Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Weekend Round-up: Haunted Tour Review

My day got a little turned upside down yesterday, hence the review coming one day late. My apologies for that. But back to biz...

As you may recall, Hubs and I ventured down to Point State Park on Saturday afternoon. It was cold, gray and drizzling, which I felt was the perfect backdrop for a li'l haunted history tour. We bundled up, toted our umbrellas and readied ourselves to be spooked.

The hour-long tour was hosted by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. It told a condensed history of the Point, the point of land where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers intersect to form the Ohio River and where downtown Pitt is situated. Here's a visual reference for my non-Pitt readers:

via Google Images
The Point hosted four forts that played a role in American history: Fort Duquesne, which was occupied by the French, Forts Mercer and Pitt, occupied by the British, and a fourth (which is slipping my mind - anyone know??).

We were told stories of a young George Washington making his way to the French forts around Western Pennsylvania to inform them they had to leave or else, because the British were coming to take over. We heard about French and Indian War capture and torture stories. We learned about a curator in the 20th century who had finally had enough of tourists visiting the Fort Pitt site and subsequently took her life. We were also told of mysterious incidents and ghost sightings the modern day museum curators and staff have experienced. It seems that deep under what is now Point State Park lie the remains of some restless souls.

Despite the stories of torture, suicide and ghosts, the haunted tour was not so spooky. I never got that little chill and thrill typical of hearing a creepy story. That said, I still loved it! I enjoy history and it was quite fun for me to imagine the goings on between the French, British and the Native Americans. {Nerd alert: the movie The Last of the Mohicans is one of my favorite movies of all time; I admit that I was totally imagining the movie throughout the tour.} And bonus! The Fort Pitt Museum staff treated us to complimentary donuts, coffee and hot chocolate at the tour's conclusion. That alone earned them a friend :)

A good-lookin' warrior running through the field to save me from being scalped? Yes please.

Shout out to my fellow Pittsburghers - any other history tours, sites or museums I shouldn't miss??

Happy Halloween Eve!

Friday, October 26, 2012

My week around the 'Burgh

The weekend is mere minutes away, with all of it's sleeping in, cooking, reading and haunted tour goodness! (Keep reading for more on the haunted tour - eeek, so excited!)

I kicked the week off with a Publisher class, compliments of the Carnegie Library. I love the class offerings at the Library's PC Center. And bonus, they're free! What a great opportunity for people re-entering the work place or looking to brush up their mad skills and boost the resume. Check out what they have to offer. Be sure to sign up asap, classes fills up quick. Oh, and take an Excel class with Jude - she's a kick in the pants and a great instructor.

Midweek, I joined the soup kitchen crew at East End Cooperative Ministry. I discovered the EECM last week while perusing the interwebs and decided it was high time to add a little service work to my schedule. What a great bunch of people! Interested in giving a little of your time? Visit the EECM site and click "Volunteers". Opportunities include the soup kitchen, but you can also help tutor school-age kids, deliver Meals on Wheels to house-bound residents or help the pantry organize and distribute food to clients. In the words of a good friend back home, do it.

Weekend time! I'm off to enjoy some African food, music and dance at CMU... but first! The haunted tour! Hubs and I will learn about the history of Point State Park, along with it's stories of "mystery, mayhem, mutilations and manifestations". I cannot wait! I'll be back on Monday to tell you all about it.

 What does your weekend entail? Any spooky, Halloween-inspired plans?

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

{Almost} Wordless Wednesday: Charlotte, is that you?

This, kickin' it outside the window at Tazza D'Oro this past Sunday afternoon:

View from inside

And outside, up close (but not too close) and personal
Curious, I googled Charlotte's Web. From there, I checked Google images for "barn spider". Seems to me as if we have Charlotte in our midst! I'll let you know if I spot Wilbur running around Highland Park :)

Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fall palette

Mmm, fall. Who doesn't love it with all of it's football, cozy sweaters, tall boots, pumpkins and cups of steamy chai goodness?? Or is that just me? :)

I don't have much to say today, so I'm going to hop the Wordless Wednesday train (okay, mostly wordless). Here are a handful of shots I've captured while out and about over the last couple of weeks. The changing leaves get me every time!


The bright red leaves are my favorite. Don't really see these in CO.

I'm so sad that the pic does not depict real life - these trees looked as if they were glowing yellow and orange!

Couldn't leave these out... Some kind of mum, methinks?

But seriously - is there anyone out there that truly does not enjoy fall? Please dish, that is most curious to me.

Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Library LOVE

I'm swoonin', folks. Over my husband and his quirky charms, yes of course, but there is a new love in my life and it was definitely at first sight. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has stolen a little piece of my heart.

It took me a bit of time before I finally ventured a visit to the Carnegie Library (the main branch in Oakland). I mean, a library is a library, right? Each contains its varied selection of books, people and free public programs. How different could it be from the others? Well. The CLP has put me in my place.

