Nov 252022
 

(Hello, I recommend reading this post first because I will be referencing people and incidents from that!)

‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving, around 9:30 and we were doing fuck all. In fact, I had just curled up on the couch with a book while Henry was working on something at the computer in the other room. Chooch was in his room playing dumb games with his friends.

I hadn’t even had a chance to open my book yet, when suddenly…

The front door opens.

I had about .25 seconds to run through the probability of this being either Henry or Chooch. Did one of them go outside through the basement, perhaps? And now they were coming back in?

But now there was a stranger standing in the doorway. He quietly closed the door behind him, then turned back into the room.

We locked eyes.

My mental People Rolodex is flipping at warped speed: WHO IS THIS MAN. DO I KNOW THIS MAN.

Now the man’s eyes are flicking around my house. “Oh…shit. I walked into the wrong house.”

“Yes,” I managed to whisper, half-paralyzed, not quite with fear but surprise. Shock.

This happened so quietly and calmly, that even Henry had a delayed reaction at the computer, not quite sure what is happening.

“Wow, this house is….I should go,” the man said, and turned to leave. Now I could hear Chooch creeping on the steps. He apparently thought it was Blake dropping off Starbucks for him after work and was shocked to see that, no this was not Blake.

“Yes, you should go,” I agreed, and now it clicked where I had seen this face before: he is one of the people moving in with Rob (please refer to previous post!) and he had also come over to Ruth’s on Monday to make sure was OK. Plus, I had seen him several times over the weekend moving stuff into the house.

So a stranger, but also a neighbor. But still a stranger.

“Do you mind if I just stand here and look around for a minute?” he asked.

Now here is the point where my constant need for praise and attention drop-kicked any remaining supply of rationality out of my cranial trap door. Since the pandemic, we have barely had anyone over here aside from family, Verizon guys, and plumbers. So I was kind of like, “YES, YOU MAY” which I know pissed Henry off, but hello I would like to note for the log that Henry was the last one in the house and didn’t shut the door all the way, so this is a very BLAME HENRY situation we have on our hands here. Also, passive Henry never once attempted to intervene.

Also, this guy was fucking high. Imagine walking into my house for the first time, incapacitated. This was around the time he finally introduced himself as Robert, the boyfriend of the girl also moving in with Rob who Rob said was his daughter but GET THIS: she is actually the ex-gf of Rob’s son, Brandon!? That is…weird? Right? That she’s living with her ex-bf’s dad and her new bf?

“Do you get high?” he asked, to which I immediately said no. “Oh, well do you mind if we smoke pot over there?” he asked, and I said that I didn’t care what he did as long as it wasn’t in my house (??) and he goes, “No, I mean, you can’t smell it through the walls, right?” I had to explain to him that he didn’t just walk into the wrong SIDE of his new house, he walked into the wrong house entirely.

“Well, we don’t share any walls since you’re all the way over there, so no, we can’t smell it,” I explained and then in my head, thought, “LOL that’s Ruth’s problem.”

Man, this guy (who was born in 1988, a fact I will never forget because he told me like 1,988 times and I wanted to be like, “THAT’S WHEN G-DRAGON WAS BORN!” but you know, we just met) had questions about everything. First, he asked if everything in here was for sale, like he thought this was a lighting store or something?

He’s still standing at this point, and I’m sitting on the couch wondering how much longer this was going to last before I had to tell him to leave. He was very quiet, calm, polite, totally high though. Henry wanted no part of this at all and LET ME DEAL WITH IT?! He told me later, “Oh, you seemed to have it under control. I assessed the situation and he didn’t appear to be a threat.” WOW, way to be the man of the house. Not to white Knight Henry, but imagine a petite Seth Rogen and that’s basically what walked into our house.

But then Robert started talking about the drama that happened the other day. “What the hell was up with that??” he asked, and I was like, “Buckle up, Robert, I’m an expert at Pioneer Ave information.” So now Robert is sitting on the couch and we’re chatting like old broads at tea time. I forgot that I used to be good at conversationing and peopling! Anyway, the irony was not lost on him that he essentially did the same thing as Johnny Cash, just in a much less sinister context.

You guys, he LET ME TALK ABOUT KOREA and that is all I ever want, truly.

I would also like to memorialize the fact that prior to this, I had put on a YouTube video about various things to do in the Smoky Mountains, nature-wise, and another extremely boring video had started playing with a super old man narrating in in a dry voice, like something you’d have watched in school on a day when you have a sub and they have nothing else to give you, work-wise. I desperately wanted to change it but the remote was on the other side of Robert. So I let the boring ass video play on like in some old bitch living in a wood-paneled RV.

I mean, that seems like the type of TV someone like that would watch.

About 30 minutes in, he mentioned that he was born in Romania and I almost lunged at him in excitement.

“I AM OBSESSED WITH ROMANIA,” I said in a very serious fashion, and he was caught off guard by this.

I will say it was frustrating though because he couldn’t remember anything and asked me numerous times what my name is and how long I’ve been living here. Henry said he texted Chooch at one point and said, “It’s like a revolving convo.” I demanded a screenshot of these texts for journalistic purposes:

Typical Chooch, only cares about his drink, zero concern for Mum’s safety.

Apparently during other parts, Chooch was hovering on the steps listening in and he and Henry were communicating through facial expressions. I wish I could have seen their faces when ROMANIA came up because I’m sure Henry closed his eyes in defeat and Chooch gave his fists a “NOW SHE WILL NEVER LET HIM LEAVE” shake.

So yeah, Robert moved to the States with his parents from Romania when he was 7 but he still speaks Romanian fluently and was just there this year to visit family! HE TAUGHT  ME HOW TO SAY HELLO HOW ARE YOU IN ROMANIAN BUT I ALREADY FORGOT.

Anyway, he stayed for an hour and then we wished each other a Happy Thanksgiving, he apologized again, and that was that. I got up and immediately locked the door behind him.

I immediately texted my brother, Corey, because he is so invested in the Pioneer drama.

Truly! That was not how I saw the night going. Look, I am clearly starved for conversation! I knew this was filling a void when I abandoned all of my filters and started giddily telling Robert about the squirrels. “And they love grapes, but they call them by the Korean word, podo!” (Henry texted Chooch at this point like, “great, now she’s talking about the squirrels.”)

Anyway, Corey and I are now exclusively referring to Robert as Vlad so as not to confuse him with Rob.

Chooch cautiously came downstairs a few minutes later. “OMG did he finally leave?” he asked, and then gave me a very disappointed head shake. Turns out he wasn’t worried that this guy was going to murder me, he was just annoyed because Blake had left his Starbucks in a bag on the porch and Chooch didn’t want to have to walk past Robert. He apparently texted Blake said he couldn’t get it right away because some guy was in the house.

Blake goes, “Who, dad’s new boyfriend?” (When Henry heard about this he mockingly laughed and said, “wow you guys are all so funny.”)

Chooch said, “No, some guy living with Rob. He just walked into our house.”

And Blake said, “Oh cool.”

OH COOL????

“I just can’t believe this happened two nights after you were telling me about the other time someone walked into the house,” Chooch said, and my mind is also a little blown about that too. WHAT DOES IT MEAN?! (Aside from us needing to triple-check that the door is locked.)

***

“Wow, you wanna talk about someone who can talk…” Henry sighed, after Robert left.

“Oh I know right, I didn’t think he was ever going to leave!” I said.

“I was talking about you,” Henry frowned.

:(

I bet Vlad doesn’t even remember being here.

Oct 052022
 

Yo, let’s spend this entire post talking about the decorations and people who came to eat pie and whatever else I decide is worth being chronicled. I’m admittedly still recovering from this day. It was a lot of socializing but it also kind of invigorated me in a way, too, and made me remember how much I love(d) having get togethers. Now I want to have a Christmas gathering at my house! Possibly! I think so!

First of all, I want to say that when we decided to bring back this “event” back in June, my plans were bigly. Oh, I was going to buy all new decorations! I was going to have games for the CHILDREN! I was going to have disposable cameras on all of the tables because that is something people sometimes do at wedding receptions and this is the closes to THAT I’ll ever get!

But then — roadtrips and rollercoasters, man. All summer long. A bitch had no room in her heart or mind to be caring about pie decor. I mean, we still had some stuff left from previous years, but things like the giant sequined PIE PARTY sign and the rustic burlap tablecloths have seen better days, son. Most of our DIY pie pedestals were still intact (though one broke AT THE PIE PARTY before I even had a chance to put it on the table) but man…I just really shit the bed with the aesthetics this time around.

I didn’t even had centerpieces!!!! Usually I have dumb fake flowers in autumnal colors sticking out of rando’ glass bottles from my idiot beverage collection.

One thing I did do that was new was create a stupid photo backdrop. It occurred to me on the way home from Party City that the backdrop I bought was DEFINITELY created with “gender” reveals in mind. But you know what? Fuck that antiquated bullshit! Pies can be pink and blue too. I mean, those are the first colors I think of when I think of…crust.

Corey, bless his heart, arrived early to help me decorate. I feel like every time I have a pie party, someone always asks if they can help and I’m like “Yeah come early and help me set up please” and then they come like 90 minutes into the damn thing. But Corey was reliable! And also, tall. Which is what I needed when it came to hanging shit.

I was SO PISSED when I opened the package for this damn baby shower fringe because it was in NINE PIECES. Corey and I spent approx. 2 minutes trying to figure out how to hang it before giving up and phoning a friend (aka Henry).

I dunno, I think it turned out OK in the end after Henry MacGyver’d it with twine and a SWITCHBLADE.

OK it wasn’t a switchblade, actually. Just a boxcutter I think. But then he left it open on one of the tables and people were starting to arrive so Corey and I were like WE HAVE TO CLOSE THIS BEFORE SOMEONE GETS HURT (that’s what you get for bringing a pie to a box-knife fight, etc etc etc). Then we were too scared (OK I was too scared and Corey just couldn’t figure out how to close it) so we had to call Henry over again to bail us out.

Did I mention that Margie and her daughter Jordan were the first guest to arrive and got to witness Corey and me, the Super Sibs, practically wrapping ourselves in twine while trying to hang decorations? Hope you enjoyed the show, Margie and Jordan!

I took the above picture with The Good Camera as a test shot and it came out fine but I didn’t feel like fucking around with lighting and settings once people arrived so I ended up just using my phone for the pie party people shots. :/

Test photo with the iPhone. It was fine!

I totally forgot that I made these “Eat Pie” buntings two pie parties ago and they haven’t gotten any easier to read. I made 3 of them for some reason?? OK Erin, calm down.

OK, I failed to get pictures of every single pie partyer in front of the dumb baby shower-y backdrop, but here are the ones I did take, starting with the Sibs: me, Amy, and Corey:

Amy’s husband Dick was also in attendance but he is the one taking this lovely photo!

Random fact of the day: I was adamant on having environmentally-friendly plates and forks, but Henry bought the smallest plates ever and people were legit outraged over this.

“They are literally dessert plates!” Henry cried defensively.

“YEAH BUT THIS IS A FUCKING PIE PARTY, WE NEED LARGE PLATES LIKE FOR A BUFFET!” I screamed back. Luckily, he had also thrown a pack of larger Dixie paper plates in the car in case we ran out of the others, so everyone just went straight for those ones. Whatever.

My work frenemy Glenn (not pictured: his wife and daughter, Amanda and Eve) and Chris, one of my oldest pals! We’ve known each other since kindergarten. Chris is the purveyor of a wonderful local honey company called Sonny Rose Ranch so if you’re in Pgh and need some honey, look for his products around town! He also makes an excellent hot honey, FYI! Anyway, Glenn and Chris know each other because they worked together at Macy’s a long time ago! Glenn tried to tell Chris that I’m the office bully but Chris did not believe him for a SECOND because he knows me to be the SWEETEST GIRL EVER.

Fun Fact of the Day #2: Henry had changed out of his “nice” shirt while he was loading everything into the car and then forgot to change back into it so instead of wearing a non-descript gray shirt to the pie party, he wore a gray shirt with the EVERFRESH JUICE LOGO on it and I was really angry about this even though no one comes to any of my events expecting Henry to be wearing a nice polo shirt and boat shoes.

Nate and Lori!!

More pie decor that I forgot about. Corey was super smitten with this one for some reason.

Fun Fact of the Day #3: The day after the pie party, Margie Jabbered me at work and thanked me, Henry and COREY for hosting such a lovely event. I texted Corey and to tell him he had somehow been promoted in people’s minds to cohost and he admitted that at one point during the day, after he had greeted the umpteenth person and taken their pie for them, he thought to himself, “Wait, what am I doing?” LOL!

