Celebrating Halloween and Samhain with this gorgeous cemetery photoshoot and my favorite things about Halloween.
Honestly the best part of Halloween is the weather. It is finally cooler outside after the scorching summer heat and humidity. The leaves are beautiful colors of orange, red and yellow. With the sun setting so early and the continuous fall breeze, it adds to the eerie elements of the holiday. Not to mention the delightful smell of dead leaves and the earth cooling.
Halloween is the only holiday I decorate for, which means I tend to go a little overboard with shopping. Walking into numerous stores and seeing all the creepy black, orange and white-colored decor really gets me going. I am not much for the gory, horror side of Halloween, but I prefer the black cats and owls!
Classic Halloween Movies
The Nightmare Before Christmas, Hocus Pocus, Beetlejuice, Halloweentown, The Craft, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina…I could go on, but I adore creepy movies such as these. There are so many Halloween movies to watch it is hard to fit them in all in one month, which is why I watch them all year round!
It’s that time of the year where brands have launched their fall items and this year’s trends are hitting the stores and the web. I rounded up a few fall items that I absolutely want to buy this fall. Some of these are staples and some of them are trends.
Over the Knee Suede Boots
That’s right I still do not own a pair of these although they have been a staple for many for years! This year I’m going to change that. I have extra-wide calves so I have a hard time finding boots that fit. I plan on checking out Torrid as they sell extra wide calf boots.
Another staple item! I’ve wanted a trench coat for a long time but I never bought one because to me a trench coat is an investment piece. In order for me to get a good quality coat, I have a budget of $125 and plan to check out Banana Republic and Nordstrom Rack.
Animal print is really hot right now and it’s actually a comeback. I remember in college leopard and zebra print were a thing and then it faded away. Now it’s back again and I am hoping to update my closet with some leopard print booties.
Wide Leg Jeans/Pants
I avoided the wide leg pant craze all summer because I was afraid it wouldn’t fit well with my body type. However, after consistently seeing so many different body shapes wearing these I figured I would give it a shot.
Button Up Shirts
Again another staple item I do not own. I have stayed clear of button-up collared shirts because they always seemed boring and too business casual for me. Thanks to the rise of fashion on social media I have been inspired by so many unique ways to style these shirts and can’t wait to try it out
That is my top five for this season! Of course, I will keep everyone updated when I find my essentials and share with you where I purchased them. Let me know in the comments below what you fall essentials are for this year?
Below are my top five things to avoid when visiting Pittsburgh to experience the city like a real yinzer.
After living in Pittsburgh for 10 years and venturing all over the city, I feel confident in advising visitors of the city of bridges what is worth seeing and what isn’t.
Some things you may come across when researching your trip to Pittsburgh are tourist traps and generally regarded as such by the locals. By following the below, you can save yourself time and money on your trip.
DON’T Go to Primanti’s
Since starting college in Pittsburgh in 2009 and then officially moving here, people from my hometown and others from outside of Pittsburgh consistently bring up Primanti’s.
They want to know how great their infamous sandwich is and explain that they always wanted to go there. Even my dad couldn’t resist the heaping pile of coleslaw, fries and meat all squished on one sandwich.
Seriously though…THE SANDWICHES ARE REALLY NOT THAT GOOD…I REPEAT THEY ARE NOT GOOD!
Yes, that right I stabbed the number one Pittsburgh food icon right in the heart. The whole sandwich ends up being a mess. The coleslaw isn’t good, the fries are bland and the italian bread is dry and tasteless.
Honestly, the best thing I ever had at Primantis was chicken tenders, which I found out are not even served at all locations. The rest of the menu has your run of the mill bar food which also isn’t good.
I would say overall a Primanti’s experience is overrated and highly lacking in delicious food.
My advice is to skip the messy, tasteless sandwich and eat elsewhere.
DON’T Plan on Spending Days Downtown
Most cities have a thriving downtown or center city with tons of things to do and see…at least in my experience. Don’t expect that coming to Pittsburgh. There is literally a tiny, tiny portion of Downtown worth seeing and the town is practically dead after people go home from work.
The cultural district, Market Square and Point State Park are the only appealing spots, but strolling your way through these areas will not even fill up a whole day of sightseeing.
I lived downtown while in college and have worked downtown ever since I moved here and I avoid downtown like the plague.
There isn’t shopping or any grocery stores. In my opinion, the area is dirty and sketchy. Avoid walking on Wood Street and Smithfield Street if possible as those are streets are the least safe and offer little for food or sightseeing.
