Friday, August 31, 2012

blue is best

i don't know what it is about the fair, but i love it.

well, i lie.  we all know what the biggest draw is:  food on a stick, preferably deep-fried into oblivion and hopefully sprinkled with some powdered sugar.  and i don't discriminate - i love both the los angeles and orange county fairs.  they're the only ones that are anywhere near us, although i bet it would be fun to check out other counties' offerings too.  maybe someday.

plus, there's the shopping sections dedicated to all sorts of awesome crap i never knew i needed.  you know, stuff like the shamWOW!, magical slushy makers, mops that practically do the work for you.  that's always lots of fun, and i usually fall prey to at least one as-seen-on-tv-type gadget.

the other thing i like checking out is the culinary competitions.  i always wonder how they judge a bazillion different chocolate chip cookie entries, or decide which homemade bread deserves a ribbon.  and it's always fun to check out the cake decorating contest.  there are some really talented folks out there.  last year, i noticed plates of decorated sugar cookies and thought, huh.  it would be super fun to try for a ribbon myself, and i vowed to keep an eye out for it for 2012.  you know where this is going, yes?

yup.  i managed to find all of the information and an entry form at the l.a. county fair's website, and because i am a fabulous procrastinator managed to get mine postmarked on the very last day.  it cost all of $2 to enter the sugar cookie competition, and i started brainstorming right away on which design i'd submit.  i felt very 4-H, but hey - it'd be kinda all sorts of awesome to add a blue ribbon to my accomplishments for 2012.  or red, or whatever comes in third.  but you know.  YOU KNOW what i want is blue.  that only-child syndrome rears its ugly head at really odd times.

as the day to drop off my entry loomed near, i got super lazy (shocking, i know) and ended up going with one of my simpler designs.  i only had to submit six cookies, and so i opted for the cutesy vote with these:


now, they are slightly different from the usual baby face cookies i do.  i added the bonnet with a flower and a little sparkle.  and every one of that half dozen had a different facial expression.

the girls and i piled into the car on a super hot afternoon to drive the few miles over to the fairplex and deliver them.  the fair opens tomorrow, so it was kinda cool to get in there for a sneak peek at what's to come.


some lucky folks were heading into the gate for a special media food preview.  man, that would've been fun.


after checking in with the security guard, we received a parking permit and drove onto the fairgrounds.


look at all the incredibly unhealthy but super delicious-sounding grub we came across!




the girls dropped me off at the stadium, where the culinary styles section was located.



the ladies inside were really nice and gave me a bit of a boost with their gushing compliments on my cookies.  there were tons of tables behind them that held all of the baking competition entries - cakes, cookies, breads, you name it.





they said that when the fair opens today at 3, this section would be all cleaned up and all of the items that placed would be displayed in the cases.  so basically, if my cookies didn't stack up against the competition they'd be tossed out, never to be seen again.  how sad.  i'm still hopeful, though.

one more glance at all the stuff being set up before we headed back out the gate:


the fair always has some great deals on admission on opening weekend - like, $1 for the first few hours.  since we live so close by, i think i'll drag the girls over there to check things out, maybe ride a ride or two, grab a snack, and oh yes - run my ass off straight over to culinary styles to see if my damn cookies made it or not.

oh, and if you happen to be up at 5:45 am PST on sunday morning, i'll take all the good luck vibes i can get.  that's when i'll be dressed and waiting in my corral for the disneyland half.  woohoo!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

we ran the grove

with our avon walk coming up in a matter of weeks, the teen and i need to get some training walks done.  and when i saw this tweet from the grove in l.a., i decided this would be a fun way to get one in. and because i'm such a sucker for a free tee and goody bag, we made sure to get there nice and early.  plus, we faced zero traffic and found a parking spot with no problems.


there was a tent set up on the lawn, so we headed over to check it out.




goodies were available for the first 75 attendees, so we made sure to put our names down on the sign-in page.  and then there was nothing to do but stretch...and wait.


signage for the pacers.  i figured this was the only time i'd ever see this.


as we sat in the shade and watched people stream in by the dozens, a running club gathered behind us to warm up.  it was funny to listen to their leader direct them to drop into this pose and say "let's do this one a few times, because we always get our picture taken and maybe we'll end up in a magazine!"  it was funny to see that guys can be total attention whores too.



you can see how crowded it got by the time the run was supposed to start.  and it was HOT.  like, i don't typically go out for a run when it gets over 75.  and so when we heard that there was also a 5K option - well, we took it.


there was a band onstage, and the lead singer managed to insert all sorts of funny references to running, nike, and the grove into the songs.  and then a dude from the nike running club hopped onstage to thank everyone for coming, offer some encouragement and reminders to stay hydrated and put on sunscreen, and then began calling out groups by pace to get started.


our 5K group was pretty small, and we were the only ones with a stroller.  no biggie.  and the bean, after a few minutes of sitting there and watching the scenery, got bored.  but i'd come prepared for that. i know my kids pretty well.