Corey is a natural people-person. Hit him up if you want to buy a house and also walk away with like 87 inside jokes in the process!

Eric and Megan! They were on the tail end of action-packed wedding festivities for Megan’s brother, so the fact that they even showed up let alone were able to engage in conversations was amazing. Megan did look like she was falling asleep while holding a pie plate at one point though, don’t blame her!

Gayle and Jeffrey! Gayle brought one of Jeffrey’s photos of Pittsburgh to raffle off. I was the lucky bitch who got to pull the ticket from the can (actually we used the empty box that the Panda snacks came in lol) and it was Lauren! Congrats, Lauren!

Fun Fact #4 of the day: Gayle is actually the reason why the pie party was resurrected. She had texted me last spring and was like PLEASE CONSIDER and I was like OK I AM CONSIDERING and well, THE REST IS HISTORY.

So they say.

God, I hadn’t seen Gayle in quite some time so it was nice to see her familiar, friendly face, now framed by multi-colored fringe!

Henry and Wonka, talking about electrical / computer / welding stuff probably. It looks like there is no one there but before you get all hater hater talk talk, please note that this was in the final hour of the pie party after most of the pie eaters left and the last wave rolled in.

Lucas came with his daughter! Aside from several late shift happy hours back in the day when I actually went out after work, I don’t think I have ever actually seen Lucas at a non-work social event!? He casually mentioned at, well, CASUAL LUNCH the week before that he was coming with his daughter and I almost died. It took a decade, but I think a lot of work friends finally started to understand that the pie party was a real event and not some weird seance in the woods that I was luring people to.

Fun fact #5 (?) of the day: I think I only cut one slice of pie on my own all day and relied heavily on others for the rest. Here is Henry cutting a piece of the beastly big boy pie that came courtesy of Kara’s husband Chris.

Chooch being a test subject for the PIE BACKDROP before the party started. I needed to make sure my dumb phone was going to take ok pictures, etc. I barely saw him all day, as usual. This time, he called his friend Zakk right before the party started, but after we were already at the pavilion, and made him take the T to South Park and then was going to make him walk the 45 minutes to the pavilion. “Or I can send a random person to get you,” I overheard him saying, so I was like OMG just tell your dad to go get him!

Basically, Zakk is to Chooch as Janna is to me.

MARGIE refused to have an OFFISH PIE PARTY PIC taken so the only photographical evidence I have of her and her daughter’s attendance is this one, and also the back of Wendy who was there with her daughter Summer but left before I started forcing people to pose for me.

Fun fact #6 of the day: Wendy actually was supposed to only stay for like 30 minutes because she had to go all  the way back home for Summer’s soccer game later that afternoon and she lives pretty far away and also her husband Shawn is the coach, but she ended up staying for well over an hour and I heard her tell at least 6 people, “I have to leave now” only to find her talking to someone else 15 minutes later.

This is so VERY VERY WENDY, and if you don’t know her, now it’s basically like you do!

Me & Debby I.!

Fun Fact #7 of the day: I babysit those children sometimes. They kept trying to get me to play with them and I was like, “I can’t right now, I’m playing with *my* friends!” HAHAHAHA. I truly don’t think that they realize I’m an adult. I said this to Henry tonight after another babysitting shift and he said, “No one really does.”

Kara and Theo! It’s been so long since I’ve seen either of them that Theo didn’t even remember me :( Kara wasn’t able to make it to the last Pie Party in 2017 and I think it was the first time she ever missed one and it was really sad, so I was stoked that she could make it to this one, but unstoked that I barely had a chance to talk to her. I literally cannot function at social things. Every time I try to flashback and hover on the ceiling of the pavilion to spy on myself, I feel like I was a blubbering mess the whole day. WHAT DID I EVEN SAY TO PEOPLE?? I can’t remember! I just made grunts and whinnies, I think.

The Robbins Gang, plus Haley’s mom, and Blake’s friend Artie and his son Asher.

Fun Fact #8 of the day: Artie was at the very first pie party in 2010! I had no idea who he was, but he arrived early with Blake and proceeded to climb into the rafters of the pavilion roof and throw pennies at me while I was trying to set up. That was legit my first memory of him. Now he’s an adult with a kid and he works with Henry! He’s Henry’s work son!

Also, Haley’s mom is motherfucking goals. LOOK AT HER! Sometimes, I actually mistake her for Haley, she is so ageless.

I love this photo of Corey cutting me a piece of the Earl Grey pie! I wish I had used my “good camera” more that day, ugh. Anyway, this picture is hilarious to me because when Corey was younger (like 13 or 14?), we went to a murder mystery dinner and Henry had to cut his pork chops. Now we’ve come full circle-ish!

YOU GUYS Todd actually showed up! After trolling me year and year after when I invited him to the pie party, this time he finally showed up! I think he genuinely misses his old team! Here I am with my frenemy GLENN, Nate, Lauren, and Todd!

I’m posting two versions because I love that Nate is laughing so hard in this one! Man, we were a great team. SIGH. ALSO I JUST REALIZED THAT NATE IS WEARING CROCS. This was a really huge and important discussion we had a few mths ago in our group chat at work where Nate was like, “I FEEL LIKE I NEED TO BUY CROCS BECAUSE OF THE SUMMER ACTIVITIES I WILL BE DOING WITH MY NIECE AND NEPHEW BUT I’M SCARED” and some of us were like DO NOT but as you can see, he crossed over to the Croc side. It’s fine. Nate is the type of person who can wear Crocs without letting them define him.

I think.

No, he is. It’s cool.

They’re not as cool as my Vans though.

Here’s Nate talking to Margie probably about his Crocs.

We collected more people! In this one, we added Gayle who used to be part of our work group, and Rachel, who used to be the supervisor of our group. Henry was getting tired of taking these pictures, I think. LOL oh well.

OMG OMG OMG along with Todd, the other surprise guest of the day was Aaron and his twins!! Aaron has also trolled me for years: “Oh yeah, SURE I’ll come to the ‘pie party’ tro lolololol.” This time, he said nothing when I sent out the invite on Insta and at work. So I was really surprised when I turned around at one point that day and he was there!

And he admitted the next day that it was actually fun!

Ethan and his girlfriend! I was so happy they came out for this! Ethan is like me in some ways and is very much like “Aw that’s cute that you thought to invite me to this thing that I was most definitely not be attending” but he ended up coming! I think maybe it was also because I was giving Sandy her GOODBYE gift (she left The Law Firm last June, still very sad about this) that day and it involved him.

(I made another one of the annoying Paint Gem pictures, with Ethan’s face as the focal point. I would post it here but it is several layers of inside jokes and I’m actually only on the sidelines of said jokes so you would really probably not give a shit at all, blog reader.)

Nate, Lauren, and Lori!

Jack, Jill, and Regina came later in the day!

Fun fact #9 of the day: Chooch’s interest in driving had a revival on this day for some reason and he started taking the practice permit test on his phone again. Regina and Rachel were SUPER INTO this and shouting out their guesses.

Jess and Wonka! They GOT MARRIED since the last time I saw them! I made some snide comment while Henry was in ear shot about how we are still just UNMARRIED and Jess tried to make me feel better by saying that nothing really changes by getting married, and then asked, “Do you even really want to get married?” and before I had a chance to answer, Wonka said, “Oh yeah. She does.”

EVERYONE KNOWS THIS BUT HENRY, SOMEHOW.

Fun fact of the day #10: I met Wonka in a local Pgh chatroom in 1999 and we are still friends somehow even though he is a Major Smart and I am le dumz0rz.

Sandy and Zoe! Not pictured: Ben and Elena because I think they had already started walking to the car when I screamed SANDY WAIT, lol.

Fun fact of the day #11: The first pie party is actually how Sandy and I went from co-workers to actual friends. She had heard some people talking about going to the pie party and she came to my desk and said, “I want to come to the pie party too” so we became Facebook friends and I sent her the Facebook event and the rest is history! I remember super vividly that she came straight from a flag football game and was still wearing a bandanna in her hair! She hated coming to South Park then, and she still hates it now, as the first thing she said to me that day was, “I hate driving to South Park SO MUCH.”

Fun Fact of the day #12: In Pittsburgh, depending on what side of The River you live on, you hate crossing the river to go anywhere on the other side. Sandy lives in the North Hills and has to come to the DREADED SOUTH HILLS for the pie party every time, so this is a testament of how great the pie party is, that she religiously chooses the anguish of crossing The River to come out for it!

Michele and her baby Mina! Not pictured: Michele’s husband and two other kids, and her visiting sister and her kids. Michele had actually emailed me a few days before the party and said that her sister was visiting from NY and asked if she could bring the whole crew, and I was like YES PLZ because at this time I was sincerely worried that barely anyone was going to show up!

Everyone is always welcome at the pie party!

Amber and Ellie! OMG this was my first time meeting Ellie and her laugh was CONTAGIOUS! I kept hearing it in the background and it was making me so happy!

Sadly, Amber left before Todd got there :(

Me, Janna, and Ivy!

Fun fact of the day #13: While Janna was peeing in the PORTAPOTTY, she had Kara holding Ivy’s leash. I guess Lily, Henry’s granddaughter, was riling Ivy up, because Ivy jumped and she and Lily bumped heads. Lili start crying hysterically, and everyone stopped and stared, and I happened to be standing right in the epicenter of it so I had to pretend like I was also concerned but honestly I had no idea what was going on. Kara kept saying really loud, “WHERE IS YOUR MOM, DOG?” and it was hilarious because the “between the lines” of that was, “THIS IS NOT MY DOG, I WAS JUST ASKED TO HOLD HER, I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE.”

It ended up being fine though. Blake and Haley were totally unbothered by it because it was obvious that Ivy didn’t actually bite her – there were no marks on Lily’s face – and that’s when it was determined that they probably just bumped faces. Honestly, the scariest part to me was Kara screaming when it happened, lol!

Also not pictured: two of Janna’s friends who came toward the end of the day! Kelly and Jen, I believe.

Fun Fact of the Day #14: This was the first time ever that Chooch drove, and I thought Margie was kidding when she said, “Why is your kid getting into the driver’s side of your car, Erin?” and I was like, “Oh ho ho he must just be effing around” and then HENRY GOT IN THE PASSENGER SIDE? He just let him drive around the parking lot a little bit, but it was scary, watching my car lurch forward, poor Jinki. :(

Yeah, more on that later, lol.

Overall, it was a really successful pie party! Hopefully we’ll do this again next year so those who couldn’t be there this time can hopefully make it next time – PIE OR DIE, YO!!

Oct 022022
 

After a five year hiatus, I was finally worn enough by some fanatical pie-eaters and agreed to bring back the BELOVED PIE PARTY. The last one we had was in 2017 and was just really disappointing – we had a very shitty turn out and I 100% blame the fact that I left Facebook and you know, out of sight, out of mind. My invitation just didn’t have the reach that it did in years past when I was creating stupid Facebook Events for it.

This time, I posted about it on Instagram, personally texted people who aren’t on Insta, and sent a group email at work. In the beginning, my “interest check” on Insta seemed to really kick up a lot of excitement but I would say only about 1/3 of the people who said they were coming actually showed up. Somehow, even though the weather forecast was showing all day rain and storms, we had a really great turnout! I haven’t done an official headcount yet, but I want to say there were about 50 people overall. Of course, this was over the span of 6 hours. I didn’t have high expectations for this, so I was actually pleasantly pleased at the turnout, and there were some surprise appearances too!

And guess what, you guys? The weather was actually DELIGHTFUL. There was a very small window toward the end of the day where we experienced a downpour, but I swear it only lasted about 5 or 10 minutes. I will divulge all the details in another post, but I wanted to share pictures of some of the pies today, because we all know that’s what the people want.

Some of these photos are courtesy of my brother Corey since I was too distracted to take many of my own. :/

Megan and my sister Amy are definitely tied for most creative (edible) pie. Megan brought a Root Beer Float pie that was soooo refreshing! I have never heard of a root beer float pie before, leave it to Megan to find that recipe!

