Friday, January 27, 2012

Hello people searching for mexican jello flavors

This is a recent (and not so recent) phenomenon.  Waaay back in August 2005, I wrote a small post about mexican jello flavors.  It seemed to be a draw to my blog, as I had people visiting my digital space to read my entry. 

It appears that, 5.5 years later (!), people are once again searching for mexican jello flavors and are coming here to read my thoughts on it.


And if you are one of those searchers/visitors, please post a comment expaining exactly why mexican jello flavors is something that you're searching for.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Powder days and power outages

I bought a season pass for this winter with the idea that I'd be skiing every weekend.  Season opened mid-November (or earlier, I can't remember).  I've been 3 times.  Partially because the snow has absolutely sucked, and partially because life has taken over.  I think I need to go 8 times to make the pass worthwhile - hoping I DEFINITELY make it up there at least 5 more times in the next 2 months.

The snow this winter has been very sad.  We got a ton in October, the ski areas opened up with enthusiasm, and then its barely snowed since. (sad face).  The past 2 weeks, however, have been really snowy, with the areas consistently getting 4 inches every other day or so.  Last weekend was the first big powder day - finally.

My pass is for Winter Park and Copper Mountain.  It looked like Copper would get more snow than WP, so my friend and I decided to go to Copper.  Good call - Copper had 9 inches of fresh snow, WP had 4.  We were up on the slopes by 9 AM and strangely, there weren't a bazillion people out.  I actually got to cut fresh tracks in a few places.

I am not a very good powder skiier.  I'm more of a "spring skiier", meaning groomed, packed, and sometimes icy slopes are what I'm used to.  Powder is tricky.  Instead of leaning forward, you have to lean back, or else you'll catch your tips and tumble.  Its also a LOT more work.  You can't ski as fast and you have to be more alert and able to pick up a ski quickly if it gets buried.  This is the one time where snowboarding looks better than skiing.  On mogul runs (we took several), my friend was gliding all over.  The definition of the bumps were harder to make out under the powder, which freqently led me to go *oof* into a knee-deep gully of powder.  Much more work.  Fun work, but work.  (especially after racing the day before).

We had done 5 long powdery fun runs and skiied down to the center base to hit the Super Bee lift and see what the bump runs looked like on the far side of the mountain.  Halfway up and the lift stops abrubptly with a pretty serious bounce.  A bit freaky as we didn't have the bar down on the lift.  Stopping on the lift isn't unusual, however, stopping and bouncing like that is.  We waited a bit.  Then waited some more.  And some more.  For what seemed like an unusually long time.  A guy on our chair whipped out his phone and saw that Copper had updated their facebook page:
A little more facebook investigation, and we discovered that Copper had to fire up diesel engines at the top of EACH lift to get us up the mountain and off the lift.  Huh. 

Occasionally we'd see a pack of people ski under us, presumably newly rescued from their own lift.  We were still stuck.  And we couldn't see the top of the lift, or any other lifts (trees, clouds, snow, and wind obscured our view) to see if things were moving. We also saw Copper staff hauling ass up and down the hill on snowmobiles, moving too fast to give us an update.  We assumed they were the mechanical crew zipping around, trying to get things running.

Also: it was COLD.  I had somehow decided to wear an extra layer before we left the car.  I had a new jacket and I wasn't sure how it would do in the forecasted windy conditions that afternoon.  This new jacket had vent zippable flaps under each arm, which I had unzipped that morning.  Sitting on that lift in the wind, I had to zip those suckers back up.  Once I did that, my body was pretty warm.  I just had a cold spot on my cheek (I think the wind was getting under my goggles at that spot) and my fingers were incredibly cold.  I kept making a fist inside my glove and moving my fingers around, but they were pretty cold and tingly.  I think if we were stuck another 30 minutes, my fingers would have been in trouble. 
Finally, the lift moved forward with a jerk.  And then it stopped.  And then we inched forward a bit, and stopped again.  We weren't bouncing so much, but a few chairs back were bouncing quite a bit.  Lots more stopping and starting, and each time, we were just hoping that we'd eventually make it up the hill.  Finally the lift was moving (although quite a bit slower than normal) and we could see puffs of exhaust from the diesel engine.  And hooray, we were finally off the lift after 30-45 minutes of being stuck.  A very nice Copper employee was handing out free comp lift tickets to be used later, which was a nice surpirse.  I would have been happy with a voucher for hot chocolate.  But seeing as the ENTIRE RESORT was out of power, hot chocolate probably wasn't even an option.

