Thursday, June 30, 2011


I am travelling to West Virginia next weekend...

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It's a 5 hour drive down and back. I love driving in a car with the windows down and my shades on, but my favorite thing... is to jam out to music.

So I'm begging you, pleading you, crying out for help.... I need to make a kick ass playlist (yes, mother I just said ass... twice)

Suggestions needed.


This life I am living...

There are days when there doesn't seem to be enough hours of sunlight, days when I just want to stay under the covers of my duvet and not climb out, and then there are days when I can sit and be still.

I'm still trying to figure out what this blog means to me. After 4 years at Bluffton which included multiple events, trips with friends, heartache, and an amazing semester in Ireland, I still struggle with what this Hello World Blog should be. (don't get me wrong, I love my little safe space to write) At first it was a small part time job, then it was a way to stay in contact with the States while traveling, and now... it's a place for what? To continue to describe the daily things that I'm doing, or a place to gush about how much I love each cooking blog I follow, or how I wish I was as cool as each cooking blog I follow, or the drama of life in a house with 8 women (not really) or the love that I see? It's become a little be if everything.

So here's another secret love of mine.

StoryPeople. I love this website. I the Story of the Day in my inbox and could sit and read through them all. I gush over them, save them, star them in my mail and then reread them when it has been a rough day, or when I need a pick me up. I blame my sister for this habit of mine, because it was her that introduced me to them. She uses them in quotes sometimes. She also started the addiction that I have by getting me one for my college graduation. It is posted right next to my mirror so I can read it and smile every morning.

I love them.

and their quotes...

"It is not what you think, this reaching across the generations. There is no effort of will, no fierce glare in the face of the sideways dance of everyday. There is only the quiet house each morning, filled with soft breathing while you hold your tea in the cool air & always that moment when your love spreads a cloth upon the table & invites the whole day in again."

I think that sometimes, StoryPeople, like Sara Bareilles and Adele, speak to my soul. They speak to my inner thoughts and help me understand the life I am living...


Monday, June 27, 2011

Hours and hours.

I sometimes sit at my computer and scroll through the many blogs I have connected to my Google Reader. This beautiful feature (thanks Google) allows me to basically create my own newspaper. I follow friends blogs, cooking/baking/anything dealing with delicious food blogs, CNN, BBC, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and different wedding blogs that have sparked my attention thanks to my dear dear sister and her wedding planning.

But one of my all time favorite websites is one where individuals from all over can join in what looks to me like a community and exchange, drool over, and find new recipes. Tasty Kitchen. I click on this website everyday to see the new posts, dream of what I will one day be able to make, and add things to my "recipe box". One day, I will post a recipe.... I just need to pick the right one.

Any suggestions? Should I break into grandma's Chex mix recipe, or mom's sugar cookies, or create a spin on the very popular cakeballs? So many decisions...
Until then, I will continue to drool away.

Happy Monday-


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Music I fell in love with.

Fitz and the Tantrums. Big Hurry. Adele.

Three incredible groups that I've come to love this past year and on Friday, I had the opportunity to sit in the grass and listen to two out of the three for free.

Thank you WYEP for your summer fest and for getting Big Hurry and Fitz and the Tantrums to come play!


Thursday, June 23, 2011

"Would you wear these?"

Location: Walgreen Pittsburgh, Pa
Individuals: Hannah Nitz, Megan Hargraves and myself

The scene:
While waiting for our table to open up at BRGR, we walked into Walgreen. Why not shop of course? We went through wanting to dye someones hair, to wanting to buy packages material for mailing something to Hannah looking at us and saying.. "If I buy these would you wear them? All night?" I looked at her hand, looked at Megan, then back to her hand. I literally had to think this out. What was going through my mind. "Anna, you live here now. What if you see someone? Who would you see? Who cares? But seriously... what would they think?"

Well... the eyelashes won and you wouldn't even believe the chuckles and giggles and awesome's we received from those little pink eyelashes.

