30 Oct
2014

They write the books, you read the books, everybody’s happy!

Novem­ber 1st is National Authors’ Day!  An author is to book lovers what a great chef is to gour­mands, what an oasis is to dehy­drated desert trav­el­ers, and what a favorite teddy bear is to chil­dren.  Amer­i­can writ­ers, from Hawthorne to McCarthy, from Poe to Hem­ing­way, have iso­lated, dis­tilled, described, and defined Amer­ica, what it is to live here, and what it is that makes Amer­i­cans who we are.

It’s pretty much impos­si­ble for me to pick a favorite Amer­i­can writer, so I’m going to give you my top 5!

 They write the books, you read the books, everybodys happy! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

5.  George R. R. Mar­tin! — Not nec­es­sar­ily part of what you’d call clas­sic Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture, but my fan­tasy obses­sion runs too deep for me to men­tion favorite Amer­i­can writ­ers and not include him.  If you love the TV series (i.e., if you have a pulse), give the series that the show is based on, A Song of Ice and Fire, a try!  They’re pretty great!

edna 236x300 They write the books, you read the books, everybodys happy! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

4.  Edna St. Vin­cent Mil­lay! — Since she’s not a nov­el­ist, she’s again some­one you might not think of as a clas­sic Amer­i­can author, but Mil­lay is my mother’s favorite poet and she is there­fore a big part of my lit­er­ary his­tory.  Her work is deeply affect­ing; a true emo­tional roller coaster.  If you’re not famil­iar with Millay’s poetry, read The Bal­lad of the Harp-Weaver.  It will make you cry, though, so just be advised.

mary 300x225 They write the books, you read the books, everybodys happy! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

3.  Mary Robi­son! — Her post­mod­ern novel Why Did I Ever is prob­a­bly my favorite book that I ever read for a class.  Report­edly writ­ten over the course of sev­eral years with each sep­a­rate snippet/section/vignette on a sep­a­rate index card, the book is hilar­i­ous and touch­ing and the eas­i­est read of any great book ever.  Get on it.

kurt They write the books, you read the books, everybodys happy! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

2.  Kurt Von­negut, Jr! — To any per­son who reads Eng­lish, this man needs no intro­duc­tion.  Cat’s Cra­dle is one of the best books ever.  That is all.

donna 196x300 They write the books, you read the books, everybodys happy! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

1.  Donna Tartt! — Full dis­clo­sure, I have not found time to read The Goldfinch yet.  I am, how­ever, com­pletely in love with The Secret His­tory.  For a per­son whose other favorite books are LotR and Pride and Prej­u­dice and The Count of Monte Cristo, I never really knew that I could find a (rel­a­tively) con­tem­po­rary, non-historical, non-fantastic piece of lit­er­a­ture that I would love as much as I love those other books.  But I found it in The Secret His­tory.  That book rules.

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29 Oct
2014

Wish Hello Kitty a Happy Birthday on November 1!

Super adorable Hello Kitty was born on Novem­ber first!  Let’s cel­e­brate the star of our favorite ele­men­tary school sta­tionery sets ( for our impor­tant child­hood cor­re­spon­dences) with a list of FUN FACTS about Miss Hello Kitty!

Ready?!

  1. Hello Kitty’s full name is Kitty White. Much catch­ier than her orig­i­nal name in Japan, “the white kit­ten with no name”.

    hk cake Wish Hello Kitty a Happy Birthday on November 1! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

    ummmm can this be my bday cake this year?

  2. She weighs 3 apples and is 5 apples tall! How does that even work?!
  3. She has a twin sis­ter named Mimmy. Please don’t get them con­fused– it’s so easy to tell them apart! Hello Kitty wears a red bow on her left ear and Mimmy has a yel­low bow on her right ear!

    hk mim Wish Hello Kitty a Happy Birthday on November 1! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

    soOoOoo dif­fer­ent

  4. Though she was cre­ated in Japan, Hello Kitty is from the Lon­don sub­urbs. How chic!

    hk brit Wish Hello Kitty a Happy Birthday on November 1! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

    ello Kitty

  5. She was named after Alice (of Wonderland)‘s cat, also named Kitty.
    hk alice Wish Hello Kitty a Happy Birthday on November 1! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards
  6. Hello Kitty was intro­duce in 1974, but is eter­nally a fourth grader!

    hk stat Wish Hello Kitty a Happy Birthday on November 1! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

    Purrrrr­fect! Because this sta­tionery set would DEFINITELY make you the coolest kid in fourth grade!

