Saturday, August 30, 2008

Everybody's Gettin Hitched

I think every single person we know just might be getting married this summer. And it is great. Why, you ask? Well, it just so happens that other-people's-weddings are a great excuse to buy new dresses. ("But Steven! What am I going to wear to the wedding?")

DSC_7906

This particular wedding was for my friend Aja from work. She picked a lovely outdoor ampitheater at an old historic railroad site in Pennsylvania.

DSC_7904

The day was gorgeous - bright and sunny. The ceremony started, and the groomsmen and bridesmaids lined up, looking smart in black and red.

DSC_7923

Aja looked lovely walking down toward the ceremony - her flowers were gerber daisies and dahlias in a deep, dark red. I settled into my seat and got ready to watch the ceremony.

DSC_7929

And then I blinked.

DSC_7939
Man and wife!

Aja officially wins the award for Shortest-Wedding-Ever. I timed it. Nine minutes. It was totally awesome.

DSC_7940

We told Aja after the ceremony that it was the quickest ceremony we'd ever been to. She said, "I know! Isn't that fantastic?!" And that, my friends, is why we all love her.

DSC_7950

Since the wedding was so fast, Steven and I had some time to kill before the reception started, so we decided to explore downtown Ebensburg, PA.

DSC_7969
We were welcomed.

Steven was interested in seeing the guitars in the electronics store, but alas, it was not open. On a Saturday. At 4 PM.

DSC_7956

So, we settled for the antiques stores, instead.

DSC_7962
Some folks were born made to wave the flag, ooh that red white and blue.

In said antique store, we discovered that with a little modification, we could personalize all of the Pittsburgh football paraphernalia.

DSC_7964

Our little picture-fest also piqued the curiosity of the locals. I guess its not every day you see a couple walking around in full wedding-dress-up, taking pictures.

DSC_7957
Hi. Don't mind the tourists.


After our tour of Everything Ebensburg, we made it to the reception and found our table.

DSC_7996

The newlyweds had a dance.

DSC_7998

And the been-married-for-nearly-half-a-decade folks decided that they, too, should have a dance.

DSC_8019
What? Dance? You talking to me?

Oh, and did we ever.

DSC_8029

And, much like the old married people we are, we grew tired at about 9:00 PM and decided it was time to bid the partygoers adieu. (Plus, my abs hurt from doing The Twist.)

Congratulations, Aja and Preston, on a lovely, speedy wedding, and a very fun reception! We had a blast.

------------------------------

And for the record, I do intend to post about our new VP Candidate, Sarah Palin. Suffice for now to say that I am very excited and quite inspired by her ability to achieve this level of political office, especially as a woman and a mother of five! If she can do it, then so can I. And mark my words. I just might run for office someday. Politics needs someone who can dance a mean Twist.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dinner for One

When Steven told me (at around noon today) that he had scheduled a Guys' BBQ Night for tonight, I immediately started brainstorming about dinner for me, myself, and I.

DSC_8040

I had been presented with a rare opportunity -- the opportunity to cook something, anything, without having to ensure that Steven would (a) like it or (b) eat it. (These are often mutually exclusive, as he has agreed to eat several of my rather inventive dishes that he didn't actually like...)

DSC_8037

About ten minutes before I left work, I realized that I wanted something that tasted like late-summer, early-fall. Its been a bit cooler outside in the mornings when I walk the dogs these days, and I'm so excited for the leaves to change, I can hardly stand it. But alas, with the end of summer goes the end of my tomato plants, so best to use them up now, while they are super ripe and delicious.

DSC_8034

I googled one of my favorite go-to food bloggers -- Smitten Kitchen -- and searched for "tomatoes" in her site.

Bingo.

DSC_8043

The recipe had all the right ideas -- very few ingredients, quick prep, and plenty of fresh, summery tomatoes. (Never mind that she posted the recipe in December. It just means I can eat this dish year-round.)

DSC_8049

And oh. Oh. My. Word. The finished result was unspeakably good. The tomatoes were bright and tangy, and the arugula was so fresh, and the garlic and onions blended perfectly.

DSC_8058

It was seriously amazing.

DSC_8057

The only thing I would have changed is this -- when Deb from Smitten Kitchen originally made it, she made pasta from scratch.

DSC_8046

And that is definitely next on my list.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Business As Usual and a Note to the DNC

Okay. After this one, I swear I'm all out of freshly finished knits. Promise.

DSC_7868

Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton Ease, in Maize
Pattern: Trellis by
Available at: Knitty.com
Needles: US 4

DSC_7865

This little guy sat on the needles for at least a year. I couldnt bring myself to finish up the collar. It seemed too daunting.

DSC_7863

(It really wasn't. At all. I should stop letting knitting scare me so.)

DSC_7864

Again, not sure where this one is headed. Any takers?

