In which we visited Pittsburgh!

When I sat down to think about it, I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve visited my “in-laws”. Jeff’s been back to Pittsburgh for a few of his friends’ weddings last summer, but I’ve been stuck in residency and Pennsylvania was way out of the way for our coast to coast road trip. The holidays saw me taking call and us not wanting to brave the airports during the crazy holiday travel time and so here we are, a year and a few months after the wedding, and聽finally getting together!

Our flight on Thursday morning from Seattle was delayed for a maintenance issue which meant that we missed our connection in Chicago. Unfortunately this meant that the 45 minute layover turned into 8 hours.. ugh! But we utilized our time wisely to watch some March Madness:

IMG_1536In the Chicago Midway airport there is a very small Terminal C which has about 3 gates. Normally it’s quite empty so you can spread out, find a plug and set up camp if you’re there for too long. You’re welcome if you’re laid over there for an extended period of time. Thank you last year’s interview season for helping me find this spot. Please don’t let the secret get out.

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We never check bags anymore because of our rotten luck in airports.

Unfortunately because of the delay we lost almost an entire day of an already short trip. Ugh! But we tried to make the most of our next few days with lots of basketball watching, setting up Jeff’s parents’ new computer and eating delicious home cooked prime rib. On Saturday we headed first to Washington, PA to indulge in some Shorty’s:

Shorty's storefront

Shorty’s storefrontHotdog and hamburger with the special chili, mustard and onions and a large fries with gravy. Total cost: $4.05

Hotdog and hamburger with the special chili, mustard and onions and a large fries with gravy. Total cost: $4.05
Shorty's Menu(picture form HollyEats.com)

Shorty’s Menu
(picture form HollyEats.com)

Lunch counter

Lunch counter

This is the place that I fell in love with fries and gravy – so good! Jeff’s dad Paul has been going here for over 50 years and says the place hasn’t changed a bit. I don’t think we’ve ever spent more than 10 total minutes inside, including ordering, eating and paying – it’s the original fast food. Last time Jeff and I were driving through PA we stopped, but it wasn’t open and I’ve been disappointed for the last two years – glad we got a taste of it this time around!

We continued on south to go to the dog track to bet on the greyhound races at Wheeling Island. I’ve been several times with Jeff and his family and they’re pretty good at it, but I’ve always been terrible. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to look at the names and watch the dogs (did you know that Saturday was also National Puppy Day??), but I do not have the handicapping ability that comes with years of practice.

Jeff studying the program to pick the best dogs

Jeff studying the program to pick the best dogs

Jeff and his dad waiting for the winners to be announced

Jeff’s dad started off the first race winning a big trifecta! I just circled random things in my booklet like I knew what I was doing: IMG_1548

To be fair, I’ve learned a lot in all our trips down there – I actually know now what a quinella and a trifecta mean and I can at least read what all the little numbers in the book mean after warming up on a couple of races. But usually I just give the track money. But then it happened! I looked at my trifecta ticket and the first two numbers matched first and second place, but third was contested and they had to go a photo finish:

IMG_1555By a nose #6 was third!! And it was the largest trifecta payout of the day! Whoo! I can see why people can get into this gambling thing 馃檪 We all had a great day with the dogs, minus Jeff, but he makes a very cute anchor.

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We caught up with Jason, Jeff’s best man for dinner and a few beers later that evening. He’s finishing up his PhD in Economics at Carnegie Mellon and we tried to convince him to move out to Seattle, but I don’t think he was buying it. Good luck with the final parts of your thesis and come visit!

Jeff and Jason

Jeff and Jason – sorry for the blurriness, my phone was dying from checking my March Madness bracket too many times

And then this morning, it all came to a much too fast close and we headed back to the airport. Thanks for the wonderful trip Paul and Mary Fran! And thanks for my birthday presents – I read half of the book on the plane back! Can’t wait to see you all again (hopefully soon)!

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Fortunately no unexpectedly long layovers on the way back, but still plenty of time to catch up on March Madness:

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And we made it back to a gorgeous Seattle spring day in time to catch Duke’s win over Creighton (the only advantage of a 9:40pm east coast start time). Good job Devils – sweet sixteen bound!

Unconsciously we both wore plaid flannel shirts this morning. We totally fit in on the plane full of people clad in flannels and outdoor gear - a dead giveaway that the plane was headed to the Pacific Northwest.

Unconsciously we both wore plaid flannel shirts this morning. We totally fit in on the plane full of people clad in similar shirts and outdoor gear – a dead giveaway that the plane was headed to the Pacific Northwest.

In which I get crafty

First, thanks to all the veterans for keeping our country safe and for the many sacrifices you and your families make. Special shout outs to Granddaddy (Army, WWII-Pacific), my Papaw (Navy, WWII-Europe), my father in law (Air Force, Vietnam) and my little brother (Marine, Afghanistan) and cousin (Marine). Love you all so much.

Since apparently Veteran’s Day is a three day weekend up here I decided to get a little crafty to cover one of the walls of our apartment. We signed the lease for this place sight unseen when we moved here last June and while it’s clean and in a great location, the interior layout leaves some room for desirability. Lots of weird angles, not my favorite color paint and lots of awkward large wall spaces.

To try and add some color to one of the largest walls in the living area I decided to make some “art” that paid homage to the increasingly hard question, “Where are you from?”. I grew up in Tennessee but spent the last nine years in North Carolina in school. Jeff grew up in Pittsburgh, but then spend seven years in North Carolina and the last two working up in New Jersey. Now we are here on the complete opposite coast. By the time we explain all this, the poor asker of the question has a glazed over look and way more information than he or she was looking for.

So here’s what I made:

1. Start with large plywood boards (Lowe’s will cut them to size for you), acrylic paint (bought the cheapest that Michael’s sold), some yarn in contrasting colors and lots of nails (I used 1 1/4″).

2. Paint the boards. (Step 2b. Beg your husband to run out for newspaper because you’re tired of running around all day looking for the rest of the supplies and now remember why you don’t craft on a regular basis).

3. Find the shape of what you want to have on your board and print it out. I used this website to find the state outlines and this website to blow them up. Tape it to your board.

4. Start hammering (and try not to annoy your neighbors). You can nail directly into the board like I did, but that leaves some small paper tags at the end. You can also try and impress your outline with a dull blade if you want to be all fancy. Keep the nails fairly tight together, but don’t get lost in the details of recreating a coastline or river border.

5. Rip off the paper (if it’s still there) and start stringing your yarn around all the nails. The more random you can be the better the outcome. Be sure to tie it off a few times so one slip off the nail won’t cause the entire piece to fall apart.

6. And repeat as many times as your neighbors will let you.

I secured them to the wall with some heavy duty 3M stickies (rated up to hold 9lbs! Love those engineers!). It’s not perfect (and Washington bothers me because it looks a little stubby – but I guess that’s just what the eastern edge looks like), but it’s a nice color pop on an otherwise bare and highly visible wall.