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Friday, April 28, 2017

still workin' it

i've always wanted to go to a fancy gym.  you know, like where they have all of the coolest, most state-of-the-art equipment and a ton of different group fitness classes all day long and fully stocked locker rooms with a hot tub and a sauna (even though i hate those because i'm not one to get hot and sweaty on purpose like that) and a spa and some of those nice cool scented towels.  the closest one of those to us is all the way in pasadena, which is way too far for me to go on the regular for a workout and probably costs an arm, a leg and a big toe to join anyway.

but a couple of my friends are members of a place like this.  and i've been bugging one of them to join me at a barre class for ages and ages.  we finally got our schedules lined up last week and she made the drive up to la verne to meet me at xtend for a class, and it also just so happened to be the one that marked the return of one of my all-time favorite instructors from maternity leave.  that was a great barre day.

kirkette said she really enjoyed the class and hoped to come back soon, but in the meantime invited me to come down and spend a morning with her at the equinox gym she was a regular at.

she didn't have to ask me twice.  not even a whole week after, i dropped off the bean at school and headed down to irvine, where i found that the gym was located in a gigantic multi-building office complex.

i managed to find a parking spot that was neither for visitors (because it had a 2-hour limit and i knew we'd be there for longer than that) nor reserved, and made a mental note as to what level i'd left the car on.  i also managed to get a little lost on the way to the gym, but finally figured it out and ran right into kirkette as i headed towards the entrance.  we took this to send to our friend diane, who worked super close by and would be there for class at lunchtime.

it was fun to see kirkette in her element as she toured me around the ginormous facility.  she knew most of the people we passed and introduced me to all of her buddies.  we grabbed cups of ice water, placed our bags into lockers, and she took me through all of the levels and showed me where everything was.  i'd left my phone in the locker and it wasn't really appropriate to take pictures anyway, so you'll just have to take my word for it that this gym was pretty freaking fantastic.

we took a pilates class first that worked core muscles and got me nice and stretched out.  i was pleased to see that i was able to hang pretty easily since a lot of the moves were similar to ones we do at xtend.  we had a little break between classes, and then it was time for something that scared the shit out of me...and it was called "full throttle."  holy crap.

the class consisted of 3 circuits with 3-4 exercises in each.  you had 3 minutes to get through all of the reps, and the instructor wrote the sequences on the giant mirror that hung at the front of the room. we grabbed a heavy and medium set of weights and a bosu ball, and after a warmup that consisted of jumping jacks and several other basic exercises, we got started.

the first circuit had us doing pendulum lunges with weights in hand, rows while balancing on the bosu ball, and then oblique crunches on the bosu.  then the class was divided in half, with some of us going out to run up the stairs to the top floor of the building and back while the rest of the class held plank on the floor.  when we got back to the room, we traded places and then got set up for the next circuit.

we started off with dead rows balancing on one leg holding heavy weights, then did kneeling shoulder presses and then planks on the bosu while raising alternate arms (and legs, if you could handle it).  once that circuit was done we went straight into the last one, where we did squats holding heavy weights, floor-to-ceiling snatches (yeah, i laugh at that term every time), shoulder presses while laying on the bosu ball, and then sets of 20 mountain climbers in plank.  the last round of cardio had half of us running up all those damn stairs again and then doing a wall sit, capped at 90 seconds.

i was pretty much dead by the end of that class, but was proud of myself for completing all of the reps for each circuit in the 3 minutes we were given.  i snuck this using kirkette's phone, which she'd brought as she wanted to show a picture to someone in the front office.

granted, i wasn't using very heavy weights - i'd picked up a set of 8s and 10s, not knowing what to expect while not wanting to kill myself.  and by that time it was 1:00 and i had to get going to beat traffic and pick up the bean from school.

remember how i'd made a mental note as to where i'd left my car?  yeah.  in m post-workout haze, i totally got mixed up as to which level i'd been on and then where exactly on that floor i'd parked.  i went up and down the stairs probably another ten times as i wandered around looking for the damn car, and it took me a solid THIRTY MINUTES to finally find it.  it was like a third freaking workout, and i was exhausted by the time i finally slumped into the driver's seat.  i lucked out and didn't hit any traffic going home and even had ten minutes to spare by the time i got to school.  whew.

i was completely sore for two days afterwards.  but do i want to go back for another round some day?  HELL YEAH.  bring it on.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

the round of showers has begun

my cousin A's shower was held at chado tea room in pasadena, a venue i'm quite familiar with.  we've attended several other showers there and gone for an occasional tea sandwich fix.

when we arrived, i immediately noticed the cupcakes placed at each setting with pretty gold twine wrapped around the boxes and a cute little tag attached.

my cousin R served me up a mango bellini from the mini bar they'd set up on a table behind us.

and after we were served tea, the tiers of sandwiches, scones and desserts arrived.  there was one tier for each pair of attendees.

we played just a few fun games.  i managed to win the first, which gave us a minute to come up with as many movie and tv show titles with the words "bride," "wedding" or "love" in them.  my prize was a box of see's candy that the bean immediately pounced on.  we also played a trivia game about the bride and a purse scavenger hunt.  of course, i'd just cleaned out my purse before we left and ended up assed out of quite a few items.  although since i'd already won one game, i would have passed on a second prize.  i'd just have basked in the glory of the win.  heh.