And Amy made a PAW PAW pie! If you don’t know, paw paws are fruits that are regional to the Ohio area. They have a big festival that I’ve always wanted to go to but never have. Thank god Amy and her husband Dick went or we wouldn’t have been treated this to! I have never actually had an actual paw paw before but I had seen a comparison between them and cherimoya, and if you know me at all, you will know that those bitches are one of my favorite fruits ever even though they look absolutely DISGUSTING. Literally like wet, white flesh with huge black seeds – it just looks like you’re eating the end game of a high school science class dissection. I can’t really explain it any other way but I have to really set aside my texture phobias in order to enjoy a fresh cherimoya. So I can confirm that the paw paw *does* taste similar based on the flavor of this pie! It’s kind of like a mild pineapple / mango flavor, without really giving off tropical vibes. If that makes sense. The texture of the pie was similar to the guts of a pecan pie. I really enjoyed this!

It was extra funny/exciting because a few weeks ago, there was a discussion about weird fruits in the Support Group Chat, which as you might remember, I am not a member of the support team anymore, though they do invite me to their chat every Friday as the “Special Guest” where I proceed to do little else than annoy Glenn. Anyway, this wasn’t a Friday but Amber quickly added me since it was in my wheelhouse. Wendi* had name-dropped paw paws which OF COURSE none of the fruit pleibs knew anything about but I did, since I am the resident weird fruit authority. Anyway, I thought it was crazy that someone actually a brought a paw paw pie!

*(Wendis a newer member of the team and so awesome! I aggressively invited her to the pie party at our recent in-office Casual Lunch. She said she had to visit her grandma that day and I practically lunged across the table and shouted, “BRING YOUR GRANDMA!” Clearly this was not something she wanted to do because neither Wendi nor her grandma showed up on Sunday but to be fair, Casual Lunch was the first time she ever met me IN REAL LIFE so that was probably a lot to digest for the time being. We did chat about the day after the pie party though and she said she definitely wants to come next year now that she knows it’s not a trap, j/k she didn’t say that last part but I’m just guessing that’s what she was thinking.)

I’m not sure who brought the lemon meringue pie but thank you, kind soul, because Chooch obsessed over it for days and insisted that out of all the leftover pies, this was the one that HAD to come home with us. I think he even caught Henry offering it to Janna at the end of the day and quickly swooped in. I was Pie Party 2022 days old when I learned that my son’s favorite pie is lemon meringue. Literally have never witnessed him ordering this at any restaurant ever but maybe it’s something WESLEY’S MOM used to bake for him when he would go to their house to play. UGH WESLEY’S MOM.

I am so pissed about this because I originally had it spelled correctly but then it got smudged and when I re-wrote it, I FUCKING SPELLED IT WRONG. FML.

Anyway, I don’t want to be like, “Hello, it is my pie party and my pie was the winner,” but everyone was like freaking out over this pie so I think it was the winner?? I mean, we don’t judge. It’s not a contest. Also, it wasn’t actually my pie – Henry baked it. HOWEVER, it was my idea AND I had him change the recipe and use a shortbread crust instead of regular crust because you know, tea and BISCUITS or whatever.

I only had a tiny slice and can’t even remember anything about it other than it was good, but all day people were like EARL GREY this and that and I was like OK I guess “Henry’s pie” was a success but I had to keep interjecting myself into convos to alert people to the fact that I found the recipe and the shortbread crust, WHICH REALLY TOOK IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL, was also my creative design.

Corey apparently posted about this on Facebook because my friend Lisa, a seasoned pie party attendee who now lives in Idaho, texted me on Friday and was like WHAT IS THIS I HEAR ABOUT AN EARL GREY PIE?? Her interest was piqued and she decided she wanted to attempt it for the her game night the next day so I had to be a recipe relayer between Henry and her and that was pretty annoying because she would ask me specific questions about the recipe and then Henry would have some answer I didn’t understand and it just went on like that until the last text I got from her said “Hard part is done!” whatever that means. I should probably ask her today how it turned out….

Haley made a shoofly pie (which as you know is a pie type that I am also obsessed with thanks to my strong ties to the Amish world) and broccoli and cheese hand pies so she won the award for “something no one else brought” because those hand pies were a great idea and it’s always so great to have some savory offerings on the table too, like Sandy’s famous corn and tomato pie which she brings every year and I think pie party OGs would revolt if she ever stopped! Kara’s husband also made a savory vegan BBQ seitan mac & cheese casserole pie which was a great addition to the lonely vegan section (it was hers and Henry’s three pies, and then literally not a single one of my vegan friends came, oh well;  thought animal-free options would bring the Vs to the park, but I guess I need to find new ways to lure them).

I *think* that pumpkin pie up there was brought by Haley’s mom; regardless of who carried it in, it was delicious! Aside from Debby’s baby pumpkin streusel bites below, I think that was the only pumpkin pie variety of the whole entire day which is actually crazy to me!

OMG these were both so good. I’m so glad Debby came with this tray of delicate little one-bites. The lemon blueberry ones had a ladylock-like crust!! Also, Corey wrote the tags and it took 4 people to tell him how to spell streusel. The pie party is more than just pie, it’s also about learning.

Henry made three other pies. A vegan banoffee pie which he is STILL angry about because he followed the recipe to a T and it turned out “FINE” but it was not what he was expecting and he keeps threatening to “comment on that video!!” I mean, I agree with him though because the whole point of the video was that it was a 5-ingredient recipe but then in the actual recipe portion, there is a SIXTH INGREDIENT!? I dunno, it was ok but just *really* rich. It was a bit too much. I know the bananas were like part of the name or whatever, but I think I would have liked it better without them.

Anyway, Henry let me decorate this one! I was watching him pipe the whipped cream around the edges and said, “OOH CAN I WRITE SOMETHING IN THE MIDDLE” and he got real tense and asked, “Like what?”

“I dunno,” I shrugged. “ERIN RULZ.” Because obviously I knew the whole time.

Henry sighed and mumbled, “Whatever.”

I think this is a big reason why no one was trying the banoffee pie, because they assumed I might have baked the entire thing, lol.

The sad vegan section. Henry’s third vegan pie back there was a carrot pie and it was so delicious but no one really tried it! I kind of wonder if people were afraid of the vegan tag or if they though it was reserved for the imaginary vegans? In any case, we got to take half of it home with us and I enjoyed it throughout the week. If you don’t believe me, you can ask the scale in my bedroom.

The fourth and only non-vegan Henry made was ALSO MY IDEA. I really wanted to incorporate my beloved G-Dragon into the festivities somehow and OBVIOULSY the best way to accomplish that was a dragonfruit pie. There are actually quite a few recipes out there for this! They all call for regular dragonfruit, but I made Henry use a fire dragonfruit, since they are such a deep, bright shade of fuschia which is also a hair color GD has sported numerous times over the years. I made the GD and peaceminusone flower cut-outs from regular dragonfruit. Anyway, this was another hit! It was demolished halfway through the party so sorry to the people who came for the last half.

I was really nervous though because Henry’s granddaughter Lily kept taking my GD doll and calling him a girl and I was like “OK HE IS A MAN NAMED G-DRAGON CAN I PLEASE HAVE HIM BACK NOW OMG.” It was just a bad scene. Apparently, several people witnessed this and made fun of me about it later but COME ON, MY GD DOLL IS NOT A TOY, THANK YOU.

My work friends were neither surprised nor confused about this pie. They are fully aware of my childish obsessions.

Um I dunno who brought this pie but it was BEAUTIFUL!

I think that about does it for pie pictures, sadly. I can also tell you that two more shoofly pies arrived later, we had three key lime pies in total (!), someone brought an apple sour cream pie that I couldn’t stop eating, and there were pies galore with every type of berry you could imagine. It was such a great spread but HOO BOY am I all pie’d out.

Oh! The winner for most creative pie overall was Nate, who brought this set of Chinese dominoes:

Chooch very quickly swooped in and claimed this.

Aug 022022
 

Ahhh I’m so excited for these upcoming recaps but also sad because it means the weekend is over. OK, lemme set this shit up for:

I always get depressed on my birthday – not because of AGING, although that’s NOT GREAT. I feel like I whine about this every other year so we’ll skip the history of my birthday depression this time and go right into the remedy: planning something fun so that I have a thing to look forward to. This year, Chooch would be missing my birthday because he chose Mexico over me, so I decided that I wanted to go somewhere for the weekend just to get away and have All of the Fun. I can’t remember why but my friend Alyson and I were engaging in our patented giddy texts – probably something about Hot Naybor Chris or Henry crossing the street, who even knows with us! And it got me thinking that I haven’t seen her in way too long! I had to go back in my blog to find the exact year, and I’m pretty sure it was the winter of 2014 when she was in Pgh to see a band she loved/was friends with and I hung out with them later in her hotel room, where we drank good wine and ate chocolate made by BOBBY BLITZ’S wife.

That was her third time here in Pittsburgh, visiting, and we had only gone to visit her in New Hampshire ONCE so it was definitely our turn. I asked her if she’d be up for it and she said YES and when my birthday weekend was one of the options she suggested, it felt like it was meant to be!

We’ve known each other since 2005, where we met on LiveJournal and I am so thankful that our long-distance friendship has managed to stay solid over all of these years. It’s not often that someone else scream-laughs over the same senseless shit as me!

We left Friday morning and the plan was to get to our hotel in Nashua around 9pm that night and meet for breakfast in the morning, but if you read my liveblog, then you know I managed to stretch Friday out until near-snapping point and we didn’t arrive until 1AM. LOL, sorry Henry.

When we got to Alyson’s Saturday morning, I ALMOST cried. ALMOST. I was just so emotional! Every year, I would write, “MAYBE <INSERT NEXT YEAR> WILL BE THE YEAR WE SEE EACH OTHER AGAIN!” and finally, 2022 was the magic year. YEAH. BOI.

The only request I had for the whole weekend was BREAKFAST AT PARKER’S MAPLE BARN. Alyson took us here in 2013, where she famously grilled Henry about TED NUGENT. 

I was irrationally mad that Henry and I both wore purple. Especially since his shirt is the shade of purple I like most. Ugh.

First we had to sit in the quarantine room and wait for a table. The hostess even came and SHUT THE DOOR and I started to panic because there was no handle on our side of it!! But then Alyson got the TABLE READY text and Henry strode right up to the door like he had built it himself with tools he carries around in his trunk, and wrenched it right open. We were so in awe.

J/K, no one cared.

But then as one of the hostesses was gathering our menus, she was talking on the phone / bluetooth the whole time about what sounded like personal matters. I was like, “Wow, I don’t want to say this out loud and bring down the mood, but this broad is being super rude.” When we got to our table, Henry kept going on and on about “was there in a hole in the floor?” and finally I snapped, “OMG what are you talking about??” and he was shook that we didn’t see the other hostess behind the register, laying on the floor.

“Oh, was that who our hostess was talking to?? I thought she was on the phone. I was going to say, wow she’s so rude” and Alyson said she was thinking the same thing!

I dunno, I just asked him about it again and his story is awfully convoluted. I have no idea what was happening. “Maybe there was a downstairs,” I don’t know,” he just said exasperatedly so now he has the hostess standing on steps to a storm cellar instead of laying prone on the wooden floor.

We saw SAID HOSTESS a few minutes later, walking about like she hadn’t just been allegedly lying on the floor, so I’m not sure what the hell Henry thought he saw. But now I’m obsessed with knowing.

The main reason I wanted to come here was for the maple coffee – I had never even *heard* of or considered the possibility of maple coffee before  my first visit to Parker’s and scoffed a few years later when STARBUCKS came late onto the maple scene.

It was just as divine as I remembered!

We all had delicious breakfasts but I think Henry won the fast breaking game by choosing DEEPFRIED over grilled when the waitress asked him how he wanted his side of French toast cooked. Holy shit I never want non-deepfried French toast ever again after tasting that.

Henry, post-bathroom emergence.

Henry took this so it is v. unflattering toward me but I need every picture of Alyson and me together so I did not delete! Also, one of the signs is in Korean! It’s the one on the righthand tree, all alone.

Basically the same picture but this filter always tickles me.

Alyson took this of Henry exiting the gift shop, where we bought maple syrup for Chooch and some candy.

After breakfast, we went the long way back to Alyson’s so that we could stop at a nursery called The House on the Side of the Road, I think? It was so cute! They give you small bags of freshly popped complimentary popcorn to eat while plant-perusing!

I bought these two babies and Henry said he was surprised that was all I walked away with. Trust me, I was eyeing up so many more!

Back at the Wilson Residence, we finally met Ryan, who put mimosas in our hands and we proceeded to have the most relaxing / sloshy afternoon, chatting about everything, watching Alyson angrily highlight a misspelling in her cocktail recipe book, and watching the wildlife in their backyard. Also spying on their neighbors, so you know I felt right at home!!