We took a bit to re-arrange our gear and to try and warm up our hands and took off down the mountain.  This was the final run of the day, so we had to make it count.  So we did, by taking a long bump run.  We got to the bottom at 1:30 and debated sticking around.  In the end, we decided that without power, even getting food or using the bathrooms at the base would be challenging.  Factor in traffic from thousands of other Denver people getting their powder on at the other resorts and crappy road conditions from snow and we decided to pack it in.  I would have liked more runs, but 6 is respectable, given the situation.

All in all, I think Copper handled things as best they could.  I would have appreciated more information when we got to the top of the lift (turned out they kept aux power going on the 4 main lifts to stay open for the rest of the day).  But in a power outage, communications even become challenging, as radios are operated by power.  And how do you communicate things to thousands of people spread out over an entire resort? In in the end, everyone was off the lift safely and pretty quickly (all things considered), and the free lift ticket is a nice bonus.

The only after effect is that my right index finger is numb.  I only notice it when I type or use my mouse.  Its weird.  And it tells me how close I was to getting frostbite.  I may have to look into getting better gloves....  Hopefully my next powder day goes a bit smoother :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Veggie Garden Planning - 2012

I somehow have some time on my hands, so I thought it would be fun to start planning our 2012 veggie garden.  Last year, we constructed a raised bed and planted seedlings we purchased from a nursery.  I think we spent almost $100 on the seedlings.  The problem was that due to IMTX, we couldn't actually work on the raised bed and garden until June.  Sadly, our garden hardly did anything.  I think I got a total of 1 zucchini (from 3 plants), 4 cucumbers (from 2 plants), and a ton of basil.  The egglplant and peppers had fruit but they didn't actually grow or mature into something edible.  The winter squash and cantelope were a complete bust.  The herbs did really well, although it wasn't until August when the basil really took off.

Weirdly, our strawberries (which produced TINY but awesome berries) are still green.  In JANUARY.

The plan this year is to start plants from seed in March and then plant them in April or May, depending on temperatures.  My plant list is based on some items that I really LOVED from the CSA last year (romenesco summer squash), some herb favorites, and some veggies that I really like but didn't get much of with the CSA.  I also had to keep in mind which plants I recieved in crazy amounts from the CSA and resist planting them myself.  (although, I did buy cilantro and green onions.....). 

In addition to the veggies, I bought one pound of seed garlic to plant in the yard.  I got 4 varieties and it turns out that one pound equals about 60 individual cloves.  You plant the clove of garlic in the fall and they magically turn into full bulbs of garlic.  So.... I'll have 60 (!!) bulbs of garlic next summer.  Interesting.

The list:
Golden wax bush beans:
Delicious, golden-yellow pods are stringless and are of good quality with extra- fine rich flavor. This old-time favorite has bush plants.

(my mom's turtle LOVED these last summer)

Telegraph improved cucumber:
Smooth, straight, dark-green fruit, to 18 long. Flesh is very crisp, tender and mild, superb flavor. Very few seeds, vigorous high yielding vines, great for greenhouse production; also good cultured outdoors. This is an excellent English heirloom variety, introduced around 1897.

(I did get a ton of cukes from the CSA, but I like the idea of having my own home grown ones too.  Here's hoping this variety does better than the 2 types I did last year)

Malaysian Dark Red Eggplant:
Tender and delicious violet-colored fruit are long and slender. This productive and tasty variety comes from the Southeast Asian country of Malaysia. A hard-to-find but very good variety that is perfect for frying.

