Saturday, February 28, 2009

Blueberry Tart

I tried out a new recipe for a co-worker's birthday yesterday: Blueberry Tart. However. :) I used a mix of frozen blueberries and blackberries- tossed them in a pot with the sugar, and then added in the cornstarch/water mixture. I cooked it for about 2-3 minutes until it started to thicken. Easy-peasy. I didn’t even let it cool completely before I poured it on the crust and put it in the fridge to set.

This is the sugar cookie crust that I baked before hand. I baked it the day before, and it turned out pretty crisp; because it was so big I couldn’t store it in an airtight container, it hardened. I kind of had to chisel the tart into pieces for everyone, and use a metal fork to eat it with, but the crust and filling were actually complimentary! And just a squirt of whipped cream was a nice touch.

I’ll make this again, but not bake the crust so far in advance- maybe I’ll make the filling first and let it cool, and then bake the crust. I’m sure you can use any type of frozen or fresh berry for this recipe- it’s a pretty flexible one. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Verdi 5k: You've Gotta Be Crazy to Run

We had a bit of a last minute scramble getting this race on our schedules. My friend Dave, whom I used to work with at the NW Reno Library and who is now the Verdi Library branch manager, cued the rest of Team Library Dork into a race that he was participating in this weekend- the You've Gotta Be Crazy to Run 5k & 10k race put on by the Silver State Striders that started and finished at the Verdi Elementary School, which is right next door to the library. We got there a little early for registration, and then did our pre-race rituals (you know, stretching and Yoga! Or, at least I did anyway.) in the nice warm library, which was closed for the day, but luckily, I know a guy. :)

About 10 minutes before the start, we headed out, and of course it started snowing (hence the crazy part-that's what happens when you run in Reno in February. Or sometimes it's a balmy 70 and sunny. Who knows. It's Nevada-if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes.) Chris and Turi started up at the front, and Dave and I took up position closer to the middle. It was a good start, and the pack quickly thinned out. Dave and I ran together for about the first half mile or so. It was snowing pretty good at this point, so of course I had to stick out my tongue while I was running to catch some flakes. I'm sure I made quite the picture chasing down those bigger snowflakes instead of concentrating on the run. Ha ha! Anyway, there was a decent hill that I did just as Coach Jenny said and didn't go out to conquer, but made friends with it instead. In one of her posts she said to go slow (I didn't stop running!) and don't use up all your energy only to have to walk the runnable part at the top. It's funny- I did see several people speed by me, only to stop and walk at the apex while I kept going right on past. (On side note, I also saw someone sprinting and then walking, sprinting and then walking. We had a discussion about it after the race, and while yes, that is a training technique, you don't do that in a race! I played leap frog with that guy for a while, but he wore himself out after a while, and then I didn't see him again.) After that hill, there was a nice flat section, then we turned around for a fun not-too-steep part where I picked up the pace and just let myself go. I was really enjoying the beauty of the snow covered mountains, and the camaraderie of running with others in love with this sport. After one last surprisingly short but energy zapping hill, I saw Chris jogging toward me to cheer me on (who ran with me and give me a little speed boost), and I finished with 27:08 on my watch. Not a great time, but okay considering the hill in the first third of the race. Chris finished in the 18 minute range, an Turi in 23:30ish. Dave came in just a minute behind me. I felt really good, and it was nice to do a short race after last weekend's half marathon in Davis. Turns out, both Chris and Dave won third place in their age groups, and I got second in mine! We won water bottles. I've said it (once) before, and I'll say it again: winning stuff totally rocks! Here we are posing with our loot:

Yes, Chris is wearing my $2 shorts I found on the sales rack- I scored like $150 of running gear for 30 bucks! How awesome it that?! The post-race shot of Team Library Dork~

Thanks guys! I had a lot of fun today, both running and hiding things randomly around Dave's library...

Update: And the results are in! I came in 37th overall, and second in my age group- listed at 27:09. Only 50 seconds behind the girl who beat me- I totally could have taken her on if I'd known... :) Ha ha!

Friday, February 13, 2009


I am such a lucky mom! I have two of the most thoughtful boys any mommy could ask for. Here is the Valentine Ashton wrote me last week, which Sean brought home yesterday since Ashton has been home all week with the flu (yes, the actual flu), including original spelling and punctuation:

Love is...

Love is when mom helps me with home work.
Love is good for good help.
Love is when a good dog is resting with me next to mom.
Love is siting by the fire.
Love is playing with my mom.
Love is sweet and cuddly
Love is a warm fuzzy hug
Love is your best friend
Love is a grate big smiyl
Love is siging with my mom

This is Sean's Valentine to Ashton, because he is sick with the flu this week (it was on a big pink heart, with a fold down front on which he colored a picture of the two of them on a sunny day, standing on the grass):

Dear Ashton

I hope you fele betr. I now you are going to mis the parte but I will take kare of you evre day and if you ask for a glas a water.