-------------------------------

As an aside, I have a brief message to share with the People Who Plan The Democratic National Convention:

Dear Democratic Planning Committee People,

Quit putting all the boring stuff first. Give us the big speeches at like 8 PM, and make the boring people go later. We are all very tired from working so hard to pay our taxes and provide for your welfare system, and in return for all our hard work, we just want to see a couple interesting speeches before 10 PM rolls around. Could you please tell Joey from the Labor Union that his speech, while important, does not necessarily need to go first?

Let's shake things up a bit, O' Party of Change. Change up the speakers' schedule so we can catch your talking points and still get a good 8 hours of snooze time, k? Otherwise, I'm stuck at the water cooler tomorrow, talking about how compelling a speech the Illinois State Treasurer gave.

And nobody wants that. Seriously.

(To be fair to the DNC, it was a nice moment to see Ted Kennedy on stage. While I disagree with absolutely every single word that comes out of his mouth, its always inspirational to see someone courageously fighting cancer, no matter what political party they stand for. Also, and in keeping with my prior post, I secretly wanted to be Maria Shriver, too.)

(Back in the days when she looked less skeletal, that is.)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Those Were The Days...

Watching the Olympics on TV reminds me of the summer I turned fifteen. I lived in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympic Games, and it was during that fateful summer when I experienced my first high school crush.

Something about his voice, the way he talked. And, of course, that perfect part in his hair. I was totally, crazily, madly in love...

With Bob Costas.

He'd only done one prior Olympics before he came to cover the Atlanta Olympics. Everyone was still talking about him, talking about how great it was that he was doing all the Olympic coverage. I watched him talk about Stone Mountain, Lake Lanier and Centennial Park, and I pointed at all the landmarks I recognized. (As an aside, I was actually in Centennial Park when the bomb went off. We weren't anywhere near the bomb site, thank God, but we were there, nonetheless, headed back to MARTA for the long trip home.)

When we went to see the Dream Team play (not the original Dream Team, but the one with Shaq and Hakeem Olajuwon), I kept checking the stands around me, hoping he'd make a surprise cameo in the crowd.

And now, watching the Beijing Olympics and seeing Bob Costas, I'm instantly transported back to my pre-drivers-license days. Everybody drank Coca-Cola and I wore my XXL "Atlanta '96!" sweatshirt proudly as I watched Kerri Strug make her one-footed landing. (Oversized sweatshirts were apparently all the rage in Georgia in July. Not sure why. Overzealous air conditioning, perhaps?)

I then watched every single rerun as Costas interviewed Kerri and Bela (whose voices were at least 8 octaves apart), and between Costas and my other unrequited adolescent crush, Peter Jennings, I decided that I was destined to be on TV, just like them.

I started watching the local and national news channels religiously. I practiced talking like the anchors and gazing knowledgeably into the camera as I read my script. And lest you think this was just a fad during the Summer of '96, I give you my college major:

Broadcast Journalism.

But, alas, life has an interesting way of working itself out, and after plenty of hours put in at a couple TV stations, I started to realize that Costas and Jennings had some pretty sweet, very rare gigs. And the rest of them? The mass of broadcast journalists lead lives of quiet desperation. (Or something like that.)

Long and often late-night hours for little pay to be a TV reporter meant that my dream of co-anchoring the 2004 Olympics with my good pal Bob was likely not going to happen. So I hung up my Katie Couric hat and moved on.

And I'm happy doing what I get to do now. Court is interesting and even sometimes exhilirating, especially when you're confronted with an on-the-spot argument and you've got to think on your feet. I even like drafting documents in the office -- it appeals to the picky wordsmith in me.

But every once in a while, when I flip past NBC and I see Bob sitting there in his crisp white linen chair, grinning beguilingly into the camera, I feel a twinge of hope that someday, just maybe, I'll still land that dream TV job. And then me and Bob can sit around and read prompter scripts about the good old days in '96.

Ah, Bob Costas. You haven't aged a day since Atlanta in 1996, and you'll always remind me of a summer filled with Space Ghost, cloned sheep, Oasis, that unforgettable dial-up modem sound, the newness of this crazy thing called the "internet" and most importantly, the Olympics in my hometown. Thanks for the memories.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cowl-le-lujah.

Remember my hankering for Fall?

DSC_7880

Hasn't gone away yet. But I did finish the cowl.

Pattern: Hello Yarn's Cherry Garcia
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay 100% wool (I must love this stuff)
Needles: US 8

Verdict? Very cute but sort of makes me look like a turtle.

DSC_7877

Which I am certain will make me extremely happy and warm in January.

DSC_7872

I have grand plans for about fifty more of these, in every possible color. I officially heart cowls.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

You Slouch!

Its almost like this is a knitting blog lately. (Which is sort of why I started it, but not really what its become -- its more of an amalgamation of all the different parts of our lives, all jumbled together into random pictures and bits. Yeah, that's right, an amalgamation. That's worth at least twenty-five cents.)

DSC_7881

Pattern: Le Slouch
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay 100% wool
Needles: US 8
Degree of Slouchiness: Just right.

DSC_7892

One-hundred percent wool was one-hundred percent delightful in the August afternoon sun. I suffer for my art. Really, I do.

