Monday, April 30, 2012

Run, Munchkin, Run!

Munchkin has been training for the ING Kids Marathon since February. When she heard about it she was a little hesitant but then decided to jump in and run. When she found out two of her friends from school were going to do it too that made her even happier. This was a cumulative marathon so over the course of the training the kids ran 25 miles and ran the last mile of the marathon with 7000 other kids the night before the County Music Marathon.
 On Friday I picked my kiddos up early from school. The fourth graders have been taking the standardized tests but they were over in the morning. We met up with Bobby for lunch downtown and then walked to the marathon expo. There were so many people packed into the convention center you could hardly walk. And I have never in my life seen so many shapely calves...of course you could tell who the people were that were there with the runners...that includes me....

We walked around and picked up samples of things like Gu and coconut water. Munchkin even won a giant stuffed shoe on her first try to throw a ping pong ball into a tennis shoe.

Once we were done at the convention center I decided we should head over to LP field. I am so glad we left when we did because it was CRAZY. I am not sure if the planning commission thought much about 7000 kids coming downtown to start a race at 5PM on Friday but as you can imagine traffic was a mess. It took me 45 minutes to go the 2.2 miles from downtown to the stadium.
 Once we were finally parked at the stadium we were able to walk around for a little bit before heading to the designated starting area. Our school only had about 30 kids running so we were a little lost in the crowd. I was so thankful for our school t shirts though because we could at least pick each other out. There was at least one school there with over 400 kids. We finally met up with our group and let the kids head to where they needed to be. One mom ran with our 3 fourth grade girls. It made me feel a little better to let Munchkin out of my sight in the madness with another mom running. We were pretty close to the starting line so once the kids passed us we started toward the finish line.

 I as so happy to see Munchkin come running with her friends and friends mom. The four of them were holding hands as they raced to the finish line. To get pictures at the finish line I was standing on tiptoe next to a guy who was probably 6'2" and behind another guy who was taller than me (I know, that is not much of a feat). I was glad to see the absolute excitement on Munchkins face when she and her friends crossed the finish line!

 After the race was over the girls got their medals, a bunch of snacks, and a bag to carry it all in. To celebrate we took Munchkin to dinner at Rafferty's...away from the downtown madness. Then she crashed hard on the way home. I didn't have to carry her in but she did go straight to bed when we walked in the door. Over all this was a fantastic experience for her and I hope it will instill a love of being active in her and that she will want to do it again! :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spam and Anchovies: Italian Night

Kenna, Anne, Melissa, Melissa, Vanessa
 Friday night was my monthly cooking club: Spam and Anchovies. It was Italian night and I got to host! Now, I have to apologize in advance to my girls. I did not get a photo of the lovely biscotti Melissa (in the middle) brought and I did not get a photo of the delicious Tiramisu Melissa (2nd from the right) brought.

Caprese Salad
Caprese Salad
 I like to think that I am organized enough that I can be a good hostess but I don't really think I am. I made the main dish, which was baked ziti and I made a caprese salad. I did not have a corkscrew to open the wine (had to borrow one from my neighbor), I did not have wine glasses to drink said wine out of, I didn't tell anyone I was making Caprese Salad, I did not even think about coffee (I think my pot is on a shelf in the basement), and I used plastic plates. Yeah......
Baked Ziti
 Even though I felt like I did poorly as host at least we had lots of fun conversation, we got to know a new friend, and the food we had was delicious. We had the added benefit of Kenna's first hand Italian knowledge as she lived there for awhile. Kenna brought cantaloupe and prosciutto and we ate that as a palate cleanser between the 2 Caprese Salads and the Baked Ziti.

Cantaloupe and Prosciutto
Like my centerpiece? I tried to find those old candle holders that you saw at places like pizza hut..I don't know, they seem Italian to me..or at least in my foggy memory they do.


 Anyway, this was a fun gathering at my house this month and I am looking forward to Greek night next month at Beth's! :)





Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Vultures

 I will start this off with a quick disclaimer. If you are squeamish about dead animals don't scroll to the last picture. If you are fascinated by the circle of life check out the dead possum in the last picture. :)

My knowledge of vultures is pretty much limited to the two hanging out on the branch in Splash Mountain. Of course those two talk and I am sure these do not. On our way home from school yesterday we saw about 8 vultures congregating in a field. We had an extra friend with us so after dropping him off we went back to see if we could get close to the vultures. Typically I see them flying over the freeway when there is a deer that has been hit by a car.
 These guys were about to feast on an opossum that had been in the field. By the time we got back they had dragged it out to the side of the road. The kids and I hung out for fifteen minutes or so watching this "Venue" of vultures avoid cars, fight with each other, and dismember the poor opossum. I am pretty sure we saw at least one kidney go flying....