I brought Alyson some Narcisi wine because she was the only person who thought my brother Corey’s and my obsession with this place was funny. She and I alone killed this bottle, plus I took copious swigs of all the delicious frozen drinks she was serving up to Henry.

Yoooo, I was plastered! I drink so infrequently these days that even one drink hits me hard. But, it was my birthday and we weren’t going anywhere, so I kept drinking!

Then, and I can’t even believe this happened and Henry swears he didn’t tell him to do it, but Chooch Facetimed me from Merida!! He was at the beach with his friends and he even let one of them talk to me! I was probably slurring but he’s used to me being weird on the phone so he probably didn’t notice. Alyson got to talk to him too!

This is a good spot to end Part 1!

Jul 282022
 

Yo! For the first time since….possibly pre-COVID??? I had a weekend where I was social every single day. It was actually incredible that I was able to string semi-sensical words together. But, I persevered and ended up having the best weekend!

First off, on Friday night Henry and I went to Megan’s for a porch party. The theme was pineapples and “Meet the New Boyfriend.” I was lowkey a little bit nervous because the pandemic has made socially awkward ass downright Martian’s First Day on Earth. We stopped and picked up some tropical-flavored cider on the way and I did my best to act like that I talk to people, like, all the time.

Um hello, I don’t know why I even had a FLECK of anxiety because Megan is awesome (we became fast friends when she started at The Law Firm in 2019) so I should have known that her friends would also be in that same category. I didn’t feel like an outsider like I normally do when I’m the only one who doesn’t know everyone at social events!

Not only is Megan’s boyfriend Eric wonderful and friendly (um hello anyone who likes the Cure and asks genuine questions about my time in South Korea is A+ in the How’s My Boyfriend feedback system), but her friends are hilarious, down-to-earth, and totally inclusive.

I think they liked me more than Henry which is great because usually people think Henry is SO MUCH BETTER THAN ME.

Anyway, I’m so glad that Megan invited us and I’m still laughing because Henry and I were both kind of tired after work on Friday and I said, “Well, we’ll just go for like an hour” but then we were having such a great time talking to everyone that one hour became almost 5 and we were one of the last ones to leave, lol. I actually felt like myself that night and it’s good to know that the old, friendly, outgoing Erin is still in there somewhere.

On Saturday, I met Jeannie and Wendy for our first breakfast since before Covid! I have seen them numerous times since then in various work settings, etc. but it was so awesome to get to hang out casually like old times,  not talk about work, and eat a good breakfast! I should have taken more pictures, but we went to the Upstreet Diner, which replaced one of the Pamela’s locations we sometimes went to (in Squirrel Hill) and I thought it was pretty decent! It’s a Turkish-inspired place that only just opened in April and while Pammy’s is still so so so hard to beat on that breakfast tip, this was something different and unique – we all agreed that it was a good choice.

(Oh, who chose it? THIS GIRL, you’re welcome.)

I had pancakes that had melted brie on it! I really liked it but my one critique was that I wish that I had brought me extra syrup rather than pre-pouring it for me because, and I’m not a big syrup slut by any means, but they didn’t put enough on it so the bottom pancake was really dry.

Wendy had a Turkish take on eggs Benedict, which had no meat (!!) and came on a cheesy phyllo pastry which was DIVINE and probably what I would order next time. Jeannie had salmon toast and she loved it. It looked substantial, too! I was considering getting the vegan avocado toast but worried that it wouldn’t be enough, but after seeing the size of her toast, I think I would have been OK!

It was really nice to just chill, drink endless cups of coffee (our waitress was so laid back and didn’t make us feel rushed), and catch up. I missed these breakfasts and having them harangue me for parking several blocks away because I prefer to park in a lot rather than drive around looking for street parking!

This doesn’t really count as SOCIAL ACTIVITIES but on Sunday, Henry and I got take-out from ShadoBeni and ate it in the cemetery.

This was a fried mushroom sandwich that I considered making out with in between bites. Holy shit. Thebun was a coconut bake! I LOVE SHADOBENI.

And this cassava tart thingie to share for dessert! I also had sea moss punch which is my fave ShadoBeni bev. (ShadoBevi???)

Social interlude: Henry spraypaints a TV for the very first time. Shucks, I love watching him do al the things on my List.

Later that day, Janna came over and we walked to the Hollywood in Dormont to see Nope.

It was….well…

…a NOPE for me, Simon.

This really kills me to admit that too because I have loved Jordan Peele’s other movies. At first I was like, “Maybe I’m not understanding the social commentary of this one” but I went home and read some shit and no, I understood it just fine. I just sadly didn’t like it. I should disclaim that I went into it knowing nothing because In Peele I Trust, but had I known what the subject matter was, I would have known that I wasn’t going to be into it.

I just don’t fuck with that trope. It doesn’t interest me at all, nor does it scare me :/

And the pacing of this movie was so weird that I was straight up bored out of mind at times, and I found myself wanting to reach for my phone but then remembering that I was in a theater and catching myself at the last minute!

But the upside is that Janna came over a little early so we at least got to hang out beforehand and talk about how much we miss Chooch lol. If he was home, he would have went with us! He always goes to the ‘wood with us!

Well, I think that about covers the highlights of the weekend. Tomorrow, we’re leaving for our road trip to New Hampshire so…look for a live blog probably!? Lol. Apologies in advance.

Dec 052021
 

I was so excited to be able to invite Corey and Janna over this year to TRIM TRUDY since we are all vaccinated and some of us are even boostered. Last year was very sad trimming that broad without an accompanying gathering. Sadly, Corey couldn’t make it because of a work Xmas party, but Janna came over and was OMG ON TIME! She even made a point of eschewing the standard salutations with a “NOTE THE TIME” demand instead. LOL, oh Janna.

Earlier that day, Henry and I went to Fresh Thyme to procure some “healthy”-ish snacks to go along with the Korean alcoholic bev collection (various flavored sojus and makgeollis, get on our K-level). While there, some guy who was around my age kept making INTENSE eye contact with me, the guy that can be decoded as “I KNOW YOU” and it was borderline uncomfy. I started to panic, like, “Did I have a one-night stand with this dude back in the day?” I mean, he kind of looked like my type?!?! I was actually afraid he was going to be waiting in the parking lot but he wasn’t. I kept trying to tell Henry about it but I was wearing a mask in the store and Henry is already hard of hearing and was basically completely unaware that any of this was happening.

“DIDN’T YOU SEE HOW LONG HE WAS ‘LOOKING AT MILK’ WHEN WE WERE IN THE VEGAN DAIRY SECTION??” I cried and Henry was like, “No…maybe…wait what are we talking about again?” and then I think Henry was actually sad that this guy didn’t kidnap me.

My eyes are so fantastico at the YOUNG AGE of 42 that I can barely even get my photos in focus these days.

Got to break out my SHINee soju glasses for the occasion!

This was probably one of the 87 times Chooch asked told Janna to buy him Pokemon cards for Christmas.

“I think the gas mask year was my favorite,” Janna said dreamily, as we recounted all of the festive Yuletide transformations that Trudy has undergone. (Underwent? Undertaken? GONE THRU.) I think we care less and less each year though, ah, sweet complacency. I mean, I was all gung-ho about looking for a green tutu for her to wear this year so that we could also use that as a vehicle for hanging ornaments, but I got distracted about like, one google search and then forgot to go back and look. LOL. Oh, Christmas. Who cares.

I mean, look how exhausted we are after spending a whopping ten minutes wrapping a mannequin with garland. She doesn’t even need strung with lights anymore because Henry just leaves the lights on her year-round now.

Here are pictures of all of us post-TRUDY TRIM.

Then Chooch wanted to play a game but I said NO because I didn’t feel like it, yet somehow I ended up with Chooch’s phone pressed to my forehead, hysterically guessing things from the 1980s. Oh Heads Up, I hate your existence yet I can never walk away a challenge.

One of the categories is for songs but you have to hum or sing the song without giving away the song title. It was Chooch’s turn to guess and the song was “Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White Ts but I never liked that song and could literally only think of the Hey There Delilah line and had to keep humming it over and over and Janna was also trying to hum it because she couldn’t think of the words and then I was like, “JUST PASS IT YOU PROBABLY DON’T KNOW THIS SONG ANYWAY” so he passed it and then later when he looked at the ones he missed, he rage-cried, “HEY THERE DELILAH ARE YOU KIDDING ME WHY WOULDN’T I KNOW THAT???” and Janna and I defensively argued that we couldn’t think of any other lyrics.

“Like, who even knows the words to that song,” Janna said dismissively, to which Chooch screamed, “HEY THERE DELILAH?? WHAT’S IT LIKE IN NEW YORK CITY???? I’M A THOUSAND MILES AWAY???? BUT, GIRL, TONIGHT YOU LOOK SO PRETTY????” while the protruding vein in his forehead was barking an emphatic “Yeah!” after line, and then dropped the mic on his behalf.

“AND YOU COULDN’T HAVE EVEN HAD ME GUESS THE BAND’S NAME?!?! REALLY? PLAIN WHITE TS???”

He was um, very upset.

Blake made the long and arduous trek over from next door later that night after his gaggle of children went  to bed, and the HEY THERE DELILAH party foul was brought back up again.

Immediately, Blake recounted the first four lines of the song too, with as much casual comfort as someone singing the happy birthday song. Janna and I just threw our arms up in defeat. (Honestly though I really hated that song so it’s not too shocking that I wouldn’t know the words.)

Whenever it was my turn and we were doing music, everyone’s first clue for nearly every singer was, “Oh you hate this person.” I hate so many pop singers that it was really hard for me to guess! Although it was mostly Katy Perry and Taylor Swift every time, except for the one time when it was Alecia Keys and Chooch ever-so-surely said, “You really hate this singer” and I was so confused because I do not hate her. I just have no feelings either way!

Bros!

I was REALLY pissed because once when it was my turn, the answer was The Carpenters “We’ve Only Just Begun” but I only got the artist and not the song because Henry was being stupid with his humming capabilities and then afterward argued that I “wouldn’t have gotten it anyway” and I was like, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME ALL YOU HAD TO DO WAS SAY THIS SONG IS IN MUSIC BOXES?!!?” Honestly, my grandma had like 8 different music boxes in her house that played that song.

One time when it was Henry’s turn, the word was SHOULDER PADS and Chooch got Henry to guess it by saying “it’s what mom called Drew and thought it was so hilarious* – Ursula’s…” and Henry immediately said “Oh. Shoulder pads.

*It WAS hilarious!

Also, chooch wouldn’t do the pop culture category with us because it has “relevant trends” that we “wouldn’t know about.” I hate him.

My other favorite moment of the night was when Janna told me that one of the BITCHIEST teachers we had for Language Arts / Communications in middle school made her re-recite a poem from the very beginning after she mispronounced the word BOSOM LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL. This is my new favorite Janna thing! Apparently she pronounced it BOW-some LOLOLOLOL YESSSSSSSSS.

Well, Mary, I think that’s all for now. It was a nice night of snackin’ and Heads Up’in and somewhat house partyin’. And now Trudy is back to her festive dressings!

May 262021
 

We haven’t been able to spend any time with Henry’s mom Judy in forever, since even before the pandemic started, so now that we’re all vaccinated (Chooch still just has that one dose but at least he’s 80% protected, right CDC!?) we invited the ol’ Judester (literally have never called her that until right now) over for some vegan food and hangs.

Onion Maiden was doing a brunch-themed pre-order that weekend so Henry was like WE WILL TAKE ONE OF EVERYTHING and then we split it all four ways and brother, oh brother, it was perfect. It was also Judy’s first time eating vegan food and she was really excited because not only did it taste good, but it didn’t hurt her stomach. I made sure to let her know that vegan food is not always synonymous with HEALTHY CHOICES because I have had some vegan junk food that has left me feeling like my stomach is going to drop out of my ass. Some vegan food can be HEAVY AF!

But Onion Maiden is pretty safe in that regard. I think so, anyway. Of course, you can always over-eat no matter the cuisine.

Regards,

Erin the Dietician*

*(I just got my degree from the back of a matchbook from 1976.)

On my plate, you will see matcha waffles with strawberries, kale salad, tater tots, mushroom’d and gravied biscuit, grits with kimchi, and an “omelette” with fake bacon. I can’t remember all the fun names (aside from Gorilla Biscuits) but rest assured, Onion Maiden will always hit you with the best heavy metal food puns.

Polished that shit off with some vegan morning desserts!