(I LOVE eggplant, but tragically, the CSA only gave me ONE of them last year.  And my garden eggplants fruited but never actually grew.)

 Early purple vienna kohlrabi:
Delicious cabbage-flavored bulbs that grow above ground. Purple skin and sweet, white flesh good cooked or raw. Kohlrabi makes a real staple crop, with high yields; cold hardy. A pre-1860 heirloom.

(I freaking loved the kohlrabi I got from the CSA last year.  Excellent raw in salads.  Texture of jicima (crunchy) and tasted sort of like a broccoli stalk.)
  Rocky top lettuce mix:
Hopefully we won't get tired of salad.....
Ho shi ko bunching onion
An heirloom Japanese, perennial bunching onion; talks grow and divide from the base. Mild and tasty. These are an essential ingredient in both Oriental and American foods. A non-bulbing white type.

(I got a ton of green onions from the CSA.  I'm planting these out of sheer curiousity)

Orange bell pepper
Super sweet, brilliant orange fruit are blocky with and good-sized thick flesh that is flavorful and among the best tasting of all peppers. Plants produce large yields of this most magnificent pepper
(who doesn't love a good pepper?)

Romenesco squash
Famous ribbed zucchini from Rome, Italy. The distinctive long fruit are fluted with medium-green striped skin. The cut slices are scalloped. When small, they are popular fried whole with the flower still on. Rich and very flavorful. A perfect gourmet variety for the market grower.

(I FREAKING loved these.  Very buttery tasting.  Yummmy!)

Patisson golden marbre scallop squash
A unique French scallop squash; fruit is a beautiful bright golden-orange color, very beautiful. Young fruit are very tender and well flavored! Also makes good winter squash. Tall bush plants are very attractive, and yields are good. A favorite of mine.

(I have no idea if these will be good or not.  Its an experiment)

Green tomatillo
Deep green fruit; a standard, richly flavored type. Huge yields as with most tomatillos.

(I've never grown these before, so its an experiement.  Something tells me we'll be innundated by tomatillos.....)

Herbs: genovese basil, sweet thai basil, dill, and cilantro.  I will probably go and buy some oregano and thyme that's been started already.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Chilly Cheeks Duathlon #2 - Race Report

PSA: anytime you are thinking to yourself the week before a race, "hey, I'll do a heavy weight workout AND a heavy bike workout 2 days before a race.  Surely, I'll be recovered enough and I'll be fine".  Don't do it.  Just don't.

This was the second race in a three race series.  Its the winter "snow or sun" duathlon series.  If you sign up for all three, you get sweat pants.  I'm a sucker for sweat pants.  I just wish they said "Chilly Cheeks" on the ass.  Instead, the text is down the leg.  Ass placement would have been much cooler. 

Anyways, I did NOT attend the first of the series because of this.  For the second race, the weather gods decided to be kind.  No snow all week and highs in the 50s and 60s.  No snow on the course (ok, there was a tiny bit of crusty ice) and no freezing temperatures.  Woot!

This race format is really funky.  1.6 mile run, 3.6 mile bike, 2.5 mile run, and a 7.2 mile bike.  THEN a 50 yard sprint to the finish.  Strange.  So strange, that I really couldn't take it too seriously.  And honestly, how serious can you be when the only time you've ran in the past 3 months was during races.  Seriously, my total running mileage since October has been 10 miles. 

This race was pretty awesome because it didn't start until 10 AM.  That meant I could sleep in!  I left the house at 8:30, got there by 9.  Had to pay admission to the state park ($9! boo!).  Parking was easy, racking was easy.  I decided to wear layers.  My Sony tri shorts under my light running tights (I don't know how people do the reverse - cycling with those running tights seams sounds awful!), my favorite light weight longsleeve tech shirt, my Sony jacket, and my long cycling gloves.  I got everything set up and then hung out eavesdropping until the race started.  It was a bit funny, as people were taking this thing WAY seriously.  Disc wheels and aero helmets seriously.  ok!

The race had ~300 participants and was broken into 3 waves.  For the first time ever (!!) I was in the first wave.