If you ever have the opportunity to wear some pink lashes... you should try.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


This one's a short but fun post.
I've been going through the pictures on my computer recently and have come across some really funny ones.

So tonight I give you....

The Faces of PULSE

all my love-

Monday, June 20, 2011


I've always had this dream of seeing the world. I have this list in my head of what I want to do with my life and the places I want to travel. Something that I've started to realized lately was that there seem to be too many places and not enough time. I have a very large map in my room that is a daily reminder.

1. Ireland (again)
2. France
3. Italy (again)
4. Germany
5. China
6. Russia
7. Korea
8. Palestine
9. Alaska
10. California (basically the entire West Coast)
11. Africa
12. Australia
My lists are incredibly long.... with very few check marks.

Something I've also realized recently... Pittsburgh was never on my list, but look at everything it's done for me this past year.

My realization of the week... sometimes you have to break away from the lists to take on the rest of the world.

Thanks Pgh for teaching me that this past year.

From 2010-03-28 Northern Ireland #2

From 2010-03-28 Northern Ireland #2

Sunday, June 19, 2011


I love food. Almost more than I love shoes. Well, maybe I love it more because it never leaves me with blisters on my feet. That would be weird if it did. This past weekend I was lucky enough to experience a whole lot of good, delicious, bust your buttons food.

Two of my dear friends came to visit my beautiful city again, so I wanted to make sure they experienced PGH in a way they didn't before. I took them grocery shopping. Please Note: I live in a house with 7 other women. We need groceries every week and this week happened to be my turn, so 4 extra hands actually made the process a bit faster. As we were walking through Giant Eagle, we picked up a few things so we could enjoy a picnic in one of the beautiful park. A rotisserie chicken (did you know that's how you spell rotisserie? I didn't until I just looked it up, weird) potato salad, and watermelon. We grabbed a blanket, some diet coke and made our way to lay in the grass at Frick Park.

Dinner was a bit more extreme. BRGR. Holy Hell. It was amazing. I made sure to change my shirt to something with a little more give at the end of the evening because I knew I was going to eat. Along with my Yuengling I ordered the Cease & Desist. A gourmet burger with caramelized onions, 1000 island dressing and american cheese. The fries were to die for. I think they added mozzarella cheese and chives, I cant be 100% sure though.

After dinner we ended our night at Mad Mex for $7 Big Azz Margarita's and some chips and salsa that was so spicy my dear Megan barely touched it to her tongue and said, "Ohmanohmanohman" and continued to drink copious amounts of water. I found it to be delicious... but I also had half a margarita left.

After our marathon of eating on Saturday, we woke up to fix our own breakfast this morning. The last time we were all together we were in Hannah's home where she made the most delicious Orange Ricotta Pancakes-- so here is the treat that I am leaving you all with today.

I love these pancakes. We made them for breakfast and I wanted to eat them all. It was probably best that I had 3 other people to share with or I would have been doomed for the rest of the day.

Orange-Ricotta Pancakes
Serves 4 | Prep time: 35 minutes | Total time: 35 minutes
1 ¾ cups part-skim ricotta cheese (15 ounces)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons grated orange zest (1 orange)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons canola oil
Confectioners’ sugar or maple syrup

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 ¾ cups (15 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 2 large eggs, and 2 teaspoons grated orange zest (1 orange). Whisk in 2/3 cup all-purpose flour until just combined.

Heat 3 tablespoons canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Working in batches (and adding more oil to skillet as needed), add batter, using a scant ¼ cup for each pancake. Cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer pancakes to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Serve hot, dusted with confectioners’ sugar or drizzled with maple syrup.

Or you can eat them as they come hot off the skillet like I end up doing....


ps. Happy Father's Day dad!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I came across this picture today while reading my twitter feed because I'm super behind....