I think my favorite part though was when we were showing Judy the kitchen and I bragged that I “cook all the time” now because I love being in there so much.

Henry and Chooch glared at me.

“Well,” I qualified, “I make myself breakfast everyday now.”

(Chooch mumbled, “She doesn’t make me breakfast.”)

“I’m really good at making eggs.” The Brag Barge was still sloshing down Ego River.

“Oh! Can you make over-easy? That’s my favorite,” Judy said.

“…can you make those with Egg Beaters?” I asked with a frown.

Judy stared at me for a second, before dead-panning, “No. No, you cannot.”

[Yo, speaking of my eggs, I dunno what paprika is but ever since I accidentally started using it, my scrambled eggs (beaters) have been next level. I’m going to start exclaiming PAPRIKA! now instead of Eureka, assuming I would ever exclaim Eureka in the first place.]

Then Blake brought his entire brood over and I was annoyed because Henry bought them kinetic sand TO TAKE HOME WITH THEM but they were like OPEN THIS. OPEN THIS FOR ME. OPEN. OPEN OPEN OPEN. And I am such a fucking pushover and also just didn’t want them to cry, so I fucking opened it and I am still sweeping it up and picking tiny clumps of it off the cats. Ugh.

I was so mad because Judy, Blake, and Chooch started playing some card game that perhaps I wanted to play too but Calvin and Lily were demonically chanting, “PWAY WIF ME. PWAY WIF ME EWIN” and I kept saying NO I DON’T WANT TO and Lily moved on with her life but Calvin was so persistent so I was like “LET’S HAVE A CONVERSATION INSTEAD” because it was 90 degrees in my house and I was tired AF and also I do not like playing with children.

At one point, I cried, “I AM FOREVER AT THE KID’S TABLE THIS SUCKS.”

Then I took this picture of the grandkids and great-grandkids. Aw.

Also, Chooch was getting super mad because Judy kept calling him “Blake” and “Robbie” and then sometimes she would dip into the grandkids from the other family tree branch and if you know anything about Chooch, you know he can be pretty solipsistic so this was supremely bruising his self-worth.

I tried to make him feel better by sharing that my grandma used to call me the names of all three of her daughters and then she’d dip into the dog’s name too before finally settling on Erin. (My grandma also low-key hated me, so.)

Haley, who had arrived around this time from work, commiserated with me on this and shared that her family used to do the same.

“Although to be fair, the dog’s name was Bailey….” she admitted.

“Oh,” I frowned. “My grandparent’s dog’s name was Wally….”

Anyway, that was a fun afternoon but holy shit I was so tired. I am not used to talking to people’s faces for that long. + humidity. x kids. = BURNT OUT ERIN.

May 232021
 

I have sad news. Well, sad news for me. You probably won’t care (who are you anyway, hello out there?). My dear friend Jiyong, whom I met via the Hello Talk language exchange app in 2019 – actually it was about three years ago to the date! – is moving back to Korea next week. We lost all of 2020 due to Covid obvi and my 한글 process suffered greatly but I mostly just missed seeing my friend every week, inevitably spilling my coffee, and just having really amazing conversations about cultural differences and getting to know each other.

I do not make true friends very easily (acquaintances, yes!) and she quickly became one of the VERY FEW people I had consistent contact with. So when she told me a few mths ago that she and her husband are leaving Pittsburgh, the tears squirted out. Still though, I am SO HAPPY for both of them!

Very grateful that we both had the incredible opportunity to receive the vaccination because that made it possible for us to safely have one last hang out (hopefully just here in PGH and not forever!). Jiyong asked me to take her someone cool and I couldn’t think of a better place than the Mattress Factory, which, in a way, reminds me of Korea because of the super outrageous and trendy sunglass company, Gentle Monster. Their flagship stores are basically Mattress Factory, but add sunglasses for sale.

Oh man, I had such a fun time sharing my favorite Pittsburgh place with her!

And if she hadn’t been there with me, I’d have never known that these are actually very old Korean coins!

It was also blessedly not crowded.

Afterward, we got some burritos at El Burro and ate them on a bench at a park across the street. It was a really great but extremely bittersweet day!

Oh! And I asked her if we ever make it back to Korea (henry says we will!), if we can go to the Han River and have a picnic because it’s something we always wanted to do but the process of ordering food (you can literally order ANYTHING and have it delivered right to you ANYWHERE, because Korea is the delivery capital of the world!) and she said YES OF COURSE and I am so excited to have a real life friend that I can visit if I ever make it back there.

Then her husband came to pick her up and he had a huge box of Korean snacks for me!!!! Omg what a beautiful day. I am going to miss Jiyong sooooo much, though. Who else will insist that I repeat the dreaded “려” sound over and over until I sound at least fairly coherent?! (That was not one of my favorite days with her, lol!)

Ugh goodbyes are literally the worst. I even let her hug me twice that’s how you know the sadness was real.

May 152021
 

Greetings from the car ride home from Elysburg, PA! This weekend was one of many Firsts Since Pre-Pandemic Days, such as: FIRST AMUSEMENT PARK(S)!! But we’ll get that in a later blog post.

The other firsts: EATING INSIDE A RESTAURANT. I realize that both of these things were technically possible before but none of us felt comfortable pushing our luck with no vaccine and soaring numbers.

Things are finally starting to seem like they’re getting better (hopefully??) so we’re making our entrance back into society I guess.

This whole weekend was set in motion several mths ago when one of my oldest Internet friends (as in – we met in the late 90s on Darkchat!) Eresbet sent me an IG message and asked me if I wanted some of these awesome antique carnival toys that her mom collected. Of course I said yes because that’s my aesthetic but mostly because it was an opportunity to finally meet her! It’s crazy because I remember we had even talked on the phone occasionally back in the day, as in: the days when I wasn’t scared of talking on the phone!

We met her at the Soda Jerk diner after leaving Hershey Park yesterday and I was so nervous because hello, I haven’t had to be social in a long time and even before that, my social muscle does not flex very often.

But I feel like it went swimmingly!! She brought her daughter Lana with her and we got to sit in a big round booth which I love and the waitress was so nice (I missed waitresses!!!) and I got to chug diner coffee and eat my veggie panini as soon as it was brought to me instead of driving around and looking for a place to sit outside and eat, and I got a stomachache from a delicious chocolate milkshake and the conversation was easy and comfortable! I am typically the living embodiment of the sweating emoji in these circumstances but this time I felt like the sunglasses face.

Why do the people I get along so well with aways have to not live in Pittsburgh??

Chooch accused me of saying “yeah I’ll meet you but you have to bring me toys.” Also, he claimed the carousel.

Then we drove for a bit to accomplish another First since the pandemic happened: CHECKING INTO A HOTEL!

Henry came out to the car after checking in and gave us the room key and presumably directions to the elevator and we were like Yeah Yeah Ok Mmm and walked away from him. Inside the lobby, we assumed that we had to walk down the hallway because we didn’t see the elevator anywhere.

“Oh this door must be for the stairwell,” I said when we reached the end and still had yet to uncover this mystical elevator. But when I pushed it open, it just went out into the back parking lot.

As we Tweedled our way back toward the lobby, we saw the elevator just as Henry oafed his way through the doors with all the bags.

“What are you two idiots doing?” he asked suspiciously.

“We couldn’t find the elevator,” I said.

“I told you where it was!” Henry cried, and now we had the attention of the ladies at the desk.

“Oh, I stopped listening before that,” I shrugged.

“We didn’t know where they were going or we would have helped!” the one lady said.

“I told them to come inside and turn left,” Henry sighed.

“No left turn was made,” the one solemnly lady said and I am still internally cracking up over this. NO LEFT TURN WAS MADE.

Meanwhile, Days Inn is in the process of remodeling this property and im not sure if anything is going to be added but our room had a gigantic area of open space, it was really crazy. For our first hotel since December 2019, I have no complaints! It was clean & comfortable and the way that lady at the front desk so seamlessly inserted herself into one of our signature family squabbles made it way more memorable.

Jan 232020
 

It’s tradition for Janna, Chooch and me to go out for lunch on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, if only doing this once prior counts as “tradition.” We’ve already started this tradition with a strangely volatile track record, because last year I chose a restaurant that was extremely crowded with awkward seating, so we left after being seated at a crowded counter, and then ended up having another awkward seating experience at the ramen place we chose as our fall-back.

But then we had a great time at a post-lunch cafe (Black Forge, holla!) so that made it seem, in our memories, that we should do it again this year. I guess kind of like how some women forget the horrors of pregnancy/child birth and do it again.

This time, it was Janna’s turn to choose an uncomfortable eating establishment!

First though, the day started on a high when Janna got yelled at in the parking lot across from my house for allegedly thieving Hot Naybor Chris’s wife’s parking spot. Janna had to swear that she’s not a weirdo after HNC’s wife ranted about all the weirdos in the neighborhood and swore she didn’t realize it was someone else’s spot (newsflash: none of us have our own assigned parking spots, so…).

“Wow, she’s very shrill,” Janna laughed when she walked into my house and Chooch and I were dying. We wanted her to get beaten, but verbal abuse is just as good!

We immediately set off for Ineffable Cà Phê which I’ve wanted to try for awhile, but anytime we’ve been in the area, it’s always looks very crowded. Well, today was no different and it didn’t help that we arrived right smack in the middle of noon.

Maybe I’m just FUCKING OLD, but I really dislike places that force you to order at a counter. I get that this is also a cafe, but perhaps separate the two areas, I dunno, because the menus were all split up in different spots and by the time it was our turn to order, I was teetering on the tip of a tantrum and blurted out, “I’LL HAVE THE SAME AS HIM” and nudged Chooch, even though I didn’t know what he ordered because every time I asked him, he ignored me.

Then the real fun began—looking for a place to sit. Again, this is a cafe that also serves food (and some of  the food is pho, so…not exactly something you can casually eat while standing. I was having ANXIETY by this point because we were just standing there, lost, in everyone’s way, looking for a place that could seat three people, but because THIS IS ALSO A CAFE, 90% of the seats were occupied by people who were not eating, but staring at their laptops with dead eyes.

Booths? People working.

Shared tables? Full of lazy hipsters and surrounded by a moat of coiled laptop cords on the floor, which I almost tripped over numerous times.

It was absolutely trash as far as comfort levels went.

We finally settled on an armchair (which White Knight Jr, a/k/a Chooch, argued was “very comfortable” and he was “just fine”) and a couch in the corner, with some extremely enlarged spool-thing to use as a table. It was SO FUCKING UNCOMFORTABLE. The couch was so low to the ground and I had to bend in half every time I took a bite of my tofu banh mi (good choice, Chooch), so I guess at least I was getting an ab workout, I dunno.

It was so bad that while we were waiting for our food, Janna could see Mt.Erinsuvius getting ready to erupt and suggested that we just get our food to go, save it for dinner, and then go somewhere for lunch.

NOT AFTER I JUST THREW DOWN $20 ON TWO SANDWICHES (AND NO DRINKS!!).

Luckily for this damn place, the banh mi was really good. It’s so hard to find GOOD TOFU on sandwiches, and theirs had a really great marinade to it. I approved. So did Chooch, who was blessedly silent while inhaling his lunch.

The worst part about this though was that I had to go to the counter and retrieve both sandwiches after my name was called, and it was a veritable slalom course of laptop cords and backpacks but I persevered all while muttering, “Don’t look at me. Don’t look at me.”

When Janna’s food was ready, the guy was like, “I will bring it to you” because she got pho, but she still walked over and kept trying to take it from him and he was like, “I WILL BRING IT TO YOU” – Chooch and I were dying. Finally, something good was happening! Then the guy gave Janna a sauce recommendation but she of course didn’t pay attention, so when he left our table she was like, “What did he tell me to do?” and I was like, “Mix the sriracha and hoisin.” As she embarked on the  treacherous journey to the counter to fetch said sauces, Chooch was like, “Oh, I thought you said sriracha and POISON and I was like ‘Yes, we’re killing Janna!'” Hahaha.

Actually, once we got our food and established ourselves in the corner which was DEFINITELY meant for relaxing with a book and coffee, not hunched over a lunch you’re trying not to spill, it was OK. Would I go back? I AM NOT SURE. Maybe I’d get it to go, but I can’t foresee myself ever attempting to dine in there again unless I get there immediately when it opens or like, right after a kitchen fire,  idk.

However, there was one super positive aspect about this place, and that was when we stumbled on  the adjacent boutique on the way out. It’s just a tiny little nook in the corner of the cafe but just secluded enough so you feel like you’re in another space altogether, and it’s run by a super lovely lady who chatted us up but not in the sense where I was trying to peel my skin off and lift it up over my head to form a nice bloody flesh tent under which to camp out with my social inadequacies.