 These are my two favorite shots I got of these Black Vultures. Watch Out!! Coming in for a landing!!
 At one point there were several vultures sitting in the tree. I am sure they didn't appreciate being approached to have their photo taken but I figured I was less of a threat than a 2000 pound car coming straight at them. The vultures in the tree reminded my a bit of the Disney vultures..

 At the end we left the last vultures dismembering the opossum. The kids were kind of grossed out but as Bobby explained to them later, that is just how it is. The vultures have to eat and they take care of some of the animals that get hit and killed. They did think it was kind of fun to see the birds up close and personal though. :)

{TWD} Bill's Big Carrot Cake

 Way back in 2008 Laurie of Slush started TWD. The first recipe I stumbled upon was Snickery Squares. I missed several recipes in the beginning and thought I would fill in extra weeks with rewinds on the recipes I didn't get to. This particular recipe was chosen by Amanda of Slow Like Honey. way back in 2008. You can click the link to see her experience with this cake..or 3 cakes that she made. :)
I had a pot luck with my students last night and thought this would be a good recipe to take. It really came together fairly quickly. I only have 2 round cake pans though so I had to split the batter and bake in two batches. My students loved this carrot cake! They thought it was really tasty and I did too. I am really not a big fan of carrot cake, I am not sure why though sine I like it when I try it. This was really good though..even if it is a little like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. ;)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

{TWD:BWJ} Lemon Loaf Cake

 Well, here it is Thursday instead of Tuesday and I am just now posting. Why? Because I am just that lame. I actually made this lemon loaf cake a month ago. Ah well. It was delicious. My students loved it..even with the slightly not quite done part on the top. I made a lemon glaze for the top too. It was tasty! :)
If you are interested in this recipe check out Truc of Treats with candies lemon or Michelle at The Beauty of Life for the recipe. Enjoy!! :)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tribute to a Trusty Honda Civic

Once upon a time in a time far away...or what was known as 1997...Bobby and I both graduated from Azusa Pacific. We also got hitched. For graduation his parents gifted him with a brand new Honda Civic. For the years prior he had been driving an early to mid eighties blue Volvo Station Wagon. For a very brief stint I had an early 80's Volvo sedan...but that is another story for another day. :)  Little did we know that the Honda Civic would last us a very long time. We started our married life in that car. After the ceremony we scrunched my ginormous dress into the front seat and considered going through the drive through at McDonald's before hitting the reception. But alas, our brains won out over our stomachs when we decided I would probably spill ketchup on my dress...no bueno for pictures.
 In 1998 our sweet silver Honda got a twin. A very smooth salesman talked us into the blue civic. Since we liked our 97 so much of course we should have a 98 as well...Since he took my even smaller Honda hatchback  (that had recently broken down on my way home from work) it was a deal. Aren't our twin cars cute in the driveway of our first house? Life went on for the next couple of years and apparently I didn't get any more pictures of our cars. We lived in California, commuted to work, had the flu where getting into a car that was 120 degrees actually felt good, had many dates to the movies, drove to San Antonio for a wedding, drove to Oregon for a reception, drove to Northern CA to see my family, drove to Arizona for Thanksgiving. Our little silver Honda got a workout those first couple of years traveling all over the place.
 In 2001 we picked up and moved with Bobby's band, Daily Planet, to Tennessee. While Bobby was commuting in the Honda every couple of weeks to his job I was working at The ScrapYard fairly close to home. We kept my Blue Honda until the lease ran out and then sent it back. One day while I was working Bobby was going to bring me lunch. Someone turned out and hit the side of our car. The guy then tried to say that Bobby hit him...with the side of his car....yea.....Thank goodness for insurance as we were able to fix up the side of that car. It was good as new! 2001, as you know, was also the year the twin towers fell. We actually had a trip planned to Pennsylvania for a friends wedding so we decided we would go Washington, DC as well. We took that trip in our Trusty Honda Civic, went to the White House, and actually drove up to the front door of the Pentagon. The highlight though was seeing my beautiful friend Jen get married!
 In 2002 we brought our first baby home in the Trusty Honda Civic. It was the most nerve wracking drive of our lives. I sat in back with Munchkin and Bobby navigated the streets with our new precious bundle of joy. It was also pouring rain..that was not much help for his nerves. Munchkin became a seasoned traveler all before she was 6 months old. Not only did she get to have her diaper changed at Belle Meade plantation on the back of the Honda, she got to be in her car seat all the way to Florida for Rock the Universe at Universal, Orlando. It is not wonder she was not a fan of being stuck in her car seat.