DSC_7893

Also, I can't decide if this hat is uber-hip, or just kind of slovenly-looking.

DSC_7895

Depends on the angle, I suppose.

DSC_7894

On an unrelated note, Steven and I have finally pulled the trigger and called our local bank to get pre-qualified for a mortgage loan. We were rather nervous about it, given the tremendously high prices for homes in this area and our not-so-tremendously high incomes. Would we qualify for enough? How much was enough? Would we qualify for anything? What is this scary downpayment thing people keep bringing up? Would we have to live in an apartment forever? All these questions!

You can all breathe a little easier tonight, knowing that the Steele family will not remain in these here 600 square feet indefinitely. No! We will be free at last! (Well, as free as you can get with a 30-year mortgage hanging around your neck. :) But I digress.)

We pre-qualified for plenty more than we had anticipated. After we thanked the mortgage guy and hung up the phone, we promptly proceeded to do a happy dance, which likely served to upset our downstairs neighbor.

And then I put on my fabulously slouchy hat and gazed out into the distant yonder, dreaming of gourmet kitchens, second bedrooms, and backyard gardens that aren't three stories up.

DSC_7888

I think all future homeowners wear wool hats on their apartment balconies in August in celebration of qualifying to succumb to an unspeakable amount of mortgage debt. It just seems like the right thing to do.

No, Seriously. I May Have a Problem, Here.

Remember when I told you that I could potentially have a baby sweater addiction?

DSC_7843

I wasn't kidding. Its starting to get dangerous.

DSC_7846

This post could alternatively be titled: Elizabeth Zimmerman is a genius. Back in 1968, she wrote up this pattern, and its still wildly popular today. And I can see why.

DSC_7845

The little suckers go like lightning.

Baby Surprise Jacket, by Elizabeth Zimmerman
(Available in The Opinionated Knitter or directly from Schoolhouse Press)

DSC_7847
Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock - Rainbow

Steven says this one looks "festive" and possibly "southwestern."

DSC_7848

It still needs buttons. And a kid to put it on.

DSC_7851

The one below is a deeper blue than the picture even shows. I love the color. I only did three buttonholes at the top of this one, instead of five along the edge like I did in the Rainbow one.

DSC_7852
Colinette Jitterbug - Midnight Blue

I could possibly gift this less-southwestern-looking version to a pregnant friend who is ready to pop, but I'm not sure what gender her baby will be. And I don't know how she'd feel dressing a little girl in such a dark blue. Maybe I could girl-ify it with a ribbon or pink buttons or something.

DSC_7841

Step one. Acknowledge that you have a problem.

DSC_7842

I think we're making significant progress.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Might As Well Face It

I'm trying not to get in the habit of making a new baby sweater for my niece every time we go down to visit my family. After all, my rather large family just keeps getting bigger, and if I start setting a precedent of showing up with new handknits for babies, what began as one quick sweater could easily turn into an assembly line reminiscent of Detroit. I run the substantial risk of setting myself up for disaster once my other brothers start having their own little families. The thought of twins makes me shudder, and when I flip past Jon and Kate Plus Eight, I start to break out in hives. (Must. Make. Six. Tiny. Identical. Sweaters. Right. Now.)

DSC_7695

My obsession with tiny knitted things could eventually cause me to forsake gainful employment and instead sit around all day, experimenting with all manner of baby yarns and patterns, my need for unending cuteness growing so mighty that, like kudzu, it covers everything in its tracks and whisks away my last remaining strands of sanity...

DSC_7694

I think the best thing to do in these situations is to submit to the magnetic pull of the unbearably adorable. Enter my latest fall off the wagon:

DSC_7693

Yarn: Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece (2 skeins)
Pattern: Little Sister’s Dress (by Tora Froseth)
(pattern available on her blog as a free PDF download)

DSC_7692

I figure the faster I can knit it up and get it out of my system, the easier it will be to resist the siren song of the next painfully cute baby knit, right? Better to send this little sweater out into the world, where it can be properly worn and loved, than to horde all the cutest baby knits in a jumbled pile of tiny buttons and sleeves in my overstuffed closet, causing raised eyebrows from Steven.

S: “Why are there ten baby sweaters in our closet?”

H: “Oh, honey, don’t be silly. Those are obviously dog sweaters.”

S: “What about these mittens? This hat? And for goodness sake, the booties, Heather?”

H: “Um… Uh…I don’t know what you’re talking about. Those aren’t mine! Someone must have planted baby booties in our closet to frame me! How maddening!”

S: Rolls his eyes.

H: Goes back to trolling the internets for more cute baby sweaters.

DSC_7691

Hope you enjoy the sweater, Riley. And please pay no mind if I overload you with knitted things in the first year of your existence. I’m looking into a 12-step program for that. In the meantime, please ask your mom and dad to have you tested for any wool allergies. You know, just in case 90 lbs of woolen outerwear happens to arrive on your doorstep this Christmas. Or something.