Friday, May 28, 2010

Adventures in Gardening

Um, the garden is totally out of control.

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Steven had to trim back the zucchini plant because we couldn't shut the fence gate.

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My favorite thing we've planted this year? Snow peas.

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They are growing like crazy. I trellised them about a month ago, and they are quickly overwhelming the trellis.

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Here they are, freshly picked and washed. We had them for dinner as a side to our beef stroganoff. (Yes, hamburger helper. Don't judge me. You know you've been there.)

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I am looking forward to having these raw, too, with some ranch dip maybe!

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The next interesting thing we might try from the garden? Squash blossoms.

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I hear you are supposed to eat them fried. And where there's squash, tomatoes can't be far behind. We have flowers on the tomato plants already.

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Hello summer! Bring on the tomatoes!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Room For Sophie

Yep, we finally spilled the beans on the name, so here it is in all its glory: Sophia Dagny Steele! Sophie is Steven's great-grandmother's name, and Dagny is the lead character in a novel I love (Atlas Shrugged). Traditional first name, sorta funky middle name. We think it works. Estimated arrival date, early October!

We finished painting her room this past weekend. The paint is from Behr (Home Depot) and I think the shade is called Celery Sprout.
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The daylight of course does it more justice. Its going to look perfect with some pink accents, and then if we have a boy someday, we won't have to repaint it! (Although we probably would anyway, I suppose, because a toddler and an errant crayon can be pretty rough on walls, I hear.)
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After painting, we put the crib and the changing table together!
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(And yes, I realize that in these pictures, I am, in fact, barefoot-and-pregnant. Things I thought I'd never say. :)
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So there you have it - a celery-green room for Sophie. Here's the bedding I like: http://www.serenaandlily.com/Baby/Baby-Girl-Kate. Spendy, but beautiful! I told Steven he's in charge of the decor, because I can't decide what to put on the walls. I'm going to pick out a nice glider for the corner, and maybe a little table with a lamp? Ideas welcome!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Steven's Kind of Weekend

We were supposed to go see the "Bold Fresh Tour" back in January in Norfolk, but it got snowed out and rescheduled for this past weekend.  So we planned a lovely early-summer weekend trip to Virginia Beach!

There were protesters at the event.  Steven wanted his picture taken with them.  He found it hilarious.
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When we got inside, a young, sort of trendy-looking girl was holding a sign for the Restoring Honor event that Glenn Beck is having in DC in August. Steven pointed to the sign and said, "Hey, that's cool." The girl said, "Yeah? Are you going to be there?" We said probably so, and she said, "Do you have a minute? We are filming a commercial for it..."


And that's how we found ourselves backstage at the Bold Fresh Tour.
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Pretty cool. We read a script and got to add our own personal touch to it. I mentioned practicing law. Steven mentioned cheeseburgers. We feel we were well represented. They told us it could possibly be on TV and probably the internet. Steven thinks this could be "our big break."
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The event was fantastic. Very respectful crowd, really enjoyed getting to see both Beck and O'Reilly.
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Beck provided a nice healthy dose of "THE END IS NEAR."
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Bill paced the stage and cracked some jokes about how he needed to make sure Glenn came back on stage with his shoes tied.
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Seeing them heckle each other was definitely the best part. Its like that back-and-forth of an older, wiser brother and his younger, more passionate sibling.
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Back at the hotel, we discovered we had a beautiful view of the harbor.
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Steven took this one -- he's becoming quite the photographer.
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The best part? Our room opened up to the view on two sides. Let there be sunlight!
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And just for good measure, here's a belly pic. I'm a little over 20 weeks here.
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We spent the morning dawdling around the Norfolk Harbor, where Steven found himself in a Wrigley Field moment.
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Speaking of baseball, wouldn't you know it, the sport follows us wherever we go. We went into a Schlotsky's Deli (of all places) in Norfolk, Virginia, and directly ahead of us in line, there was a gaggle of very tall, rather athletic looking college-aged guys. I figured it was just a group of college students, but then Steven nudged me and said,


"Hey, that's Glen Perkins."


Come to find out, the Minnesota Twins' minor league team, the Rochester Red Wings, was in Norfolk for a baseball series that weekend. Even better? They were all staying at our hotel. Sometimes I wonder if he arranges these things on purpose somehow... (Also, who recognizes Glen Perkins in street clothing? Seriously, the boy is beyond fandom.)