She was SO LOVELY that Chooch was like, “I WANT ONE OF HER CANDLES.” They were all very earthly, masculine smells, er, scents, which I appreciate in a candle from time to time; one can only have so many pumpkin spices and clean cotton fragrances in the house, you know?

The special thing about her candles is that you can DIP YOUR FINGERS INTO THE HOT WAX, which is like every kids’ and my dream, and then RUB IT INTO YOUR SKIN BECAUSE IT DOUBLES AS ESSENTIAL OIL.

Brilliant. Yes, let me buy one of those.

It took Chooch forever to choose a scent (black currant is what he ultimately went for?!) and then Janna had to copy us and buy one too but when the lady asked her for her email address, Janna rattled off something I’ve never heard before, so I yelled, “HEY I DON’T KNOW ABOUT THAT EMAIL ADDRESS!” and it was quiet for a second while the lady’s eyeballs looked like they were watching a scary tennis match, but then Janna just nervously laughed it off so then the lady laughed too but I WASNT LAUGHING.

Meanwhile, there was a dog behind the counter but Chooch wasn’t able to reach it so he was terribly upset about that.

THEN WE WENT DOWNTOWN. I started laughing when I realized that it was exactly 2::00pm, which is what time I would normally be ambling about down there on a regular workday. First, we stopped at this art installation thing because Pittsburgh sometimes tries to hang with the Big City Kids by doing artsy things for people to either enjoy, scrutinize, or vandalize. I walk past this every day but have never bothered to stop and explore, so I was happy that we parked literally on the same block as it.

It was pretty cold that day but not as cold as it was last year when we did out MLK outing, because I think it was like 10 degrees that day. If you ask Mr. I Never Get Cold, he’ll tell you that both days weren’t cold at all. I hate him sometimes.

IF YOU LOOK, YOU CAN SEE ALL THREE OF US OMG.

I’m like way good at posing.

AnywaySSSS, the reason we were downtown is because Bae Bae’s Kitchen opened a brand new cafe down the street called, well, Bae Bae’s Cafe. I’ve been stalking it for months on my daily lunch break walks and was excited to get there on their second day! (I feel like the first opening day would have been stuffed to the gills with influencers and the like, so…no thanks.)

Chooch and I are both avid boba fans, so I got a taro and he chose earl gray which I thought was an odd choice for him and turns out he ended up thinking the same once he sipped it. He added some cane sugar to it after awhile and then deemed it drinkable.

This is DEFINITELY an Instagram-cafe. That’s not to take away from their drinks which are wonderful; they also serve lunch items but we had already done that so I ordered chocolate chip cookies for us to share and they were REALLY DELICIOUS. Like 진짜 맛있어요!

(Bae Bae’s is Korean, yo.)

So, the seating is pretty non-existent here, which was hilarious to us because all we wanted to do was be able to sit together today while eating and drinking?! Like, I can’t think of many more basic wants, you know? But this space is pretty small so probably prepare to pop in and pop out if you go on a busy day. As it turned out, Janna had to sit by herself and then when she left her seat to go to the counter to get her drink, some asshole stole her seat! AND THE GUY HE WAS WITH WHO WAS ALREADY SITTING ACROSS FROM WHERE JANNA HAD BEEN SAID NOTHING!

To be fair, either did Chooch or I. Chooch was just like, “LOL, Janna lost her seat” and then continued slurping up boba.

My bedroom is almost this same color and now I know that UMERELLA-ELLA-ELLAS ON THE CEILING is what it’s been missing. Get on that, Henry.

The guy on the couch is the d-bag who stole Janna’s seat, but then he moved to the couch once it became available, so Janna got her seat back. Damn. Anyway, these guys were v.annoying.

It’s a very elegant and, to use a word people hate, no not moist: WHIMSICAL. I personally liked it because it gave off Wonderland vibes and that’s my jam. My favorite Alice In Wonderland is  the version that as Carol Channing and Ann Jillian in it, in case you were wondering. I think it’s from the early 80s.

Seriously,  the best. Followed by that weirdo Jan Svankmajer stop-motion film “Alice.” Horrifying.

Janna Sits Alone.

Anyway, the best part of the day was that the proprietor of the Bae Bae’s empire, Ashley, was there and she came over to talk to Chooch and me and she took our picture for the cafe’s Instagram story! She also said I looked very familiar to her and I was like, “Oh god, am I on some Koreaboo list?!” Like Megan’s List but for Koreans to watch out for people obsessed with their culture. But it turns out she just recognized me from all the times I’ve cupped my hands next to my face and peeked in the cafe’s windows JUST KIDDING she said she thinks I looked familiar because I follow Bae Bae’s on Instagram. To be honest, I rarely go to Bae Bae’s Kitchen even though it’s right near my office because:

  • it’s kind of expensive
  • it sits super heavily in my stomach (BUT IT’S SO GOOD)
  • I don’t want to be a creep

We tried to stay as long as we could because there were three “super hip” Modcloth chicks hogging the best seat in the house and I wanted to get pictures there too but they came with A CAMERA, like a real DSLR, and just when I thought they were getting ready to leave, one of them went back up  to the counter to order dessert for them to share, see also: NEW PROP FOR MORE PICTURES.

I saw later that night that Bae Bae’s reposted some of their pictures and THEY SAT ON OUR SEATS AFTER WE LEFT, which was like 15 minutes before closing, so maybe the whole time THEY were trying to wait US out?? Like, if I had just gone over there and politely said, “EXCUSE ME, CUNTS WE WANT TO SIT HERE FOR A SEC, BEAT IT” everyone could have gotten their way!?

Anyway, it was a tumultuous day. A real roller coaster of emotions. Maybe next year, we’ll just go to the movies and Taco Bell.

Dec 282019
 

My favorite thing about hosting shit at my house is that we (we = Henry, mostly, but I do stuff too!) REALLY CLEAN THE HOUSE. And then sometimes it will stay like that for a few days afterward! So by Saturday afternoon, I was less stressed about entertaining and more preoccupied with basking in the niceness of this shanty.

Chooch’s friend Hoajie came! This was good because sometimes Chooch starts to get annoyed being around so many adults, especially if they’re not paying attention to him. I don’t know where he gets that from.

Trudy was ready to meet new people!

We were still putting food out even after people started showing up and I was mad because I always like the table to be IN FINAL FORM. Henry made a big Christmas tree spinach crescent roll thing which eventually went on that Christmas tree tray and then straight into Chooch’s and Hoajie’s stomaches.

Ugh, those Rice Krispies treats were a fucking bitch. Chooch was supposed to help me make them but he ditched me that day for the Teen Center so then Henry had to take over after I started crying out of frustration because I didn’t know where to start, lol. Anyway, you just essentially replace marshmallows with white chocolate. Then you have to make a form out of parchment paper and I was like, “HENRY” so he basically did the whole thing but I decorated they were refrigerated, so he can’t take all the credit.

Aaaaaand….no one ate them. I made Janna take some home and we pawned some off on Blake the next day. Then I took one to work for Margie and she was like THIS IS SO GOOD and I was like YES I KEPT TELLING YOU PEOPLE ON SATURDAY!!!

But seriously: GAME CHANGER.

Jiyong brought a selection of mini jeon (Korean savory pancakes)!!  I was like, “Here you can just set this down on my lap” but ultimately I allowed her to put it on the table for everyone to enjoy. They’re: sweet potato, shrimp, chives, kimichi and corn. SO GOOD.

Janna was late of course, which made me turn to Jiyong and say, “This is why I wasn’t concerned when you said you were going to be late, because I knew that Janna would still be even later” and I think that made her feel better since it was her first time in my house DID I MENTION THAT YET. I was so nervous to invite her because our friendship is still in the blossoming stages and I don’t want to scare her off, and I especially don’t want her to think I’m some raging Koreaboo.

“Well, you kind of are,” Henry said, but luckily I feel there is so much shit in my house (clowns, weird art, horror movie memorabilia, THE CURE) that it really just makes me look like I’m some eclectic collector of junk.

Anyway, back to Janna being late. She texted me earlier and asked if Chooch could come out and help her carry her stuff in and then she also texted Chooch as well and guess who went out to help her – NO ONE OOPS. I forgot all about it and I guess Chooch did too because around 8pm, there was what appeared to be an audible struggle on the other side of the front door and then in stumbled Janna, arms full of fig-and-brie bread, spinach dip, and a huge ass jug of wine.

She was like, “Thanks, Chooch.” Hahaha.

That La Croix can really jacks up the aesthetic of this table.

We’re an anti-La Croix family but Wendy loves it so Henry made sure to bring some home from work for her. This is how I found out that JANNA ALSO LIKES IT?! I’m triggered. I saw this tweet last year and I have never resonated so much with anything on the Internet ISTFG:

That is the realest, right there.

“It’s like a special treat,” Janna said, sipping on her PAMPLEMOUSSE oh my god Janna I don’t even know you anymore.

Chooch coerced everyone to play Likewise and one of the categories was “gross drink” or something and literally everyone wrote LA CROIX on their paddles, even Wendy, who sadly said, “I disagree with this but knew everyone else would write it and I wanted the point.”

Wendy, Shawn, and Summer! That’s not a real mouse under the wheelchair, by the way. It’s one of the dozens of toy mouses the cats leave strewn about the house, the only indication that we even had any cats since they’re like STRANGER DANGER whenever people are here.

We were talking about G-Dragon at one point and Shawn was like, “wtf is a G-Dragon” so even Wendy was like, “OMG YOU DON’T KNOW” and I started gushing about him and then the subject of Korean military service came up and you could tell Wendy was getting her duct tape ready in case Shawn started going off the rails and embarrassed her in front of Jiyong, but I think it was a good conversation about Korean culture that really made Jiyong feel more included. This was her first American party and I give her so much credit for coming to it! Her English is great but I worried that she would feel left out.

She wasn’t scared away by Trudy (in fact, she wanted to be sure that Trudy was in our picture)! I’m really glad she met some of my friends because I would love to take our weekly meetings beyond just sitting in a cafe and me struggling to learn Korean, lol. It would be cool to invite her along when Janna and I go to, I dunno, the Mattress Factory or something. And then we can get Janna to start watching Korean dramas and start a club.

Ugh, Janna had just polished off a can of La Croix and then I had to stand this close to her.

Janna has the new iPhone 11 and Chooch is obsessed with it, fine, I am too.

Margie and me, standing uncomfortably. Margie brought several dozens of Christmas cookies baked by her uber-talented daughter (baker of the G-Dragon cookies!) and Chooch kept raving about how the peanut butter blossoms were the best he’s ever had and GUESS WHO DID NOT GET TO TRY ANY OH YEAH THIS GIRL RIGHT HERE.

We made everyone try faux-kielbasa and they were like, “Mmmm.”

Janna stayed for a few hours after everyone else left and Chooch and I were soooo hyper.

I used Janna’s phone to take pictures of my still-clean house because I was obsessed. I wish it could always look this dreamy! HENRY MAKE IT SO.

I dunno what Chooch is doing here.

The dopiest. (Henry was so tired, lol.)

I love that Janna looks like she’s in a hostage situation here.

Blake stopped by when he got from work at 11! I was SO PISSED AT CHOOCH because his ONLY JOB was to invite Blake and Haley AND HE TOLD THEM THE PARTY WAS SUNDAY. So then the morning of the actual party, Chooch was talking to Blake and was like, “Are you still coming to the party tonight?” and Blake was like, “I have to work. I thought it was tomorrow?!” so HE NEVER REQUESTED THE NIGHT OFF WORK. THANKS CHOOCH.

Janna’s like, “Can I have my phone back yet, or…?”

I forced Blake to partake in the hot chocolate bar. He was impressed.

This is my signature pose.

Anyway, we ended the night with me trying to make Janna watch this hot chocolate bar DIY YouTube video that I like to heckle while Chooch was trying to talk to her about the Holocaust at the same time and she seemed very torn and also like she was maybe about to snap. We almost broke her, you guys. My house is so manic.

Overall, it was a good night. Keeping it small and casual helped me to not have a full-blown anxiety attack but I still had some real strange vibes following me the next day. I gotta work on kicking this social rut. I miss the old Erin who packed her house with people. Maybe I’ll have some sort of themed party later this winter and expand the guest list. Another gross vintage food party, maybe!?