we watched the bride open her presents, during which the bean presented her with a picture she'd hastily drawn on the back of one of the game sheets.

one of several group shots:

my cousin seven, one of the bridesmaids, had come down from san francisco for the weekend (they'd also done the bachelorette party the night before).

with my mom, as well as the bean's favorite family playmates - my cousin's daughters.  she and the older cousin are just a week apart.

it was a lovely shower, and we're looking forward to the next one in june.  we'll get to take a day trip up to santa barbara for that one, which will be fantastic.

gotta love weddings!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

i can bake more than cookies, you know

i have two cousins getting married this summer, and the first of the two is my cousin r's sister.  she contacted me a few weeks ago for recommendations for cupcakes to hand out as favors at her bridal shower.  while dots will always be our favorite, they're pretty pricey and didn't work with the budget they had set out for the shower.  you can guess where this is going, right?

after she gave me the color scheme and the bride's favorite cupcake flavors, i set out to find good recipes to use.  i was looking for a fresh strawberry cake recipe that i was going to pair with a strawberry cream cheese frosting, and i planned to do half of the cupcakes in chocolate topped with chocolate buttercream.  luckily, the internet came through as always and i got up early on sunday morning to make 3 dozen cupcakes.  first, i pureed the strawberries:

and in no time i had both flavors mixed up, baked and cooling on the counter.

while that was happening, i got to work on making the fondant toppers.  i went with simple hearts cut out of hot pink fondant:

and then mixed up the dark chocolate buttercream.  yum.

the shower colors were pink, gold, white and cream.  i'd bought some edible pearls the day before, and i was pretty pleased with how the cupcakes turned out.

with time running low, i added a couple of helpers to my assembly line to get the cupcakes boxed up and ready to go.

and then when it was all done, we sampled the strawberry cupcakes via some minis i'd baked up with the leftover cake batter.

not bad, if i do say so myself.  the bean concurred.  i'd forgotten how much fun it was to make cupcakes...and so much easier than cookies, i have to admit.  i only got a bite of the chocolate, but it was really tasty.  and now i can't wait till i have another excuse to make more!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

flying high for the last day of spring break

our last weekday of spring break 2017 was spent with friends who'd been stuck at home all week long while almost everyone in the family took turns being sick.  talk about worst break ever, boo.

and so we were excited to be able to hang out with them for at least one day, when everyone was finally well again.  after debating between a handful of different options, we settled on heading out to universal citywalk for some lunch and whatever else we might find along the way.

as many times as we've been here, we've never stopped at saddle ranch to eat.  i think i've been once or twice back in the day, but it was the bean's first time.

they played a little foosball while we waited to be seated.

the food wasn't bad, reasonably priced, and then everyone was excited when the server dropped off a plate of complimentary DIY s'mores to make at the fire pit just outside.  i never pass up a chance to roast some marshmallows.

and then we headed out to see what sort of mischief we could find.

for a friday afternoon, we were a little surprised to find no line at the newly opened voodoo doughnuts.

but no one was ready for a treat quite yet, and so we decided to keep walking and come back later.  just around the corner we found something that i kind of figured we'd (or rather, the kids would) end up doing:

the bean has wanted to try this forever, and her friends had both done it at least once before.  we decided to split a package and got two out of the three kids (the third wasn't really feeling it) into orientation and suited up.

they joined their group in the tunnel and listened to some final instructions before getting started.

they each got two turns, and i loved watching the joy on my kid's face as she floated.  she couldn't peel that smile off of her face if she tried, heh.

it was over all too soon.

we laughed at her goggle face, and then she went up to accept her certificate.

there was still just one person in line to get into voodoo doughnuts, and so we decided to get in while the getting was still good.  we perused the menu while we waited:

it only took a few minutes of waiting before we were allowed inside to join the (still short) line.  there was lots to look at in there:

this would make a pretty fun halloween party prop, with or without the donuts.

i managed to resist the lure of the merchandise, but we all had fun checking everything out.

 and then we were finally at the front of the line.

i already had a good idea as to what we were going to order, but it was still fun to look at all of the different flavors.

 with pink box in hand, i left one happy camper.

there's grape ape, voodoo double bubble, the loop, and the mascot in there.  yum.

it was a pretty warm day, and the kids had all come prepared with bathing suits and extra clothing because there's a super fun waterplay area in the middle of city walk.  after getting all warm and sweaty in those flight suits, they were pretty happy to cool off at the splash pad.

luckily, we didn't hit much traffic on the way home and ended up at a local sushi spot for dinner together.  we were seated in their back room, where we sprawled out at the giant table, the kids spread themselves out on the couches and got handed the remote for the tv.

sushi, comfy seating and nickelodeon on the big screen - no better way to end a fun day together.

squeezing in all the sightseeing

this was our NYC home for a whole week: it was one of only a few hotels that i could find that offered two beds in a room rather than, say, ...