Run 1
I was freezing, so I just kept my jacket on.  I figured I could tolerate being warm for the short run.  We gathered at the start as a group and took off.  Immediately I was left in the dust... only I was running a 9:15 pace, which is WAY fast for me.  Holy crap, people are fast.  Damn.  A whole herd of people ran away, off into the distance.  I had about 6 people behind me.  I passed a few people and then I was by myself (and I really tried to slow down a bit so I didn't die later).  I loosened up about halfway through the run and felt really, really good. 

Run 1 time: 13:52 / 9:54 pace.  good!

Sooo many people did the first run with their cycling gear on.  Very serious stuff.
Way too much time was spent trying to put on my VERY tight long fingered cycling gloves.  PSA: its a good idea to put your helmet on BEFORE you put on your gloves.  Seriously, my T1 time was ridiculous.

T1 time - 1:51

Bike 1
I hopped on my bike.  I was smart enough to remember to set my pedals to the correct position for easy clipping in.  I got on my bike, being completely unfamiliar with the course.  First up was a big hill.  Remember my PSA about lifting weights?  Yeah..... my quads were VERY ANGRY at me during that climb (and pretty much for the rest of the race).  And my heart rate was crazy high... really, way too high for what I was doing.

The hill wasn't that bad, really.  I will admit that I'm a bit cranky that I wasn't stronger going up it, with all my weight training and heavy bike intervals.  Boo.  The rest of the course wasn't that hard.  There was a sweet downhill where I easily hit 30 mph on.  Nothing to exciting, except the ride was really over before I got started.

I wish I could find a picture of Serious Racers.  Tons of people (with their fancy wheels and aero helmets) were riding with their running shoes.  I guess the 15 seconds it takes to swap shoes is too much when you're on your bike for 8 minutes.... Instead, I found a pic of a guy with an aero helmet, aerobars, and a mountain bike....

Bike 1 time: 11:49, 18.3 mph

I nearly forgot how to get off my bike, its been that long (September).  One poor lady next to me hit her brakes too hard trying to avoid someone and toppled over.  I went to my rack, ditched my cycling stuff, and my gloves and jacket and took off running.

T2 time: 1:45

Run 2
Oh wow.  Unhappy legs and heart rate.  This run was a different course than the first one.  It was on dirt and paved trails with a bunch of roller hills.  My heart rate was screaming.  Legs weren't awful compared to the heart rate.  For a whole 2.5 mile segment, I had to walk twice.  My heart rate limit is ~176 to 180.  Definitely 180.  If I see that, I start walking until its down to 160.  That happened 3 times.  Boo.  Maybe I should run more often than once a month, during races!

Run 2 time: 28 even, 11:12 pace (not horrible for walking so much)

Decided to skip the jacket and gloves and hit the road. 
T3 time - 1:34

Bike 2
Decided to skip the jacket and gloves and hit the road.  Pretty uneventful as this was a repeat of the previous bike, only it was for 2 loops.  A bit windy, but nothing crazy.

Bike 2 time: 24:21, 17.7 mph

Sprint (!!) to the finish
Some people changed into their running shoes.  Really?  For a 50 yard sprint across a parking lot?  I kept my helmet on, took my cycling shoes off, and just ran across the parking lot.  Probably looked like a dork.  Fortunately, there aren't any professional race photographs of this.

Sprint time - 52 seconds (which included time to rack my bike and take my shoes off)

Total time: 1:24:01
24/33 in my age group (W30-39)
157/200 overall

Colorado people are fast.  I am not (yet).

Friday, January 20, 2012

Seeing progress and a cute for the day

I haven't been very dilgent with my weight lifting.  I'm supposed to lift twice a week.  I just checked my workout logs for the past month, and there has only been ONE WEEK where I've managed to do this.  Damn.

blue is weight lifting.  sad.
 So clearly, I'm not very consistent.  (bright side - at least I've been lifting once a week!)

