Sunday, February 28, 2010

Race Report: Paesano's Salado Creek 8M/5K

Race: Paesano's Salado Creek 8Mile/5K
Distance: 8 miles
Goal Time: Around 2 hours
Actual Time: 2:14:31 (16:18 min/mi)

This is the second of two trail races that comprised my February races. Man, this one hurt. For this race report, I'll give the play-by-play of what was going through my head as I was running.

Pre-race:  It's colder than I was expecting it to be.  Last checked, temperature was 42 Fahrenheit. This is good news, it'll help later on.  An Air Force dude  has a really awesome tat on his shoulder of a coat of arms.  I resist the urge to ask him about it.
Mile 0: Went out way too fast. I think my first mile was at 10 minute pace, which is well outside my ability at this point.  But it felt so good to run at that pace.  It was hard to get myself to slow down to my normal pace.  I paid for that too-fast first mile for the rest of the race.
Mile 1: The race director started the 5K participants after the 8 mile runners.  The front runners for the 5K passed me in my first mile.  The trail we were on was barely a foot wide at that point, so when I tried to step aside to let them pass, I had to either hug a tree or get clawed by the nearby shrubberies.  Later I discover a small twig stuck in my hair.
Mile 1.5: The terrain is really difficult to navigate.  It's really unlike the Eisenhower Park, where the rocky areas looked like dried up creek beds: flat and worn but fairly smooth and even.  I wish I was a geologist so I could identify what kind of rock it is; I want to guess limestone since it's so light in color and native to the area.  Salado Creek is much different.  It's more heavily wooded, and most of the ground is dirt with rocks interspersed.  Rocks that are grayish, jagged, and loose.  Some of it looks like shale, but some of it doesn't. I almost roll my ankle a few times with missteps. I am probably going to end up walking most of this course.

Mile 2: A tree crosses the path.  It's like a foot in diameter laying horizontally at waist height.   Had to stop to climb over the tree like a fence. How did the front runners handle this?
Mile 3:  Part of the 8 mile course loops back on top of itself and the 8 mile front runners lap me.  But at least there's an aid station with Gatorade.
Mile 4:  Why can't we run on the perfectly nice paved sidewalk-like path over there?  But no, I have to dodge trees and rock-shrapnel instead. So glad to hit the turnaround.  Normally, red flags are a bad thing; now they signal I'm on the way home.  And finally the sun isn't interfering with my vision of the course.
Mile 5: I lose the two ladies who leap-frogged with me the last couple of miles.  They plow ahead, I'm stuck walking behind.  This park isn't hilly like Eisenhower where there was one steep hill and a few long low grade hills.  These hills you could practically jump from crest to crest, if you wanted to risk impaling your foot on one of the rocks.  The almost constant up and down is really doing a number on my heart rate.  I don't think I'm as prepared for this race as I was for the Eisenhower one.
Mile 5.5: Get to the aid station again.  Take some Gatorade and Gu.  A little bit later, my body tells me I should have done that sooner.  I get a little rush of energy.
Mile 6: Downhill stretch.  Not literally.  Still lots of hills.  I power-walk most of the time with little spurts of a slow shuffle.  BF says he's on the way to meet me.  I love having someone at the finish line waiting for me.  And not only because they can make sure to snag me some of the munchies.
Mile 7:  Is it over yet?  And why the heck do I have to climb this eight food pile of wood chips when there's a perfectly fine, flat route around it?  This course isn't technical - it's treacherous!
Mile 7.5:  Shuffling on the grass shoulder of 1604's access road.  It's starting to warm up.  I don't know how the front runners do this.  Running on this with a crowd of people would be dangerous.  You wouldn't be able to see what was coming up.
Mile 8: Dunzo!  Finally!  2:14:31. OMG my legs hurt.  BF gives me red Gatorade, which I chug. Where's the food?

This pair of races did give me a good insight into what trail running is like.  But I don't think I'll be doing another trail run for a while.  I'd run in Eisenhower Park again, but I don't think I'll make a repeat at Salado Creek.

