This years holiday cards have a picture of my dad from when he was about three IMG_4603.JPG
I’ve had the photo for years… With every intention of putting it on a card but never did… This year I did…

Today I did all of my Christmas cards… Friends and acquaintances just got generic cards and those custom cards sat in their box untouched with the list of people that were getting them off to the side… I did lots of errands and by 5pm still hadn’t touched them…

I knew I was putting it off… I knew that part of me didn’t want to do it… Save them for next year but I put my head down and addressed the 20 cards putting a short note inside each…

And as I packed everything up so proud that I overcame something that I wanted to avoid the song that started playing on my iTunes on shuffle stopped me in my tracks… Of 1400 songs, follow me by matthew mayfield – the song I dedicated an entire blog post about a few weeks ago began playing… I felt like it was a sign that my dad was watching and he was talking to me in some way… So as I sit here crying they are not sad pity tears they are possibly the most healing tears I’ve ever cried…


Love the little things

Sometimes you are reminded that you need to take a moment and appreciate every moment you have with those that you love.  When I take a second and look back on this weekend I’m so glad I got a chance to do everything that I did because when Sunday night rolled around and my boyfriend’s phone rang the news wasn’t good.  A death in the family – a relatively unexpected one is never easy.  So I’m going to take a moment to reflect on all of the little things I did this weekend because I know this holiday will have a different meaning for Ryan and in turn for me too in a way.

Thursday I hosted another family dinner – just my couple cousins and I, but even when it’s just the five of us in my half done dining room I appreciate that sitting around the table that will now be the center of family meals I know that it’s an extra two hours that I get to enjoy with those I previously didn’t get to see often…


Friday was a lot of nothing honestly… Ryan and I went to our favorite local restaurant Dorothy 6 Cafe in Homestead for a drink and just relaxed for a bit… and geared up for a bit of a busier Saturday…

Saturday kicked off with an awesome breakfast if I do say so myself… I think I’m starting to love cooking again – especially breakfast… I used the corncake recipe from the How Sweet Eats Cookbook (you must buy) and topped with things like salsa, fried eggs, basil chicken sausage, gouda cheese – you get the idea…


Then it was off to take miss Minnie to the vet who I’m happy to say has lost 3 lbs in 3 weeks however today i got her blood tests back and her levels are still low so they are upping her thyroid meds and we’ll retest again in 3 weeks… I just keep hoping that the improvements continue and that this is all going to lead to a better quality of life for her…

this is how car rides occur.... big dogs cannot be kept in their place...

this is how car rides occur…. big dogs cannot be kept in their place…

Ryan and I had tickets to see White Christmas in downtown Pittsburgh at 2pm and of course weather decided to go insane Saturday – roads turned to ice – we came across closed bridges and roads but thankfully made it to the play… White Christmas is my all time favorite holiday movie and I was thrilled to get to see it on stage…




The dancing was superb but I wasn’t thrilled with the character tweaks to Judy and the show added a scene after the iconic White Christmas scene at the end which was kind of a major fail but over all i was happy and it was a great time.  We grabbed dinner downtown – sadly my phone died so I couldn’t take photos of the thanksgiving meatball I had at Sienna Mercato.  Holy delicious.

And the day wasn’t over there.  I’ve been on a music roll lately and another one of my favorite singer song writers tweeted me on Thursday to let me know he was rolling through town and doing a low key show just outside the city Saturday night.  It was basically a version of a house show and had a lot of Q&A, requests and was completely acoustic.

Matt Hires and Kyle Cox at the Parkway Theater in McKees Rocks


Big concerts are just going to be let downs now.  Check out their music.  Ryan loved them and that’s kind of saying something because there’s not much music he and I agree on!

Sunday was laid back – low key and the weather let us leave the house for a few minutes and enjoy the porch… Breakfast of stuffed french toast… peanut butter for the bf and cookies and creme spread and bananas for me…

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We went up the road and spent some time with my grandma… I don’t see her nearly as much as I should and we just enjoyed the time chatting and making plans for the holiday… Around 6 Ryan’s mom called and it woke me up from a half sleep you know when you can just tell that something isn’t right… His grandma had died and I knew that things were going to get tough and quick…

I don’t really know how to comfort people in times of loss… ironic right?  I know that when I lose someone I just shut down… I handle it completely internally… some of it might eek out over time… but I just distract myself in all ways possible… so I have no idea what to do for someone else who is hurting… I hope I did what was needed to just be there and that’s what I’ll keep doing I suppose… but what I always do is cook… so I made homemade chicken parm… His grandmother was italian so as a silent tribute to her make something italian…

And as death always makes us do, everything starts to slow down, you think about what you could have done differently… and you think about what you can do with those you still have in your life… and maybe that song on the radio stops you a little bit in your tracks today… and maybe the rain makes you a bit sadder… and maybe now the holidays aren’t so happy… but I think as long as we remember to find joy in the little things and smile at the memories and appreciate what we had and what we have that everything is ok…

Louisville…….. and bourbon

My best friend Melissa and I took a long weekend to Louisville Kentucky this past weekend.  If you follow me on twitter or instagram you’ve already seen many of these photo’s but of course I have to add some commentary now and let you know what a fabulous little get away it was.