  7. Hello Kitty has two pets, one is a ham­ster named Sugar and the other.… well we’ll get to her later!!

    hk sugar Wish Hello Kitty a Happy Birthday on November 1! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

    so cute !

  8. Her first mod­el­ing gig was for a vinyl coin purse.

    og hk Wish Hello Kitty a Happy Birthday on November 1! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

    awww, she could be smiz­ing more, though.… #antmhellokitty

  9. She caused a com­mo­tion recently when reports sur­faced that she wasn’t really a cat! She is, it’s just that shes more of a Goofy than a Pluto.
  10. Which brings us to our final Fun Fact.  Are you Sit­ting down?! Good, then you are ready to know that Hello Kitty HAS A PET CAT!!!!! Whaaaaaaaat! Her name is Char­mmy Kitty (????) x (infinity).
hk charmmy 150x150 Wish Hello Kitty a Happy Birthday on November 1! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

Sooo.… let’s just unpack this… Hello Kitty, a kit­ten, is dressed up like Char­mmy Kitty, also a kit­ten. I guess some kit­tens are more equal than other kit­tens, hmm Sanrio?

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27 Oct
2014

You want ‘em, we got ‘em! Halloween hats for all!

Every­one knows that the per­fect hat is inte­gral to any good cos­tume.  Hats make win­ners or losers.  The hat is the king of Hal­loween.  With that in mind, a few cus­tomers helped us employ­ees show you some of the best ones. Enjoy!

IMG 5183 640x960 You want em, we got em! Halloween hats for all! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

It’s a fez. Dylan wears a fez now. Fezzes are cool.

IMG 5188 640x960 You want em, we got em! Halloween hats for all! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

Our friend David pre­ferred the pirate king look. It suits him.

IMG 5189 640x960 You want em, we got em! Halloween hats for all! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

Every­one, meet Keira the con­fused robot! (She wasn’t sure how she could look robotic, but I think she nailed it.)

IMG 5190 640x960 You want em, we got em! Halloween hats for all! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

Lorax-Athena reminds you to be kind to the envi­ron­ment. She speaks for the trees and you do not want to hear that dis­ap­pointed tone.

IMG 5195 640x960 You want em, we got em! Halloween hats for all! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

This is JP’s attempt at a stern Prof. McG­o­na­gall face. (It pretty much is just her nor­mal face, you guys.)

IMG 5193 640x960 You want em, we got em! Halloween hats for all! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

Viking-Yogi will pil­lage your heart with his cuteness.

IMG 5187 640x960 You want em, we got em! Halloween hats for all! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

And I am ready to stalk some deer. And/or dan­ger­ous crim­i­nal mas­ter­minds. #MuntjacsOrMoriarty

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16 Oct
2014

Dear Best Boss Ever…

GameOfThrones Teaser04 Screencap 12 640x360 Dear Best Boss Ever... Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

So. Maybe it’s her love of pen­cils. Maybe, it’s when she said “Here’s $1500 to never crap on me or any­one ever!” (I’m going to let you fig­ure out that con­text. Hint: Take it lit­er­ally. Hintx2: This is just a shadow of what we dis­cuss openly.) Maybe it’s how she speaks in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS ALWAYS, or maybe it’s because she’s the only other human I’ve ever met EVER that uses hyper­bole as much as I do about EVERYTHING EVER because EVERYTHING IS THE BEST THING EVER ALL THE THINGS OMGGGGGPFFFFFF. Maybe it’s because we under­stand each other when we say “can you do that thing because of things”.  Maybe it is her load (hehe) of adorable catch phrases and col­lo­qui­alisms that make my heart ‘swell three sizes that day’ like the Grinch. I’m going to run with the whole Grinch thing here not only because she loves Christ­mas (don’t ever call it x-mas) but because it’s sort of a bril­liant segue…

The thing is, I was the Grinch for a while there. It was one of the dark­est times in my life, and I’m 33 so I can say “one of” and mean it, as opposed to those peo­ple who are 17 and write auto­bi­ogra­phies. I lost myself for almost a year, but thanks to a hand­ful of peo­ple who loved me, I didn’t lose touch com­pletely. My boss, my friend; she gave me lit­tle doses of her light every so often, and she waited. She waited for me to fall in love with life again. She waited for me to remem­ber how to laugh again. She gave me rea­sons to laugh. She reminded me that you get to decide who your fam­ily is; she reminded me that I’ll always have a fam­ily at Kards Unlimited.

Happy Boss’s Day to you, Kris­ten. I raise my glass to you, even though it’s filled with cham­pagne AND I HATE CHAMPAGNE.

