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Morocco in Mt. Lebanon: Kous Kous Cafe

On Friday, I died and went to a Moroccan heaven… in Mt. Lebanon.

I don’t spend much time in this part of Pittsburgh (even though it is the place where I first laid eyes on the boyfriend). I’m not really sure why. It’s cute. It’s quaint. I’m not rich, but I can fake it. Just watch me with my Burberry purse (bought in NYC on the cheap – it still counts.)

Luckily, I have friends in high places. Friends who notice things when they walk down the sidewalk. Friends that find hole-in-the-wall restaurants and tell me about them, such as this gem, which we frequented this weekend:

Never in my life have I had a reason to turn down a hummus place appetizer. This stuff was real. This stuff was authentic. I still don’t remember what the green or red mixtures were, but everything together was fantastic. It was good on its own, too.


We got this because Cat said it won an award. It’s a chicken bastilla. We split it four-ways. From the website: Amish Free range chicken is slowly cooked in Moroccan spices and onion, raisins and eggs are added, then the mixture is stuffed in a thin Philo like dough called Feuille de brik.

I love my friend Nick because you can never tell whether he’s happy in a photograph. But, he’s always happy. That’s what I’ve learned about Nick over the past year. Oh, and that he’s also a good wedding date and will dance on command. I don’t know how this guy’s still on the market.

I took this picture not only to memorialize his neutral expression but also so you could check out the restaurant behind him to get a feel of how very small this place is. I simply loathe chains with their spacious booths and easy-to-maneuver spaces. I’d rather be elbow-to-elbow with my friends and Pittsburgh strangers, enjoying a fresh and local-ingredient filled dinner.

This guy seems to be the opposite of Nick. I thought I’d never date a man with a mouth bigger than mine. I was wrong. I love it.

PS: He’s working on a code name for the blog. Stay tuned.

I ordered the vegetarian option and was pretty jazzed up about it. Unfortunately, it came with many vegetables that I did not like. I’m not a fan of grilled vegetables because I got sick once. Bad memories. Thankfully, Cat was there, and we gladly traded food. Both of us were pleased.

Sure, I did have two forms of meat in one meal. But I’m okay with that – look at this! Nick ordered the same thing.

The boyfriend ordered the lamb, and I was somewhat jealous. I love a good caramelized onion in my life.

So, in conclusion, we had a great time at Kous Kous Cafe. The meal gave me acid indigestion, but it was totally worth it (happens to me all the time).

If you plan on going, I’d just make sure you book a reservation in advance, prepare yourself for tight seating and open up your wallet if you don’t make bucco bucks and pay your taxes like the rest of the 99%.

Shoot. I think I just slipped in a political movement reference.

Oops.

You’ll forgive me when you visit Kous Kous. I promise.

choosing the chocolate {an announcement}

Last week, I baked two different kinds of banana bread. The first was your basic, stand-by-you, classically delicious banana bread. And the other was that same classically delicious mix but – aha! –  reincarnated with the addition of some mini chocolate chips.

Unsurprisingly, coworkers went immediately for the chocolate-infused baked good.

This dichotomy of bread came at a good [metaphoric] time in my life. Around the same day I baked this bread, I was faced with a major decision:

  • Do I stay at my current job (with coworkers I love but little room for advancement or growth)? OR
  • Do I move on to a more challenging, higher paying position at a reputable institution?
See, I was offered a job on my birthday. An amazing job. A writing position at the University of Pittsburgh that fits better with my goals. A position that would challenge me on a daily basis to write clean, understandable language for a common-person readership. A position that includes tuition remission, a retirement plan and amazing benefits. A position that closely mirrors what I did (and loved) in Baltimore/DC. Did I mention it’s more money, too?

Sure, given all of that information – it should seem like a no brainer. But the facts are that I do enjoy my regular banana bread lifestyle right now. I like having a more flexible schedule. I like laughing and eating lunch with my coworkers. I like that they are passionate about our mission.

However, the simple truth is that I’ve seen my skills weaken over the past year. Press releases got harder to write. I was so busy making website updates and assisting with mailings that I was losing site of my goals of being a writer. And for a while, that felt okay because I was helping out the cause. But in letting go – I released my own desires to better succeed as a writer.