I love things like this.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My amazing Hannah

So my dear bloggers-- I want to introduce you to Hannah.
I am one lucky girl. Seriously, lucky. Who walks into college the first day and meets two of her best friends. (Megan came along a few weeks later) But anyway-- I met Hannah. My roommate and I went next door to meet our neighbors and the crazy girl ran up to us and looked at my name tag(i think did we have a nametag?)and said, ahhhh I'm Hannah. Hannah, Anna, Nose ring (at that time in our friendship, we both had our nose pierced, something my mother to this day refuses to talk about)

That was the start of our friendship. We were young, nervous, ready to make a start at Bluffton University! Go Beavers! We became fast friends. Everything happened quickly after that. We both became social work majors, met Megan, and fell into a routine. We laughed all the time, went to student activity events and disagreed on hot topic issues, but at the end of the day, she is my Hannah.

The girl that cried as I left for Ireland and as she left for Colorado. The girl that doodled in class to pass the time, but would still be able to answer any question thrown at her. The girl that loves the Cleveland Browns and is the biggest fan (other than her father) I know. Hannah is something special. Our 4 years at Bluffton had a few rocky roads, but we came out alive and more connected. The four of us did actually.

My favorite thing about Han-- well there are a lot, so I'm not going to post them all, but
1. she picked a pretty great husband.

2. she is a kick ass social worker.
3.She is the funniest person to talk to on the phone.
4.She loves to cook for people, something we have in common.
5.She is missing two teeth... (ask her)

6.She rocks any hairstyle she wants.
7.You can meet her and instantly feel at ease.
8.She loves with her entire heart.
9. She has diabetes and is an incredible role model

10.She loves our God with the biggest heart I've ever scene.

Don't you just want to squeeze her? Talk sports with her? and eat her food? Watch out Pittsburgh, this Brown's loving, Ohio crazy girl is making her second appearance in the 'Burgh.

See you in 48 hours Han!!


Monday, June 13, 2011

I was shopping with my mother a few weeks ago looking for a bridal shower gift for a close friend. We were looping around and around Bed, Bath and Beyond getting lost around every corner, when we came across these lovely clear, glass, summer like drink dispensers. I've said this for a long time, but walked by them and nonchalantly said, "I'm having those at my wedding."
My mother stopped and said--- "wait-- what?"
"Wedding, mom, my WEDDING. That think when you wear a white dress, dance the night away and marry the individual of your dreams. A wedding."
She then stated, "Anna my love, I know what a WEDDING is, I just didn't realize that you were having one, or that you were DATING anyone."
"Oh right. You need to date someone before that is even in the picture."

Well... here's hoping I love these things then as much as I do now.

I can't wait for the opportunity for delicious sangria, or any summer drink.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Finding Strength

What is strength? Lifting 100 lbs? Willpower? Having the courage to stand up to people? Or providing positive energy to get through the day?

I believe that strength is seen a lot of ways from physically to mentally, but this past week I've experienced it in incredible ways. (You should know, this is not in anyway accurate information. This is just how I see strength in individuals.)

A few examples....

1. I have this incredible friend named Kelly Tobias. Remember that name... she is a rockstar. Literally... Kel is the singer in the band Big Hurry, a local band in Pittsburgh. Kelly pulls me through each week at work with her dedication to UP and with her love for me. This past week, during our workday Kelly and I had to go borrow some tables from a local community center. Kel was in a skirt and wedges but offered to go help anyway. It was literally 98 degrees out and we carried those stupid tables back and forth to the van until we almost passed out. That amazing woman is freaking STRONG. Physical Strength.

2. My housemate Abbi was in a fender bender this morning. It wasn't her fault but was verbally abused by the other driver. Ab was able to calm herself, grab the needed information and drive her baby truck back to the house where she gave a sigh of relief and possibly a few tears. I talked to Ab tonight and told her she was allowed to be angry, sad, frustrated and become an emotional wreck for a bit. Car accidents are scary things, but she also should believe in and stand up for herself. She pulled out her EMOTIONAL STRENGTH.

3. An anonymous individual that has continued to provide strength to more than just themselves, but the people around them. POSITIVE STRENGTH.

Sometime this week, when my work seems to be getting the best of me, or when my body is exhausted, I'll probably think of these three people and their incredible selves and be able to get through the day.