DON’T Waste Time at a Pirates Games
Unless you are a baseball fan, AVOID SEEING A PIRATES GAME! Don’t get me wrong the stadium is beautiful and the view isn’t bad either, but you will waste lots of time and money here if baseball isn’t your thing.
DO NOT go to Southside
If there is only one thing you take away from this list it is this one. STAY FAR FAR AWAY FROM SOUTHSIDE. Especially if you are coming here as a family with children…Southside is not for you.
Southside has a ton of bars, tattoo shops, music venues, and nightlife clubs. If you happened to venture there at night you will likely be surrounded by hundreds of drunks who are vomiting, urinating and fighting on the sidewalks and in the streets. If you make your way there in the daytime you will likely see trash and weaves tumbling down East Carson Street.
On the other hand, if you like to take a walk on the wild side then maybe Southside is the place for you or at least a place to have an interesting experience.
DO NOT mistake the Inclines as tourist attractions
Mt Washington has great views of the city and one of the easiest and most popular ways to get there is by taking the incline at Station Square. As someone visiting the city please keep in mind the incline is not a tourist attraction. It is considered public transportation and many Pittsburghers take the incline to work every day.
I suggest taking the incline outside of rush hour or on the weekend so you have space to watch out the windows as the incline takes you up to the overlook.
Now that you know what NOT to do when visiting Pittsburgh why not check out the top five must-sees in Pittsburgh!
I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the autumn season and the fall traditions that have been apart of my life since I was a child.
I hope that my fall traditions will inspire you to create or add to your own!
Fall is my favorite time of year and of course, Halloween/Samhain is my favorite holiday (my birthday is also in October…yay) so I am really excited to share these ideas with you!
Childhood Fall Traditions
I have fond memories as a child in the backyard of the house I grew up in. We had huge maple and chestnut trees in the backyard. The chestnuts would fall off the trees and litter the ground with sharp, spiky burs. We would have to wear gloves to pick them up or sometimes we would use a shovel. It was quite the family ordeal. My grandparents lived beside us and they would come out and help too. We would dig the chestnut out of its spiky casing and collect them in a bucket.
Once we had all the sharp burs picked up from the chestnut tree we would rake up the leaves from all three trees into huge piles that my brother and I would jump into.
The best part of the whole thing was when my mom and dad would buy us the jack-o-lantern leaf bags. We would fill them up and then sit them in the front yard as Halloween decorations.
Pumpkin carving was a staple too. My dad would really get into the carving and he would buy the biggest pumpkins and wow us with his skills. He always prepared the pumpkins for us by doing the big slicing and gutting.
Most years we had handmade costumes. My grandmother was a skilled seamstress and made us all sorts of cool things. She would take me to Joann Fabrics and have me pick out what costume I wanted for the year. She even made costumes for my mom when she was little and some of them I ended up wearing.
I can remember a few costumes she made: a pink poodle skirt ( I was obsessed with Grease), a Luke Skywalker costume for my brother, and a dual costume for my brother and I as Raggedy Anne and Andy.
One year mom and dad even dressed up to go trick or treating with us. Dad put on a black hood cape and carried a real scythe and posed as the grim reaper. While my mom dressed up as Catwoman.
My brother and I always liked trick or treat night to be a big show. We considered it to be a success if there were tons of kids walking through our neighborhood going door to door.
Once we started getting older along with the other kids who lived around us the nostalgia started fading. It seemed like fewer children were knocking at the door.
I can still picture the decorations my mom put out every year. She made gravestones to put in the yard and posterboard ghosts to put in the window. My absolute favorite is her a collection of ceramic haunted houses and the little village on top of the piano.
Adult Fall Traditions
When I first moved out on my own I didn’t keep up with or start any fall traditions because I was a broke college graduate in a small apartment. The only thing I did was order pizza, drink and watch movies on Halloween.
Now that I am older and more settled, I have slowly started traditions of my own. From baking to watching movies, almost every weekend in fall is booked.
Below, I have listed all of the traditions I have now and the new ones I am adding this year.
Every year I bake a pumpkin pie and apple pie. I absolutely love pumpkin with cool whip on top. Truly, I would eat the whole pie myself if I wouldn’t feel so guilty about it later.
I like to bake right before Halloween when I first start craving these seasonal treats. Baking at this time also holds me over on the pie cravings until Thanksgiving.