Next Saturday - supporting high school band geeks at the Alamo Heights High School Run to the Beak 5K.  Some speed runs in the plan for this week, also a weights session.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Valentine's Day

So for date night, the BF wanted to surprise me by taking me to see Percy Jackson and the Olympians.  He was super sweet in keeping it a secret until I had to break it to him that I'd already seen it.  So the only other one showing that I wanted to see was Valentine's Day.  I don't like dragging him to the chick flicks, but it was the only thing at the Drafthouse Park North that we haven't seen.

Valentine's Day shows a series of couples on Valentine's day and how they all react and deal with the day.  Some hate it, some thrive on it, but it's meaningful to everyone.  It was reminiscent of Love Actually where there are ties between story lines.

This movie had  more big names in it than any I've seen recently.  I adore Anne Hathaway, and loved her character.  I'm normally not a fan of Ashton Kutcher, but when he's actually acting, he's decent.  I just wish he did that more often.   The story line for Julia Roberts' character was my favorite and made me tear up at the end.   The Taylor Lautner/Taylor Swift line was irritating.  Hector Elizondo and Shirley MacLaine were very cute. I was impressed by Emma Roberts and will be looking to see her in upcoming movies.

The movie was cute, but forgettable. It wasn't overly mushy, but wasn't compelling in any way either. I think it was an attempt to make an impact like Love Actually did, but just didn't get there.  I'm sorry the BF had to be dragged through it.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Happy National Tortilla Chip Day!

I hope you all enjoyed your National Tortilla Chip Day celebrations!  Mine was a blast! 

As always, National Tortilla Chip Day is on February 24th.  The exact origin of the holiday is unknown.  Skeptics of the holiday still cite rumors that a tortilla chip manufacturer created the holiday as a marketing ploy, but they lack originality and are just riding the coattails of similar arguments for Christmas, Penguin Awareness Day, and Valentine's Day.

My National Tortilla Chip Day celebration was made complete by the companionship of the always lovely Brittany (@lights_aurora on Twitter).  We shared insights on Latin guitar music, middle-aged Latina women, and shirts with built-in-bras.

The venue of choice for our night was Luna, a local club that I frequent infrequently. I absolutely love this venue.  It may not look like much from the outside, but once you step inside, you are instantly transported to a very cool lounge where you are instantly cooler.  I love the red tables and chairs, the red curtains, and the blown-up jazz album covers as the wall art.  They had remodeled since the last time I've been there, and I loved how accessible the stage and performers felt.  If you go, look for all the monkeys they have around the bar!

Speaking of performers, Border Palace have a standing gig on Wednesday nights.  They were the group I heard when I went to Luna last and have been meaning to go back to hear them again since.  It's a shame it's taken me this long to go to hear them play.  Their music is amazing.  They're just two brothers with guitars, but they use the complete range of the guitar as an instrument.  Their music got me into classical and latin guitar music, which has become some of my go-to music for writing, bubble baths, and mellowing out at work. From their sets this week, I loved "Aqua" from their first CD and their rendition of "Oye Como Va."

I wasn't a huge fan of the girl who came in to play between their sets.  There was something about her voice that didn't quite jive for me.  The only song of hers I liked was a cover of a Bob Dylan song, and I'm pretty sure that it's just because the original song was that good. 

Oh, and we got free tortilla chips and salsa while at Luna.  

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

No More Car Loan!

No more car loan! La La La!

I am super excited. I love my car and now it's really mine! Not the bank's!

So most people won't talk about their finances, but this is something that I think people can benefit from seeing how possible it is to get out of debt, and how rewarding it is!

I've been working hard the last few years to get out of debt. I'm loosely following Dave Ramsey's program.  I say loosely because I still do a fair amount of luxury spending, like the TV/DVD I bought for my kitchen last month and the new vacuum cleaner in December. I also use credit cards for my daily expenses instead of cash.

I am currently still on Baby Step #2- "The Debt Snowball," but so far I've paid off over $10,000 in credit card debt. It's kind of embarrassing to admit I had that much debt in the first place, but it was a product of a time in my life that I needed to grow out of. Paying off the credit card debt made it possible for me to not be so dependent to my salary.  I am now putting 35% of my salary toward paying off debt.

I am a huge fan of not having car payments. I hadn't had a car payment for a couple years, but last summer when my car's A/C went out, the car wasn't worth the cost to get it fixed. So, I got a brand new car, a cute little Scion xD that makes me feel cooler just driving it. I was able to throw 15-20% of my salary to my new car each month. Now I've paid it off in ten months- four years ahead of the loan schedule! It was mostly possible because I received a very nice bonus this year, but I've been consistently hacking away at it since I got the car.