How sweet is that? Makes me feel all gushy inside, like I did something right. Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Kevin's Trombone Masters Recital

This post is a week late, but it's been that kind of week. Let me start off by telling you how hard and how long Kevin has practiced for his recital last Tuesday- at night, on weekends, and even at 5:30 in the morning, an hour before his jazz band starts. He prepared 3 solos, a brass quintet piece (my favorite kind of group to play in!), a piece which he directed his Wind Ensemble, and finally a piece that his high school band accompanied him on. There was over an hour's worth of music, including the 10 minute intermission. During the first piece, La Hieronyma (written in 1621), I could tell he was a little nervous and played it a bit on the technical side. But for the second and especially the third pieces, his anxiety dropped away and he played two very dynamic pieces with incredible feeling and virtuosity. Concerto per Trombone by G. Christoph Wagenseil (1741), and John Davison's Sonata (1957) in 3 movements. This third piece, was my favorite of the evening- so beautiful and flowing!

After the intermission, his brass quintet played Toccata by Girolamo Frescobaldi, the Canadian Brass version arranged by Fred Mills. This is my second absolute favorite brass ensemble piece (the first being Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor), and it was fantastic to hear performed. Steve Martin played trumpet, Josh Dunlap played piccolo trumpet, Kevin on trombone, Kevin Meitscke on french horn, and Cody Forcier on tuba. I've been lucky enough to perform with all of these guys at one point or another, with the exception of the horn player (who was awesome!)

Next, Kevin directed a piece called Communion, written by Carl Strommen, performed by the Galena High School Wind Ensemble. It has the theme of Be Thou My Vision, which I've been singing half my life at church. The tears started leaking during this piece, not only because I miss singing terribly, but also because it hit me how much we've grown since we met at band camp 15 years ago. And now he's up there directing his own bands and performing his master's recital and I am so incredibly proud of how far Kevin has come both professionally and in his own playing since then. He is a very expressive conductor. I wanted to attach a video clip of that piece so you could see Kevin's conducting style, but Blogger wasn't cooperating with me today.

The final piece was called Annie Laurie by Arthur Pryor and was written for trombone solo accompanied with a wind ensemble. This piece has SO many notes ranging all over the scale, skipping octaves, not to mention at tempo de presto. One of our UNR Wind Symphony peers (and probably the best flautist I know!), Dan Barthel conducted Kevin's band (since he's not quite able to conduct and play at the same time):

Talk about ending with a crazy piece to showcase your talent with! Thank you everyone for the support you've given Kevin during this stressful, but wisdom-building experience, to the performers mention above, Dr. McGrannahan (his trombone teacher and adviser) to Sue Goodenow who played wonderfully on the piano accompaniments, and to our great friend Dan for conducting the final piece. Finally, thanks to the 100+ people who were able to attend this once in a life time performance!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Davis Stampede Half Marathon

The three members of Team Library Dork all made the trip to Davis on Sunday for the Davis Stampede Half Marathon. Chris and I drove up with his wife Abby and daughter Hannah-Bannana on Saturday after we got off work, and stayed with her parents in Grass Valley. I spent a lovely evening with Abby's parents, who were kind enough to give me the softest bed for the evening, and watch Hannah play with Skoshi and Teagra, the kitties, and feed them their weight's worth in kitty treats. I, on the other hand, made friends with Chris's dogs, Merry and Pippin. What an nice change to be loved on by well-behaved dogs, unlike my Pirate who is just so excitable. We had some great Chinese food to store up some pre-race energy, and I had to keep my fortune since I'm taking Advanced Storytelling this semester for my masters:

"You have a flair for adding a fanciful dimension to any story."

How perfect is that?! I've been carrying it around in my wallet with my drivers license since then, so I can look at it every time I open it up. (However, if I ever get pulled over while driving, I might have to hide that really quick! Ha ha!)

Anyway, Sunday dawned with a red sun and a few clouds (this picture doesn't do justice to the brilliant red ball the sun was- I think burned my retinas taking this picture), and while it was a bit cold during the pre-race wait, it was a perfect temperature for running, 40s to mid 50s. I'd like to stop for a moment and say that I have the best running buddies a person could ask for. Chris, super ultra crazy ridiculous fast runner, has been pretty sick lately (turns out he has bronchitis), drove me to Davis even though he didn't run. He watched the 5k and 10k runners start and finish and went to a pretty cool little coffee shop while I ran, and took pictures. I know it was hard for him to watch and not run. Thank you thank you thank you Chris! You're an awesome supporter of the sport- and not just for me, but for everyone who ran. You totally rock! And then there is the very dedicated and non-sleeping Turi, who just happened to wake up at 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning and arrive just in time from Trinidad, CA where he did 8.75 miles in the Trinidad to Clam Beach Run just the day before, to run a half marathon on 3 hours of sleep! Amazing runners, these two. :) And I thank you too, for running with me and not letting me stop.

