Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ow! There goes my back!

The past week has brought an endless snowfall to Pittsburgh’s lovely hillsides. The city looks like a Christmas card from a distance. So, what are two city girls to do when there is 6 or so inches of snow on the ground? Go sled riding, of course. That is just what we did this past Saturday.

We set out sharply at 11am on Saturday morning dressed for warmth and filled with enthusiasm. The first item on our agenda was to purchase sleds. You’d be surprised how quickly sleds sell out when there is snow fall in da ‘burgh. Strike one, two, and three until we finally ventured to Walnut Street in Shadyside to our favorite toy store. The toy store pulled through, just having received a fresh shipment of both toboggans and saucer style sleds. We purchased one of each and set out for Schenley Park’s disc golf course.

We weren’t the only Pittsburghers amped up for some sledding, but there’s no question that we were the oldest. This didn’t bother us one bit because we are still children at heart. We each grabbed a sled and began flying down the hill with reckless abandon. Rachel decided to be adventurous and go down head first like she was an Olympic skeleton racer. Sarah decided to snap some photos of this historic event just in case these would be the last breaths that Rachel ever took. While Sarah proudly stood at the top of the hill photographing Rachel’s triumphant run, she was mistaken by several women as another mother with a small child. “Which one is yours they asked?” As she giggled and shyly confessed that she was kidless.

We quickly befriended a 4 year old boy who was at the hill with his very cold mother and older sister. This kid had the cutest smile, conned Sarah into carrying his sled up the hill, and was always up for a race. Let us tell you that running up a snowy hill time and time again is utterly exhausting. Like, every-muscle-aches-we-need-massages-desperately type of exhausting. After a solid 45 minutes of flying down the hill and climbing our way back up, we were drained and ready to head home.

We may still enjoy fun like children but we certainly can’t keep up with them. Gone are the days when we spend entire afternoons zooming down our yard, while our cocker spaniel Brittany tried to rescue us by clenching on to our coats and ripping us from our moving sleds. Two solid cups of coffee weren’t enough to rescue us from the exhaustion and aches and pains of a day out in the cold.

We’re totally stoked for the next big snowfall, our sleds are ready, but maybe we’ll hit the gym first.

The Cure for Catholic Guilt

4 parts coffee, 2 parts Irish whiskey, 1 part cream, 1 tsp brown sugar, and a dash of cinnamon. Any Irish Catholic knows that this is the first thing that they want after a long mass. After a solid hour of kneeling, standing, being scolded, and struggling to keep your eyes open you need a shot in the arm to regroup.

So why after attending a Presbyterian service do we find ourselves drinking Irish coffee? The lingering guilt of not attending Catholic mass. We know that someone, somewhere is tsking us from their grave on our egregious Sunday morning error.

What brought us to a Presbyterian service on this snowy Sunday morning? Could it have been the promise of coffee and doughnuts? Could it have been curiosity? Could it have been our love of birth control and quest for world peace? Maybe it was the desire to attend a religious service that doesn’t make us feel entirely hopeless because we are already on the fast road to hell.

Being raised Catholic has molded us into religiously conflicted adults. Although we are vehemently opposed to many of the Catholic Church’s teachings on women’s status within the Church, the Church’s view on family planning, and the forced celibacy of priests we can’t help but to feel the teeniest bit guilty when Sunday morning creeps around and we have once again not graced the wooden pews with our sweet asses. Even the promise of wine at communion is not enough to make us pass through those harrowing wooden doors.

Rachel feels particularly conflicted after serving out a sentence in a Catholic high school. It is her thought that she will resume attending the Sunday morning flogging once she becomes engaged to be married so that she can butter up the priest and be married in a Catholic church. She would like to note that her attendance is just not an excuse to drink Irish coffee on a weekly basis. Sarah would be perfectly happy being married in a cave because she suffered through 4 less years of intense Catholic indoctrination.

The threads of guilt are woven through the fabric of our daily lives. We apologize for everything constantly, even if we are obviously not at fault. We are too good at “sucking it up” and internalizing our true feelings so once again we find ourselves sitting here needing second cups of Irish coffee.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The hardest button to button

Where to even begin with this...

Last Sunday we stopped by our parents' home post candle party to pop in our heads and say hello to our dear Dad. Sarah was discussing her latest craft project with our Mom, which just happens to be an apron. Our Mom mentioned that she had a collection of our Grandma's (Dad's mom) aprons tucked away in a drawer and offered them up to us. Of course we jumped on them. We not only love all things vintage and kitchen but also everything having to do with our Dad's parents.

Our Dad's parents were two of the most lovable and memorable people in our lives. There is never a day that passes that leaves them forgotten.