Last week I couldn't lift because I was out of town.  The week prior, I had bumped up my resistance.  Yesterday, I went to lift and I wasn't sure if I would be able to maintain my resistance from before we left.  To my suprise, in nearly everything, I was able to not only maintain, but increase my resistance.  Woot!  The only decrease was in chest press, but really, I hate chest press and don't give it my all.  Leg press and lunges, I love, though.

So, yay!  progress!

And here's your cute for the day.  Zipper really is a fantastic fetcher.  She'll fetch until either a) she loses her mouse (they keep disappearing under furniture, but she permanently lost 3 in the first 2 weeks of playing.  I think the house ate them)  or b) we get tired of throwing the damn mouse.  She really won't stop - its tremendously cute.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wednesday Ramblings

On a cheerier note, here's some rambling about other things that are going on...

Paleo eating is going pretty well.  Lunch and dinner are super easy.  Lunch typically consists of a salad with some sort of meat.  I either bring my own or I can very easily do a paleo salad from the office cafe's salad bar.  Dinner is also super easy.  We have a faux-Whole Foods grocery store here called Sprouts.  Its like WF but soooo much cheaper and easier to navigate.  They have all sorts of chicken sausage varieties (brats, southwest, apple, basil) for $2.99/lb and they don't contain any funky filler ingredients.  WIN.  I've also found that their yams (the skin on these guys is almost red) when sliced, coated with olive oil, seasoned with red hawaiian salt, and roasted are to die for.  Really, we could eat those things nearly every night.  So a basic dinner would be some sort of meat and some sort of veggie.  Pretty simple and easy.  Breakfast is a bit more of a challenge, mainly because I'm so dang picky about breakfast.  I was eating hard boiled eggs for a while, but they got tiresome really fast.  Then I made up some paleo pancakes and they were just ok.  This week I did omlette muffins and they're also just ok.  Dang gag reflex in the morning just makes things tricky.  Last week was a complete disaster in terms of paleo.  Something about driving across 4 states and me not really planning ahead for food made it a disaster.  And working my ass off in the house and not having time to actually cook.  I didn't really eat anything awful (lots of subway, although we got Wendy's on the way to Idaho and both of us felt sick after.  I think that says a lot about how healthy we've been eating and how shitty fast food really is).  But really, it was a bunch of bread and some stress dessert eating of really yummy homemade chocolate chip cookies.  But this week is a new week and I'm back on track.  I still don't know if paleo is life changing but I'll give it another month and see how things are.

My plan to ski every weekend really hasn't happened yet.  Mainly because the snow here has been shit.  The ski areas opened up around Halloween which is really early.  Things looked promising with a 20 inch base in October.  Then at Thanksgiving, the base was a whopping 21 inches.  And Christmas.... 25 inches.  The past week the mountains have been consistently getting 4-7 inches every few days, so I'm hoping that the rest of the season can be salvaged.  Still, we're doing better than Idaho.  Bogus Basin in Boise still hasn't opened.  Nothing but dead grass on the slopes.  Its sad.

Training (in a very vague sense of the term) is going ok.  The cycling I've been doing is going ok (when I do it - I seem to only get in 2 of the 3 workouts each week).  Lifting is very much the same story as cycling. Swimming is getting a bit better.  Still, I'm behind on fitness and getting ready for Boise in April will be interesting.  I've got a duathalon this weekend, so it will be an interesting test of my fitness level.  Its a weird one, though.  1.5 mile run, 3.6 mile bike, 2.5 mile run, 7.2 mile bike then a 100 yard dash to the finish.

Our kitties are really turning into great cats.  Zipper is hilarious and exactly what we needed.  She loves to attack drops of water on the shower glass doors as we shower.  She's also a very enthusiastic fetcher.  Ernie was a good fetcher, but it was on his terms and he wasn't very good about returning it to you.  Zip will fetch any time of the day (or night - she's brought her toys to bed) and she's really good about returning the toy within arm's reach.  She loves it so much that we'll often tire of the game before she does.  She's also a daredevil and lately, has taken to jumping on the railing at the top of our stairs, which forms a bit of a balcony with a ~20+ ft drop.  I saw her jump up there one night and it was not graceful.  I know she's managed to pivot 180 while on that thing.  Hopefully she won't fall, but if she does, there's not much I can do about it.  Gunny is slowly coming out of his shell.  He's very responsive to me and loves to be on my lap, kneeding and purring (although we call it dancing).  Lately, he's been jumping on Will's lap during the day, which is huge progress.  He's still really skittish and jumpy.  Hopefully he'll chill out in time.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Clearing hurdles