I still have my second mortgage (29.5% of current salary) and my student loan (39.9%) to go. I'm lucky that my cooking classes count towards letting me defer the student loan payments so I can chunk the little extra at the second mortgage.  The interest rate on the second mortgage just irks me when I see the balance creep up every day.  The current plan is to pay off the second mortgage by June 2011 and the student loan by December 2012. As I focus on the second mortgage, I'll be allocating a third of my income to it. It's still a long road to go, but I've hit a major way point in getting there.

When all of this is over, I'll be able to live on a little more than half of my current salary. It means being able to max out retirement contributions. It means being able to travel. It means I am no longer chained to an IT salary.  It means that there are many other possibilities.  Now THAT is freeing.

Monday, February 22, 2010

From Paris With Love

James Reece is an assistant to the US Ambassador in France, but moonlights as a low-level CIA operative.  Reece dreams of a chance to prove himself capable of being a real agent.  His opportunity to get out of the switching license plates when he is assigned as Charlie Wax's partner.  Wax's methods don't follow the rules to the letter, but as they uncover a terrorist attack on the city, Reece gets the chance of a lifetime. 

I was quite impressed with From Paris With Love.  This was definitely one for the Travolta fans. The writers managed to get in a quote from Pulp Fiction!

John Travolta keeps getting better with age.  He does an excellent job being the bad-ass.  At the Alamo Drafthouse, the previews for this movie were all trailers for old Travolta movies.  Did you know he was in Carrie?

Jonathan Rhys-Meyers is very easy on the eyes.  Is it sad that I loved Bend It Like Beckham?  This is the first time I've seen him in an action movie since I didn't see Mission Impossible III, but I am quite impressed.  I might even watch Mission Impossible III to see how he does there.

The story was good, and reeled me in from the beginning.  My only complaint was that they moved so quickly in following the leads that traced back to the terrorists that I lost how they were all connected.    I really didn't expect the twist and gasped audibly, but the BF said he knew it all along.  He always says that.

The humor was great. I really enjoyed the running gag at the beginning of the film which got me shushed when I laughed at the wrong places. (If you go to see it, watch for the vase.)

The action was good. There's a good amount of explosions for people who like that kind of thing (read: boys).  The chase scene on the rooftops was very different from rooftop scenes I've seen before.   It wasn't too violent except for the two closeups of close range gunshots to the head. 

I enjoyed it, and this will probably be added to the BF's selection of movies.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Race Report: Eisenhower 10K Challenge

Race: Eisenhower 10K Challenge
Distance: 10K
Goal Time: 1:20-1:30
Actual Time: 1:24:47

This was the first of two trail running events.  The next one is the Salado Creek 8M next Sunday. I wanted to do events that were longer than 5K to help me get to my eventual goal of running a marathon.  So when I was looking for February events, this was the only one that was a reasonable distance for me at this stage.  I have been nervous about it for the last week or so because of the event's description on the race website:  "This race is recommended for trail experts and for those that are trying to get used to running on trails."  Something good for both experts and novices? Is that possible?

This was my first venture out to Eisenhower Park.  After a little blip with my iPhone GPS, it was relatively easy to find.  The entrance to the park is right before the entrance to Camp Bullis.  It had a nice pavilion and picnic facilities next to the parking lot.  The restrooms reminded me of family road trips long past (nothing quite like metal toilets).  But overall, very impressed with the park.

It was around 62 degrees at race start.  It was cloudy and misty, which made it between dry and humid.  The clouds kept the temperatures from rising too fast, so it was very nice for the whole of the race.  I lost the pack very early into the race, which isn't unusual.  I ran solo for most of the run with a few patches of waving as the faster runners passed me up.  Twice.

The course switched between paved trails, paths covered in wood chips, and rocky off-road type terrain.  The wood chips felt like running on a natural fiber track, soft and squishy.  It was a welcome relief after a hard hill. Both the rocks and the paved trails were slippery, so I'm really glad I got the new trail running shoes.  (Added bonus: They're pink!)  The surroundings were very similar to what we have on my family's ranch, so if felt really familiar.  The rocky parts reminded me of hiking during our vacations out there.  Our ranch just has a lot fewer trees! 

