Pittsburgh. First thing's first, I am not writing this post to gain attention about "doing a good deed" or get a pat on the back through comments below. I'm writing this to make you aware of a common misconception that many people have about this overwhelmingly large part of our population.

We went to about five local spots where some people are known to be living, near various neighborhoods. Places that you probably wouldn't even think to look or if you were near, which if you frequent Pittsburgh, you've probably been near, and never noticed. I know that a lot of people often see homeless people out and about asking for money and only think that they want it for drugs or alcohol, which for some, is true. But some genuinely need your help. I think on Saturday, we saw both sides.

Either way, they are all people who needed a bottle of water and a sandwich, along with some other goodies, and a conversation. I don't really know what I'm trying to say. Besides maybe, give some of those people you see on the street something more than a smug look or abrupt "no" before leaving them in the dust. As a student, I got used to carrying around extra fruit and random snacks because I often don't have chance to run home for a meal, and quite a few times those snacks went to people on the street who asked for money for food. So there are easy little ways you can help. You can go to Hot Metal to volunteer, every Saturday at noon, walk in Tunch & Wolf's Walk for the Homeless, help out at a homeless shelter or you could purposefully carry around fruit. Above all, just know that they aren't all the kind of people you think they might be. Just like anyone else you might meet. The best you can do is just love them.


Fashion Forward Fridays: Meet Lindsay!

So I didn't have a fashionista last week for Fashion Forward Fridays because I was running around town looking for the perfect shoes to wear during graduation. But then my bestie, Lindsay, and I went to the opening night of Clybourne Park at the Pittsburgh Public Theater and of course my girl was looking fabulous, so here she is...a week later.

Clutch: Urban Outfitters | Hot Pink Peplum Top: Express | Black Skinnies, Flats and Belt: The Limited

Lindsay is one of my favorite "fashion icons." She's right up there with Jackie O in my mind, but like I said, she's one of my best friends so I may be biased. She likes to shop at Target, The Limited, Express, and Francesca's and has style across the board.


Race "Issues" Take Center Stage in Clybourne Park

Issues surrounding race are typically slumped into a list of "things not to talk about" in most circles. Also on that list tend to be religion and politics, and other subjects that might make you uneasy around people who you do not know too well, or who you know have the opposite opinion than you about the "issue." Well. I think that great phenomenal theater is the kind that just puts it out there. And that is exactly what Clybourne Park, going on now through May 19th at the Pittsburgh Public Theater, is doing.

Clybourne Park, which was written by Bruce Norris, is the 2012 Tony Award winner for Best Play and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. If you see it, which I am highly encouraging you to do so, you will instantly understand why it has claimed these two prestigious awards, as well as various others. Clybourne Park takes place in one house in a suburb of Chicago, Act 1 is set in 1959 and Act 2 in 2009. This show could be put on a total black stage and be flawless, but of course that's not the Public's style and the interior of the house fills the stage and is pretty elaborate. Every actor/actress is perfect for their roles (you'll see, they play multiple parts) and during intermission, the music playing guides you through the decades, which I think is a clever touch, especially since Michael Jackson plays during that time.

Act I, when Karl is trying to prove a point (or twenty) to Russ and Bev. Photos from Post-Gazette.

Let's get right into this. The first Act is centered around a middle-aged couple, suffering the loss of their son, preparing to move out of the house on the 100% white, nose-in-the-air, Clybourne Street. This couple, Russ (Brad Bellamy) and Bev (Lynne Wintersteller), have two very different views on how to deal with the death of their only child, Kenneth (Jared McGuire). As you learn more about Kenneth's death, you see the guts of Clybourne Street, the seemingly happy and perfect neighborhood, actually houses a lot of betrayal and judgement. And as Bev and Russ get closer and closer to moving, their neighborhood makes it easier for them to leave without any qualms. Although Karl (Tim McGeever), Jim (Jared McGuire), and Betsy (Megan Hill), all mean well, they make the transition easy by indirectly insulting Russ and Bev about their son's death, the way they are mourning, and the family they sold the house to. Mostly, the family they sold the house to, because that family is black and as Karl so eloquently puts it, "they'll bring down the property values of the neighborhood and it's just one house at a time from there." Obviously these statements upset Bev and begin a huge fight between her and Russ against Karl, all while their maid, Francine (Chandra Thomas) and her husband, Albert (Bjorn DuPaty) are basically forced to sit there silently as their race is discriminated by Karl and not so gracefully saved by Bev.

Act 2 picks up in the house fifty years later. Where Steve (Tim McGeever) and Lindsey (Megan Hill) are trying to get their renovation plans approved by the neighborhood's planning committee. These two new comers tip-toe around issues, trying to make friends with everyone. While Tom (Jared McGuire) tries, unsuccessfully, to run the meeting and Lena (Chandra Thomas), Kevin (Bjorn DuPaty), and Kathy (Lynne Wintersteller) all recount their memories of the neighborhood "back in the day" and their memories within and around that very house. Again, race becomes an issue because of those memories, Steve's inability to be a rational human being, Lindsey's obvious tip-toeing and Lena's will to pick a fight. Basically, everyone has something to prove and defend about their own race, gender, beliefs and sexual orientation and everyone offends everyone else at some point.

The whole cast in Act II, right after contractor, Dan (Brad Bellamy) finds an old Army trunk in the backyard.

Although I just made this show sound like the most serious business of all, trust me, I laughed the entire time. Bruce Norris has created the piece needed in every life in today's culture. It is presented in a serious context, has multiple undertones that develop a passionate piece, but it is the humor that gives this show life. Clybourne Park is a must see on any stage, but it just happens to be on the Public's stage right now. It brings to light the issues of differences, mostly race related, and how we think those differences change our surroundings for the good or the bad. Thank you, Public Theater, for bringing these issues to center stage. Thank you, Bruce Norris, for having the guts to even write this.

To me, race is only a big thing, because we make it out to be this huge barrier between us. I'm also in a long-term biracial relationship and living with roommates from different countries, so I might be biased in saying that race is not a big deal. And at this present time, I feel like only MJ and Bruce Norris understand my humor around this "issue" because they share it. Everyone always looks at MJ and I awkwardly when we blantantly point out and joke about the ridiculousness in separating us by race. This is also coming from a man who hates being called African-American and would rather you call him black because he "ain't never been to Africa."

I love him. I love this show. And I'd love you if you went to go see it and thought that it was more than just thought provoking. I'd love you the most if you're a white girl and you belly laugh the loudest in the theater, during the show, when the joke about "what's similar about white girls and tampons" comes up....you know, like I did. Not because you think it's particularly funny but because you know it's true for about 70% of the white women you know. This show is crude. This show is relevant. This show is needed. It is a necessity for today's stuck up society. We are not different races, we are one. Human. The quicker we learn that, the better. Maybe Clybourne Park can help us do so just a bit little quicker and help use to laugh about it along the way.

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