Friday, April 18, 2014

so i peep, yeah...

a few weeks ago, i came across a super cute set of cookie cutters at michaels:

i had absolutely no need for them, but i had to. i mean, duh. i figured it wouldn't hurt to add them to my (ever-growing, verging on ridiculous) cutter collection. after all, i had plenty of space in my "easter" box. heh. 

and then last week i realized that easter was almost here and i never got the chance to play with them. so sad. i lamented the lost opportunity via twitter, and a little while later my whining paid off. my friend kelley took one for the team and asked me to make some treats to serve at her family gathering. yesssssss. 

i managed to scrounge up containers of sanding sugar in my pantry in the exact colors i wanted to matching ribbon in my stash. 

pretty, right? so very spring-y and easter-y. 

so i've been doing this cookie thing for so long now that i've got it down to a science. the recipe has long since been engraved on my brain, so making the dough/rolling and cutting it out/baking the shapes is a snap. with only two dozen to make, i was ready to start decorating in about an hour. 

first, outlining and then flooding the cookies:

while the icing was still wet, i grabbed the sanding sugar and sprinkled the entire surface with it. and to ensure complete coverage, i poured on tons of extra. as i continued working, i shook off the excess onto the next cookie. 

and so on and so on until every last cookie was done. the next step was to do a quick outline for definition and add the little eyes and nose with brown icing. 

i try not to toot my own horn (at least, not super loudly), but i have to say, these turned out really cute. especially when placed in the bean's easter basket:

hope you have a wonderful easter!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

red velvet, sandra lee-style

like her mother, the bean is a big fan of red velvet everything. so when i suggested whipping up a batch of red velvet pancakes for breakfast last weekend, she was an enthusiastic sous chef.

when she was all done mixing up the batter, she stood on the stepstool to watch as i poured and flipped pancakes. they look pretty good, yeah?

as much as i enjoy cooking from scratch, these are way too easy to whip up using pancake mix as a base. they turn out perfectly every time, and i can bust them out in no time flat. wanna make some of your own? here's what you need:

1 1/2 cups buttermilk pancake mix. make sure it's the "just add water" kind. 
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
red food coloring

note: if you have a picky ass kid who refuses to eat veggies, you can add some puréed carrots, or squash, or sweet potato. you could even throw in some applesauce if you want, but just a little or it changes the flavor completely. also, i like to throw in 2-3 tablespoons flaxseed meal for shits and giggles. 

mix everything together, adding water until you get the right consistency for pancakes. as long as you've made some sort of pancake batter before, you should be able to eyeball it. and if it ends up too thin, just add a little more pancake mix until it's just right. 

oh! i also like to toss in a handful of mini chocolate chips, just for fun. and my sous chef loves to sneak a few into her mouth as she mixes them in. 

get your nonstick pan or griddle nice and hot. i usually melt a little butter in there to sort of "prime" the pan for the first pancake. and then you can take it from here, yes? cook each pancake until it bubbles and the edges are somewhat cooked through before flipping to finish it off. 

since the chocolate chips add a good bit of sweetness, i don't serve these with syrup. instead, i dust the top of the stack with a little powdered sugar. 

so there. now you know my secret shame. but i'm telling you..."just add water" pancake mix is where it's at. go get you some, pronto. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

take me out to the ball game

to be honest, i'm really not much of a baseball fan. it's slow and boring and just not my favorite thing in the world.

but when the hub said he'd gotten his hands on tickets for an angels home game with really good seats, it sounded like fun. plus, i love any excuse to go and eat a lot of really bad for me food. 

oh please. like you don't do the same thing at ballparks. psh. 

it was a beautiful day, bright and sunny and warm. 

and the hub hadn't exaggerated - these were awesome seats, right behind the angels dugout and third base. it was actually a little too sunny, and i was sweating in no time. shocking, i know. but now and then the sun would hide behind some traveling puffy white clouds, offering a bit of very welcome relief. 

the game started with a bang...literally. the first player at bat swung at a pitch and sent it sailing past the outfielders and into the bleachers of cheering fans. whenever this happens, there are fireworks ("WHAT. fireworks in the daytime??" - an incredulous bean), followed by bursts of fire. 