It was pretty chilly before the race, but I made Chris take a picture of us anyway with red noses and squinty eyes from the sun.

And another one of me shivering about five minutes before the start:

Here is the start line, and the bike pacers(?). I saw one of them weaving through the crowds a couple times, so I'm not sure what their role was in this race. Look for injuries along the course?

We started out at a good warm-up pace, and the sun came out from behind the clouds about 15 minutes into the race- I shed my sweatshirt at about mile 3. The biggest reason I wanted to do this race, other than as part of my training for the half I'll be running in DesMoines with Melissa, is because it is flat in Davis! And empty of trees and really any tall buildings, which means it can get pretty dang windy, which is the only thing that made me a little nervous about the run. But the wind only picked up a bit on the outskirts of the farmland we ran past, and the only hill was the climb up the road over the freeway (didn't have to do that twice since we got to run through a tunnel on the way back). Here is a map of the route, a nice big loop:
I felt pretty strong running the first half, but around mile 7 I started to drag a bit, and at mile 8 I took a Gu for some energy. I lagged a bit more and actually stopped to drink a full cup of water at the last 3 aide stations, walking for about 30 seconds at each. I could tell I haven't been training for the longer distances lately- I ran one 10-miler the Sunday before, and other than that, I think the longest distance I ran in January was 6 miles. But it's good to know that I can still pound out the long miles even when I don't train specifically for this distance! As it was, I was only 7 minutes behind my PR, which I set last year in May at the Reno Rock 'N River half. My final time was 2:05.47- which I'm completely happy with! I was there for the fun of running in a race, for exercise, and for training for the next one. Chris caught this picture just at the end:

About a quarter mile from the end, Turi got a burst of energy and put on the speed, passing people left and right for a speedy finish. I, on the other hand, stabbed myself trying to run and unpin my number from my butt (well, my sweatshirt), to hold in front of me so the announcer would know who I was. What you don't see the trail of blood behind me? Well, okay, it was only a tiny pinprick, but it still hurt! Speaking of hurt, my a favorite brand of running socks are Balegas. I have a couple pairs of running socks, and a couple pairs of trail socks. I didn't think it would make much difference if I wore the trail socks to my half since the running ones were in the wash. Well, let me just inform you, it does. I have 5 nice-sized blisters to show for it, even though they were Balega brand. And I haven't gotten a blister in a year. Anyway, here are the three of us dorks after the race:

Thanks guys for the support! I had a fantastic day! :)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Vegan Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes

Tonight, instead of creating some new concoction for dinner, I decided to try out a new recipe for dessert~ Vegan Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes! Doesn't that just sound, I don't know, sexy? (Well, maybe minus the Vegan part, right?) This recipe caught my eye on a link from a blog I like to follow called the Fatfree Vegan Kitchen, and after seeing the picture, and then the healthy ingredients, I just had to try it. I actually had every ingredient in the recipe, with the exception of spelt flour (no wheat allergies in my house, thankfully!), which I substituted for regular bread flour. As they were baking, my house smelled like chocolate heaven, and they were so beautiful when I pulled them out of the oven:

By looking at them, you'd never know there was fresh pureed spinach and zucchini instead of a ton of oil and butter as a moistener! The part that sold me, however, was the picture with the gooey chocolate center (and the chance to use my new ramekins I got for Christmas).

When I cut open the first cake, I was a little disappointed. I don't think I put in NEARLY enough chocolate to have the nice lava-y center like the picture accompanying the recipe. Mine have a little dark chocolate spot, but that was it. It was almost as if most of the filling was absorbed into the rest of the cake.

Oh well! Sean and Ashton sure gobbled theirs down without a clue to the healthfulness of the cake they were eating, although the bit of frosting I spread on top helped. I don't know if I'll fool Kevin when he gets back from class tonight, but I definitely enjoyed mine, even if it wasn't a drippy chocolaty mess. (Side note: Ashton still managed to make a chocolaty mess- it was all over his face, and even in his ear when he was done!)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Long, Early Run

Today I headed out for a nice easy 10 mile run down by the river. At 6:30 a.m. Yes, that's right, just before the sun was coming up, at the coldest part of the day. A balmy 23 degrees! I'm only telling you this because I'm preparing for my first half marathon for the year: The Davis Stampede 1/2 next Sunday. I had a thought driving home today: I never dreamed I'd see the day that I would suggest to my running buddies a 10 mile run. But I did- it was my idea, that distance! Here's the route we took, starting from Idlewild Park. See? Not too bad.

Wish me luck next Sunday!