The paths had lots of turns such that you couldn't really see where it was going twenty feet in front of you. Footing was challenging in many areas, but it kept my mind in the moment. On the whole, it felt like there were more uphills than downhills.  My legs were definitely feeling it about halfway through. This picture on the right looks less daunting in photo than it did in person.  That was probably the worst of the hills.

There was a few places where it looked like they had put in speed bumps on the trail.  Massive foot-high speed bumps.  I think they were put in to keep the trails from washing out when it rained, but somehow the idea of putting in speed bumps to help runners manage their speeds was amusing.  There were a set on a steep downhill in the last mile of the race.  I leaped off the speed bumps, hanging in the air before landing on the wood chips.  It felt equivalent to the car chase scenes in San Francisco.

I had a blast.  I'm pretty sure I was smiling through most of the race.  I walked when I needed to, but I still ended up with a time I am really happy with.  It's only three minutes slower than my 10K personal record.  That means on my next 10K road race, I should do really well!  So far my quads, calves, and glutes feel worn out, but more like they've been well used rather than abused.  Tomorrow might be a different story.

There were a bunch of photographers on the course, so if some decent pictures come out of it, I'll post them.

Edit: Decent picture of me at the finish line.  You can tell it was a good course since I'm still smiling at the end!

Bring on the 8M race next weekend!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Percy Jackson discovers he's the offspring of Poseidon.  The immortals gods believe Percy has stolen Zeus' thunderbolt.  Percy and his friends must find the real thief before war breaks out between the gods.

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief has been on my "want to see" list for a while.  I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to convince the BF to see it with me.  Then my silly friends ended up going to see it on a Tuesday!  So I had to go see it by myself on my unusually free Wednesday afternoon.  I was the only person in the theater. Literally.  But it was nice to have the time alone.

I read a byline review somewhere that this is "a story that Harry Potter fans will love." It does follow a very similar formula: boy finds out his unique heritage; boy goes to school to train his new talents; and boy breaks the rules to solve a mystery and save the world.   I really appreciated the use of the existing myths to build the story.  It makes me want to go reread the myths.

It was a good movie and only little things irked me.  I didn't really believe Annabeth's change from super-bitch to friend/sidekick.  I just didn't like her, which is unfortunate because I could really dig a character like that.  I was bothered when Athena was shown at Zeus' right side in Olympus.  As jealous and possessive as Hera was, she wouldn't have given up that position.  Really petty things that are probably addressed in the real story.

I liked Chiron, but it was more from recognizing the mythological character I studied in depth when read John Updike's The Centaur in high school.  Chiron is the story behind the constellation and my zodiac sign Sagittarius, so I'm a little biased. I'm interested to see if they pull more of Chiron's stories into the rest of the Percy Jackson series. 

I haven't read any of the books, but I was very tempted when I passed by the display at Barnes & Noble recently. I really enjoyed the Greek myths when I was in school.  I think I would probably really enjoy the series, so they may be going into my To Be Read pile. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

500 Days of Summer

I wanted to see 500 Days of Summer after seeing it in the previews on a handful of other movies I've rented recently. I picked it up from  the bargain bin of my local Hollywood Video that is closing, and I'm glad to add it to my collection.

Anything with Zooey Deschanel in it is automatically on my "must watch" list.   I don't think I've seen anything with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in it since 10 Things I Hate About You.  Quick IMDB search shows that he was the main voice in Treasure Planet.  (Note to self: watch that again...)

I watched this at the gym on the treadmill to try to trick my brain to keep running until the movie was over, hoping to get in 6 to 8 miles for my long run this past weekend.  My brain successfully fooled, I got in 7.5 miles while this was running.  I know I was smiling through most of the film.  The others in the gym must have thought I was nuts.

This movie is best summed up by the narrator:
"This is a story of boy meets girl. The boy, Tom Hansen of Margate, New Jersey, grew up believing that he'd never truly be happy until the day he met the one. This belief stemmed from early exposure to sad British pop music and a total mis-reading of the movie 'The Graduate'. The girl, Summer Finn of Shinnecock, Michigan, did not share this belief. Since the disintegration of her parent's marriage she'd only love two things. The first was her long dark hair. The second was how easily she could cut it off and not feel a thing. .... This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront, this is not a love story."
Usually when the narrator says that, I don't really believe them.  Somehow everything turns out lovely and heart-melting in the end.  They're telling the truth on this one.  It's not a love story.  But I loved it.