We left early Friday morning and took a very short detour to Frankfort, KY to the Buffalo Trace Distillery so that I could load up on their Bourbon Cream… It’s pretty much to die for… you should try it… seriously…



We hit up a local, well reviewed cafe called Adelia’s which I have to say didn’t disappoint.  I had a baja panini and it was fantastic to say the least.  The cafe is locally sourced and without a doubt had that fresh flair.  Melissa opted for a wrap which she described as stir fry in a wrap.


Then it was onto to Louisville.  We checked into the hotel and after a quick recharge headed downtown to begin the Urban Bourbon Trail which is a great way to not only see downtown Louisville but to challenge yourself to try new bourbon drinks.  You check into designated bars after a purchase and after 9 bars over the course of time you get a t-shirt. Now, I am not a bourbon drinker…. at all…. like I catch a whiff and I’m like ok eyes burning and coughing… Melissa is a bad ass and drinks it straight…

But the bartenders were pretty amazing and when I’d say I’m kind of scared of bourbon they’d make me something that would mask the flavor a bit and boom before a knew it I had a new love for bourbon.  And who knew the drinks could be so pretty.

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Don’t worry those weren’t all mine!

Stopped at Bluegrass Brewing Company for dinner… Nachos were consumed so fast that we couldn’t even snap a picture and the pizza wasn’t too bad either.  I picked up a 4pack of bourbon barrel stout to bring home too.


Saturday we were up early enough to hit up the anniversary tour of the Evan Williams Bourbon Distillery downtown (Heaven Hill) which was really neat because it was a commercialized and modern way to present the history of bourbon.

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And then we ventured onto the City Taste Tour of Louisville.  If you go to Louisville you need to do this tour.  You see a little bit of everything in 3 1/2 hours and it is affordable, the guides are fantastic and just DO IT.


Just some of the sites we got to stop at…


A candy shop across the river in Indiana open for over 120 years that had great chocolate covered honeycombs

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Old Louisville with Victorian Mansions just to die for and walking paths that mad you feel like you went back in time, gas lamps and all.

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Churchill Downs – we even caught a race!


The Falls of the Ohio River

That night we stopped at Havana Rumba in St. Matthews right outside of Louisville for some Cuban food and yes – can we please get something like this in Pittsburgh… or can someone tell me where a cuban restaurant like this is hiding?

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We grabbed breakfast on the way home Sunday and called the trip a success.  All in all it was quite a fabulous trip.  Affordable – great history and you can easily fill up a weekend there.  Go – you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Here’s to you Louisville – thanks for your hospitality.


Land of the Free

And home of the brave…

I’m so proud to say I come from a family where both my grandfathers served in WWII and my father served 5 years in the Army including a peace time mission to Korea.  This is a day where there is not much that I can say in words that will really do justice to the honor that every one of our veterans deserves.

It’s honor they deserve every day of the year too, not just today.  Hold your heads high and proud and know that at least for a moment we are all saying thank you in our own ways today.


My dad upon graduation from West Point circa 1972. Last clean shaven photo he ever took probably.


Pap Stanley during his Army MP days WWII Pacific


And when he did his tour in the calvary


He was certainly a handsome one


And still came home to work in the Pittsburgh Steel Mills


Not to mention the cousin in the family that radioed as his sub was sinking and came home a hero


And finally – my other grandfather… the man the myth the legend… who, when he would give you a glimpse into the things he saw would reveal a war surgeons life that you weren’t sure was real… who landed on the late waves in Normandy and eventually found himself all the way across Europe… who instilled beliefs in his children who passed them on to their children and who in many ways in the reason I am who I am today.

So just stop for a minute.  Realize what today really stands for.  Pay it forward.  And say thank you.

