Tuesday, May 26, 2009

On The Upswing

Its been a rough week around these here parts, folks . . .

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Our little champion, Carlie, spent Sunday afternoon at the emergency vet after a lump on her leg (this is gross, so if you are eating, don't read any further...) ruptured and started oozing.

Ick. So, we went to the vet and she got it lopped off. (The lump, not her leg.)

Don't worry, they gave her some really good drugs. She'll be fine -- she's already on the mend.

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We've also spent the last week dealing with some work stresses (mostly on my end, and Steven's just been dealing with a stressed-out me, which (as we all know from past experience - read: bar exams) is not much fun at all) and some car stresses. Nothing serious with the car, just an annoyance that needed repair.

And, as of today, relationships are being resolved and repaired at work, so that will be improving shortly as well.

So, what do you do when it feels like your car, dog, and job are all falling apart?

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Plant hydrangeas, of course. What else? (Okay, or go shoe shopping. Or maybe bake an enormous batch of brownies and sit in front of the television watching reruns of Jon and Kate Plus Eight, lamenting the "good old days" when the kids were younger, Jon was his happy, dopey self, and Kate just seemed overly organized, not vicious.)

(And yes, we bought the "cheap" hydrangeas.)

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I am confident that with a little love and a lot of plant food, these babies will grow as tall as my window box and be brimming with beautiful flowers. (Send them some good growing vibes, will ya?)

As I wandered around Home Depot on Monday, moping about my sad state of affairs and wishing like crazy that I could just wish away all the stress and ick, I spotted some really pretty pink flowers that looked perfect for the containers on the porch.

When I got them home and planted them, I realized what they were:

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Impatiens.

(I think Somebody Up There is trying to teach me something, perhaps . . .)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Spontaneous Music Video

Hello all. Steven reporting. Heather was much too tired from a stressful week at the office to post a new blog entry, so I decided to fill in. 

Tonight we were both sitting on the couch and relaxing. Heather was staring at her emails and surfing the web, while I had my trusty guitar out singing some Ryan Adams tunes. Well, I turned on the video recorder (which is conveniently installed on my Macbook) and this is what happened. 

It's a bummer that we couldn't upload the whole song, but here's a taste:



I was hoping Heather would chime in and start singing the harmonies, and sure enough, she did.  Sorry for the random moments of tuning issues, as we do not do this for a living. Not yet anyway. Also, we work 50 hour weeks. Its tough to carry a tune after a long day at the office. :)


Here's the real thing once you have watched our version. 

Enjoy!

Steven



Sunday, May 17, 2009

More Social Than We've Been In Months...

So apparently, there are people in this world who, after they get home from work, leave their houses again, on purpose, to see other people. They call it "hanging out" or "socializing." Sometimes it is also referred to as "small group."

I know, crazy, right? I mean, once I hit my couch after dinner, my rear end is planted there for the rest of the evening. That whole "spending time with other folks" thing? Its rare 'round these parts.

And as it turns out, its really something we ought to be doing more often. Because its a heck of a lot of fun.

(In retrospect, I really super really extra really wish that I'd gotten a clear picture of Steven's shirt that he purchased for the church softball game. He needed a red shirt, so we went to the discount mart and bought one for like $6.99. It says "From Hunky to Chunky." Awesome.)

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Despite the threatening storms and turbulent winds, the Softball Wives Cheering Section did our best to stay warm and dry on the bleachers. In addition to Jenny's waterproof fleece blanket, which was a total lifesaver, I also ate half a bag of Sour Jelly Belly jellybeans to sustain my body temperature at optimal levels. (Jelly Belly is a panacea for all types of situations. Were you not aware of this?)

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I got distracted a few times during the game by the invariable cuteness of a knit-adorned kid. (I am told the sweater is from The Gap. I took notes for the knit stash anyway. Cute pink border on the hood, raglan sleeve, random colorful stripeyness. Love it.)

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Even though our fearless hubbies showed up for the softball practice as required, they still had to sit the bench for two innings each. Steven spent his bench time chatting it up with his newfound Twins' fan friend Tom. There is nothing like talking Kirby with someone who really knows what that magic Game 6 catch was all about.

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Josh and Steven were both rather convinced that the team wouldn't win. It wasn't pessimism as much as it was just, well, being realistic. However, the Autumn Ridge Sandlot team defied all odds and, with the strong bat of Josh Mulvihill and the diving catches of Steven Steele, won their first game.