amazingly, that first home run was followed by two more. it was really loud in there, and the bean was not a happy camper. she's a delicate flower who hates loud noises. 

the teen was also not impressed. she acknowledged the greatness of our seats, but with less than zero interest in the game spent most of her time playing on her phone. still, she gamely posed for a group selfie. 

not too long after devouring her burger, the bean gave up and passed out in her sister's lap. 

we hung in there till the seventh inning stretch, and then we bailed. the angels had scored so many runs that it was just a bloodbath out there, so we were over it. 

she ended the afternoon on a sweet note. 

i'd had fun, but i bet the next time the hub gets tickets, he'll find some friends to take instead. heh. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

why yes, it DID hurt to fall from heaven

so, the hollywood half.  i've managed to hang on to "founding legacy" status (meaning, i've run this half since its inception in 2012), and i'm determined to keep it up till my damn legs fall off.

okay, hopefully that doesn't actually happen.

i am finding, though, that my running mojo has decreased considerably in the last several months.  i'm still excited to do at least one 5K per month with the hub, but it's been really difficult dragging my ass out there for training runs during the week.  i guess it doesn't help that i've been obsessed with my classes at xtend barre lately, too.  i'm fickle, people.  i bore easily.

still, i'm an enthusiastic card-carrying member of team superhero.  keeping up the level of excitement for superhero events is mandatory, and admittedly not very difficult to do considering the fact that i really like a lot of the folks i've met as a result of being part of this group.  and it was pretty fun to hang out with (and in quite a few cases, meet face-to-face for the first time) various members of team superhero.  interacting online isn't quite the same as spending a little time together in person, so that was a nice little bonus too.

the hub was signed up to run the 5K, which started at the same time as the half.  as always, i didn't sleep very well the night before (but managed to get myself in bed by 9:30, shocker), and didn't even need an alarm to wake me up.  good thing, too, because it turned out that i'd forgotten to set the damn thing.  that could've been bad.

ready to go!

we had to walk about a mile from our hotel to the start line.  i did manage to get a picture of us together before i had to join my fellow course angels for group photos and an introduction to the crowd onstage, but we both look really sleepy and puffy.  it's not a flattering photo by any means, and he'd probably kill me if i posted it anyway.

i managed to get up to the front in time to hop into the team superhero group photo, but missed the shot of the legacy runners.

my friend jen also managed to find me in the giant crowd.  we've often been at the same races, but hadn't been able to connect at any of them…until now.

course angels selfie!

finally, a shot of all five course angels together.

delovely details and her hubby were running too, and they'd put together "top gun" inspired outfits.  so cute and creative!

getting a little face time in front of the crowd gathering at the start line.

view from the stage.  that's a whole lotta people, yo.

out of the corner of my eye, i spied a familiar face just behind us.  i was excited to say hello to andrea barber (AKA kimmy gibbler from "full house") again.  she is so sweet and friendly.

standing next to her was her friend lily, who i'd gotten to know a little over the last year too.  it was really nice to see her in person again, and i was sad that we didn't have more time to chat a bit.

by then it was showtime.  because we needed to reach our posts as quickly as possible, we had special permission from the race directors to start in the corral with the elites.  i cannot tell you how scary that shit was - those guys are super intense and serious runners.  we're talking 5 and 6 minute miles here…and there was my 10:30-11:00/mile ass cowering on one side clutching my "course angel" sign.  i knew i'd never get this chance again, and let me tell you - i don't think i want it.

official pace car.

and then we were off.  we were off to the right side of this picture, not far behind these guys.  i mean, just look at them.  those are some intensely focused faces right there.