P.s. I will now explain/admit that I totally used the game of thrones pic to lure peo­ple here. Not at all because IT’S THE BEST SHOW EVER OF ALL TIME.

Brian Boi­tano. I’m out.

brian boitano 640x435 Dear Best Boss Ever... Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

Love,

Blair.

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9 Oct
2014

Happy 1,832,668th Birthday to Count von Count!

the count 3 Happy 1,832,668th Birthday to Count von Count! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

He’s the hap­pi­est, friend­liest vam­pire ever.

I think I’ve delin­eated my feel­ings about children’s tele­vi­sion pretty clearly on this blog.  The short ver­sion is that I am in love with PBS and all it delight­fully edu­ca­tional and adorable pro­gram­ming.  And one of the pow­er­houses in both adora­bil­ity and edu­ca­tion­al­ity is Sesame Street.  Seri­ously, is there a bet­ter way to teach chil­dren to count than with a pur­ple vampire-type guy with a sweet East­ern Euro­pean accent?  I sub­mit that there is not.

count 300x194 Happy 1,832,668th Birthday to Count von Count! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

Plus he has pet bats named Grisha, Misha, Sasha, and Tat­tiana. Yes.

 

That’s why today, Octo­ber 9th, is so impor­tant!  It’s the birth­day of Count von Count!  Aka The Count!  Ah ah ah!  The Count was always one of my favorite char­ac­ters on Sesame Street as a kid.  For one thing, he had a cape, which obvi­ously enhanced his awe­some­ness.  Plus, he had a sweet accent!  What’s not to love?

0 Happy 1,832,668th Birthday to Count von Count! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

 

 

I still love all those things about the Count, plus I also love that all his songs have this great Roma vibe that is totally rockin’.  Basi­cally the Count is a guy to cel­e­brate.  So make sure you keep care­ful count of your cel­e­bra­tory drinks in his honor tonight!  (Thir­teen!  Thir­teen shots!  Ah ah ah!)

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8 Oct
2014

Hey, Hey, It’s Pierogi Day!

pumpkinpierogi 300x181 Hey, Hey, Its Pierogi Day! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

My fam­ily is Pol­ish, and if there’s one thing I know, it’s piero­gies. They are the main sta­ple to fam­ily hol­i­day meals. We always have a vari­ety of pierogi choices on hand, and there isn’t ever any left­overs to be had. We’re pretty seri­ous about our piero­gies. Which is why today is a great freak­ing day. It’s National Pierogi Day! A day in which to cel­e­brate the glo­ri­ous, won­der­ful, scrump­tious pierogi!

For those of you who don’t really know, a pierogi is basi­cally a dumpling stuffed with an end­less vari­ety of fill­ings. Fill­ings can range any­where from sweet to savory, any­thing your lit­tle heart desires. The cur­rent run­ning favorite fill­ings in my fam­ily are sauer­kraut and pork, cot­tage cheese, spinach and lamb, and the clas­sic potato. You can have them boiled, baked, or fried. My fam­ily boils them, then fries them so they get all crispy golden in but­ter. YUM!

pierogirace 300x221 Hey, Hey, Its Pierogi Day! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

Look at those piero­gies go!

One thing that I really like about Pitts­burgh is the fact that it loves its piero­gies too! If you’ve ever been to a Pirates base­ball game, you know what I’m talk­ing about. Each game there’s a Pierogi Race. Pitts­burgh loves piero­gies so much that it has 5 cos­tumed mas­cots race around the field… just because! They even have an offi­cial page on the Pirates web­site. They all have names and stats of how many races they’ve won. Crazy! Pitts­burgh even has it’s own Pierogi Food Truck. I’ve had them, and they were delish.

So, I’ve just real­ized that I’ve been say­ing ‘piero­gies’ as plural of ‘pierogi’. Here’s a fun fact: the word pierogi is actu­ally already plural in the Pol­ish lan­guage. It’s the orig­i­nal ‘betcha can’t eat just one’! Also, there are many MANY dif­fer­ent spelling of the word pierogi:  per­ogi, pier­ogy, per­ogy, pierógi, pyrohy, pirogi, pyro­gie, pyr­ogy, and even Pierożki. Whoa, where did that ‘Z’ come from? Oh, us silly Polski’s gotta stick them in everything!

jacek z pierogami2 184x300 Hey, Hey, Its Pierogi Day! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

I luvz da lit­tle piero­gies. I luvz dem good!

But seri­ously, do you want to know why Octo­ber 8th is National Pierogi Day?  It was the day in 1952 when Ted Twardzik Sr. founded Mrs. T’s Piero­gies and pro­duced the first sam­ples for a local gro­cery store. Mrs. T’s, by the way, is the largest pro­ducer of pierogi in the US. USAUSA!

