Blue Ball: A Charlie Guest Post

Charlie blue ball

Woohoo!  It’s Ball Season!

Some of you love baseball.
My family cheers for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

We love football too – if it is the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Right now – our Pittsburgh Penguins are in the Stanley Cup Playoffs,
and though they use a puck instead of a ball, it is still very exciting.

There is also basketball, softball, tennis, golf, volleyball, soccer, wiffle ball, ping pong, bowling, pool, and probably a million other ball games,

but my favorite ball game
(if you don’t count eating meatballs) 

is Blue Ball!

My mom brought out the bucket of blue balls the other day, and boy oh boy did we have fun!

It’s a simple game, but such a BLAST!

Here is how you play it.

Step 1:  Mom throws the ball in the grass.

Step 2:  I run and get it, and then I run back.

Step 3:  Now here is the FUN part….

Sometimes I bring the blue ball back to Mom,
but other times…..  I ZOOOOOOOM right by her and trick her!

Sometimes I bring it to her and drop it….  but (get ready for this!) right when she goes to pick it up,
I grab it first!

And then – (are you ready for this one?)
other times I bring it back – but don’t let go of it, and I make her beg for it.
Sometimes Mom pretends to cry – – –  like I can’t see a fake a mile away!

Other times I let her yank at it for a while and I ferociously (fake of course – but she doesn’t know!) GROWL!

Blue Ball is most fun when you play it by varying up the way you play Step 3 every time.

Isn’t that a great game?!

Hope you have some fun playing whatever kind of ball you like this weekend!

Woofs & Wags,

Charlie is an adopted dog with brown eyes and a white-tipped tail who brings joy and laughter to his family and friends.  Charlie is a gifted writer, raving food critic, cat, chipmunk, and donut lover, and exceptionally photogenic model.  Some of his best friends are Mike the UPS Man, Cliff the Mailman, and ANYONE who delivers pizza to the house.   If you would like to read more guest posts by Charlie, simply type “Charlie” into the Search box at the top right hand corner of this link:   If you would enjoy a companion like Charlie, please consider pet adoption.



Zesty Italian Roast Beef Sammies

italian roast beef sandwich

Ooooo Laaaa Laaaa – I’ve got another delish sandwich to share.

I’ve been hearing about this roast beef that goes in the crock pot with a jar of pickled banana peppers (even from one of the guys I work with), so I was anxious to give it a try.

Pair this tender, shredded zesty Italian roast beef with a nice thick slab of mozzarella and a generous shmear of basil mayo on a toasted potato roll – and O. M. G!  It had me at “Zesty!”

The recipes I found consisted of mainly three simple ingredients:  roast beef, a package of Italian dressing mix, and a jar of banana peppers.

So I threw a 3 lb hunk of chuck roast in the crockpot (and – B T W – since when did chuck roast cost almost as much as filet mignon!?!??! – I guess the grocery industry realized what a tender, delicious roast this is if cooked properly.  It used to be considered “scrap!”)

I dumped a 12 oz. jar of mild banana peppers on top.

And then – this is when I realized I did not have an envelope of Italian Dressing Seasoning Mix…..

But no problem – isn’t that what cooking is about – improvising, experimenting, making it your own?!…  (not to mention the virtues of Googling!)

So I made my own Italian Dressing Mix with guidance from

1 Tbsp Garlic Salt
1 Tbsp Onion Powder
1 Tbsp Sugar
2 Tbsp Dried Oregano
1 tbsp. Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Dried Thyme
1 tsp Dried Basil
1 Tbsp Dried Parsley
1/4 tsp Celery Salt
2 Tbsp Salt

italian roast beef in crock pot

I  sprinkled about 6 oz. of this mix on top of the roast beef, and then added 1/4 cup of dried minced onions and about 1/4 cup of leftover sautéed fresh banana peppers from my garden that I had prepared for some grilled pizzas a few nights ago.  So either way will work – the homemade one or the package of Good Seasons or some other Italian Dressing Mix.

I turned the crockpot on high for about 4-5 hours, and then went and watched the Steelers game (thankfully we squeaked out a victory against the Cleveland Browns – oh yep we did Bub! 🙂 ), had a G&T, chatted with Marty and “Oh Rob,” and then enjoyed a delish dinner of a Zesty Roast Beef Sandwiches, Fresh Corn on the Cob, and a Spinach & Arugula Salad with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts – and guess what kind of dressing???  Homemade Italian Dressing made by using 2 Tbsp. of my new seasoning mixed with 1/4 cup vinegar, 2/3 cup oil, and 2 Tbsp. water.

A great Sunday dinner – with a couple great guys.