Thursday, June 9, 2011


Every time I think back to summer its of the family vacations to West Virginia. The road trips to Florida, the warm days at the beach and then the nights filled with summer softball.

I've decided....

I need a vacation.

Any suggestions???
Please.... give me your suggestions, give me your summer homes, give me your ideas.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dessert of the Month.

In April, PULSE had our annual fundraiser called PULSEations. It was a big sweet hoopla where we were able to listen to good music, chat with friends and love on PULSE. At the event there was a silent auction where alumni and current participants were encouraged to show off our sweet skills and possibly donate something to be auctioned off.

A few things you should know....
1. I'm not artistic.
2. I don't believe I have auction like talents to give away.
3. I love to bake.

So I came up with a dessert of the month coupon. One lucky person would get home-baked deliciousness once a month for a year. Well... I officially love this. The lucky winners (a couple) have had two desserts so far and I'm including the recipes.

A fun fact you should know, one of them is vegan. SCORE! New recipes. :)

Dessert of the Month #1
Vegan Caramel Pecan Bars

Makes 16 big, gooey bars


For the Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
A big pinch of salt
3/4 cup non-hydrogenated margarine, slightly softened

For the Pecan Topping
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup nondairy milk
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
2/3 cup brown rice syrup
2 tablespoons melted non-hydrogenated margarine
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/ 4 teaspoon salt
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13x2-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, making sure the foil completely covers the sides of the pan, with about 2 inches folded outside over the edges. Spray the bottom and sides of the pan generously with nonstick cooking spray.

Prepare the Crust
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Use a pastry cutter or two knives held together to cut in the margarine until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Pour crumbs into the prepared baking pan and press down evenly and very firmly, making sure to press the mixture all the way to the edges of the pan. Bake the crust for 8 to 10 minutes until firm and very lightly browned. Remove the pan from the oven and set it aside.

Prepare the Topping
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and nondairy milk until foamy. Stir in the dark brown sugar, brown rice syrup, melted margarine, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Fold in the pecans and pour the mixture onto the crust, using a spatula to spread the topping evenly.

4. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 28 to 30 minutes, or until the filling is rapidly bubbling. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes, then move it to the refrigerator to finish cooling and setting. Chill for at least 2 hours or, even better, overnight.

5. To slice completely cooled bars, grab a hold of the foil and carefully lift the whole thing out of the pan and onto a heavy cutting board. Peel away the foil and cut bars with a heavy, sharp knife.


Salted Caramel Pecan Bars: Right after the bars are out of the oven and the topping is still hot, sprinkle the surface very sparingly with your favorite coarse-grained gourmet salt. Cool and slice as directed.

From the book Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group (2009).

Dessert of the Month #2
Vegan! Raspberry Blackout Cake With Ganache-Y Frosting

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups soymilk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 (10 ounce) jars raspberry preserves ( reserve 1/2 cup for the batter)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup coffee creamer ( if soy creamer is unavailable, soy milk will do)
6 tablespoons non-hydrogenated margarine
10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips ( 1 cup and 2 tablespoons)
fresh raspberries, for decorating and yumminess

1.In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the soy creamer to a low boil. Add the margarine and melt, turn off the heat, and stir in chocolate chips until smooth. Let sit for at least one hour. It should have a pourable consistency at this point. If you want a spreadable consistency then refrigerate for an hour.

2.Preheat oven to 350. Spray two 8-inch round springform cake pans with cooking spray. If you don't have springform, then use parchment paper rounds on the bottom of two ordinary 8-inch round cake pans to prevent sticking.

3.Sift together the four, cocoa powder, baking power, baking soda, and salt. Combine the rice milk, oil, 1/2 cup of the preserves, the vanilla, and the sugar in a large bowl and mix with hand mixer or strong fork. The jam should be mostly dissolved with the rest of the ingredients; some small clumps are okay. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in batches and mix until everything is incorporated. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes, or until a tooth pick or knife comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cook in pans.

