In the past few years, I’ve come to an appreciation of all the boutique shops that have been popping up in the hills Pittsburgh.
Many of these shops design and create their own products, while others feature unique items made by locals alongside other trendy gifts. Wildcard and few other local shops even stocked The Feminist Financial Handbook, making it available locally even prior to being picked up by Barnes & Noble.
Pittsburgh Boutique Warehouse Sale
On March 6 & 7, 2020, a conglomeration of Pittsburgh-area boutique shops will be putting the third annual Warehouse Sale at The Village of Eastside next to Staples. There will be free parking available in the same shopping center as Trader Joe’s.
Be careful as the hours do vary from Friday to Saturday:
March 6, 2020. 9a-5p
March 7, 2020. 9a-3p
The sales are deep — each shop owner will be bringing their bargain basement finds. Check out each shop before you go!
The Picket Fence
The Picket Fence is a boutique store in Shadyside selling primarily clothing for women, kids and infants. You’ll also find housewares here, along with some jewelry options and adorable, Burgh-themed gifts.
If you’re looking for clothing made in the USA, you’re going to have a lot of luck at Pavement in Lawrenceville. Here you’ll find women’s fashion from indie, sustainable and even local designers, and you’ll also find some bigger national brands like Three Dots and Stateside.
Emy Mack is a local shoe designer with a gorgeous boutique open in Shadyside. Mack works with a team from Italy to turn the designs into finished products.
Hippie & French
Medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania, but you need a patient ID card to purchase. You must have a diagnosed, qualifying medical condition to get that card.
You don’t need a patient ID card to purchase CBD products, though. These are legal everywhere, but are unregulated where medical marijuana is.
Hippie & French started as a CBD oil boutique in Lawrenceville, and that is still their primary product. But today you can purchase flower there, too. CBD flower — no THC.
Hippie & French also markets its products to pet owners.
Von Walter & Funk
Also located in Lawrenceville, Von Walter and Funk is boutique selling fun and unique housewares for your kitchen, bar, and living room. You’ll also find all the essential oils along with a one-of-a-kind jewelry line.
Cheeks is a lingerie and sleepwear shop in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood. If you shop in person, they’ve also expanded with an apparel line. You’ll be able to check out their best deals at the Warehouse Sale!
Pies to die for! Make sure to leave some budget for these good eats. They’ll be served up at the Warehouse Sale for hungry shoppers.
This past Fall, I had the good fortune of being able to travel to Japan once again for my friend’s wedding.
During that trip, I also took some time to explore parts of the country I had missed the last time around. One of those places was Hiroshima.
Why visit Hiroshima?
I only allotted a day for Hiroshima. It’s small for a Japanese city; arguably smaller than my hometown of Pittsburgh.
I stayed at an Airbnb in Hiroshima, and my host was super generous, sending me a guide to strategize my short visit — both for time and money. His tips are integrated with my personal experience throughout this post. I love staying with Airbnb when I travel, and love that I can get you a $55 credit off your first booking even more.
After my visit, though, I realize I could have easily spent far more time here. I hope I’ll have the opportunity to do so again.
Peace & History
This was what drew me to Hiroshima; its history of being one of the two Atomic bomb sites in Japan. It felt like it would be an uncomfortable place to visit as an American, but an important one. Too important to skip on this trip. I was in the West anyways.
Any discomfort I felt was of my own imagination’s imposition. When the Japanese say they are now dedicated to spreading the message of Peace around the world, especially in context of nuclear weaponry, they appear to really mean it.
While the memorials I visited were somber reminders of what we as Americans — nay, humans — should never do again, it was not framed in that context. There appeared to legitimately be no grudges or malice. Only a desire to remind people of what happened, to ensure it never happened again. Anywhere.
Okonomiyaki is a flour-, noodle-, egg-based dish with sauce and other toppings. I really can’t think of an Western equivalent at all. Depending on which part of Japan you visit, the Okonomiyaki will have a different flair, flavoring or ingredient.
Hiroshima, in particular, is known for its excellent Okonomiyaki. In fact, there’s an entire building dedicated to it. It’s called Okonomimura. In this multi-level building, you’ll find stall after stall of Okonomiyaki restaurateurs, each putting their own spin on the dish.
My friend’s dad told me I had to eat there. So I did. I had to ask some locals how to get there; Google had me wandering in circles. You ride up this elevator that’s a little difficult to find if you can’t read Japanese.
It was amazing and if you’re in Hiroshima, you should go, too. The dining is not expensive, and you’ll be fine dropping in wearing whatever you may happen to have on.
