Friday, March 30, 2012

PGH Book #3: About Three Bricks Shy

I need to start this post by saying that I couldn't be happier with my resolution to read more. I think transitioning into a job that is 98% writing from a job that was 100% the opposite kind of killed my joy of reading over the past year and a half. Of course, the first two books in my 2012 canon were easing me into a real book that is more words than pictures. (I had to start small, otherwise I would have never made it this far.) My third book for the year was Roy Blount Jr.'s About Three Bricks Shy: And The Load Filled Up. And it was a real, honest-to-goodness book. (For a book about sports, I can't recall it containing a single photograph. I'd check to be certain, but I already returned it to Corey.)

"Have you heard of these people before, Georgiana?"
"Certainly not, Serena. Nobody has heard of any one in Pittsburgh."

For those unaware, About Three Bricks Shy is about the Steelers in the '70s: the season before their first Super Bowl win. While I read it, I kept thinking about how these were the Steelers my dad watched back in the early days of his season ticket holding. I thought about that and thought about how odd it will be almost 40 years from now when I'm talking fondly about Big Ben, Bettis, everyone's favorite former disaster factory: Jeff Reed. (Though, his exit did make way for the adorable Canadian kicker. SQUEEEEEZEM!)

I enjoyed the book from start to finish, but I was so pleased with the Why Pittsburgh chapter that I read it twice. Please, do yourself a favor and read this chapter at least; it is so good!

What happened to the month of March? It feels like it was here and gone in the blink of an eye. Is that called getting older? Or just me being swept up in longer days and warmer temps? Regardless. 2012's third month is nearly history. What have I been accomplishing?

I'm a jerk. I didn't volunteer again this month. There's still a lot of year left. I'm not worried.

I am continuing to try new things! I'm struggling to recall much from March 2012, but I know I tried things. I promise. (Mental note: Start keeping track of these throughout the month as you do them; remembering them at the end never works.) The ones I can remember: Nakama (had no idea this was cook-on-the-table!), arena football game (indoor fireworks!), and went to Construction Junction. Yeah, I really need to start keeping a list.

Still pedaling away. I think about what it will feel to reach 1,000 miles next month (unless we have a crazy April snowstorm that lasts three weeks, I should pass that mark at the least) every day. As I write this, I have raised over $500! If you'd like to Pledge a Penny and support Gilda's Club of Western Pennsylvania, fill out this form.

I feel like I've got a grip on 2012 right now. April, I'm looking forward to spending some time together.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

EvBetPGH Tweets March 2012: Fires & Fireworks

Hey, guys. Sometimes I have thoughts about or photos of Pittsburgh that I want to send out into the world. I believe the kids are calling them "tweets." (Though my mom, she always asked me if I was "twitting," which honestly was very odd sounding!) You can follow the EvBetPGH twitter, if you're brave enough to sign up for a direct line into my Pittsburgh-obsessed brain.

Here are a few of my March 2012 spontaneous ramblings and photos:

(This was during the Pittsburgh Power game. More on that in the coming days.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pedal for Pennies Update: Pittsburgh Biking News

This weekend I blogged about a couple upcoming BikePGH events and the awesome imagery they put to said events. I also listened to the Essential Pittsburgh biking episode, and it's well worth a listen if you're just getting into biking in our hilly/pothole-prone roads. Biking in Pittsburgh seems daunting at first, but a couple good seasons of it behind you will make you appreciate what we have here so much more. And, for every hill you have to climb, there's always the fun and fast descent.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Le Magnifique: Pittsburgh's Newest Statue

Unveiled a few weeks ago now, the Mario Lemieux statue outside of the Consol Energy Center is our city's newest tribute to a Pittsburgh hero. There's a lot of debate about the statue itself, whether it should've been just Mario instead of Mario breaking through two of the Islanders defenders in 1988. Either way, it's good to have something on the ground in Pittsburgh that will remind us all of Mario's love for our city. I remember being in Boston at work and watching a clip of Mario's speech made before a raucous crowd at the Igloo, telling the fans that the Penguins were staying put in Pittsburgh. Where they belonged.

The day the statue was unveiled, I walked up to the Consol during my lunchbreak. It was the first of a string of beautiful late winter/early spring days. Fittingly, the temperature was a lovely 66 degrees.

Here are a few shots of the statue.

Mario, and the deconstructed shell of the arena where he made so much magic happen.

Mario, and the shiny new beautiful building that will house the Penguins for many years (and hopefully many Cup wins!) to come.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I Bike A Lot. Read About It on Pedal for Pennies

So, we’ve covered the fact that we’re currently having the best weather ever in Pittsburgh right now, right? Right. I thought I might’ve mentioned it, but just wanted to make sure my bases were all covered. (Opening Day is right around the corner after all…) With the influx of lovely days, I’ve been on my bike way more than I thought I would be by this time of year. The other day I rode home while a lightning storm was over the city, and I crossed the 500-mile mark for the year before I got back to Gross Street. I’ve been writing about my biking adventures on the Pedal for Pennies blog. For now, all biking-related things will be collected there, but when one that warrants additional attention comes to pass, I’ll link to it here.

Here you can read about and see some nice pictures of a nice ride Carrie I took on St. Patrick’s Day. For the record: I wore an orange t-shirt from Canada (GO BC LIONS!) on this ride. I stuck out in the seas of green we were momentarily caught in during our rides through the South Side and Station Square. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Under the Bridge: North Side Murals

The weather in Pittsburgh has been amazing. We basically skipped winter (WHO CARES?!) and part of me wonders if we aren’t skipping the early parts of spring too. Whatever the case and whatever the cause, I’m thrilled with the extended hours of daylight and the higher than normal temps. I took one of my longest rides of the year a few weeks ago and stopped momentarily under the Veterans Bridge. I’ve had these excellent murals on my mental list of Pittsburgh murals to document since last summer when I spent my mornings on the trails.