Home Decor Shopping & Decorating
Last year was the first year I went shopping for Halloween decor and boy did I splurge! I went again this year and picked up even more cool stuff.
I end up decorating my house twice in the fall. Once for Halloween and then I take the Halloween stuff down and put out things that are more fall/Thanksgiving related.
Since my boyfriend and I started dating we have made it a habit to go to Trax Farm to get pumpkins, gourds, and apples.
Trax is great because it also is a grocery store where you can get amazing apple cider, wine, produce, baked goods, and more.
On weekends they have a fall festival that offers hayrides, a corn maze, and a chance to pick your pumpkins right off the vine.
Normally, I just grab pumpkins right out of the bins and skip the festival part, but this year we are taking his nieces with us to pick out their own pumpkins and go on the hayride.
What would fall season be without watching a classic fall-themed movie?
My number 1 go-to movie during this time of year is Hocus Pocus. There are so many others I enjoy watching as well.
New this Year
This year I am adding three fall traditions onto my long list!
A Fall Feast
The biggest tradition I am adding is having a Samhain/Halloween feast.
If you are unfamiliar with Samhain it is a pagan festival that marked the end of the harvest and the descent into the dark half of the year.
Many of our contemporary Halloween traditions derived from this ancient festival.
The feast features seasonal foods and spices such as pumpkins, apples, root vegetables, allspice, and rosemary.
Thank you so much for checking out Some Roots Wander! I am super excited to start this blog and this journey. I am full of so many ideas and feel so optimistic about this blog and its potential.
A Little Bit About Me
I’m Rachel, the creator of Some Roots Wander.
I’m 29 years old and live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with my boyfriend and two cats.
I am a coffee connoisseur, crazy cat lady, and a Scorpio.
I am obsessed with shopping, owls, history and antique finds.
I curse like a sailor, enjoy nature and love to cook and bake.
My passion for visual and fine arts began in high school where I studied videography, photography, and design.
I briefly attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh for Video Production and then transferred to Point Park University. At Point Park, I obtained a bachelor of arts in broadcast production and programming.
Since graduating I have worked at Starbucks and Verizon Wireless. For the past three years, I have worked at a local health insurance company.
Although I didn’t end up in a creative field as I had imagined, I still try to keep art as a hobby. Additionally, I try to volunteer at local museums to keep my creative juices flowing.
Not So New Blogger
That’s right…I am not a new blogger. In fact, this is my fourth blog. Blogging has changed so much since my first blog and back then I had no idea what I was doing.
First off, none of my past blogs were self-hosted which means I had very little customization options. I definitely never monetized any of those blogs or even dreamed about using my blog to make money.
Second, I didn’t treat those blogs as a business and never invested any money into them. I wrote posts when I had time and wrote about whatever I wanted. I never put a thought into writing for an audience. I was only writing for myself.
Lastly, Pinterest was literally just starting when I was blogging. I remember being accepted into Pinterest and no one knowing anything about it. Pinterest marketing was literally non-existent.
Below are the first three blogs I had. All three still exist. I plan to keep them up as a reminder of who I was in college and where I started from.
Serious Writings on Blogger
This was the first blog and I posted papers from college as well as diary entries and rants. I did the bare minimum on this blog as far as customization.
Split Ends to Turning a New Page
Originally this blog was to be a duo with me and my best friend from high school. She was attending college in Philadelphia and I was in Pittsburgh (hence the title split ends…Philly and Pitt are opposite ends of Pennsylvania).
We planned on talking about our college experiences in this blog. However, my friend didn’t keep up with it, so I renamed it to Turning A New Page.
Once solo, I wrote about my experience in college, fashion, DIY and random rants or diary-type entries. Prior to Some Roots Wander, this was the blog I put the most effort into.
Coffee, Art, and Baking
This is a blog I started after college when I was living in my first apartment and working at Starbucks. At the time, coffee, art, and baking were my three main hobbies so that’s what I wanted to blog about. I posted twice and then lost focus.
The Start of Some Roots Wander
Some Roots Wander has been in the works for 2-3 years. Originally, I started researching how to start a blog on Pinterest in early 2017. I wanted to understand how to make money from blogging. I also wanted to know how to create the picture-perfect blog I dreamed about in college.
In 2018 my co-worker came up with the name Some Roots Wander after I was describing to her the vision I had for the blog (thanks Kelly)!
