Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mexican Pumpkin Soup

So I had this sugar pumpkin that I bought around Halloween that needed to be either eaten within the next week, or tossed. (You know me, I love anything pumpkin!) So I checked out a Vegan cooking blog I subscribe to, and today a recipe on what to do with your Thanksgiving leftovers (namely pumpkin) was posted. I chose this one from the list because the picture had the best looking soup. And also because I must have 3 pounds of leftover potatoes. It is a very hearty (read: filling) and healthy soup, not to mention savory and tasty! Here is a picture of my lunch bowl before it was quickly emptied.

If you're looking for something to make with your unused portions of pumpkin (fresh or canned) since most recipes only call for half of a can, there are lots of good ideas on FatFree Vegan Kitchen. Have I mentioned lately that I LOVE fall foods?

Climbing with Uncle Scotty

It's been about a year since we took the boys to the climbing gym, so Friday we headed out to RockSport with Scott and my cousin Michael and harnessed Sean and Ashton up. Last time we went, the boys were a bit trepidatious of the heights of climbing, Ashton especially. This time went much better. Sean wouldn't quite climb all the way to the top, and Ashe would only climb to just above the red bouldering line. Here is Sean just getting started:

And another one of him at his highest point (couldn't quite talk him into ringing the cowbell at the top):

Ashton really didn't like the feeling of the rope pulling him- he might just climb all the way to the top if I'd let him without it though.

My cousins Michael and Peter are attending UNLV (both are on the water polo team) and drove up at about 4 a.m. on Thanksgiving to spend time with family. Peter didn't come today, but here is Michael bouldering to warm up:

My brother Scott is the real climber of the family. He has ripped abs like you see in magazines because that is his job- he works at the climbing gym in Berkeley and sets routes for a living. Here he is lead climbing (meaning he is clipping the rope in to the wall as he goes, instead of hanging from the top, aka top rope) one of the more difficult routes.

This picture of Kevin was taken from across the gym, but as a close up, and as a result turned out a little dark.

And finally, some fun little videos. First is Sean on a joy ride:
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You can tell Ashton is still afraid to be up high in this video. video

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner at Casa de KASA

After earning our Thanksgiving dinner at the Turkey Trot, we had a massive gathering of all our extended family both on my side and Kevin's side (minus only my parents-not bad, eh?). Total number in attendance? 2(ohgoodlord)8. Plus it was Kevin's 31st birthday. Happy Birthday Kev! And since it was his birthday, he wanted to do all the cooking on his own. He wouldn't even let me help him. Well, he let me help with the menu decisions, and I got to do all the baking beforehand, but other than that, I was on clean-up/hostess duty. Which was great by me! I made 3 pies: Light Mint Chocolate Mousse, Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake, and a Cinnamon Blueberry Pie. I also made the biscuits- whole wheat pumpkin and classic Joy of Cooking white dinner biscuits. Flaky hot goodness that went right from the oven to everyone's plates (I popped them in the oven as soon as the turkey and ham came out). Here's how awesome Kevin is- he made the following:

*French onion soup, from scratch (everything was from scratch), and man was it ta-STY!
*turkey and (spiral-cut-honey) ham
*baked potatoes and sweet potatoes
*dirty rice (instead of stuffing, 'cause I can't stand the stuff for whatever strange reason- I like everything in it! Just not combined and cooked in a turkey, I guess.)
*green beans and bacon
*green salad
*asparagus
*cranberries (of which there is so much left over that I made fruit leather out of the extra)
*gravy
(plus there were my biscuits and pies, and Kevin's mom surprised him with a sheet carrot cake, also from scratch of course!)
*Bottles upon Bottles of wine, sparkling lemonade and cider. I don't even WANT to know what our our recycle collectors think of our house with the amount of bottles they will be picking up next week! Ha!

Now for a picture for you to appreciate how many people this is all in one place (Kevin got permission to borrow some extra tables and chairs from his school in order for this dinner to happen):

You can't even see everyone from this angle, so here's a shot from the other end (and again it's hard to see faces, but you get the idea):

And a picture of a couple of my cousins- Dave and Michael, and my brother Scott being himself.
And then some twin-on-twin ping-pong action with Aunty Alice and Ashton against Sean and cousin Georgie.