Wanna know some­thing else that’s cool? Piero­gies have their own patron saint! Oh yeah, Saint Hyacinth! There’s a Pol­ish say­ing, “Święty Jacek z pierogami!”, (St. Hyacinth and his pierogi!) which is an old expres­sion of sur­prise, roughly equiv­a­lent to the Amer­i­can “good grief” or “holy smokes!” Looks like I just found my new favorite saying.

Wanna know how much I love piero­gies? I really REALLY wish I had writ­ten this Ode to Pierogi.

So today, get out there and track down the near­est pol­ish grandma (cause we all know that only gramma’s make them the best) and stuff your face with lit­tle pock­ets of good­ness! You know I will!

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4 Oct
2014

National Storytelling Weekend/ Two Dimes for a Nickel

Once upon a time, there was a nice boy named Dun­can who lived in in a nice town with his nice fam­ily.  One day while walk­ing home from school, Dun­can decided to take a short­cut through the woods. ” What could go wrong” he thought as he skipped through the spooky, spindly trees. Sud­denly, Dun­can came upon two strangers in an angry confrontation. ”

What did you just say ?!?!” The man in the cow­boy hat shouted to the man in the clown suit. “I…I.. I said TWO DIMES FOR A NICKEL” boomed the clown, blow­ing defi­antly into a kazoo.

Well, that just enraged the cow­boy even more, and their fight became even louder and more intense.

Dun­can was star­tled to say the least and hur­ried home to tell his mother about the strange fight he wit­nessed on his way home from school.

HEY, MOM!!!” Dun­can shouted to his mother, who was putting away dishes in the sun­lit  kitchen.  “MOM, the WEIRDEST THING JUST HAPPENED.…” Dun­can rushed to tell his Mother the whole story, and she lis­tened patiently if a bit absent­mind­edly.  Just as Mom was mak­ing men­tal note to remind Dun­can not to go through the woods on his way home from school, she heard him say a hor­ri­ble ter­ri­ble thing. “…two dimes for a nickel..”

WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!”  Duncan’s Mom imme­di­ately freaked out, drop­ping all the plates she was hold­ing, barely reg­is­ter­ing when they shat­tered on the kitchen floor.

I CERTAINLY DID NOT RAISE MY SON TO SAY SUCH THINGS” she screeched, lit­er­ally clutch­ing her pearls.

But.…but, Mom” Sput­tered a star­tled Dun­can, “I don’t even KNOW what… I’ve never even HEARD.…”

But Duncan’s Mother just would not lis­ten “Go straight to your room! Just wait til your Father gets home!!”

Dun­can sat in his room ner­vously wait­ing for his dad to come home. Dun­can felt ter­ri­ble for upset­ting his mother so, but at the same time, he felt elec­tri­fied by the inten­sity that this phrase, which he had never before heard, inspired. He knew based on his mother’s bal­lis­tic reac­tion that he would be in trou­ble when his father got home, but he hoped that his father could at least explain what two dimes for a nickel meant.

Later that night Dun­can heard the front door open with a click. His heart started pound­ing as he strained to hear his mother’s heated retelling of that afternoon’s events. Soon the voices down­stairs qui­eted and Dun­can heard his father’s heavy foot­steps clomp­ing up the steps.

Ok, Son,” his father said with a sigh, “tell me exactly what hap­pened.” Dun­can told his story, the walk home, the short­cut through the woods, the fight, the yelling of “two dimes for .….”

STOP” Com­manded his father with a queasy look on his face. “I didn’t want to believe it was true, but I heard it with my own ears…” Dun­can tried again to protest “I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT TWO DIMES FOR A NICKEL MEANS, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS GOING ON.…”

Before he knew it, Dun­can was being thrown out of his house like DJ Jazzy Jeff’s char­ac­ter Jazz on the best sit­com ever The Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire. “We sim­ply can’t have you cor­rupt­ing lit­tle Mary-Beth” they cried at the front door.

Now Dun­can was just plain mad! He didn’t have his back­pack or home­work and would now have to spend the night in the school play­ground. “And besides” thought Dun­can, “Mary-Beth is just our dumb house­cat.” Set­tling in on top of the Mon­key Bars, Dun­can decided to just let it go and never say those stu­pid words again and maybe soon his par­ents would for­give him.