Last week was a rough week.  Will's dad's (Carl) heath has been pretty bad for the past 3-4 years and has rapidly been declining over the past two months.  To the point where he needed to be placed into Hospice Care.  Complicating this need is the fact that Will's dad is flat broke.  No money for retirement at all.  No money saved up at all.  None. 

(related PSA - PLEASE do retirement planning for yourself and get long-term health care.  And make sure your loved ones do the same)

So last week, we drove 11 hours up to Idaho to get stuff done.  It sucked and I'm more than a little angry at Carl.  His place was disgusting (cat pee and a complete absense of house cleaning.  I actually painted over human poo on the wall in the bathroom.  not awesome).  But Carl is now in a nice assisted living facility and his home is cleaned out and on the market.  Hopefully it will sell soon, or else things get really complicated.

Not the best way to kill a week's vacation, but honestly, there was no other way.  My efforts last week weren't for Carl - they were for Will.  Poor guy is really taking this hard, so I did what I could to stay organized and make sure we got everything done that needed doing.  I feel good knowing that when we left on Sunday, it was mission accomplished.  Carl is getting good care now and his house is listed to sell.  There were a lot of hurdles to clear last week to get to that point, but somehow we got it done.

Now all we can do is sit and wait.  For the house to sell and (unfortunately) for Carl to die.  Yep, 2012 is well on its way to not being a great year.  I wish I could fast forward and get to 2013.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

2011 Distance Wrap Up

As suggested in my last post, 2012 most likely won't be a good year. This feeling was more or less confirmed by my truck being diagnosed with a cracked head gasket yesterday, while getting a routine oil change. Who knows how long its been cracked - my suspicion is at least a year, maybe more. We were lucky that it didn't totally blow up while driving around in the middle of nowhere or while we were moving. Timing for this is perfect too, because we're driving to Idaho on Saturday and need my truck (with a new hitch installed) to haul back some things. Good times.

Moving on, I want to compare my 2010 and 2010 totals. For grinsies.


Bike: 106h 20m 16s - 1438.6 Mi
Run: 125h 24m 37s - 652.94 Mi
Swim: 101h 05m 38s - 254039.3 Yd
Pilates: 15h 50m
Yoga: 36h 05m

Bike: 156h 20m 12s - 2124 Mi
Run: 89h 49m 24s - 497.56 Mi
Swim: 77h 59m 24s - 209457.5 Yd
Strength: 4h 30m
Core Training: 1h 50m
Elliptical Training: 48m 08s
Hiking: 13h 30m
Skiing: 4h 00m
Snow Shoveling: 20m
Snowboarding: 5h 00m
Spinning Class: 3h 00m
Yoga: 2h 00m

Bike - it is important to note that the majority of these miles were before May 21, 2011. Only 335 of those miles were post-IM. I'm a bit disappointed I let my bike fitness crash and burn like that. We'll see how it rebounds as I train for Boise.

Run - my IM focus was the bike, and my running was mostly 60-90 minute runs with the occasional 2-3 hour run. In other words: I really didn't train for a marathon. In 2010, my initial summer and fall goal WAS a marathon, thus the higher training mileage. And in 2010, I wasn't injured from March - Oct (where I quit running all together)

Swim - I'm down by nearly 20%. I'm guessing this is because I took 2.5 months off. hmm.

Notice the complete absence of pilates and pitiful amount of yoga. I loved this stuff.... I just didn't have time in 2011. Maybe I will look into doing more of this sort of thing in 2012.

But look, I have logged some diverse activities. Hiking up a 14'er. Skiing. Snowbarding. Sweet. Diversity is a good thing.