It was a bit of some all around crazyness trying to get dinner on the table, but once everyone was settled, there was a lot of passing, and all went smoothly. It was wonderful to catch up with family from as far as Alaska and L.A., and even from across town! Wonderful food, and memories~ Thanks everyone for traveling to the south side of Reno, and letting us host Thanksgiving this year!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Turkey Trot Thanksgiving!

I am happy to report that many of my extended family participated in the 10th Annual Sparks Turkey Trot with me (my first!) before coming over to my house for an even more extended Thanksgiving dinner. We all met beforehand for a quick picture before heading up to the street for the race start~ first, my library posse, Dave and Turi:

Next is the family picture. From left to right- Lori, her husband Mike, Aunt Linda, Me, and Lori and Linda's parents. (Not pictured, Sara, because I couldn't find her until about 2 minutes before the race started.)

Linda and Lori did the 10k with me, and their parents did the 2 mile walk! L&L were going pretty quick- they started ahead of us in the initial sardine pack, and Sara and I didn't catch up to them until mile 5.5. It was a chilly wait for the race to begin, but it didn't rain on us, and was actually the perfect temperature for a run. :) Sara and I kept to an almost 9 minute mile pace, running negative splits for a finishing time of 56 minutes even (although our watches said 55:39 since we didn't start them until we reached the start line). Thanks so much for running with me Sara, even though it's difficult coming up here from sea level to run at this altitude. You set a perfect pace, and I greatly enjoyed our run together! Here is a 3 second video clip of Sara and I finishing, compliments of my Uncle Paul: video
My friend Dave also finished the 10k in under an hour. As for Turi, he took off with the fast runners on the front line with a 45 minute goal to beat- which he shattered with a 43:16 new P.R. Yeah, congrats Turi!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

On Coffee

Yes, two blogs in one day after a week of nothing. That's what homework does for a girl. I had some thoughts on new (to me) controlled substance I've let in my life this year: coffee. I've always been a tea drinker, and decaff mostly at that. Caffeine has an adverse affect on my system- I get super wired from even a small amount of it, and then an hour later, I'm dragging like I haven't slept for a week. I've always loved the smell of coffee, but never much liked the taste of it. Unless it has chocolate in it. Almost anything tastes good with chocolate in it! But even with chocolate added, it's not something I drink very often. Until now. Over the past year I've started having a cup here and there when I needed to stay awake at work- usually because I was tired from staying up ridiculously late the night before doing homework. And now, I drink it everyday! With chocolate and vanilla soy milk in it, of course. Lots. I look forward to my daily coffee, even. But is that because I want the chocolate, or the caffeine? I don't get wired anymore, but it's not like I get headaches if I don't have any. And I've also come to appreciate different flavors and brands. Like flavored coffees. And the Trader Joe's Wintry Blend.

Does this mean I'm an adult now? (And is that a good thing?) Almost 30, and I want coffee everyday. Seems like a sound definition to me.

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

This weekend we had some friends over with their children, so we had a craft night! In honor of the upcoming holiday, we made Turkey Breadbaskets. It was pretty wild at our house, but they did manage to sit still for about 45 minutes and color, while I stapled everything together and tried to keep the crayons all in the same room. Here they are, all hard at work:

Sean and Ashton and I worked on their turkeys for a bit more detail the next day- a waddle, some feathers, and GLITTER! My kitchen is still shiny. :) The baskets (which will be used for the dinner rolls I'll be baking- white, herb and possibly pumpkin spice) make for perfect center pieces, along with the mini-daffodils the boys grew from bulbs in their classroom. Well, the fun part is taken care of; now for the cooking, cleaning- both inside and out- before the people come...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My little baseball players

Today was the perfect beautiful day for hitting some balls, practicing catching and throwing with Sean and Ashton. Kevin did all the pitching, whilst I helped race after the successful ball-bat contacts. While their fine motor skills need more work (although their handwriting is improving greatly!), the boys' gross motor skills have always been very advanced. They can drop-kick a ball, ride scooters, dribble a basketball and shoot (successful) hoops, ride two-wheelers, catch a ball, throw with an amazing arm (Ashton throws a perfect spiral football!), and yes I am bragging here. Here is a little sample of their hitting abilities. I have a couple of pictures (Sean is in the red wearing glasses, and yes he did throw us off all day by wearing Ashton's signature color), and a couple short video clips. First up is Ashton:



And next is Sean:




I think I need to get them in tee-ball next season... :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Royal Mail

I had to do an emergency post today- Guess what came in the mail today! My official bookmark with Robin McKinley's two newest books on it! On one side is "Chalice," (which I'm reading now) and on the other is Dragonhaven, which came out in September 2007. About a month or so ago, I requested (along with hundreds of other R.M. fans) a bookmark of her new book on her blog. And here it is, a letter, complete with my name in her handwriting on the front of the envelope! How exciting is that? Well, maybe not for you, but just imagine your favorite author taking the time to personally address and lick an envelope to you! It even says "Royal Mail" in the top left corner. Royal Mail. To me. :) Happy, happy day! I am keeping this forever. And I am now an official member of the Klutz Klub . For which I had to write a Klutzy anecdote from something I've done in my lifetime for her blog. Not hard to do, believe me. You know you want to click on the photo to make it super big. Do it now.


Yes, this is a picture taken on my desktop at work (I sent Robin my work address, as you can see). Notice the two cuties above?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Handy(wo)man!


This was supposed to be a quick easy project, but turned into a two-day-er because I didn't have the right tools. Isn't that always the case for the "quick easy" projects? We bought the boys a little card table with 6 colorful folding chairs, all very sturdy with metal frames about 2-3 years ago. And they lasted a very long time! Some time last year, the boys, as will be boys, started to notice little holes in the top cover of their table and began picking at it and making the holes bigger. Blue duct tape does wonders for a) matching and b) fixing, but it won't last forever. Finally I looked on the bottom of the table and saw that it was attached with 12 screws to the frame, and the cover was simply stapled on. I could recover that! Easy-peasy! So getting started- I unscrewed it, ripped off the cover and stapled one whole side before I noticed that the staples were too long. Not only did they go through two layers of fabric and the plywood (and stuck out their sharp pointy ends perfect for causing little bloody fingers), but I had also stapled it to my wooden bar stool in several places! Whoops! Good thing they're little holes. You probably won't notice unless you're looking for them. So today I took a trip to Home Depot to see if there existed shorter staples (of course there were), and then finished up in under 10 minutes (with a little volunteered help from Kevin). Voila! Finished! And in a nice hunter green too (no blue at JoAnne's). Impressed? Well, thank you but you shouldn't be. I'm only blogging about this because it LOOKS so much better, and because I actually took a little initiative to do it myself and not pawn it off on my hubby.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day! Vote for Sean and Ashton

In honor of election day, I saved these videos to post until today. Last week, Sean and Ashton's first grade class wrote, practiced and read their speeches in front of an audience saying why they would make a good President of the United States. I wasn't able to get off work to go see them at their school, but I did record them that night when they got home. First up is Sean:

video

And next is Ashton:

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As their mom, I could never pick between the two. Aren't they just adorable?!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Dodge Ball!

I almost forgot I had this post sitting waiting to be edited. So here's the short, short version. I was invited to participate in a dodge ball tournament on Saturday (Nov. 1) by a fellow band member, Johnathan, and his girlfriend Misty who works for the American Cancer Society, who was sponsoring this fund-raising event. (Yes, I ran a 5K then played in a dodge ball tournament. :) I have never played before, so I was a little apprehensive that I would drag our team down the hole. Not so! We won our first two rounds (best of 5), I think lost the third one, won the 4th (and 5th? I can't remember how many teams we played now) and made it into the final winning bracket against the UNR team. They were awesome! It was a double elimination, and best of 7 games. We won the first round (the first they had been beaten all day!), but lost the second. I learned some quick strategy about staying out of the way of the ball, and passing them off to the guys who could throw on my team instead of trying to get people out myself (I totally throw like a girl since my shoulder operation a few years ago). I did manage to get a few people out, but my best talent was "dodging the ball." Ha ha! In fact, I think the last 4 games I was the last one up, but had no chance of staying in long (5 against 1 isn't fair odds, not to mention the previously stated condition of throwing like a girl). Our team placed second, and the American Cancer Society provided some pretty sweet prizes for the winning teams. I had a TON of fun, even if I was sore for 3 days straight! Here we are in all our glory:

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Spark-A-Delic 5K

Today marked the day of Scheels first annual Spark-A-Delic 5K run. This was a nice flat-ish course around the Sparks Marina area. I made myself a goal to run a 5k in under 25 minutes, and since this was a pretty flat course, and not too many people to crowd the start to a walk, I figured this was my best chance. And to help me do this was my friend Turi and his little friend Lumpy- his Garmin watch with a pace setter! We jogged about a half mile to warm up, then Turi set Lumpy for 8:00 min. miles, and we had a fantastic start! Much faster than I'm used to- I like to include my warm up at the beginning of my run, and gradually get faster with whatever my body's got to give me. This technique has always worked for me (yeah, the whole "listen to your body" thing sounds a little New Age, but hey), so that's how I train. I know that you shouldn't try something new on a race day, but I wasn't sure if I went slow at first that I'd be able to make up the time at the end. I should work on that. We managed to keep about 2-3 seconds ahead of Lumpy, and at one point we were even 10 seconds ahead! Which was a good cushion to have: I think the wind was blowing in a NNE direction, and after we made the first turn to head towards the Marina, we found out that we had been running with a pretty decent tail wind. It was actually blowing hard enough that I could feel my bib pushing against my stomach, and I had to keep my head down so my hat wouldn't blow off my head. At around mile 2 I was feeling our pace and I had to adjust my breathing from every 3 strides in and out, to two, and by 2.5 I could feel the beginnings of a stitch in my right side. I caved and told Turi I had to back off a little (I wasn't risking walking because of a stupid stitch!). I think he felt bad like he wasn't motivating me enough (and believe me, he did an awesome job trying!), but I would have slowed down WAY before then without him pacing me (and me trying to impress him like I always run at this pace, no problem!). I glanced at my watch as it hit the 23 minute mark, and my spirits fell as I realized there was no way I was going to finish in under 25. I didn't slow down any more however, and as I rounded the last sharp turn through the gate, I could see the clock- it said 24:30 or so, and if I sprinted I might just still make it...

24:46!!!! AAAAAaaaaahhhhhh!

Well, that's the official time posted on the board, but both Turi and I stopped our watches at about 24:55. (That's quite time difference!) But who cares? They both say that I finished in under 25 minutes! WHOO-HOO! Turi, always the gentleman, let me run through the chute first, and I came in 50th overall (out of 350ish, I'm guessing). While I was running, and after I finished, I thought, is it worth it to run for time, and push myself this hard? Don't get me wrong, I'm all for testing and stretching limits and making new goals and pushing hard. But I would have enjoyed the run so much more if I hadn't set a time goal for myself, and that's what I do these races for: getting good exercise, enjoying the fresh air and the scenery around me, running with others and sharing a good run, and maybe even a little competition if there is someone running at about my same pace (when they're not pacing me) that I can try to keep up with or even pass. I decided that I probably won't be setting such a specific goal in the near future (although the memory of the tiredness of my lungs is already fading), and that I should stick to finishing without stopping, and maybe a general time goal to fit the course (finish this half marathon in under 2 hours 30, or something like that).

And then I looked at the overall ranking by age group.

I came in 2nd! HOLY COW! I never expected that I'd place! And the first place runner was only 30 seconds in front of me- if only I hadn't slowed down, maybe I could have caught her! Well, I might not have lost 30 seconds because we didn't slow down that much, but who knows? If I'd seen her, maybe I could have pushed a little harder to make a last second pass... Not only did they call my name out during awards and put a medal around my neck, but I also won a $25 gift card to Scheels! That made me rethink my position on setting time goals. Winning stuff totally rocks! That was almost better than making my time goal. :)

Here is a picture of Turi and me post-race.

Did I mention that it was 70's themed run? They gave out a prize for best costume, but I think Turi got gypped. The woman who won didn't have that great a costume- she just had a fro the size of a beach ball, and that's why she got the big shiny trophy. Turi wore a cummerbund and matching bow tie for goodness sake! Here's a pre-race shot just as the sun was starting to peep through~

I think Turi nailed it when he said that it pays off to run in small races, especially when they break down the age groups into small brackets to maximize on medals given out. Thank you Turi for being my pacer man and helping me meet my race time! Even though I can be whiny at times, I had a great time, and absolutely utterly and entirely appreciate you running with me. :)