The power of a song

It was a few months ago at the end of a show called NY Med (some reality show produced by Dr. Oz that follows ppl through NY hospitals) that I heard a song that froze me in my place and rocked me to my core.  It was at the conclusion of a story where a man had been diagnosed with inoperable cancer but against the odds other therapies had been able to eradicate the cancer and they were showing the man with his wife and family at their house having dinner and the camera pans out and and shows a cliff and shore line and this song begins to play…

I wish I had the actual clip from the show but this will do… and everything just stopped for me.  The story line was hard enough for me but then that song dove into the depths of my soul to wounds that I wasn’t sure I still had.  I immediately did that spotify thing and found out the song was Follow You Down by Matthew Mayfield.  I bought the song immediately and played it on repeat.

There’s no other way to describe it other than I let the song, the melody, the lyrics wash over me in waves.  While I know it wasn’t meant for a father daughter relationship there is so much in it that was transferable to what my dad and I went through when he died. It’s a song that I can guarantee will cause me to swell up and cry and release everything that is pent up inside of me.  It’s a song that makes me vulnerable and makes me be honest with myself.

The chorus:

“If you’re gone and I’m here, I could meet you, meet you
If you’re lost and you fall, I’m beneath you, neath you
No matter where you run I’ll be the one to follow you down”

I’ve since bought many of Matt’s albums – he’s an amazing artist, pours his heart and soul into his work and does it for his love of it and I encourage everyone to check him out – I’ll link more videos and his website at the end of this.

Last night – I had the chance to see him live at a little spot in Pittsburgh.  I got dolled up.  Put on my Dad’s wedding ring, and a ring I dug out of some box that had been hidden in the back of my drawers – a ring he brought back from Korea for my Aunt 40 years ago and she since gave to me.  And as I held one of the few pieces of him that I still have I listened to Matthew Mayfield soak into my heart and soul for 90 minutes and I wish it could have been longer.

Matthew Mayfield - Club Cafe Pittsburgh - November 9, 2014

Matthew Mayfield – Club Cafe Pittsburgh – November 9, 2014

He didn’t sing my song.  But I got something better.  I had a chance after the show to talk to him for a few moments and tell him what that song meant to me.  That in the 12 years since I lost my dad to cancer that song was able to do something nothing else has.  It was hope and sadness and peace and grief and healing.  And I told him when I come home some days and I’m sad because I can’t remember what my dad’s voice sounded like I put on that song and I let it carry me away.  And Matt thanked me for sharing that story with him and that he was touched by it and gave me a hug and I’m sure singer/songwriters hear that a lot how their music moves people, but I’m glad he heard my story.

Check out his music.  Go see him.  Maybe it’s not one of his songs but find a song that heals you.  Find a song that lets you FEEL again.  Find a song that makes you be honest, raw, real.

stop, drop and REST

As I mentioned in my first post back I’ve been going non-stop since May.  This has been my face pretty much every morning.


and my own pets are starting to impersonate me a bit


This weekend I crashed and I crashed hard.  I did pretty much nothing and I didn’t have much of a choice as my back (which was injured in a ziplining accident 2 weeks ago) regressed dramatically and I was on my butt on the couch for 48 hours straight pretty much.

Had I not been in pain it would have been pretty glorious.

While life will not go nuts and crazy again for a couple months, I have 3 trips planned between now and the end of January including a week out of the county for my 30th birthday with my best friend who will also be turning 30.  There’s major holiday’s in that span and one so not exciting holiday in my book (new years).

Not to mention there are some MAJOR changes happening at my job that I’ve got to start preparing for now because as we all know life catches up with us far too quickly.

Friday was Halloween – about 120 trick or treaters… Yeah we do work in my neighborhood… I also ate a lot of this at work… weekend

I call it trashy sweet and salty popcorn… soooooo good

So – we watched 3 movies… Chef – Five stars – loved it, fantastic, give me all the food…. Deliver us from Evil – three stars it was good for a scary movie because I don’t like scary movies but demonic horror isn’t too too bad… and Neighbors – one star, my god it was bad… only an hour and a half and it dragged on FOREVER… not even Zac Effron’s looks could salvage the movie – probably because his character was so just horrible.

And Saturday we went to my favorite new restaurant – Dorothy 6 Blast Furnace Cafe and I had myself some awesome drinks.

Apple cider martini

Apple cider martini

Spicy Moscow Mule - the faces I made during this were quite entertaining but it really was good... Just FIRE

Spicy Moscow Mule – the faces I made during this were quite entertaining but it really was good… Just FIRE

Dark Horse Too Cream Stout with maple and marshmallow flavoring added... yes beer purists everywhere are screaming but sooooo goooood

Dark Horse Too Cream Stout with maple and marshmallow flavoring added… yes beer purists everywhere are screaming but sooooo goooood (i’m saying that a lot today sorry)

And yeah other than that spent a lot of time cuddling with this little girl… who is doing much better now that she’s over a week into her medicine for hypothyroidism.


Have a wonderful rest of the week!!!