Friday, May 18, 2018

Friday Favorites

We made it to the weekend! I'm not a huge Anglophile, but I'm looking forward to going to a friend's house to watch the Royal Wedding (we're recording it, though, not watching live at 7 AM, which I'm very grateful for ). I also am headed to a concert tonight, if the rain holds out... fingers crossed for me!

On to the weekly favorites...

I had to share this interview with the Miranda family (as in, the family of Lin-Manuel Miranda) about the importance of philanthropy in their lives. It's so refreshing to see that they still have such a focus on helping others, no matter how "famous" they get! I know I don't actually know any of them, but they seem like such genuinely kind people.

I love when orchestras do their take on pop songs - it's just such an unexpected combination, and it just sounds so GOOD! Check out this arrangement of "Love Song," sung by Sara Bareilles herself.


You've probably heard this audio clip making its way around the Internet - is it "yanny" or "laurel?" I can't hear anything but laurel, and can't understand how anyone could possibly hear anything else!

Yesterday I talked about accessibility and technology, and then saw this article about Microsoft releasing an adaptive Xbox controller - what timing! The whole article is worth a read, and I loved learning that Microsoft has en entire lab devoted to "Inclusive Tech."

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Global Accessibility Awareness Day

This week is a heavy week for accessibility and disability posts (two in a row!) but sometimes that's just the way it works out. I feel like it's a fairly accurate representation of my real life, too - sometimes disability-related things are a bigger focus in my life, and sometimes they're more in the background.

I recently found out that today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), so I wanted to do a quick post to highlight the day and what it's trying to achieve. GAAD focuses on technology, and making it more accessible to people with disabilities. I'm really glad to learn that this day exists, and that some group of people are working towards this goal globally.

Technology moves so quickly that sometimes, I don't think people slow down to think about who the technology is really serving. I've talked about representation of people with disabilities here before, but I think it's so important in terms of technology. These innovations have the potential to have profound implications on people's lives... positively and negatively. We need to make sure that the technology we're building and designing is going to improve everyone's lives, and not just deepen the divide between those who can utilize it, and those who cannot.

That's why I think representation is so key, and why I won't shut up about it. Because including people with disabilities in all stages of technological development is the only way to make sure that the technology created is something that we can actually use

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Good Service Goes A Long Way

Over the weekend, I finally made it to check out Floor 2, the restaurant in the Fairmont Hotel. The restaurant closed and then re-opened last year, with a new look and new menu. It looks stunning - the bar area is gorgeous - and the new menu was great, too. But the best part of the night, by far, was the service.
Going out to a restaurant is a bit of a gamble for me. I love going out to eat, but I always make sure to check out the menu ahead of time. Not only can I be a little bit of a picky eater, but I have to make sure there's something on the menu that will be easy for me to eat. Something that requires a lot of cutting isn't going to be ideal, because I'm going to need more help. And it's not that the people I'm eating with aren't willing to help - they are, of course - but it's just another thing I'd need help with.

But I now know that I don't have to worry about any of that if I am out to eat at Floor 2 - especially if my new favorite waitress, Katie, is there to serve me. From the very beginning to the end of the meal, Katie went out of her way to make sure she accommodated my needs. She asked me if I would like a straw in my drink WITHOUT me having to ask for one, and she asked me which side was my stronger side so she could be sure to put my drink on that side. When I ordered a seafood dish that came with some mussels, she let me know that she'd asked the kitchen to remove them from the shells for me, and asked if I'd like them to cut up my sea bass, as well.

These might sound like minor, simple things to you, but I cannot tell you how impressed I was. Katie went out of her way to make my meal as enjoyable as possible, without making me feel like I had to impose on her, and without being prompted. Most impressive of all, she never assumed what I wanted, but just presented me with options that might make things easier for me.

It's little things like this that I appreciate the most - things that make me feel included, but not singled out. I hope that one day, we get to a point where this is the norm, rather than the exception. But until then, I want to make sure to highlight situations where accommodations are done well, and not only ones where I think improvement is needed! So thank you, Katie, for allowing me to have such a fantastic dining experience - I will definitely be back.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Women Who Rock

I always love finding fun events happening in Pittsburgh to give my life a little variety, because otherwise I tend to find myself going back to my same favorite places over and over. So when I saw a post about Women Who Rock on Instagram, I was really excited - it looked like it would be a really great night, and it was raising money for Magee-Womens Research Institute and breast cancer research.
You know that one of my good friends, Katie, was diagnosed with breast cancer - she wrote about her experiences with breast cancer in a series on this blog (you can find the posts here, here, here, here, and here). I'm always happy to donate what I can to charitable causes, but having a personal connection to a cause always makes it seem a bit more meaningful.
I wasn't really sure what to expect, but it turned out to be such an amazing night. The event was held at the Hard Rock Cafe in Station Square, and I started the night by walking the "pink carpet" that they had set up outside - I'll never pass up a photo opp! They had some incredible female musicians performing, and a really fun "beauty bar" room where I was able to get a quick styling from Drybar (you know you have a blowout addiction when the store manager recognizes you...) and a make-up touch up from Sephora.