Kagura Folk Theater
Kagura is hot right now. It’s experiencing a resurgence in popularity — especially in Hiroshima and the surrounding prefectures.
Kagura is folk theater, performed as an expression of gratitude for the harvest. In the area around Hiroshima, each farming community has their own Kagura performance.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t in town on the right day of the week to catch a show. There are two shows every Wednesday, and admission is currently 1,200 yen, which is roughly $12 USD at the time of writing.
As I walked around Hiroshima on my history tour, I was surprised by the amount of shopping there was. It was reminiscent of downtown Osaka in some places, with covered streets lined with multi-floor shop fronts.
I learned that this is the place you’ll want to buy Kumano brushes, which are some of the best in the world for painting, calligraphy and makeup. It’s also the best place to buy the Maple-leaf-shaped sweet, Momiji Manju and the best sake.
I didn’t actually buy any of those thing. Because I’m me and I hadn’t planned the spending.
But I learned that is what you’re supposed to do.
Save money with the Visit Hiroshima Tourist Pass
If you have the JR Rail Pass, you’ll be able to get to Hiroshima for free. You’ll even be able to ride some buses for free.
But if you’re staying for more than 24 hours like yours truly, you’re likely to find yourself paying for transportation around the city itself. In these situations the Visit Hiroshima Tourist Pass may save you money.
You get access to all the Hiroshima Electric Railway lines, almost all the bus lines in the area and the ferry to Miyajima — a UNESCO World Heritage site — for 3 days for 2500 yen, or roughly $25 USD. If you want to travel throughout the entire prefecture, you can pay 3500 yen — roughly $35 USD — for the same three-day time period.
Like JR Pass eligibility, you can’t get the Visit Hiroshima Tourist Pass unless you’re in the country on a tourist/temporary visitor visa. However, you can actually buy the pass once you’re in Japan.
You can pick up your Visit Hiroshima Tourist Pass at the Hiroshima airport or as soon as your arrive at Hiroshima Station. At the station, you can purchase a pass at the Transportation Information Center near the South Exit or at Swallow Travel on the second floor.
Peace Memorial Park
As soon as I got off the train, I locked up my suitcase and headed to Peace Park. I only had 24 hours, and I wanted to see as much as I could before the sun went down.
Everything I did and saw at Peace Memorial Park was free, moving and unforgettable.
Take the Meipuru-pu bus line to Peace Memorial Park.
The Meipuru-pu line is designed specifically for those looking to visit Peace Memorial Park. If you have the JR Pass, you should be able to ride for free by showing your pass to the driver the same way you show it at the train station. The only localized JR Pass that would also potentially work is the JR West Pass.
Otherwise, it’s 200 yen — about $2 USD — to ride. If you’re good at planning ahead and frugal, you’ll splurge on a 400 yen all-day pass. If you plan on riding the bus there and back anyways, it can only save you money.
The walk to Peace Memorial Park is doable. I took a bus almost to the edge of the river on my way there. I wanted to walk across the bridge as I approached the sites.
On my way back to the station, I walked the entire thing. I ended up walking with my suitcase all the way to the Airbnb, too. It was a beautiful night, and I wasn’t staying too far outside of Peace Memorial Park. The trek from station to park and visa versa took about half an hour each way.
It’s about half that when you take the Meipuru-pu. You can catch this bus right outside the entrance to Hiroshima station.
Hiroshima Municipal Girls High School Memorial
As I crossed the bridge for the first time, I happened upon a memorial for Hiroshima Municipal Girls High School. On the morning of August 6, 1945, 541 preteen students and 7 teachers were helping clear fire lanes in preparation for bombings. Japan mobilized many students into child labor during the war because of the shortage of working-age men in local municipalities.
At the moment these girls were pitching in for the war effort, the Americans dropped LIttle Boy from the Enola Gay over their heads. They died instantaneously.
Some of the teachers were cognizant of the planes overhead. There were efforts to save the girls. Efforts afterwards to save the dignity of those who had lost clothing along with their lives. Exposed bodies were covered. During the blast, teachers died trying to shield the young girls in cisterns or with their own bodies.
The love and righteous mourning of the mothers is on display at the memorial. Visitors can leave their chains of 1,000 cranes and pay respect.
I stayed at the girls’ memorial longer than most people would, I suppose. It felt like if I left, I would be breaking with the respect they deserved. I needed to spend time with their memory.
Eventually, though, I crossed the street. That’s where the bulk of the memorials and museums were.