Dec 242019
 

I agreed to host a small holiday get together at my house this year, per Wendy’s orders, haha. I kept saying I didn’t want to do anything this year but she gently prodded until I cried uncle. I kept the guest list small (Wendy’s family, Janna, my friend Margie from work, and Jiyong) and that really helped a lot because I felt less pressure. I still have a bit of PTSD from the last full-blown Xmas party I had in 2016 where every person who said they were going to come, actually did and then somehow everyone seemed to arrive at the same time and my house was packed which is not ideal if you’ve ever been to my house because it’s small AF (it’s a duplex).

But….true to Erin form, I started to get really into planning for this dumb thing. It started after I invited Jiyong because she said it was going to be her first American Christmas party, and I wanted it to be a good experience for her, and not just like, “Here’s a pop and a bowl of chips, babe.”

(Really though – when have any of my parties been that cheap?!)

Anyway, I was perusing YouTube for some Christmas party food ideas when I accidentally stumbled upon the HOT CHOCOLATE BAR scene. Look, I know this isn’t a new concept, but I’m not a lifestyle blogger or Mormon housewife so this has fallen just short of my radar until several weeks ago when some fairly tolerable Canadian DIY YouTuber slipped it into her XMAS PARTY DIY video.

I latched on to this idea HARD. Typically at my parties, I make a punch or a sangria, oftentimes both. It’s kind of my thing—Henry does the cleaning, the shopping, the cooking and I do the decorating and the punch. Literally the most important things. But then I usually end up throwing out the leftover punch the next day and that sucks because I always use quality ingredients! So this seemed like it would be a nice, cheap change of pace.

So I started watching hot chocolate bar DIYs on YouTube and it’s like a whole fucking cult, you guys. These broads are legit insane, covering cans of whipped cream with wrapping paper, buying cute Christmas canisters at HOBBY LOBBY (the grossest) only to hot glue it with twine and BUFFALO PLAID RIBBON. And then they print out labels like people are too stupid to know what white chocolate chips are!?

Chooch and I became obsessed with watching these but I think I already “talked” about that on here.  The worst part about it is that these bitches put in so much effort on having a “theme” to their stupid set-up, BUT THEN MOST OF THEM JUST USED SWISS MISS K-CUPS FOR THE ACTUAL HOT CHOCOLATE PART?!

Bitch plz, why you gonna go so many extra miles repurposing a wooden sled sign to say “Baby It’s Cold Outside” (big vomit) and then offer your guests some .50 cent hot chocolate?

So for me, I went light on the “theme” and heavy on the hot cocoa quality because IT’S A HOT CHOCOLATE BAR, PEOPLE. I bought a bunch of Christmas mugs at the dollar store and the thrift store, and then Christmas’d-up my Taemin coffee cup for myself.

I had some candy options, like candy cane Kisses, hot chocolate Kisses, white chocolate chips, and peppermint candies. None of which required me to print out labels purchased from these dumb bitches’ Etsy shops and then cut out with a special scrapbooking paper punch.

Most importantly, I had options in case anyone wanted to take their mug o’ choco up a notch. I made Janna put all the options in hers and she was like, “Oh wow. Mm. Interesting.”

Chooch made fun of me because he thought I purposely went out and bought that “Let It Snow” bowl but I snapped, “It came with a set that someone gave me at work, Chooch!” Jesus, step off, hater.

Oh yeah, and two sizes of marshmallows and those Piroutte stick things, which Chooch’s friend Hoajie was excited about because it worked as a straw.

But the real star of the show, the hot chocolate, was made from scratch in a crockpot by Henry and it was, I feel confident saying this, the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had in my life. It was so rich that really adding anything to it was gilding the lily (did I ever tell you that I learned that phrase from an episode of the home renovation show “While You Were Out” back when I was 23? I think of Teresa Strasser saying it EVERY  TIME I TYPE THAT OUT) but it was still incredibly fun plopping in scoops of white chocolate chips and marshmallows! I added some kind of caramel booze to my mug and the end result was LES MAGNIFIQUE, TRULY.

I found out at work on Monday that Margie has never put marshmallows in hot chocolate before (?!?!?) but she saw people doing it that night SO SHE DID IT TOO.

“OMG it was so good! They get all melty and squishy!” she enthused and I was about to ask her if she lives in a bomb shelter but then Wendy came over and interrupted.

I made such a big deal about this damn thing and Jiyong was like, “OK I will get some!” after I asked her for the third time (I was really trying to tone it down since it was her first time at my house, with my friends, and I tend to get really high strung at my house parties).

Blake came over when he came home from work that night and I practically slammed the last remaining Christmas mug in his hands and shouted, “HAVE SOME HOT CHOCOLATE FROM THE HOT CHOCOLATE BAR!” I mean, you don’t ever have to tell Blake twice. He was like, “Ooh! Hot chocolate! OK!” and then made his an adult version.

It was also great because Wendy and Shawn brought their four-year-old daughter, so I think this (in addition to the presents I gave her lol) really helped ease the pain of enduring a roomful of grownups who are constantly asking you questions about your life and how you feel.

In conclusion (sorry, I’m always watching Chooch write his dumb papers for school), I would say that the hot chocolate bar was a big success, anything leftover was non-perishable, and it was fun enough that I would definitely consider adding this to the rotation. There are so many different things you could do as far as mix-ins go, recipes to use, theming I guess even though that’s a bit too Pioneer Woman for me. I’m more of a mix-and-match bitch, to be honest.

****

Much later that night, after everyone left, Janna was still here so I was like, “JANNA YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS ONE DUMB LADY’S HOT CHOCOLATE BAR VIDEO” but then Chooch was also there trying to talk to her about the Holocaust, so to get her attention back to me, I started screaming, “JANNA LOOK THIS ASSHOLE IS USING A WINE GLASS TO TURN A CANISTER INTO A PEDASTAL BUT FIRST SHE’S GOING TO MAKE IT INTO A SNOWGLOBE WTF WHY” while Chooch was like, “JANNA BLAH BLAH BLAH HISTORY STUFF HITLER OH SHIT” and Janna honestly looked like she was in some type of ring of Hell which had been uninhabited for trillions of years until now.

Jun 272019
 

Ever since I found out the mom of Baby Huey a/k/a Psycho Asscrack works at this hole in the wall diner (literally) on the boulevard, I’ve been dead-set on adding it to the summer breakfast club schedule. It’s called The No Name Cafe and Chooch was way against going here and kept saying we should just go to Parker’s instead.

Honestly, in all of the years I’ve lived in this town, I have never even bothered to look at the menu taped to the window, probably because I’m always too busy ragging on the shitty quality of the hand-written signs. (RESTROOM FOR CUSTOMERS ONLY, etc etc.) I mean, it looks like they handed a Sharpie and a notepad to a 90-year-old with arthritis, confiscated their glasses, turned off the lights, and then made them scrawl out the signs in their opposite writing-hand.

I didn’t take any photos because there is always a perpetual parade of people on the boulevard and I already look like I’m up to no good. However, the diner is closed now so I texted Chooch who is currently next door to the place at the teen center and asked him to send me some pictures of the signs, so here they are, photo cred goes to Chooch, god forbid:

Steeler Country, yo.

Ask Henry how many impassioned speeches I launch into about these signs, and how I would offer to make better ones for them with ONLY THE REQUEST of free grilled cheese for life as my payment.

I do not think this is too much to ask.

But then one night last week, I actually stopped and looked at the menu and exclaimed, “OH SHIT THEY HAVE BREAKFAST BURRITOS.”

I never knew that was a selling point for me but my subconscious self spoke, you guys.

This morning, I woke up at my normal “get up for work” time even though I’m late shift, that’s how inexplicably stoked I was today’s breakfast adventure. I woke Chooch up at 7:30 and he was like, “OMG SRSLY.” But he got up and headed straight to the shower because he was secretly amped for this, I just know it.

First, we had to walk to the ATM because CASH ONLY which I know thanks to a badly-written sign which apparently is still able to get the job done even without bubble letters, glitter pens, or like, a well-placed bloody handprint.

Now typically, I will see some elderly people enjoying their grits or whatever when I walk past the joint, but of course on the day we chose to go, NO ONE was at NO NAME. Just the waitress/cook on duty, who was not the mom of Baby Huey a/k/a Psycho Asscrack but another lady who I recognized because look, I do a lot of walking on the boulevard and she is often sitting on a chair outside of the diner and sometimes the neighboring bakery, weather permitting.

At first, it was really uncomfortable because it was just us and her, no music was playing, no, TV, nothing. And if you’ve met Chooch and me, you know that we can make even the most neutral situation awkward AF. We even made ordering beverage weird.

Stupid Chooch ordered the breakfast burrito (HOLD THE MEAT) and even though my gut was saying, “burrito me!” I panicked and ordered the french toast instead.

Then the waitress lady went around the counter and prepared the grill and I was like OMG SHE IS COOKING RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF US and I don’t know why this made me nervous but suddenly I felt like I was in her house and things just got way intimate – why am I such a spaz.

Chooch and I kept nervously looking at each other and giggling, but then some old guy came in and sat at the counter and I think it was her dad? He didn’t order anything, but they were talking about how her daughter lost $7 or something, maybe at the pool. Then she brought our plates over and apologized to Chooch for not being good at folding burritos but HOLY SHIT his breakfast burrito was a Morning Monster of delicious A.M. foods! There were eggs, onions, peppers, and taco cheese spilling out in a greasy pool of THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY.

And look, my french toast had none of that fancy shit on it. It wasn’t stuffed with cream cheese and berries or crowned with a dollop of whipped cream. No, it was CLASSIC FRENCH TOAST, no gilding of the carb-lillies here, and it tasted just like the french toast my grandma used to make me while I sat patiently at the kitchen counter wrapped in a swathe of soft rock ballads.

OMFG I miss my grandparents’ house so much.

Anyway, that Dad Guy left and then it was just us and the lady, who was sitting on the other side of the counter looking at her phone. I don’t know what prompted me to do this, because I hate talking to strangers – I would make a terrible townie – but there is this bar on the boulevard that recently closed and it looks like the Parker’s people bought it but I forgot to ask the last time we were at Parker’s because I was too busy talking to Mr. Parker about Korea, so I turned in my seat and blurted out, “DID ZIPPY’S CLOSE?” and thus began a lively discourse about the happenings of Brookline and we found out that she’s my age, grew up here, has a daughter who goes to Chooch’s school (she’s younger, but he knows her), and is just a really cool, hard-working lady who is sick and tired of her kid leaving slime all over the house and I was like, “OMFG ME TOO! WHEN IS THIS FAD GOING TO END AND SHOULDN’T A 13 YEAR OLD HAVE OUTGROWN THIS BY NOW??”

I was so happy after we left because sometimes I forget about how I used to be, before life and society stifled me, how I used to be a TALKER and would talk to everyone and I actually had a personality. So, thanks Zippy’s Bar for making me curious enough about your status that I dared to ask a stranger for intel!

Later that day, I went to the post office and had a good chat with MAUREEN the postal clerk about tattoos because as soon as I walked in, she said, “Yeah see, I wouldn’t ever think that you had tattoos” because I was wearing a tank top since this was like, the first legit hot day of the year, it seemed.

What a strange & chatty day! Summer Breakfast Club is the best thing ever! I CAN’T WAIT UNTIL NEXT WEEK’S BREAKFAST! WHO WILL I TALK TO THEN?!

Apr 212019
 

A Chooch For Every Year: 2006-2019

My LITTLE BABY (lol) is going to be THIRTEEN on Thursday, and even though we’re going to be celebrating his big day of birth at King’s Island next weekend, I still wanted to do something small & casual so that our close friends and family could be there too. He’s teetering on that crazy-emotional Not a Kid Anymore But What Am I precipice where he irrationally thinks that we don’t care about him so…fun times!

I thought a small surprise dinner the weekend before his birthday would be perfect, and I made real life invitations to send out too because, you know, how do you invite people to a party when you’re not on Facebook anymore?

And even such a small event still gave me pee-jigs and puke-feels all day leading up to the surprise.

Chooch has been craving Mexican food like a pregnant lady binge-watching telenovelas (he actually is binge’ing* Jane the Virgin and yes I know they’re not Mexican but it’s kind of funny because it basically is a telenovela and in fact, he’s sitting next to me as I type this, trying to give me recaps of the last episode he watched and I truly, sincerely don’t care), so it seemed obvious that we should make Old Mexico the location of the festivities.

*(That word is so weird—like, how do you even spell it. It doesn’t look right no matter which way I’ve seen it and I wish it wasn’t a thing.)