The next day in school, Dun­can was a total mess he was wear­ing an old t shirt that read IT IS  TUESDAY even though it was Wednes­day, he had for­got­ten all of his assign­ments, and he could barely keep him­self awake dur­ing class. At the end of the day a friendly, hip teacher pulled him aside to ask what was wrong. Dun­can was so tired that he retold the whole ter­ri­ble story to his teacher. You can prob­a­bly guess what hap­pened next, Dun­can was taken directly to the principal’s office and the prin­ci­pal imme­di­ately called the police.

As he was being sen­tenced to ten years in jail, the judge dron­ing on and on about how he had” never in all his years heard such unspeak­able lan­guage from a boy as seem­ingly nice as Dun­can”, Dun­can real­ized that he may never know what two dimes for a nickel meant, and to be hon­est he didn’t really care, he just wanted to for­get the whole thing and move on.

Ten years later, Dun­can is indeed ready to move on with his life. As he walks down the streets of his old town for the first time in a decade, he takes a deep breath and really notices his sur­round­ings . As he gazes across the street, he sees a bill­board with huge let­ters spelling out TWO DIMES. Dun­can gasped, the rest of the bill­board was cov­ered up by a bus wait­ing at a red light. Soon the traf­fic began to creep along and Dun­can saw more and more of the bill­board TWODIMESFOR.… A …NIC .…

Dun­can saw the phase that had destroyed his life and couldn’t keep the old curios­ity from bub­bling up inside. Maybe now he would know why the phrase held so much power.  And as he crossed the street to get a closer look, Dun­can was hit by a bus.

The End

Isn’t this the best/worst story ever!!! I told this story many times as a camp coun­selor and heard it many more times as a camper. It’s great because a good sto­ry­teller can stretch out the saga in a num­ber of imag­i­na­tive ways to keep the lis­ten­ers on the edge of their seats …or you know their patch of grass around a camp­fire. It’s also super fun to tell the story and see every­ones anger about the way it ends.

Try it out this week­end for National Sto­ry­telling Week­end! Or you know… you could tell a bet­ter story, I don’t know! It’s up to you! That’s the thing about great sto­ry­tellers whether they are har­ness­ing their Larry David angst to punch up a story about a Star­bucks run or cre­at­ing some­thing new they keep their lis­ten­ers fully engaged. Three cheers for storytelling!

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3 Oct
2014

Time To Get Cookin’, It’s National Cookbook Month

cooking classes 300x200 Time To Get Cookin, Its National Cookbook Month Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

I don’t know about you, but as soon as the weather begins to get chilly, I get the urge to cook my lit­tle heart out. It’s the only time of year that I get tired of mak­ing the same old thing over and over again, and I begin to won­der what else I could add to my reper­toire. I’ll admit, cook­books used to frighten me. I’d read a recipe and think “Yeah, THAT’S never going to hap­pen.” Then one day, I said to hell with it and used a recipe out of a cook­book. The end result didn’t look any­thing like the pic­ture in the book (it never does), but you know what? It was pretty damn good! I over­came my fear of screw­ing up a recipe and now have a pretty good col­lec­tion of cookbooks.

Octo­ber is National Cook­book Month, and boy, do we have all dif­fer­ent kinds of cook­books here at KU! Our cook­book sec­tion is a bonanza of mouth­wa­ter­ing treats rang­ing from clas­sic to the obscure. It’s pretty great!

image2 e1412085714246 290x300 Time To Get Cookin, Its National Cookbook Month Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

image3 e1412085800244 300x300 Time To Get Cookin, Its National Cookbook Month Pittsburgh Gifts Cards
image1 3 225x300 Time To Get Cookin, Its National Cookbook Month Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

We carry authors like Nigella Law­son, Jamie Oliver, The Bare­foot Con­tessa, Martha Stew­art, Racheal Ray, etc.  We love the food, all the food! We have clas­sics like “The Joy of Cook­ing” and the won­der­fully strange like “The Sriracha Cook­book”. We have books for those on a bud­get, books for those who are just start­ing to cook, books for those who want to impress their friends. We have Pitts­burgh cook­books, meat-centric cook­books, and veg­e­tar­ian cook­books. Any­one else’s tummy growling?

image2 2 300x193 Time To Get Cookin, Its National Cookbook Month Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

Don’t worry, Fifty Shades fans, I didn’t for­get about you. Par­o­dies, I loves them!

image1 2 221x300 Time To Get Cookin, Its National Cookbook Month Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

Nor did I for­get about you, Game of Thrones fans. I got your back!

So, this month, pick up your favorite cook­book, or come and get a new one, and get cook­ing! You know I will.

image1 300x225 Time To Get Cookin, Its National Cookbook Month Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

Have I men­tioned that we have cook­books? ‘Cause we do!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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