In 2004 we brought Little Man home in The Trusty Honda as well. We went to playgroups, Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS), church and all kinds of fun activities. In 2005 right around the time of the next photo we found out about Little Mans ACC (Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum).
 We spent a lot of time in the Trusty Honda Civic in 2005 going to physical therapy and occupational therapy. It was good for both kids though. Little Man wanted to do anything Munchkin did so if the therapist couldn't get him to do something Munchkin would do it first so he would copy her.
 In 2006, (at 23 months) Little Man started walking. I just love that he is mowing the grass here. He wanted to help his daddy any time he was outside. :)
Even though Munchkin has never been a fan of the car and pretty much refuses to sleep, Little Man adores the car and can fall asleep in 5 seconds flat. This day in 2007 they must have both been exhausted since they are both zonked out in the back seat.
 In 2008 we took the car to a nearby lot to shoot off fireworks. They are illegal in our county but on the 4th of July people usually look the other way. We didn't have anything that was shooting into the air and, of course, we picked up our trash. The car made a great seat for the kids to watch the action though. For several years in a row we drove to Texas for Thanksgiving. It is about 15-18 hours depending on what part of Texas we were heading to. So, again in 2008, the Honda proved how trusty it was.
 In 2009 our Trusty Honda Civic was starting to show its age. When you are slipping out of 3rd gear it is time to bite the bullet and go above and beyond normal maintenance. The Trusty Honda got a new transmission and Bobby was able to continue commuting and getting 35 MPG. We also had a Durango at this time that I was driving. We traded that in on a 2009 Nissan Versa though that has been pretty good to us so far. :)
 As 2010 rolled around we started to take the Versa a few more places than the Trusty Civic. It was now 13 years old and starting to get that smell that old cars get. There were also a few issues like broken CV joints and the heat was not what it once was. So, even though our Trusty Honda was still pretty trusty, and was still getting good gas mileage, it was kind of retired from taking super long trips.
In 2011 the Trusty Honda Civic kept moving along and kept working just fine but developed an oil leak that no one seemed to be able to find. Every couple of months Bobby would dump a couple of quarts of oil in the car and it would just keep on keeping on. It got to haul it's last Christmas tree to our house that year.

 Here we are in 2012. We saved and saved and finally had enough for a new (to us) car. Bobby took about a week to clean out the Trusty Honda Civic and decided to take it to CarMax and see what he could get. After getting some advice from our friend Grant he knew what he would take for it. When CarMax offered us exactly what we wanted we knew it was the right time for our Trusty Honda Civic to find a new home. As I followed him to CarMax I actually got a little teary! This is the trusty car we started our married life in, sat in front of the first home we rented and the first home we bought,  brought both of our babies home in, and traveled the country in. It is car that I associate many joyful memories with. I only home that it finds another family to be Trusty for. :)
 This is the day we sold our Trusty Honda Civic. I would like to note the small child in the second photo is a photo bomber.....
Goodbye Trusty Honda Civic.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

{TWD:BWJ} Pizza Rustica

What do you do when you have a husband that doesn't eat ricotta cheese? You go to Atlanta and make Pizza Rustica for your friends that will eat it. :) I had fun making this in Angela's kitchen this week. She has those lovely marble counter tops so rolling out the dough was a treat.
 I wasn't too sure about this recipe as I am not a huge fan of prosciutto. However, dicing it made it small enough that my texture issue wasn't a big deal. The only big problem with this was an unfamiliar oven. I have an electric stove that I have been cooking in for 10 years so I kind of know how long I need to cook things. Ang's oven is gas and shut off after the timer went off. So, it took about an extra half hour to cook all the way through. Even with the oven issues it still turned out really tasty. 
 Munchkin liked it but had a choking issue because she laughed and it went down the wrong pipe. Little Man loved it and ate it right up...that could have been the promise of peanut butter cookies though.. The Softball Star ate some and seemed to like it ok but wasn't going back for seconds and the Big Kahuna was not a fan. Ron and Angela ate it though and seemed to really like it. I did get a text from Angela that said she had leftovers and it heated up great the next day. So, thanks Ron and Angela for being my guinea pigs this week for this recipe. ;) I am glad you liked it!
 To me this was a pretty tasty recipe. The crust was sweet like pie dough while the inside was savory. Of course for someone who likes sweet and salty (salted caramel or pretzels and chocolate) it was a good combination.
If you would like to try this recipe you can check out Emily's post on Capital Region Dining Blog. You can also buy the book Baking with Julia and join in the baking fun! The contributing baker in the book on this recipe was Nick Malgieri who is an acclaimed pastry chef, author and teacher. Several of the TWD crew have his book Bake and are working though it as well. :) Make sure to check out how other bakers around the world did with this recipe by checking out the LYL. :)