The best part of the night, in my opinion, was how enthusiastic everyone was about supporting the research done by Magee, and supporting the other women attendees and performer It was really such a great experience!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mother's Day Weekend

Some weekends, I end up wanting to do nothing more than sit at home, watch a few hours of Netflix or a good movie, and read a book. Other weekends, like this past one, there are too many things that I want to do!
I started out the weekend at The Frick Art Museum - they had an exhibit featuring works by Degas, Monet, and Van Gogh. Degas is one of my favorite artists - I love his ballerina works - so I couldn't pass up the chance to see his Little Dancer sculpture up close! The exhibit was fantastic, and if you're in Pittsburgh, you should definitely check it out - I think I'll be back before it closes!

Saturday and Sunday I went to two great restaurants - Floor 2, the recently re-opened restaurant in The Fairmont downtown, and had a delicious brunch at Senti for Mother's Day, after which I was stuffed for hours!
I'm incredibly grateful for my mom, and that she has always been there to help and support me - and I think that takes on a different meaning for me, as someone who needs a lot of physical help. For years, we didn't have any personal care aides who helped us at home, so it was just my parents helping my sister and I with everything we needed. And since we were girls, there were things we just were more comfortable with my mom doing! In some ways, we're probably a lot closer than other mothers and daughters - privacy takes on a different meaning when you need help with going to the bathroom or taking a shower.

This isn't to say that it has always been a smooth, easy relationship - it can be difficult to balance personalities and freedom and mood swings, and it's hard when you want space but you can't get it because you still need more help with whatever you're in the middle of doing. But we always get past it, and we're probably closer because of it.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Liz's Nutrition Notes: Shopping Wisely for Whole Grains

Quiz yourself: Which of these two breads pictured below is whole wheat?

This is actually a trick question - we can't tell just from the picture!

In the above picture, the white bread is more than likely refined. Refined grains have been processed to improve shelf life and create a smoother texture. During the milling process, the germ and bran are removed. 

The brown bread pictured above appears to be whole wheat. HOWEVER, it may not be whole wheat. In order to figure out if bread or another product is whole grain, look at/for the following things:
  • Look for the National Whole Grain Council Stamp. There are different variations of the stamp. The stamp on the left is a "basic" stamp whereas the one on the right is the "100% stamp"
  • Check the ingredients list. Multi-grain breads are not necessarily whole grain breads. If the product is indeed a 100% whole grain product, then the first ingredient should have WHOLE in front of the type of flour. (i.e. WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR or WHOLE GRAIN FLOUR).  
Some quick tips:
  • If the first ingredient reads “wheat flour,” then this is not a whole grain/wheat product
  • There are whole wheat WHITE flour breads, meaning the bread is whole wheat/grain… in this case the bran is white so the bread is white. This has helped with getting children to consume whole grains. Again, read the ingredients and look for the word “WHOLE” in front of the type of flour
  •   A full serving of whole grains contains anywhere from 0.5-3 grams of fiber

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Mad About Maxis

I'm someone who has very strong opinions on almost anything. This is no surprise to anyone who knows me in real life, but might not be so obvious to people who aren't quite as close to me.
When I say almost anything, I mean it. So when maxi dresses started to come back into style, I quickly decided I hated maxis and refused to wear one. And not am I opinionated, I'm also known to be a bit stubborn (I prefer decisive, but...). So my maxi hatred lasted a good two years. I don't exactly remembered what the tipping point was where I decided it would be ok to give one a try, but I was sold from that moment on.

I love that maxi dresses make you look like you put in more effort than you really did, and I really love how comfortable they are. I basically feel like they're a version of pajamas that are acceptable to wear out in the world! I've gone so far to the maxi dress side that I now might own more maxis than non-maxis. I have a particular favorite from ASOS (now sold out) that I love so much I own in four different colors! Clearly, my decisive streak works both ways - when I decide I love something, I am all in.

My favorite maxi might be sold out, but there are so many other cute ones - I pulled together some of my favorites below!

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