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Steven, as you might expect, came home with two proudly skinned knees.

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After the game, we went out to Twiddle Binky's (or some name that sounds rather like that -- Whistle Dinky? Fiddle Tinky? Oh who knows.) for popcorn and fried squeaky cheese. And the Twins game was even on TV at the restaurant! Turns out they televise the Twins games on regular TV in Minnesota!

Wonders never cease.

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Looking back, I realized that our weekend in Minnesota was more social than we've been in months here at home. So, the whole hanging out with friends thing -- we should totally do that more often. Its actually quite a bit more fun than sitting on my bum at the house, refreshing Facebook and listening to Simon Cowell blather on so. (Actually, that's also fun, but in a different, more anti-social way. We are sometimes shamelessly antisocial. I can admit it.)

Now off to find a softball team for Steven...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mothers Day and Minnesooot-ah!

For starters, Happy Mothers' Day, Mom(s)! Here's the Edible Arrangements we sent to my mom with lots of chocolate! Yum -- glad you liked it Mom!



We're actually in the frosty North right now, visiting Steven's family in Rochester, Minnesota. And we can't have a visit to the Land O' Lakes without going to . . . (you guessed it) . . .

The Metrodome.

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He could not possibly be more excited. Its like his baseball Mecca. See the glee on that face?

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For those of you who might not be quite as intimately acquainted with the happenings of the Minnesota Twins, this is their last year in the Metrodome stadium. They're building a new one, and get this: Its outdoors. Yes, in the land of forty-below temps, we've decided it would be a good idea to play baseball in the open air. I anticipate snow delays well into June. :) (You can sort of see what the new stadium will look like -- its painted on the wall behind Steven and his dad).

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(About twenty seconds after we took this picture, Tony Oliva himself came wandering out of the Twins' Executive Offices. Steven gasped and sputtered, "TONY OLIVA!" And Tony was very nice and gracious and came right over to shake his hand. Mr. Oliva then patted me on the back, which was awkward but also funny.)

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Hello world, I've just spent all day in a plane. Nothing says "photograph me" quite like airport hair.

So, of course, its a nostalgic visit for Steven, since this is potentially the last time he'll see the Twins play in the Dome. He cherished each millisecond as we sat in the Home Run Porch, for old times' sake.

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It was also nostalgic because our little nephew, Jay, got to experience his first-ever MLB game. Steven promised to buy him a foam finger. Jay was excited but also slightly nervous. (And the Metrodome is LOUD, too.)

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I think Steven really just wanted an excuse to buy a foam finger.

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To further compound Steven's elation, we managed to buy tickets for the exact row in which Kirby Puckett hit a monumental home run. (I forget why it was monumental, but they changed out the color of the chair, so it must have been something good. I'm sure Steven will fill us in on the details...)

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We actually managed to gather the entire Steele family together for this baseball game. Steven's sister Jenny and her husband Josh were there with their sons Jay and Asher, and Steven's older brother, Jeff was there with his girlfriend, Erin.

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Erin and I took turns holding Asher, who was adorable and extremely well behaved through the whole game. (He is clearly a future baseball fan.)

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To sugar coat the whole night, the Twins absolutely stomped the Mariners that night, and Steven caught a ball (as he always somehow manages to do). I bet you know who he gave it to...

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Bye bye, Metrodome. You did us proud, and we'll miss you.

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

In Which I Learn How To Use The Television

Last weekend, I woke up early on Saturday morning while Steven was still asleep. It was gorgeous out, and I sat on the porch and polished off a piping hot cup of coffee and flipped through the newspaper.

Ahh. What a morning. What else should I do before Steven gets up and we're busy with errands? I thought about going for a run, but I was kinda sore from running earlier.

And then it hit me. Ooh! Yoga DVD!

And then it also hit me. I don't know how to turn on our television. (And I certainly don't know how to make it play a DVD.)

You would think it wouldn't be difficult. Its just a television, right? And it sounds awfully embarrassing to admit that I can't operate such a simple thing.

Well, you just wait till I show you what it entails:

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Step one. Line up all of the required remote-controlling-paraphernalia. (And the DVD, just as a reminder of the ultimate goal.)

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Step two. Okay. Um. One of these has to turn the stupid thing on, right? I pushed the "power" button on all of them, and three in from the left, we have liftoff. The TV flashes to life, but the screen is dark.