After our Minnesota Twins sighting, we found an enormous battleship. This is the USS Wisconsin, I believe. It was $18 to go inside. We didn't.
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We went to the Chesapeake Jubilee that afternoon, around 3ish. It was very sunny and my poor pasty self got sunburned. Steven, meanwhile, got a case of "too-cool-for-school."
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And at long last, the concert we'd waited all day for. Tonic. (They were great, as always.)
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So there you have it. A weekend made for Steven: we saw Beck, O'Reilly, the ocean, a battleship, some Minnesota Twins baseball players, and one of his favorite bands. The only way to top this weekend? Resurrect SRV and have him play a private show for us in our backyard. It was really that good.


It was also a very refreshing weekend for yours truly, believe it or not. (Mostly because I got to eat an entire funnel cake with zero guilt.) Its a good thing we got that refreshment time in, because I have a long week ahead of me at work. Ugh. We finished painting the baby room, though, and we put together the crib, so I'll have to show that to you sometime in the coming days.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Luck and Chocolate Cake

I tried to make a chocolate cake last weekend.  It did not go well.  I forgot baking soda and ended up with two dense and inedible chocolate discs.  It was too sad to even memorialize with a picture.

I really wanted chocolate cake though, so I tried again this weekend.  And everything was going so well, and I was so happy about this (stupid) cake, and then I started stacking the layers.

And the whole #@&#@*^! thing fell apart.
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Granted, this should not have been surprising to me.  I didn't level out the layers before I started stacking them, and I also didn't let them cool all the way (I was very impatient for chocolate cake, given that this was the second attempt already.)

And while I will readily admit that it was extremely delicious chocolate cake . . .
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. . . for some reason it just pushed all the wrong buttons in my head when the middle of the cake cracked wide open.  Chocolate-iced grand canyon.  And I just LOST IT.  I cried for like 2 hours straight about the stupid cake falling apart.  Because in my very tired and very chocolate-deprived brain, this cake was symbolic.  It wasn't just the cake that was falling apart, it was everything in life.  And if I can't make a simple chocolate cake from scratch after two tries, who am I to be raising another human being, sob sob sniffle sniffle.  And on and on with the irrational thinking.

You get the idea.  I am just a total treat to be around right now.  
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Steven did his very best to bring me back to this side of reality, including serving himself a piece of cake and telling me how very delicious it was.  (I know, he really took one for the team.)

Anyway.  I woke up the next morning and realized that I'm a crazy fool.  And then I had a piece of chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream.  And it was amazingly delicious.  And then I felt much better.  So clearly there is only one lesson to be learned from this.  Pregnant ladies are insane.  Don't let them near a chocolate cake recipe without direct supervision.

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In other news, we've had an eventful Mother's Day today.  A little dog named Lucky showed up in our front yard, either lost or abandoned, and we've spent most of the day trying to track down her owners.
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Her tags have a phone number, but the number is no good.  I've called the shelter but I don't really want to take her there.  
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I'm hoping that someone comes to claim her.  We put up signs in the neighborhood and emailed pictures to the HOA, so hopefully someone will contact us soon.  Steven has quite firmly said, "No More Dogs," so I guess that means we can't adopt her.
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Even though she is very cute and well behaved.... (Can you tell I'm still trying to get him to change his mind?)

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Despite all the crazy that I've been lately, Steven still managed to pick out a very sweet and wonderful mother's day present for me, and even had it beautifully wrapped.
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Of course, I opened the card and read that it was from "Steven and [name of baby girl]" and I totally blubbered.  It was adorable.
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I have this sinking feeling that I'm going to be one of those moms that cries at each milestone.  Baby took her first steps? Waaaaaa! Putting her on the school bus? Booohooooo!  We should go ahead and buy stock in Kleenex and waterproof mascara.
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But at least all these memories will be beautifully preserved.  I just have to try not to smudge the ink with my snot.

Happy Mothers Day to my mom and to Mom Steele.  I'd send you my chocolate cake recipe but I haven't quite perfected it yet. ;)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

If you'd asked me this morning at 8:30 AM, "what's your gut instinct on the gender?" I would have told you it is most definitely a boy. I just had a feeling we were having a little guy, for some reason. Steven had the same feeling.