so, okay - the five of us were completely aware of the fact that we didn't belong in that group of runners.  like, not even a little.  totally different class of athlete here.  we did our best to squish ourselves to one side in a single file line, just like race etiquette dictates.  and it's not like we were stopped or even walking - we were definitely running.  and yet so many of those runners all around us were complete jerkfaces.  there was pushing and shoving, and even ray, the big guy in our group, felt himself get kicked from behind once.  we overheard muttered complaints and not-so-quiet jabs about how they didn't need us to cheer them on.  i've never felt like such a piece of shit during a race, ever.  was that really necessary?  i mean, it's not like they weren't in the corral staring up at us when we were introduced to the crowd onstage.  although they were partly right - we really weren't there for them.  they clearly didn't need to be cheered on - our purpose was to encourage and boost the spirits of the folks who would be far behind them on the course.

we shook it off, though, as the fastest runners left us behind.  we were focused on reaching our assigned posts, which for me was miles 9-10.  i was glad to be further into the course so that i could get the majority of my run done.  and as we settled into our natural paces, it was really cool to see that our assignments were just right.  our fastest runner sped up to get to her post at mile 12, and then the girl in front of me would stop at mile 11, the girl behind me was assigned to mile 7, and ray had mile 5.  there were a number of turnarounds on the course, and it was fun to catch a glimpse and high-five each other as we ran by.

i don't even remember where i was at this point, but it wasn't too long till i caught sight of the pace car on the other side of the road.  the guy in first place was right behind it - his time was 1:04.  holy crap.  i can barely do a 10K in that time.

i started losing steam somewhere around mile 7.  luckily, one of my superhero teammates was nearby and acted as my own personal course angel - he boosted my spirits, making me laugh and reminding me to stay hydrated.  oh, and this guy is a barefoot runner.  is that some crazy shit, or what?  he wears a costume for a lot of races, and he goes by "super goofy."  he's hilarious.

and he'd passed me up long before i finally reached my destination.  i've never been so happy to see a mile marker in my life.

i slowed down to a walk (well, i'd done plenty of walking up to this point), but when i checked my nike+ app, it turns out i'd still managed to maintain an 11-minute mile.  not awesome, but i'm satisfied with it.  from there the clock on my official race time would keep running, even though i wasn't.  as i walked to the next mile marker, i continued to cheer on the runners.

in direct contrast to the pace car, here's the "sag wagon."  this is the sweeper van that would pick up anyone who wasn't maintaining the proper pace to finish the race in time.  there was a 3.5-hour course limit, since the city needed to reopen the streets that had been closed for the run.

i wonder how much additional mileage i added that morning as i paced back and forth, offering support and encouragement to the runners who were struggling a little at that point.  i felt like i was yelling out the same things over and over again, but since there were new people passing me every minute or so, it was okay.  most of them perked up when they heard me say they were coming up to mile 10, with only a 5K left to the finish line.

this is the daughter of one of my teammates.  it was her first half, and her mom was so proud of her (for good reason).

the crowd thinned out eventually, with large gaps between runners.  finally, i spied my fellow course angels coming my way.  the plan was to meet up with each other and finish together as a group.

the finish line was just beyond the W hotel.

we picked up our last angel right before the 13th mile.  actually, we stayed there for a long time cheering on the runners who were pooped and ready to be done.  after a while, we finally decided to head up to the finish line and collect our medals.

ugh, pay no attention to the time on that clock above my head!  man.  that's a solid hour-plus behind what it normally would say.  but it was well worth it - it was such a blast to be a cheerleader again.  maybe next year i'll get to do this:

and because it was so late in the game, there were tons of choco pies left over.  when the volunteer offered to give me an entire box of the things, well…

haha!  and hey, it was awesome to earn this, too.

we hung out together long enough to run alongside the very last participant to cross the finish line.  that was definitely cool, and something i'd never even seen before.  usually i go, run my race, collect my bling and snacks, and i'm outta there.  but this year, i was there so late that i managed to snag a photo with rudy novotny, race announcer extraordinaire.

when i finally hobbled my tired ass up to the room, the girls were relaxing on the beds watching tv.  i headed straight for the shower, where i peeled off those sparkle sleeves and inspected what was left of my temporary tattoos.  one was completely intact:

while the other didn't fare nearly as well.

after i was all cleaned up and all the bags were repacked, we headed outta there.  bye, W hotel - till next time.

as the teen drove us home, i finally got the chance to inspect my newest addition to the medal collection.

hollywood half #3, check!
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