Step three. Figure out how to make it show the actual live TV picture. As I fumbled with the remotes, the TV gurgled again and a picture blinked on. I don't think I actually pressed any buttons to make that happen. I think it was just . . . thinking.

Step four. We have picture, but no sound. A different remote controls the speakers. Process of elimination in full gear, I pressed the power button on two of the remaining remotes. Nothing happened. On a hunch, I squinted at the speaker system in the TV hutch. It said Sony. I pressed a few buttons on the Sony remote again. We have sound!

After wrestling the Playstation out of the cabinet to finally discover the on-off switch located firmly at the BACK of the stupid thing, I shoved the whole system back into the cabinet and put in the DVD. The Playstation slurped up the disc hungrily, and I happily moved the remotes out of the way and got ready for my relaxing yoga session. (Keep in mind I've already invested nearly 20 minutes in getting this far.)

But no. There is no playing of the DVD, there is only Saturday morning infomercials.

What the heck?

A dim glimmer in the back of my brain says the word "input." Back when we had the old TV (and one remote, I might add), I remember having to change the input from TV to video. I pick up all the remotes again, and carefully pick up each one and press the "input" button.

And on the third remote, I was blessed with this:

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Oh dear God. What in tarnation is this? The TV was playing away, but the selection was on Video 6. And this is the part where I started to get angry.

Why is our TV rigged up in such a bizarre manner? Why do I have to perform detailed calculations of quantum physics involving four remote controls, one of which is a Playstation controller? WHY CAN'T I JUST PUT IN A DVD AND PRESS PLAY?!?

The idea of a relaxing morning yoga session was quickly fading as the steam spewed from my ears and nostrils. I sat down sharply on the floor and snatched up the remote again. This thing is not going to get me. I clicked through each option until I finally got to Video 7, which is, in fact, the input channel for our Playstation, which also plays our DVDs. (Please do not ask me about how I selected the "Play" option using the gaming controller. It is either the X or O button. I cannot discuss it without fuming again.)

One solid hour later, I finally vanquished the TV. Steven came wandering downstairs about halfway through the yoga set, and he yawns and says, "Oh, so you got the TV working? I thought you didn't know how?"

I glared at him as I balanced on the mat. "This TV is ridiculous, you know that? Its crazy and there are so many remotes, and . . . and . . . I don't want to talk about it. I am trying to be zen right now, okay?"

He shrugged and padded into the kitchen for a bowl of cereal.

Namaste, indeed.

Friday, May 1, 2009

I Grew This (And It Didn't Kill Me Yet)

Steven made a general announcement yesterday as he walked in the door.

"You know, they found salmonella in those seeds you bought."

"What seeds?"

"Those brussles sprouts. You're growing brussles sprouts in the garden, right?"

I gasped. "Oh no. Are you serious?"

"Yeah. Saw it on the news." He clicked on the TV nonchalantly and opened his laptop. I was frozen with grief. There goes the garden. All that hard work...

I was mentally working out how I would dig up the half-grown plants and reposition the other veggies when he nudged my elbow.

"Here, look at this." He turned the computer sideways to show me the screen. "See?"

I started to read the story aloud, and then stopped.

"Alfalfa sprouts?" I did a double take. "Babe, I didn't plant any alfalfa sprouts."

"Oh." He looked slightly dismayed. The plot had unraveled.

I laughed. "You can't get out of eating brussles sprouts that easily, Steven."

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I had my first bowl of salad greens picked-straight-from-the-garden yesterday. It all started when I tried to thin out the spinach plants, and then I just kept picking more spinach and then some mesclun lettuce, and before you know it, I had a whole bowl of salad greens!

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(Mr. Your-Garden-Might-Have-Salmonella did not partake in my salad. That's okay. I will taste-test it first for quality control purposes. And also, there was only enough for one bowl of salad.)

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Between him and the swine flu, though, I am rather nervous about germs these days, so I scrubbed each individual leaf really well. Really well. I might have even used a tiny bit of soap. Don't hate.

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The exciting part is that there's already enough new growth for another salad. I'm waiting till tomorrow to pick more, but things are looking good in Garden de Steele.

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(And, for all of you as paranoid as I am, here's the FDA's report on alfalfa and mung bean sprouts. I am not growing either one in the garden, thankyouverymuch, but still, good info to know.)