remember the old navy pop-up shop (how could you forget!)?  it was on our route, and with another 45 minutes until it opened there was quite a long line out there.  they'd added "free jeans for all" signage to the building's exterior, and who doesn't love a freebie?


also on the route was one of our favorite spots.  mmm, nutella milkshake.


we actually managed to make it to the front of the pack, thanks to spurts of random jogging.  to be honest, as we walked along - even at a brisk pace - i was absolutely itching to break into a run.  who'da thunk it?  but i let the teen take the lead, and we ran whenever she felt like it.  she was pushing the bean, so she had a bit of added resistance.  all in all, we probably did the 3 miles in about 45 minutes.

fun freebies awaited us when we returned triumphantly to the grove.





the bean was excited to get out of the stroller and stretch her legs a bit.  plus, she got a little waterplay in too.


we were starving by then, so we headed over to the farmer's market and got some grub.  the bean knows that this is the place where she gets to eat delicious corned beef.  "i can cut it all by myself, mommy," she said.


and what's a good meal without a treat at the end?


on the way back to the parking structure, we stopped at the grove's newest addition.


amazingly enough, we managed to get out of there without spending a dime.  sweet.

oh!  here's what was in those goody bags.  while the t-shirt is pretty cool, and extra shoelaces are never a bad thing, the teen and i were pretty satisfied with the actual bag itself.  it's pretty darn nice, especially for a freebie.


i wish we were closer to the grove.  the nike running club meets twice a week, and the route is pretty nice.  maybe when it gets cooler, i'll make my way out there again.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

heading to the bar(re)

so i like to consider myself as being fairly decent in the fitness department.  i've been working out consistently for over a year now (whee!) and i feel strong and more toned than i've ever been in my whole life.

until i decided to cash in a groupon i bought for pure barre classes in pasadena.  good googly moogly, people.  that was quite an eye-opening 55 minutes, lemme tell you.  i must confess that it wasn't necessarily my first time at this rodeo - back in my junior leaguin' days i joined a group of girls for a similar class that damn near broke me.  obviously, enough time has passed for me to forget all about the agony that was bar method.  heh.

it's a pretty cool looking place, this pure barre.





beyond these doors awaited a handful of torture devices that added to the misery that i voluntarily put my body through.




and this made me smile.


because i really had no idea what to expect, i plopped my instruments of doom somewhere in the middle of the floor and sat down to do a little stretching.  there was an older lady next to me who told me it was just her second class, and another one beside her who'd also just done the class for the first time the day before.  as we chatted, more and more folks showed up - most clad in the uber trendy lululemon gear that i myself have become rather addicted to.  of course, they were all super slim and looked way better in it than i did, but whatever.  i rock my shit, yo.

and then it was time.  the instructor took her place...directly in front of me.  mothereff!  figures.  there i was, in my super sloppy hair and spare tire on prominent display in my hot pink lululemon tank top, already sweating my ass off five minutes in.  and as i glanced furtively around in between stretching exercises, i noticed the lady next to me following along easily, bending herself into a damn pretzel and smiling the whole time.  WTF.  and on my other side, miss all-in-black-lululemon (who also had a good decade on me) dropping easily into the splits - something i haven't done since 1987.

as the class morphed from floor stretching to barre exercises and back to the floor again, i managed to keep up...sorta.  i did have to take breaks when it just got to be too much, and as i poured sweat from every inch of my body i watched my legs shaking from the exertion of the poses.  no pain, no gain, mofos.

when it was over, i was one hot ass mess.


i've got two more classes on my groupon, and i've got 30 days to get 'em done.  i think i'll just spread them out over the next two weeks.  but i can see how effective the routine is, so i went ahead and scooped up a DVD from the display that i can do with the teen at home.


because i never get out to the old town area solo anymore, i decided to stroll along colorado boulevard. besides, i had a top from lululemon that i wanted to exchange for a different color, and so i actually had to go.  had to!

i made a couple of other stops before i remembered that there was a 'lette macaron shop nearby.  and - how convenient! - it was right on my way back to the parking structure where i'd left the pri-YES.  lucky me.




the teen and i are already fans of these things, having tried them at fashion island down in newport beach during our paddleboarding/segway-ing extravaganza.  and despite the fact that i've made macarons before - quite a few times - having these taught me that mine ain't shit.  like, comparing my macarons with the ones from 'lette is like comparing a ford pinto to a freaking bentley.  although these are pricey as hell.  for what i paid for four perfect little cookies, i could have made several dozen.


and then i stopped at the coffee bean next door for a refreshing iced tea before finally making my way to the car and driving just a bit farther to pick up a delicious lunch for me and the teen at porto's bakery.

so, yikes.  solo trips to pasadena are not wallet friendly.  like, at all.  behold:


yeah.  not doing that again.  for my next pure barre class, i'm going in to get my ass handed to me by a 60-year-old, sticking to the water i bring from home, and walking my happy ass right back to the car.  go directly to home, no passing go, no spending $200.

oh, and no, my dear husband, i didn't spend anywhere near that.  it just sounded like a fun way to end my story.
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