Before I crossed paths with any museums or memorials, though, I ran into one of Hiroshima’s atomic trees. Miraculously enough, dozens of plants survived the blast and are still growing today. Eleven of them are inside Peace Memorial Park.
Cenotaph at Peace Memorial Park
Next I wandered over to the cenotaph. It was built so that those who bring offerings and prayers to lay in front of the sculpture’s feet will look out over the peaceful pond, over the Flame of Peace, and have their eyes drawn directly to the destroyed frame of the Atomic Dome.
Before it was destroyed, the Atomic Dome was the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. The bomb went off almost directly above it, pushing down into the building and igniting it and everything — and everyone — inside. Because the impact came from almost directly above, the walls and large parts of the structure largely survived the ensuing fire.
The Japanese decided to preserve the destroyed structure as a stark reminder of the destruction caused by atomic warfare.
It’s an impressive reminder, inspiring reverence every time it pops into your field of vision.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
I walked through the lobby of the Peace Memorial Museum. Grabbed a couple stamps for the passport.
It was getting closer to close, though, and there was a line for headsets. My Japanese is remedial; I wasn’t going to get as much out of the tour as I wanted to, and I was going to feel rushed.
I took note of the hours, fully intending to return the next morning.
Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for Atomic Bomb Victims
I wandered over to the National Peace Memorial Hall for Atomic Bomb Victims. It was a quiet, somber place, and everything was printed in a myriad of languages, including English.
You walk in and go down this ramp lined with cement walls on either side. You feel like you’re walking down a nautilus’s shell as you read the story of everything that happened not just on August 6, 1945, but also beyond.
When you finally arrive at the center, you find yourself in the middle of a circular room, with 360 degrees of Hiroshima surrounding you. Hiroshima as it looked immediately following the atomic bombing. It’s a place that calls you to sit and show respect for the sanctity of human life.
In the next hall, known victims are listed along with their photographs when available. The number now exceeds 290,000, but the list grows longer every year.
At the end, you’ll be able to tour the library where manifestos of mourning mothers and other family members tell the stories of those who lost their lives. You’ll be able to view some of the possessions that survived the blast, and listen to video testimony from survivors.
This testimony doesn’t just tell you what happens. It tells you how Japan’s spirit transformed and survived. Hiroshima’s mothers chose to ascribe meaning to the loss, allowing them to push forward. Allowing them to push for peace at a global scale. It was through this meaning that any semblance of healing was born.
Because of my short timeline, I wasn’t able to take advantage of it, but you can listen to live readings from parents, survivors, etc at the Hall for free. Some times slots are even read in English.
The girls memorialized just over the river’s edge weren’t the only mobilized students to lose their lives. In fact, a ton of students were out working on the fire lanes that day.
As you cross the river once again via the northern bridge, you’ll run into another memorial for mobilized students. This memorial honors not only the 6,907 that died in Hiroshima’s Atomic Bombing alone, but all those who died helping the war effort both in mainland Japan and across the Pacific Theater.
Folding Origami at the Atomic Dome
I was standing there contemplating the twisted metal and lives lost in the Atomic Dome alone when I caught someone out of the corner of my eye.
He was an older man. He tried a couple languages before he got to my native English, inviting me over next to his “FREE” sign, motioning for me to sit on this tiny little portable stool so we could fold origami together.
My American backside spilled over both sides of that stool, but it did not break. My origami teacher pulled out his papers to show me he was 8 months in utero when the bomb went off. He was born during the black rains that followed the bombings. His medical records showed that he had survived many lung diseases as an infant.
I was given the portrayal of a long, vibrant life, not letting anything slow him down or defeat him. He married a Portuguese woman, and now spends a portion of the year giving Hiroshima tours in Portuguese, largely to European and South American tourists.
Later, I realized that he had shown his papers to me to tell his story. But the real reason he had them was to show to the cop that stopped over about halfway through our visit.
I love that the Japanese cop was watching out for me as an obvious gaijin, and it made me even happier to see he probably wasn’t going to try to scam me in the next ten minutes as the paperwork more than assured the police officer of the origami teacher’s legitimacy and apparent right to be in the park spreading the message of peace.
1,000 Paper Cranes for Hope and Healing
Because ultimately, that’s what he was doing. He was teaching people how to fold origami cranes — specifically the red-headed kind that migrate to Japan from mainland Asia. He was impressed that my friend’s mother had taught me the art before, and took the opportunity to teach me a more advanced method.