This place is beautiful, and I mean beautiful. The architecture just blows me away. I'm no art history buff so I don't know the correct terminology for these things, but the walls are covered with paintings and carvings complete with those leaves and scrolls at the top. There are the old school card catalogs in the little drawers, too! It's all just so pretty.

It's not just the aesthetic beauty of the building. There are so many great aspects... There is sustenance, for those days you find yourself holed up for hours on end. The coffee shop on the first floor, Crazy Mocha, sells decent coffee and delish paninis. Good food and drink always wins points with me.

And the collection? Forget about it. Huge. There are books, electronic media, magazines, encyclopedias and more, available here that I would only dream of finding back in FoCo (and even the Denver Public Library). I literally squealed with delight upon discovering their dance DVD collection. This won my allegiance over the coffee and snacks - and that's saying a lot!

I'm rather impressed by the programming. There are well-established youth and teen programs and each age set gets their own designated corner of the building. It was pretty awesome to see the numbers of teenagers roll up in here after school let out this afternoon. The library's investment in youth is significant and says a lot about the institution. Adults from the community get their fair share, too. Free classes and workshops abound, ranging from computer instruction, foreign language discussion groups, exercise programs for seniors, and job and career assistance. I'm taking advantage of some of these opportunities myself. I'm signed up for a handful beginning next week.

I had to buy a bag the first time I visited so I could lug home all that I checked out!

Don't get me wrong. The libraries I frequented back in Colorado were not bad. They were lovely little places and I found what I wanted or needed most of the time. But none of those libraries had me at hello like the CLP.

The lovely trees along the walkway
The moral of the story? The Carnegie Library is the bomb dot com. If you have never visited, not even once, you need to change that pronto and make your way to Oakland. It just might charm you like it did me. 

Are you a bibliophile, too? What's your favorite part of your favorite library? Or have you not visited in awhile? GO show your local library a little love!

All photos taken by me. Thank you to Suzanne Thinnes @ the CLP for granting me permission to post the pics online.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Meet 'n Greet

So I've been a resident just shy of a month now. I hail from Fort Collins, Colorado (which I fondly dub FoCo), a small city about an hour north of Denver. I'm a native Coloradoan. I love the mountains, the blinding sun and the thin, dry air of my native state. I hope I grown to love my new city, too, humidity and all.

I also love food. Y'all don't know even know, but you will quickly learn by how much and often I talk about food, how much I love to eat. FoCo is known for being saturated with restaurants and good ones at that. I also come from a family who cooks well because we love to eat well. So, I know good food. One item high on my to-do list is to find the good eats here in Steel Town. I started taking notes right off the bat and am itching to share my first gourmand impressions. Stay tuned.

The sandwich that dominated me, courtesy of Primanti Bros
I'm here because of my husband. He just started his Ph.D. studies at Carnegie Mellon University. Honestly, at first, I wasn't so jazzed about moving to Pittsburgh. Earlier this year, when he told me that he got accepted to his first choice school, I had mixed feelings (poor guy, my initial response was not jumping-up-and-down elation)... The Pittsburgh in my mind was gray, dirty and sad since it's steel heyday was done and gone. Many people reassured me us that the 'Burgh has experienced a rebirth and rejuvenation over the last decade or so and that it is, in fact, quite beautiful and lively. That quelled my fears, I prepared for a cross-country move and so far, in the little we've seen, I can't say they were wrong.

Look at that handsome guy and that skyline! Love.

While my hubs hones his mad genius skills at CMU, I currently can be found lurking in coffee shops while I job hunt, blog and find countless other things to distract me via the interwebs. When I can't stand to be cooped up inside any longer, I'm out and about doing whatever my heart whims. Soon I hope to be taking class at the local dance studios. I'm the dancing and writing starving artist half of the duo, although my husband is a very talented artist himself. Maybe I'll talk him into featuring some of his drawings here on le blog sometime.

One last tidbit before I wrap up this little meet 'n greet. I have roots here in PA! My dad was born here shortly before my grandparents moved him and my aunts out west. Rumor has it that my great-grandmother was a teacher at Grove City College. So I have some distant relatives somewhere around here... I grew up not really knowing much about my dad's family history prior to their life in Colorado, so I'm kind of excited to look them up and see what I find.

There's more I could tell you, let's let the blog tell the story as I share my adventures.

Shout out to all Pittsburghers (and anyone who knows the 'Burgh): What's not to miss? Where should we eat? Where's a good date-night spot for a couple of on-a-budget newlyweds? Good shopping? Other insider tips? Throw it at me, I'm open!

Cheers and happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

New kid on the block

Hello Pittsburgh!

I'm new around here. Well, I've technically been in town for about 3 weeks now, but I've barely scratched the surface with getting to know my new home. But I'm so eager to learn! Which is why this new little blog is here. In all of my travels, I've always learned the most about a place when I didn't have a set agenda, but rather just started walking. That's how I've discovered my favorite places, met dynamic folks and established an experience that is uniquely my own. I hope to do the same here in the 'Burgh.