And BTW – if you didn’t want to have sandwiches (or didn’t have buns or bread!), I’m betting this roast beef would be great served with creamy mashed potatoes or wide egg noodles too.

italian roast beef sandwich

Cheers & Hugs,



A Trip to the Strip – It’s a ‘Burgh Thing

Anybody that knows anything about Pittsburgh (aka da ‘Burgh) knows a Trip to the Strip  – –  Strip District that is – –  is a must to get the full “flavor” of our amazing city.  Whether you are shopping for fresh produce…

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Produce

in a range of colors…

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Produce 2

or looking to “spice up your life”

Penzy's Spice Strip District Pittsburgh PA

with the best smoky paprika – or my (are you ready for the “big reveal?”) top secret ingredient to my baked beans recipe – Penzy’s Barbecue of the Americas spice,

Penzy's Spice Pittsburgh PA Strip District

The Strip District is the place to go.  The Strip District is a neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that is about a half square mile area of land northeast of the central business district bordered to the north by the Allegheny River and to the south by the Hill District. The Strip District runs between 11th and 33rd Streets and includes three main thoroughfares — Smallman Street, Penn Avenue, and Liberty Avenue — as well as various side streets.

So Saturday was the day for my buddy Janet and me.  Janet had not been to the Strip since she was a child, and since she is only around for a few months in the summer before heading South, we decided to squeeze a field trip in.

Penzys Strip District Pittsburgh

After sniffing our way through Penzy’s, we visited In the Kitchen where we admired this beautiful Polish Pottery.  Can you find Janet?  Her top blends in with the pottery pattern! 🙂

In the Kitchen Strip District Pittsburgh Polish Pottery

The streets are filled with yummy treats – like these whoopee pies, cannoli, apple strudel, macaroons,

Strip District Pittsburgh PA

lady fingers, and sticky buns, and mini pineapple upside down cakes – oh my!

Strip District Pittsburgh PA

Mike Feinberg’s is THEE iconic place to find your ‘Burgh-theme party supplies.

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Mike Feinberg Co

It is black ‘n gold through and through

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Mike Feinberg Co

for anything Pixburg or Stillers

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Mike Feinberg Yinz Yinzers

even black ‘n gold flamingos to go with the sweet glasses Janet found!

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Mike Feinberg Black n Gold Flamingos

I wanted to get her these tights for Christmas – we’ll see…..  look out Jan!

Strip District Pittsburgh PA

There are colorful fruit kabobs…


and colorful artistic displays…

Strip District Pittsburgh PA

and a trip to the Strip is just not complete without a visit to Pennsylvania Macaroni Company – Penn Mac to us Yinzers.

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Penn Mac

You will find bucket after bucket of every kind of olive

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Penn Mac

pickled peppers, and pickles

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Penn Mac

pitted and stuffed….


or fresh and unpitted.

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Penn Mac

The Parmigiana Reggianno and fresh homemade mozzarella is the best outside of Italy (and of course I bought both AND some awesome olives).

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Penn Mac

Here’s a little glimpse of my basket…

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Penn Mac

Some of the sweetest music can be heard on the streets by local street artists.


But Black ‘n Gold definitely reigns supreme on these streets.


So if Yinz need any Stillers or Buccos or Penguins gear – The Strip is your one-stop shop.


Janet and I discovered the most amazing store of all on this trip!

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Strip District Meats

Strip District Meats!

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Strip District Meats

Not only because you can find boneless python – for only $35.95 per pound – because who likes bones in their python?!?!?!

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Strip District Meats

But mainly because of Henry!

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Strip District Meats

Henry has worked at Strip District Meats for 11 years, and he is the most amazingly sweet, informed, fun, and charming salesperson and butcher you will ever meet!

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Strip District Meats

Not only did he specially cut Janet’s Lamb Chops exactly to her specification (which just so happened to be whatever Henry thought was best!),

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Strip District Meats

but that little charmer talked me into buying a couple of Wagyu Steaks for Marty and me at the GREAT DEAL of only $19.95 – drastically on sale from the usual $31.95 per pound.  Oh they better be good Henry!  He went through three cases to pick the best two out for me.  Did you know Wagyu Beef are given daily massages and beer to drink (which so appealed to another shopper near me that he asked to be signed up to be a Wagyu Cow, until Henry gently reminded him –   with a swift hand motion across the neck – that they get their heads cut off after about 18 months of this spa-like treatment…

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Strip District Meats

But if Wagyu or Lamb Chops are not your “cup of tea,” how about some Ground Camel – or Alligator – or Kangaroo – or Ostrich – or only the finest hind legs of rabbit?????!!!!!…..

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Strip District Meats

Melanie was Henry’s apprentice, and just as sweet – and even a little cuter (if that is possible 🙂 ). What a great place to shop that I will never miss again when visiting the Strip!


There is any kind of bread you might crave,

Strip District Pittsburgh PA Wholeys

and a visit to the iconic Wholey’s is a must before ending your day at the strip.


Strip District Pittsburgh PA Wholeys

And look what I found!!  Striped Bass!!  (Could our one that got away be in there?!?!?)  (and if you look really close – you can find me in this picture – you know – the one with the camera – caught in the mirror above the fish tank)


Strip District Pittsburgh PA Wholeys

In case you need some fish heads or bones, the price is right…



and they are quite fresh!


Strip District Pittsburgh PA Wholeys

Janet and I split an amazing Lobster Roll and one of Wholey’s Famous fish sandwiches for lunch before ending our shopping excursion and running out of money.
Strip District Pittsburgh PA Wholeys

It was a great day to go “dahntahn.”

Cheers & Hugs,