So, like my coworkers – I decided to choose the chocolate chip life. I’m choosing what’s best for me. It doesn’t mean that I won’t miss the non-profit world, or the people I work with. I’m just in a place where I need to prepare for the future. I’m at an age where I want to challenge myself every single day. I’m at a true beginning – just like I felt when I was 22 and stepping foot onto the DC metro to ride to work for the first time. I’m ready to settle into a challenging day-to-day routine that gives me enough money, energy and time to also spend with the people I love.

It’s time for me to strap on my big-girl-pants and start getting up early again. I’m looking forward to the change and settling that comes thereafter.

Party Planning & Stress

Over the weekend, I played party planner and hosted a birthday gathering for two of my best friends, Cat & Nick.

It had been a while since we had more than two people over. The day of, I found myself in a panic after work. I baked a cake. I vacuumed and dusted the entire downstairs. I ran to the store and spent $40 on snacks. I texted the boyfriend frantically, requesting he pick up more beverages, cups and napkins. I worried anxiously that maybe no one would have a good time and never come back to our place again.

What did I learn? That stress like that just isn’t worth it.

The game night birthday celebration began at 8 p.m., and we laughed and talked and joked for hours. Everyone seemed comfortable. People nibbled on the snacks. They drank some of the pop and beer. They may have had to swat a fruit fly or two (there’s an epidemic in this house), but they had a good time. And most importantly, Cat & Nick seemed to have a very pleasant birthday.

In thinking about myself as a party planner, I’ve realized that I almost stress out too much to have a good time. And that just won’t fly. I want to be able to enjoy a party as much as I enjoy putting work toward it. So from now on? I’m going to let the good times roll, and I’m going to leave the stress at the backdoor.

Are you a party planner? What’s your style?

A Path Full of Mud

Over the weekend, my niece reminded me of a very valuable lesson. It seems to be that in order to get to the really good parts in life, you have to first wade through a whole lot of mud.

Yesterday, the roommate and I discussed the idea of being on your life’s path –how sometimes there are those things that seem to “get in the way” and “muck up the works.” Creating your own life path and handling those obstacles seems like an easy enough concept. But how do we know what our path is in the first place?

There have been moments in my life where I understand “my path.” Deadlines, graduations and diplomas have created concrete timelines that assist in this. But there have been other times (especially those wandering times) where I’ve wondered: is this really what I’m supposed to be doing with my life?

I’ve waded through a lot of mud over the past year, and that journey taught me more about myself than any other time in my life. I’ve been okay when I really wasn’t. I’ve felt I didn’t have a purpose when I really did. I’ve felt worry and pain when I probably didn’t need to. I hiked up my big girl pants, threw on my boots and got really dirty. I found out things about myself I didn’t like. And I found a lot of things I did. Now I’m realizing: It was ALL part of THE PATH.

Honestly, coming out the other side feels hard. I know it doesn’t really make sense, but sometimes it’s hard to be completely content or happy with all of these swirling passions, hobbies and interests. Sometimes, I feel pressured to be like everybody else. But then I sit down and think. Maybe this is what is supposed to happen. Maybe this is MY path; unique and full of side trails. Those side trails connect the loop in ways I don’t foresee at first. But my detours seem to happen so I can grow and learn and change. That, I’ve learned.

Can a person believe both in free will and that everything happens for a reason? I’m running on the philosophy that I think I’m allowed to be – and believe – whatever I want. I’m running on the philosophy that I have a right to be happy, that it’s part of my path.

I’m sure I’ll get my foot stuck in the mud again eventually. Good thing these boots are made for trekkin’.

Tell me about your path.

 

My Lifestyle

Nothing has brought me more joy in life than the thrill of adventure and activity. I try and live each day fully engaged in this world and aware of my surroundings. A happy life. It sounds cliche, but it’s what I seek and aspire.

I have trouble living in the present. Too often I dwell in the past, or I’m making lists of things to do in the future. But right now I’m trying as hard as possible to be spontaneous and fully awake in the moments.

Below are some places I’ve been or experiences I’ve had that have shaped me. My journey is simple but important, not only to my growth but my overall being in this world.

2011

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