I’m always getting rewarded by my Japanese teachers like a little kid. And I love it. This time, my origami teacher rewarded me with the tiniest paper crane I’ve ever seen. He must have used tools to make it; there’s no way any human fingers are that nimble.
My final stop for the day was actually outside Peace Park. The epicenter — the site where the Enola Gay dropped Little Boy all the way back in 1945 — sits about a block into the city, down a smaller street.
The plaque lies in front of what appears to be an apartment building. As ordinary as could be.
But 600m in the air above this building, the Atomic Bomb went off and changed the course of history.
Like the Japanese, I hope we remember the lessons of history, allowing the massive shift that happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to be for the better. For denuclearization. And beneath it all, a current of genuine and healing peace.
I received product for review purposes for portions of this gift guide. I don’t promote things I’ve had negative experiences with, and all opinions are 100% honest and my own.
Valentine’s Day when you’re single. So. Much. Fun.
Well, it can be fun, all sarcasm aside. My first Valentine’s Day as a single adult was about ten years ago. My friend and I went to Eat’n’Park and got the cookiest cookie sundae ever and complained about the men that had just exited our lives.
Today, I wanted to give you a fun way to celebrate Valentine’s Day: Spend it with your single friends. Whether you’re doing that long-distance or piling into the car to head to Eat’n’Park.
Pick up a gift while you’re at it, since you know they won’t be getting anything from a sweetheart, either. Here are some ideas to get you started–all under $50.
I know, I know. Sun sign astrology alone is shallow and bullshit. And honestly, I had never heard of Annabel Gat before.
But when I saw reviews from names I had heard of before, like Chris Brennan and Anne Ortelee, I knew I had to at least crack the spine.
Guy, this book is amazing. It goes through all of the sun signs, the way they act in relationships, the way they act in bed–and it does it all while maintaining the dignity of the entire spectrum of human identity and sexuality. It doesn’t tell you anyone is off limits. It doesn’t tell you anyone is your guaranteed soul mate.
It’s fun. It’s gorgeous. And it’s way more in depth than the stuff you’ll find in the horoscope columns.
While we’re on the astrology vibe, be sure to check out these sun-sign based gift boxes! MyDailyMantra puts them together full of amazing bath products like candles, lip balm, bath bombs, soap, body butter and more.
These innovative, 21st century vases are simple, beautiful and made by creators in my hometown of Pittsburgh.
I’ve got this one on my nightstand, because single or not, flowers make me happy, dammit. I love that I can set up my phone for easily-accessible display, and the super smart design allows me to run the charging cord beneath the vase up into the bottom of my phone without looking tacky.
This necklace is so sugary sweet you won’t even need to pick up a box of chocolates. I have so many women in my life who aren’t blood related, but feel and have acted like my family over the years. I wish I could get every one of them this necklace.
The price is variable because you get to pick the color and whether you want those interlocking rings hammered or smoothed. Here are your options:
This jewelry roll legit looks like a Turkish rug down to the very last intricate thread. Made even more legit because it’s actually made in Turkey.
Inside, the zippers, snaps and loops make organizing jewelry super easy. No more tangled chains! This is perfect if you know your friend is a traveller or at least headed out on an upcoming trip. Especially after you just gave her that necklace.
Not all Valentine’s Day gifts have to be about love or flowers.
But you should find a way to tie chocolate in.
This portable campfire is an awesome choice for those who love a good campfire but, like, zoning laws. It’s made from recycled products which are actually better for the environment than burning wood, namely soy wax and paper.
Be sure to package this gift with all the things you’ll need to make s’mores.
Pair with the portable campfire! An easy way to make kabobs without needing to cut down trees for new sticks every time. The basket on these is even deeper and wider than they look in the picture–you can really pack a lot of great veggies and chicken in there!
This post is brought to you and contributed by an outside writer.
Life insurance can be confusing. It’s something you only do a couple of times. Because of this, it’s important to know how to do it correctly. Here’s everything you need to know about shopping for life insurance the right way. This not only makes the process easier, but it also helps to cut back on costs.
Work with an independent insurance agent.
There are two types of insurance agents: Those that work for a specific company and those who work independently. As you might be able to imagine, one that works for a specific company will be selling you a product with their company because they want you to choose their company. This is true whether or not the policy is the best choice for your needs.
An independent agent works individually and will give you a lot more options. As long as they’re operating ethically and not based on who offers the highest commission, they aren’t going to persuade you into choosing a specific company. They will help you find what’s best. This will save you money and you will get the best policy too.
Buy life insurance as soon as possible.