And then the night before, Chooch told us he was going on a hike the next day with the Teen Center and I panicked because WE HAD TO BE AT THE RESTAURANT BY 4:15 AND HAD ACTUAL RESERVATIONS AND THIS LITTLE SHIT WAS GOING TO RUIN HIS OWN PARTY! It ended up being fine, and they got back way earlier than expected, plus he was with his friend Liam so I suggested that he ask Liam to come to dinner (he knew we were going to dinner, but not that a bunch of guests were going to be waiting for him) and Henry was like “GREAT, ERIN” because Henry hates socializing with Chooch’s friends but I like Liam! He was allowed to go so that was cool.

Anyway, everyone managed to get there on time (except for Wendy but I knew ahead of time that she would be late so I wasn’t mad!) and he was so shocked! I was also shocked that everyone who RSVPd really came! MY MOM AND DAD WERE BOTH THERE YOU GUYS. This has never happened. I almost cried, and my dad paid for my mom!! (They divorced like 20 years ago or something but have grown amicable over the years so it wasn’t really that huge of a deal, but now Chooch is like, “MAYBE THEY’LL BE LIKE XIOMARA AND ROGELIO!!” which is a stupid Jane the Virgin reference, so if Chooch tries to do some Grandparent Trap action, that’s not my fault!!)

Tommy and Jessy brought this big birthday balloon with them which was a GOOD CALL because I brought nothing. No party artifacts. No birthday ephemera. No Eyes Wide Shut masks.

After we got to the table, I asked Chooch if he was surprised and he said, “I mean, the hostess asked us if we were with the table of 15, so…”

FUCK.

I think he was still surprised though. In my head, he was surprised.

This was his first time seeing Tommy after THE PRANK. Tommy signed the card “and Charlie” which was the name he was using to prank Chooch with last week, haha.

Wendy made me take this picture of her and then I threatened to put it on our department’s wiki page and she was like, “Oh god, please don’t” and then I told my parents, “This is my friend Wendy, we work together and she’s like my boss, I guess.”

I was so happy that my parents and brother Ryan were there! My other brother had to work, and another person who had to work WAS BLAKE. He tried so hard to get someone to switch with him but it was a no-go and he was pretty bummed out, but Haley, Calvin and Lily were there to represent the Robbins side of the family!

I was so happy that everyone seemed to mesh well with each other, because you never know with dinners like this – they could be awkward!

Also, Henry never looks at us the way he looks at Calvin!?

e

I think it helped that half of us were drinking margaritas. Patty asked me to go check the parking lot toward the end of the dinner to see if her ride was there, and I have to admit that I have no recollection of how I got from the dinner table to the front door of the restaurant, so…

Also, I rarely drink anymore so it really doesn’t take much.

Liam got fish which was an interesting choice I thought for a kid at a Mexican restaurant. I got the vegetable plate with rice and I thought I would be food-shamed over it because again, who goes to a Mexican restaurant for undressed vegetables but I knew that anything else would make me sick for the rest of the night, so I went for it. When it was served to me though, everyone was like, “Whoa, that smells so good! What did you get?” and it was literally just Mexican rice and a boatload of fajita-esque vegetables and it was SO GOOD. I scarfed down that whole plate, felt fulfilled, and didn’t want to puke later that night!

Thank you, Old Mexico!

OMG Wendy talking to my dad, lololol.

Patty and Jessy just met that night but hit it off!

This might be favorite picture of the night: Chooch and his soon-to-be sister-in-law Haley, and believe me, they are definitely sibling-ish!

Chooch and his pal, Patty! She volunteers at the nursing home she used to be a resident at, and she said some of the residents remembered Chooch from when we would visit and he would play piano for them, so they asked her to relay their birthday wishes for him and I thought that was so sweet. Look, I’m really grateful that Patty was able to leave there and go back to her own house, but I do miss when we used to visit her there. Some of those people were major characters!

Chooch with Jessy and Tommy! Tom is his frenemy for real, but they’re like family to us even though we don’t see them often anymore. I was so freaking happy that they could make it, because they live pretty far away.

Wendy and Summer with my family!

Chooch and Janna—man, she has been there from the beginning and is basically family to him. I actually confirmed the date of his dinner with her first before I even made invitations because it was imperative that she be there, duh.

Poor Liam had no fucking idea what he signed up for. He thought he was just tagging along to a quiet family dinner with his friend, lol.

And then Chooch ordered a sopapilla, not knowing that it was going to turn into A THING because he didn’t grow up with the horror of being birthday-shamed by the staff at ChiChi’s like the rest of us did. (RIP, ChiChi’s, and also the people who died because of your poisoned green onions.)

(OMG that fucking corn sidedish they had. WHY, CHICHI’S, WHYYYYYY???? COME BAAAAAACK!!)

One of the waiters gave Chooch a handful of whipped cream to the face and I died. If anyone deserves whipped cream to the face, it’s certainly my kid.

This happened after Jessy commented that Chooch looked the same as he did when he was younger except without the constant ring of ice cream and dirt around his lips and he was like HOLD MY LEMONADE.

This kid will forever make a mess at dinner,

What a great turnout! I think he really felt loved and at the end of the day, this was all I wanted from that dinner.

On the way home, I told him that Chronica couldn’t make it because Chris was flying home from Calgary that day and her flight was delayed. (She ended up not getting home until after 10PM, sadly.)

“Chris and her stupid countries!” Chooch cried.

And when I told him that Kara had tickets to the Beer Barge, he scoffed, “Really? Kara chose BEER over ME?”

Anyway, I’m glad that we pulled this off without any drama and minimal stress so that now I can selfishly focus on King’s Island which you have to know is really more for me than anyone else, lol. LOOK, HE WOULDN’T HAVE A BIRTHDAY IF NOT FOR ME, SO.

Apr 182019
 

One of my favorite places to take visiting friends is the Mattress Factory. It’s like the hidden gem of Pittsburgh–everyone wants to go  to the Warhol but I would recommend the Mattress Factory over that one any day because it’s such an immersive experience and I always feel a tiny bit like Alice in Wonderland when I visit.

I also walk away with a myriad of interior design concepts, much to Henry’s chagrin.

(I think if I ever wrote an auto-biography, it would be titled And It Was Much to Henry’s Chagrin, actually.)

Anyway! I was stoked when Michelle opted to explore the MF over the Warhol, so I met her and Kira there during a Sunday downpour. I had hoped that the rain and the Penguins playoff game would keep people at home and out of my sacred factory of no-mattresses, but alas, it ended up being the most crowded I’ve even seen it.

Which still wasn’t that crowded, but I’ve been spoiled over the years and have grown accustomed to having this place nearly all to myself!

The top floor is currently occupied by an eye-candy expo produced by a Brazilian duo called OSGEMEOS  I was gushing about how it was living room goals for me and Michelle was like, “Yu’re pretty much halfway there, aren’t you?” SIGH, I GUESS but Henry still hasn’t helped me with the humongous light-up Seoul wall-hanging I dreamt up. And my dining room and kitchen are crying for color.

Maybe OSGEMEOS can take up residency in my house and help out a little. (A lot.)

I was really inspired back then by an artist I met at the Three Rivers Arts Festival – Robert Villamagna. That man really opened my eyes to the world of making art from repurposed materials and I still have the postcard he signed for me from 1996!

When I was dating Psycho Mike, back in 1997, he moved out of his parents house in the beginning of that summer and was living in some glorified drug den (let’s be real, he lived with an ex-con and some other questionable character above a Pittsburgh Paints store in Little Washington). I made him this awesome (in my eyes) mixed media piece for his room so he would have some sort of character, flavor if you will. Plus, he lived an hour away from me at that point and I didn’t drive, so we didn’t get to see each other that much. Anyway, I used some leftover wallpaper from my bedroom as the background, and that wallpaper was a throwback to that foil-craze of the 60s and 70s. It was awesome, silver foil with purple and white splatter-overlay. I can’t remember offhand all the things that went into this piece, but it was like a nostalgia collage that featured things that were pertinent to our relationship, and I had strands of beaded curtains hanging from it (the chunky plastic ones that Spencer’s used to sell in the 90s) and I had it rigged with several large Christmas candle bulbs, so it lit up too.

That motherfucker appreciated it as much as Lori Laughlin’s brat-daughter appreciated her bullshit college admission. I wish I had taken it back but I’m sure somewhere along the way it ended up in some syringe-filled dumpster in Washington.

Anyway, my point is, I have been a fan of outrageous mixed media works since my impressionable teenage years and still cherish the one lone Villamagna piece I have on my wall that I bought 15 years ago when I was broke and definitely probably should have been using that money to pay rent or like, buy food maybe. So yeah, these OSGEMEOS bros really breathed some color into that rainy day.

I feel like Henry would have really liked this wall for some reason? (HAIRSTYLE INSPO?)

There’s a zoetrope in one room which only runs at certain times, and Michelle had to explain to me what a zoetrope is because I’m an art poser. We had about 45 minutes before the soonest zoetrope showing so we decided we’d explore the rest of the exhibits and go back up closer to 2. It was about 1:55 when we returned and that room was already starting to fill up with people and of course the tallest people were standing in  the front, flaunting their giraffe-like physiques while the rest of us were trying to peer through the crooks of their arms.

One of the MF docents, before gearing up the zoetrope, did ask all of the tall people to move off to the side so that was kind of them but then some asshole mom who was “looking for her son” (yeah right) came out of nowhere and planted her feet right in front of me. What an asshole.

Through a series of calculated contortions, I was able to see enough of the zoetrope and then I retreated to the back of the room because it was starting to feel like being near the barricade at a metal show and I couldn’t breathe. This is not how I want to experience art, thanks!

It was still cool though and Kira got a good front-row spot so that was all that mattered to me because I am a selfless human being (at times).

And now, here are some more fotos of our jaunt through the Mattress Factory.

The Yayoi Kusama exhibit is a permanent installation and I probably have 57 photos from this room over the years but it just never gets old posing with the polka-dotted mannequins.

Taemin came with me this time!

After perusing the four floors in the main building, Kira cried art-uncle, so we said our goodbyes and made a million promises to hang out again soon (I want to take them to Kennywood and Michelle tipped me off about a new art museum opening in Columbus, so I think it’s safe to say that we’ll see each other again before summer ends!), and then I walked down the street to see the two annexes. One of them still had the same exhibit as the last  time I visited and while it’s really cool, I hate that building because the hallways are extremely narrow and it actually reminds me a little bit of trying to navigate through the old Chuck E. Cheese “Cheese Factory” of yore, props to you if you remember this hell-house from the 80s! The only way out of this building is the same way you entered, so once you get to the third floor, you have to turn around and squeeze past everyone behind you and it’s so incredibly awkward and uncomfortable and the last time I was there, I panicked because I bumped into part of the exhibit and thought I broke it BUT PROBABLY NO ONE WOULD HAVE EVEN NOTICED.

The second annex was sad times because the main room was closed in preparation for the next display, so there was way less to see, considering most of the stuff in that building is a permanent collection. However, I was only there for the “Screen” exhibit anyway, so what did I care.

I kept seeing people posting pictures of it on Instagram but I couldn’t see past MY FAVORITE COLOR COMBO OF PINK AND GREEN (maybe second only to pink and gold) to realize what was actually going on here until I was there myself.

Fun fact about me: when I was about 3 or 4, we moved into my dad’s house in Castle Shannon (this was back before my mom married him and he officially adopted me). I’m sure it had something to do with the trauma of being uprooted, but I fucking SWEAR TO GOD I used to see this tiny green man running across my bedroom floor. Like three times I saw him! It could have also been because my aunt Susie used to try to scare me when we’d be in the car by pointing out the window and saying, “DID YOU SEE THAT LITTLE GREEN MAN OUT THERE?!” and then I’d be all, “PAPPAP MAKE HER STOP BEING MEAN TO ME!” Rinse, repeat. Maybe I just had little green men on the brain and psychically manifested them into my vision, OR MAYBE THEY WERE REAL. In any case, these green men were a definite blast from the past, albeit a bit taller and, um, nude-r.

I would definitely remember if I saw a green man weener back then. It probably would have changed the trajectory of my life, even!

GUYS, THAT’S ME!

It took me a hot minute to realize what was happening here but once I figured it out with my Big Bad Brain, I was obsessed with playing around with it!

Welp, that concludes another trip to the Mattress Factory. I wonder how many times a day someone asks the docents, “but when are we going to see the mattresses?” a la Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.