4.When the cakes have cooled fully, spread one layer of cake with a thin layer of the reserved raspberry preserves (give the preserves a quick mix with a strong fork to get a spreadable consistency); spread a layer of chocolate frosting on top of the preserves. Place the other layer of cake on top and spread its top with preserves. Carefully spread the chocolate frosting over the top, then ice the sides. I like to put a circle of fresh raspberries around the circumference of the top.

So here's to baking 10 more delicious goodies.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


I have this tree. I named her Stella.

Stella and I have been together for about a year and a half. I bought her at IKEA in Detroit one day when I traveled there with my sister. This was also the time in my life when I didn't need to furnish an apartment or had no need for throw pillows... (not that I have a need for throw pillows at this time in my life either, but anyway)
I bought my good ol' Stella instead.

Stella and I are in a love/hate relationship. About 335 days out of the year I love her. I lavish her in water and adoring words, but there is that one month in the year that I don't necessarily hate her, but I long for her to love me back. She doesn't like cold weather and it is during the winter months (mostly January) when Stella and I begin our struggle. I water her and her leaves still turn brown. I place her as close to the sunlight as I can without freezing her and she ignores the love and still has dead leaves. I buy her a new pot and she refuses to budge. If it wasn't for the fact Stella is actually a tree, sometimes I might believe she was my child just going through her teenage years.

But since we've made it through those cold bitter months, Stella is blooming like crazy. She loves her new place in the front window where she bask in the sun and drink away at her version of a margarita.... water.

Here's to the next 150+ good days till the cycle will repeat itself.


Friday, June 3, 2011


He will probably kill me if he ever read this, but I don't actually care.

My dear friend Joel aka Beatle is coming to see my city this weekend. The best part, is that in just a few short months he will be starting his year in Pittsburgh with PULSE! Wooohoo! I can't wait.
He will be jumping on the "I'mfromOhioandI'mnotaSteelersfanbutilovethiscity" bandwagon, well... he better.

BUT anyway.... I'm dragging him to so many different things this weekend, he might not want to move here.

So Beatle, be ready to walk your little feet off and thanks for driving out to see me.


ps. His nickname is one I made up and probably the only person that refers to him by. He LOVES The Beatles and looked like a Beatle for the first few months that I knew him.... so obviously that is where it came from.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

My favorite song ever.

I love this woman. There is just something about her music that speaks to my soul. Not just my heart, but my entire being. Thank you Mags for sending this via twitter to me, and thank you Sara Bareilles for finding a way to make the world of music a place where I can fall in love.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Thanks Daddy

Ok- So this post is going to be a BIG thank you to my dad. For many reasons. If you've not met my father before... he's kinda a big deal. Well-- he probably doesn't think so, but after this post he totally is.

So I went back to good ol' Clyde Ohio this weekend with my planner jammed packed full of things. I saw old friends, met new ones, went to a Bridal Shower, wedding, and tried on my mother's wedding dress. Yes--- that actually happened. She had it in her head that since we decided to go dress shopping for my oldest sister Molly we needed to bust open her dress that was sealed for 30 years. Dang. ANYWAY.... it was lovely and my weekend was fantastic, but as I packed up the car to drive the 3.5 hours back to Pittsburgh, I was exhausted. Dead tired. But my parents were fantastic people and allowed for me to bring the minivan back one more time (basically so the next time they didn't have to waste 6 hours coming to get me), so I needed to drive my sorry butt back.

Well-- it was about 2 hours in and my ipod started to die and the PA state line seemed like ti was forever away. Truly. I then started thinking about how every road trip was like this when we were younger. Dad would wake up early, pile us in the car and take off for our next adventure. The parents would trade back and forth on the driving, but most of the time dad did a lot of it. The first leg of the 8 hour WVa trips, the drive to Florida, staying up through BOTH movies at the drive in while we all pass out in the back and then he will do the drive at 2am back home.

So Daddy--- here's to you and your sweet skills at staying up through all the long drives growing up. It will be something that I hope gets easier with age, but somehow I don't think it will.

Happy June-