We even told the ultrasound tech, "We think its a boy." She swiped that plastic wand around my growing berth and then she rambled something excitedly, which neither Steven nor I understood.

"IamgoingtohavetotellyouthatIthinkyouareincorrectaboutthat," she said in a thick accent. I tried to sit up and look at the screen, but all I saw was fuzz.

"What? You know what kind of kid we are having already?"

She swiped the wand again and pointed, speaking more slowly this time.

"I am going to have to tell you that you are wrong, it's-a not-a boy..."

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Yes, it turns out we are having a little girl in early October, folks. Steven and I are both surprised and delighted. I was more stupefied than anything this morning. I'd sort of geared myself up for what it would be like to raise a little boy. Make sure he's respectful, make sure he opens doors for ladies, etc etc. And now my whole parenting outlook has changed. A little girl? Really? But how on earth do I keep her from wearing those horrible booty shorts that I keep seeing in the window at Abercrombie? And how do I keep her from even going into Hollister?

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Steven chuckles at me when I ask him these things. "You're asking teenage questions. Its going to be a baby. It will cry, poop, and sleep. You can handle it."

Yes, but I feel like those angsty teenage years will really creep up on you quickly. (I also feel like this is some sort of grand universal karma for all the stress I'm sure I put my parents through when I was a teenager, begging to wear the shorty-short jean shorts. They consistently said no, and I consistently pouted about it. And now here I am, a decade or two later, and I'm trying desperately to figure out how to keep my future teenage girl from doing precisely what I did. Oh, fate, you are so cruel.)

So here she is. We have decided not to tell the name just yet. We'll reveal it eventually, I'm sure. We still have to nail down a middle name, first.

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(I will give you this spoiler: I've been looking into names of strong, confident women, both historical and literary. Don't you think "Sacajawea Steele" has a certain ring to it?)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Weekend In Late Spring

Steven is The Grassmaster. Yes, this sounds like something that could potentially garner him a narcotics conviction, but just look at all that green lawn down there.

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This lovely lawn is brought to you by several bags of E-Z-Seed Turfmaster, some careful sprinkler positioning, and today's early morning mowing (which I apparently slept through).

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He's mighty proud of it. (And for good reason. It looks great!)

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Pringles approves of the newly green yard as well. He's christened it several times today, even. (Me? I just sit on the porch steps and watch him run around. I was feeling rather sedentary today, so I gave in and rested.)

The vegetable garden is thriving nicely. Especially the zucchini plants, which are threatening to take over the whole box. (Far left, spinach. Middle front, zucchini. Behind the zucchini, we have cucumber and then my sad little cherry tomato plants which did not like last week's cold weather one single bit, thankyouverymuch.)

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The other veggie that's really doing quite well? Snow peas. They are enormous. I feel like I might need to trellis them soon (do you trellis snow peas?). To the left of the massive snow peas, we have green beans up front, then carrots in the middle, then heirloom tomatoes in the back, also not appreciating the colder weather. (It hit 97 degrees out today. You're welcome, tomato plants.)

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At the very end of the box, the arugala is doing well, but my watermelon and cantaloupe plants are growing very slowly. The basil is also a slow-mover.

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Toward the end of last summer, we planted hostas along the driveway. When winter hit, we were convinced we'd killed off the hostas. We didn't even mulch over them or anything.

But guess what? They're baaaaack!

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And they look REALLY good. They might be my favorite ornamental plants we've planted at the house thus far. Go hostas!

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And, because you know you love to see each season's "house shot," I give you "Late Spring at Casa de Steele." Complete with Home Depot yard debris bags, and white azaleas that peaked about a week ago.

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Oh, and a tiny dog who feels rather empowered behind his safe little fence. He will bark at you if you walk by our house, I guarantee it.

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I, however, will not bark at you, but will instead wave politely as my waist grows increasingly larger. The fence is just the right height to hide behind, so far.

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Pringles is not afraid of anything. And that includes a zucchini plant that is almost bigger than him already. (If the zucchini starts growling, "Feed Me Seymour," I will tell Pringles to run the other way. Quickly.)

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So that's our yard this weekend! Please wipe your paws before you come inside. Thanks.

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P.S.  We find out the gender on Wednesday.  I am crazy with curiosity.