Now, life insurance is a big decision, so it shouldn’t be taken lightly. At the same time, you don’t want to wait too long. Life insurance costs increase as you age. Plus, your overall health status has an impact on the cost of your life insurance. As you age, you are more likely to develop a health issue. To save money, it’s a good idea to get life insurance as you can. Ideally, this would be when you’re young and before you develop any health issues.
Get term life insurance.
For the majority of people, term life insurance is the best option. It lasts for a specific term, such as 15 or 20 years. Many people choose to get a term for the amount of time they have kids relying on their income. Once your kids move out, you no longer need life insurance. You could also get a policy for the duration of your mortgage.
Whole life insurance ends up costing more and provides coverage beyond when you actually need it. The term makes a lot more sense for most people.
Take the medical exam.
When you are shopping for life insurance, you will find that most of the options require a medical exam. This shows the insurance company whether it’s risky to insure you. Depending on your health status, your quote may go up or down. You will also see a no exam option. This might sound convenient, but it actually costs you more money.
The insurance company has to guess how big of a risk it is to insure you. Because of this, rates are higher with no exam life insurance. If you have a health issue that would prevent you from getting insurance anyway, then it makes sense to go with no exam life insurance. But many people will benefit from going through with the exam and get a quote.
Life insurance is important for everyone with dependents.
Getting life insurance is an important part of protecting yourself and your family. There are many different life insurance options out there, so it’s a good idea to follow these guidelines. You will get the insurance you need and you will save money too.
This post is brought to you and contributed by an outside writer.
Ready to finally reach those saving goals that you’ve been aiming for over the last few years?
With the new year just around the corner, everyone is
thinking about resolutions and strategies that they can use to change their
life for the better. However, while it’s always a good idea to eat healthier
and get more exercise, one of the best changes you can make to your usual
routine is learning how to spend your money better.
After all, what would you do if your car suddenly broke down
tomorrow? Would you take out a personal loan, struggle to find credit, or have
emergency savings that you can use? Here are a few ways that you can start to
turn things around in 2020.
Have a Target
The most important thing you can do when you want to make a change to your finances in 2020, is have a target. Don’t just tell yourself that you want to save more money. Although that technically is a kind of goal, it’s way too vague. You need something more precise if you want to make a real difference this year.
What do you want to be able to celebrate by the time the
next new year rolls around? Maybe you want to have enough cash aside so that
you can put a down payment on a new home. Maybe you want to go on a family
vacation to some far-off, distant land.
There’s no wrong answer.
Track Your Spending
If you want to put more of your cash towards your future,
then you also need to know where your money is going now. Think about where
your dollars are going each day. Maybe you’re spending a fortune on fuel for a
run-down old car, or perhaps you’re constantly paying for subscriptions to
television resources that you don’t use.
Tracking your spending will help you to pinpoint the areas
that you can cut costs in, so that you can start making a real difference to
your finances. You might even find some opportunities to reduce costs that you
never thought about before.
Banish High-Interest Debts
When you start looking at where your money is going each month, there’s a good chance that you’ll see some payments to debt companies in the mix. You might have some loans from places like MoneyWorld that you need to manage, or credit card debts. If that’s the case, take a look at the kind of interest rates that you’re paying, and see whether you can reduce the costs by consolidating your loans.
Consolidating your existing debts into something less
expensive can be a good way to keep costs low. The less you have to spend on
interest, the more you have to put away towards your savings at the end of each
Make Saving Automatic
Why not make saving cash in 2020 an easier process? One of
the main problems that people have with saving these days, is that they forget
to put money into their savings account after they’re finished paying for all
their debts and other bills.
However, if you turn saving into an automatic process, then
you’re less likely to forget about it. At the end of each month, arrange for an
amount of cash to transfer into your savings account. This will mean that you
don’t have to remember to make a deposit.
Additionally, if your money is automatically coming out of
your current account and into your savings account each month, you’ll be less
likely to spend it. As soon as you check your bank statement, the money you would
have spent will already be gone.
Use the 24-Hour Rule
Are you a victim of impulse
buying? It’s easy to get that way these days. Purchasing things online and
offline is easier than ever thanks to things like one-click purchasing. To
reduce your risk of buyer’s remorse, go to all your favorite websites online
and remove your personal details from them. Once you’ve done that, you’ll have
to go and find your credit and debit cards whenever you want to make a
This will help you to stick to the rules that you set for
yourself about how long you need to leave before making a purchase. For
instance, most experts recommend giving yourself 24 hours to think about any
significant purchase of more than about $20. You can reduce that cap if you
need to, as well.