They’re a series of five murals, and they are pretty wonderful:

The return of nice weather means the return of adventures big and small that will hopefully yield a greater volume of posts. Winter sucks. I’m glad it’s over.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Winter Camping Feels Like Spring to Me

A couple weekends ago, I went camping. I tell people this, and they scoff. “Camping?! In this weather?!” Yes. Camping. In this weather, which ended up being cool and comfortable during our hike to camp on Saturday, and then beautiful, sunny, and pure springlike getting back to the car on Sunday. Overnight it was chilly, but we were equipped with cozy sleeping bags and a fire we kept going all night. You may recall that once Carrie and I started a fire that lasted into the morning with ONE MATCH on another camping excursion. This time around we didn’t even need a match at all. The embers were still going, and we were able to stoke it into a lovely blaze. Many smores were enjoyed.

All of the things I’m happy to be doing more of since I moved back, being more active in the outdoors is very near to the top of my list. Not that these sorts of activities weren’t available to me in Boston, but I take advantage of them far more here. With the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail and the Great Allegheny Passage both fairly accessible, I’m in a nice little location where immersing myself in the woods for a couple days is totally possible. I’m routing my June bike trip to D.C. now and will continue to put sections of the LHHT behind me as the spring, summer and fall go on.

Here are some photos from the trip. You can see more on the Everything Better Pittsburgh Picasa page.

There’s something that clicks inside of me when I go camping. I get kicked into hyper-cleaning mode whenever I get home. I walked into the door of my place shortly before 6 p.m. that Sunday and scrubbed and swept and sorted. It was nice to sleep in my bed, but it was even nicer to wake up to a clean living room the next morning.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Construction Junction: Ideas for a PGH Home

Now that I'm back in Pittsburgh, approaching my second anniversary as a boomerang, I want to buy a house. I'm still way far away from the day that dream becomes a glimpse of a reality, but thinking about it helps me get closer to that day by saving more and spending less. For the first time in my life I'm working toward a much larger goal, which makes me know I'm definitely home.

A couple weeks ago, Allie asked me if I wanted to go to Construction Junction with her on Saturday morning. I'd never been there, but wanted to see what it was about in the hopes that I could get some ideas or inspiration.

Lots of doors. Not too expensive. A cool project - especially for walls that might not good for hanging framed pieces, might be to fix up a few of these doors and paint them fun colors or boring colors or whatever and then hang the framed pieces on the wooden doors, leaning them up against the wall.

Lots of toilets. One item on my "dream house" wish list? A Pittsburgh toliet.

Railings from the Mellon Arena! I have no idea what I could use these for, but they weren't too expensive and the Pittsburgh dork in me is tickled by the idea of having a my own piece of Pittsburgh.

I do know what I could use a giant chandelier for! I can't think of anything that a giant chandelier wouldn't make better!

I hope that in time owning a home becomes a reality. Until then, I'll keep brainstorming and recording ideas. Who knows, maybe one day I'll be documenting the purchasing and fixing up of my first Pittsburgh home.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Stitching: The Neighborhoods Project

About a year ago, I decided to pick cross-stitching back up, completely out of the blue. My mom had taught me to stitch when I was a teen, and for a while I stitched up a fury. I wasn't as technically or artistically gifted as my mom (and probably never will be!), but I was good enough to be able to make stuff that didn't totally suck. I appreciated the repetitive feel of stitching, and I was pretty good at it as my hands are bony and my fingers long and dexterous. But then, because I was a teen with the attention span of a flea, I stopped and picked up some other hobby or activity. Picking it back up over a decade later was not something I ever expected. I enjoyed it for a while and started making cross-stitched cassette tapes. In the last year that I've been stitching, I've switched from cloth to thick sheets of bristol paper and cross-stitches to straight-stitches. Last year I was able to participate in Handmade Arcade, and I hope to return when it happens late in 2012. I'm in the process of reworking and updating my Etsy store and coming up with new stitching ideas. Outside of making stitchings to sell, I've been working on The Neighborhoods Project - stitching a 4 x 6-sized outline of every neighborhood in Pittsburgh. I'm not sure what the actual completeness of this project with be, but I've been donating Sunday mornings to stitching the next 6-8 neighborhoods in order alphabetically. Here's a sneak peak of the fruits of my labors of the past three or four weeks:

Friday, March 2, 2012

Hot Dog! Station Street reopens in East Liberty

The other night a few friends and I went to the recently opened/reopened Station Street Hot Dogs behind the new Target in East Liberty. I'm not the kind to order a crazy hot dog with crazy toppings. I think I've made my sense of taste very clear of late, so believe me when I tell you I have my hot dogs with ketchup. And that's it. So I can't speak for anything regarding hot dogs besides whether or not I want to come back and eat another hot dog from that place. Franktuary? Love it. Wiener World? Went once and I'll never go back.

The verdict on Station Street?

Will definitely return! And foresee many summer nights ending with biking to get hot dogs and eat at one of the tables outside of Station Street and then head to BRGR for alcohol milkshakes, or to Kelly's for beers on the tiki patio, or to Oh Yeah! for endless ice cream possibilities.

They also have this awesome sign on their men's bathroom door. What more do you need out of a hot dog shop?