Despite all of the research, preparation and two written blog posts, I never pulled the trigger on actually creating it.
Then one day in July of this year, I just decided to go for it. I started making a list of blog post ideas, started writing, growing my Instagram following, creating images and putting everything together.
Why Did I Start This Blog
One of the main goals of Some Roots Wander is earning side income…eventually. Right now I do not work with any affiliates or advertising. I didn’t jump right into this because I wanted to make blogging a habit before committing to making it business.
But when I do move to that direction the ultimate goal is to take revenue from my blog to invest in additional sources of revenue such as rental or AirBnB properties. Like many bloggers earning enough from both income sources to quit my office job would be a dream come true.
Channeling My Creativity
Working in an office for 8 hours gives me serious mental burnouts. I sit at a cubicle all day and stare into a computer screen which can be mentally draining at times. I find it very hard to incorporate my creativity and personality into my job.
Starting this blog is a way to incorporate all of the artsy, creative talents I have and rediscovering them. I am really excited to be getting back into visual communications again.
I hope to help, inspire or entertain other people out there that feel they can relate to me.
Most of the time I feel like bloggers or influencers are not relatable because so many of them are moms or don’t have the same fashion style as me or are thin or petite or have different lifestyle views than me. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of those things, but like in real life it’s hard to relate to someone online that isn’t of the same mindset.
Perhaps this blog could lead to a community of like-minded people sharing their thoughts and helping each other navigate through life.
Tips From Someone Who Recently Flew for the First Time
In June I took my first ever plane ride from Pittsburgh to Boston. After my experience, research and advice I have compiled the best tips for a first-time flyer.
First off, let me say I was REALLY nervous about flying. Of course, I heard stories over the years about how terrible getting through security is and how some TSA officers yell at you and like to overuse their authority.
I did a lot of research on Pinterest and online about flying trying to find tips and tricks. I also sought out advice from friends and family who have flown before.
The information I researched and received was a bit overwhelming and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. After it was all said and done I felt really silly because I was anxious over nothing and it was much easier than I had expected. However, there are a few things I will do differently next time and some things I wish I would have done to make my flight easier.
In my research, everyone said to have a neck pillow and it was there “must-have” item. I do not own a neck pillow and felt that it was an unnecessary expense for an hour and a 20-minute flight. IMMEDIATELY regretted that once I got into my seat and tried to get comfy and realized that the headrest was completely uncomfortable. Definitely get a neck pillow for comfort. They sell them at the airport which can be pricey but I have found them at Amazon, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, etc.
Wear shoes you can get off and on easily
Okay so before getting to the airport I knew I would have to take my shoes off to go through the metal detector. I also knew I didn’t want to wear sandals, flip flops or anything that didn’t require socks because I didn’t want to walk barefoot on a floor where tons of people walk because ewwwwwww. I wore my lace-up vans and while it was not a huge waste of time I felt awkward trying to get all my stuff off of the conveyor belt, put all my stuff back in my bag and put my shoes on. Next time I fly I will likely wear slip on vans with no shoe socks.
Have your ID, ticket And hygiene bag out while waiting in line
My mom told me to make sure to have my ID and ticket out while waiting in line for security and I did. I also didn’t print a ticket or pick one up from a desk and used the Delta app on my phone which saved me time. I would recommend to take out your clear hygiene bag, take your belt off, take your watches/jewelry, wallet, anything you can hold in your hands while waiting to get in line to go through security screenings because this saves time. Some people are in a rush to get through security so this helps alleviate tension from impatient people behind you.
Even if you have a short flight, take Dramamine. I was told I probably wouldn’t need to take Dramamine for a short flight…WRONG. I get migraines and within 15 minutes of being on the plane, I got a nasty migraine that lasted the whole flight and took about an hour to get rid of once we landed. Some people do not get motion sickness or migraines like me, but if you have never flown before I would take it just in case.
Wear layers and comfortable clothes
Another tip I received from frequent flyers was to wear a jacket or sweatshirt because typically airplanes are cold. Both flights were extremely hot. I was sweating. The plane was also small, cramped and completely booked. It was very uncomfortable. Make sure to wear something comfy and breathable on your flight. Don’t worry about looking glamorous. Also, bring a jacket in case it is cold. A jacket can double as a blanket too!
These five tips are the most important takeaways from my first experience with flying. As I continue to fly, I will gain insights to add on to this list. If you have any newbie flyer tips feel free to share them below in the comments!