As we type this to you dear readers, we are listening to our (and our Grandparents' favorite polka) Roll out the Barrels. It is this very song that brings back some of the best memories of our childhood. Polka dancing in the kitchen with our Grandpa while the holiday cooking was happening in the background, the faint familiar scent of his cigars, our Grandma's steady supply of Bonkers (a candy that she always had on hand for us), Stripes the tiger who resided in their living room closet, waiting all year for Easter bread and finally stuffing the first morsels in our mouths at Easter brunch, "squeeze the knee" and the list goes on and on.

We want to share our Grandparents with you because they were amazing and you should have known them. They would have loved you too. Not only that, but sometimes we worry. We worry that we'll forget their voices or their hugs and we worry that we won't be able to picture their faces. We worry that our younger cousins never had a chance to know them and don't even know what they're missing. We worry because as we sit here typing this, our eyes are welling with tears and we think that if we're still crying about them years and years after they've passed they must have been pretty special.

Holidays with our Grandparents were always a day long event. Their Easter celebration would begin immediately following morning mass. We'd arrive at their home in our Sunday best and be immediately stuffed full of ham and eggs and toast and potatoes and most importantly sweet bread. Brunch was served on the fine china and the adults had small glasses of Rosé. Sweet bread was our Grandparents' secret recipe. Probably passed down from generation to generation, across the Atlantic, into Polish Hill, and eventually into their kitchen. We can assume that Babcia (our Great Grandmother) herself once devoted the long hours necessary to create this precious annual gem, devoting herself to the endless pattern of kneed/rise/kneed/rise/kneed/rise/etc. Needless to say, sweet bread is something to get excited about.

Family and friends and neighbors would drift in and out throughout the morning to nibble on some ham, perhaps crack an egg, and wish our Grandparents' their very best. There was something special about holidays at their house. It was as though they were not only the pillars of our family, but the pillars of their community. This great sense of caring has never left us and has impacted us profoundly.

Their love for their family and each other was obvious. When our Grandma passed away suddenly it was a blow to not only our young lives, but their children, and very much our Grandpa. We were too young to notice the nitty-gritty details of death in all of its complexity, but we knew that something was missing. We knew that there would be no more walks to Grandma's park and that her chair would remain unfilled. We knew that our Grandpa had lost something larger than we could understand. We knew on a somewhat grander scale that we were losing out on something special...that the world was losing out on something special.

Eventually things returned to normal. Our Grandpa took over the holiday hosting and socializing. Grandpa even wound up with a dog named Morgan. Morgan wasn't just a dog, Morgan became Grandpa's best friend and constant companion. They were two peas in a pod, having breakfast together, stopping for ice cream, and playing fetch in the yard. Morgan was a part of our family.

Grandpa was one of the biggest characters that you would ever encounter. He had a sense of humor like no other, a constant optimistic disposition, and a laugh that you would never forget. He knew everyone...EVERYONE. It was impossible to walk through a store without someone approaching him wanting to catch up on life and reminisce about old times. Not only did he have a seemingly endless army of friends and acquaintances, but he was gifted in the art of making you instantly feel as though you had known him for years. He had a type of candidness to him and warmness that was indescribable.

Grandpa died unexpectedly some years back. His funeral was a flood of people who loved and remembered his overwhelming spirit. What struck us was not the amount of friends whose lives he had touched, but the amount of strangers. An older man appeared and told us that he had recognized our Grandpa's name in the obituaries because he would drive a motorcycle and pass out candy to the local children in the holiday parades. Another woman from his neighborhood came and brought a large bone for Morgan, explaining that our Grandpa was a neighborhood figure and she would miss seeing both him and Morgan in her daily travels. After his funeral, it was decided that we would all smoke a cigar in his honor. We puffed until our faces turned green, but it seemed infinitely profound and meaningful.

We've always viewed our Grandparents' love for each other as both unwavering and eternal. When we were cleaning out their house after our Grandpa died we found our Grandma's last cigarette still in her ashtray on a nightstand next to their bed. It was perhaps their love, or at least our impression of it, that leaves us believing that we shouldn't settle for less than the same.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Overpriced candles and easily amused women!

Once again the ladies are parked in front of ye olde laptop, comforting our wounded souls with beer and fine cheese. You may be wondering, "What's wrong? Why no more candle parties?!" Well, allow us to bestow the horrors of a hellish afternoon upon you.

We'd like to begin by sharing with you an angry Book-o-Faces message that brought us to this specific candle soirée.
I am having a candle aprty on Sunday 1-3-10 @ 2 pm and want you to try to make it. I invited your mom and going to invite you sister, but I don't have address to send you an invite so consider this an invite. hope you can make it. let me know.
(Typos left intact.)

Now don't get us wrong. We love getting together with family and friends for some great snacks and fun times, but this was just too much. We were planning on never responding to the invite so that we wouldn't get roped into wasting an afternoon and a substantial amount of money on overpriced crap, but we came face to face with the party host on Christmas Eve. Dun, dun, dun!

Many of you (particularly the men) may not be familiar with what exactly transpires at a Candle Party. It's difficult for us to convey the mind numbing waste of several hours and many dollars that is a Candle Party; but being the martyrs that we are, we are willing to share our tale as a warning to the general public.

(Let us pause for a cheese break.)

Okay, now where were we? Candle parties = HELL! If you take nothing else away from this blog, please remember that equation. This is our story of our trip to hell and back! (Pretend that you're watching it through a shaky, hand held camera.)

We arrive at the party (carrying our assigned food offerings) just as the Steelers game is about to begin. We're already angry about both missing kickoff and having to stop at the store for the snacks that we've agreed to bring. (Although, we did offer because our Mommy raised us right.)

We're immediately greeted by the host's husband who is comfy cozy in front of his large flat screen TV, sporting his best Steelers jersey and prepped with a six pack of beer for a long day of football. We're instantly envious of his afternoon plans. We were immediately asked to remove our shoes and head upstairs to the living room/infomercial set. An overly enthusiastic group of middle aged women immediately acknowledged our arrival, but more importantly they acknowledged the snacks that we had in hand.

As soon as we removed our coats and scarves an overly made up candle pusher slapped name tags on to our upper chests, which was eerily reminiscent of those kindergarten field trips to the zoo. (Although, the zoo is fun! Hooray zoo!)

Before we even had a moment to savor a morsel of delicious party food, we were handed folders containing candle catalogs, order forms, brochures, and information on hosting our very own party. Small candle samples were then shoved beneath our delicate nostrils so that we could be subjected to the offensive scents of bored housewives. (We're getting pretty annoyed by this point and the party has yet to officially begin.)

The wax pusher was an obnoxious older woman with a smoker's voice, bedazzled clothing, and a mouth full of sass. Once it was decided that everyone was present, she began her "presentation" of over priced, cheaply made candles and accessories. She insisted that everyone participate in the shenanigans by placing an overstuffed bag next to each individual and forcing each attendee to display it's contents one by one. Sometimes, there would even be a lengthy blurb for the victim to read. So essentially we were forced to work so that we could spend large sums of money on wax.

(So here is where we're really going to rant!)

At one point during this broad's presentation, Sarah was handed an envelope and forced to expose its contents. The contents were three of the wax pusher's pay stubs. Each stub was for one week of part-time (about 10 hours) work and averaged $1000 a pop. As the lady stated herself, she made this money "selling wax!" Now most of the party goers were impressed and eager to explore their own futures in wax pushing. We, on the other hand, were wondering why we were being forced to spend money on this obviously over priced pyramid scheme. The wax monster then continued to explain that her superior averaged $90,000 a year.

The "party" had been raging for nearly two hours by this point when we were encouraged to pull out our check books. There was no escaping this process as we were forced to individually meet with the wax monster as she totaled our orders and attempted to push additional products upon us.

So, what did we get out of this party? Well, for approximately $50 you can be the proud owner (in two weeks time) of one dozen tea lights and a jar candle. That's right, folks. $50 emm effin dollarz!

If you find yourself tricked into attending one of these absurd events, we recommend that you immediately locate the punchbowl upon your arrival and add a bottle of your favorite vodka. You will need it! Also, you should steal something of the host's just to even out your pocketbook. This could mean lining your purse with hors d'oeuvres or stealing decorative soaps from the powder room.

Don't mistake our anger towards candle parties for candle hate. We love candles! Stay tuned and we will teach you how to make your very own so that you'll never have to experience our candle party pain.

Santa, you're an a$$hole!

When it came to starting our own blog, we just did not know how to get this bitch started. After much consideration, we'd like to take a moment to introduce you to two fine ladies. We are Sarah and Rachel, two twenty something sisters with witty rants, tasty recipes, and unique views on life. We became inspired to start this blog after a great holiday season with our parents and after attending what will be our absolute last candle party.

Why are our views of the world unique you ask? Our parents. (Hi Mom and Dad!) Our conservative Catholic upbringing juxtaposed against our free-for-all adulthoods has brought us to an interesting crossroad.

As children, we spent our days sled riding and drinking hot cocoa in our quaint Pittsburgh neighborhood; always being reminded of our manners and our need to eat a well balanced meal. We went to Catholic school, church on Sunday mornings, and were tucked into bed by 9:00PM.

Something changed as we entered adulthood.

Our entire nuclear family underwent an evolution. Our parents suddenly became people. They were no longer manners police or judgmental disciplinarians, they were all at once far from it. We changed as well. As we sit in our Ikea-centric apartments, sipping beer, and baking cookies we have come to the realization that we are NOT the sweet children that we once were.

This is not to imply that we are not wonderful people, but it has given us our quirks. So, we hope that you'll stick around for our many adventures in the kitchen and elsewhere, as the dynamic duo guides you through the mess that we call life.

Welcome. Sit back, fix yourself a drink (a stiff one), and enjoy the ride!