The progression of the relationship is shown out of sequence, so it is hard to tell when the little signs of the relationship not working really begin.  It was really creative and a unique spin on this type of film.  I kind of wish I could see an chronological version, if only to try to see if I could tell an individual moment when it stopped working. 

I enjoyed the soundtrack, though I am not very versed in British Invasion lore.  Oddly enough, the Smiths "There is a Light That Never Goes Out" from the preview came on while writing this post. There's a random dance break that I think is related to the British pop influence, but don't know for sure.  That was my laugh out loud moment.  Zooey Deschanel sings again in this movie.  I usually don't like sopranos, but I really like her voice.  Something about it is not quite professional, still a little scratchy.  I can't quite put my finger on it, but again, can't get enough of it.

This is definitely going to become a favorite in my arsenal of random movies to watch while cooking. I will steal one of the parting lines of the narrator, one that feels like a lot of the days lived recently.   "Most days of the year are unremarkable. They begin and they end with no lasting memory made in between. Most days have no impact on the course of a life."

You may now continue with your daily grind.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Wolfman

Lawrence Talbot returns to his ancestral home to discover the cause of his brother's death.   His brother was only one of many in a string of very gruesome deaths. During his investigation, he uncovers strange truths that bring his search too close to home.

I hadn't seen any of the previews for Wolfman before I went.  Maybe that was for the best because even without it, the story was predictable and slow.  I did appreciate a few aspects of the film.
  • Anthony Hopkins does a fantastic job, as usual, playing the reclusive and impulsive father.  I like Emily Blunt more every time see her. 
  • It was refreshing not to see another modern day werewolf story.  I'm a bit over it already.   I don't know why I like Victorian England.  Most of the passions that drive me or that have helped make me into what I am right now would not jive in that environment.
  • I liked that they took the classic spin on the wolfman by making him just a really hairy man with fangs rather than something that looks more like the upright Egyptian jackal representations.
Other than that, it's a ho-hum movie.  If you want to know, I'll tell you the ending so that you can save your economic stimulating funds for something else.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

V-Day 2010

Happy Valentine's Day to you!   

I celebrated my third Valentine's Day with the BF yesterday.  We do a low-key date at home, so that we don't have to mess with the hassle and expense of going out to eat.  We had another Mollydooker wine, this time Two Left Feet. It was a really nice wine and worth the extra penny we spent on it.  So far I'm a huge fan of their whole line.  We decided to do some recipes out of Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill Cookbook, which BF got for Christmas.

First was some Blue and Yellow Cornbread Muffins.  My iPhone really doesn't do the color justice.  They looked really good, but ended up tasting kinda dry.  Maybe that's the last time the BF gets put in charge of baking.  We must have done something wrong though, because we couldn't get enough of them when we ate at Mesa Grill Las Vegas.  They're a must if you ever go there.

BF was also in charge of grilling the steaks: Black Pepper Crusted Filet Mignon with Ancho Red Pepper Sauce and Goat Cheese.  We really lucked out at Central Market because the filet mignons were on sale.  And they looked excellent, even raw!  I was in charge of the sauce, which also turned out excellent.  It had a really complex flavor, though perhaps a little too heavy on the tomato.  The goat cheese went on top and then got all gooey and delicious under the broiler.  Overall, it was a really good meal.  Even though mine was a little overdone, the meat was still tender and delicious.  It gave me an excuse to have a bit extra of the sauce, so all was well. 

For dessert, BF insisted on cheesecake, where I insisted on dip-your-own strawberries.  So we both got our way.  I got my strawberries and BF stole some of the dipping chocolate to top his cheesecake.  I must admit, I demolished the whole plate.  The strawberries were really juicy, much better than I would have thought possible for off-season strawberries.

For our date night entertainment, we watched the recorded season finale of Worst Cooks in America, one of my new favorite shows.  Most of the people just want to learn how to cook just so they can better provide for their families.  It is such a humble desire, but so heartening to see how passionate they are about being able to give something back to the people they care about. 

After that, we watched Couple's Retreat.  I have liked Vince Vaughn since I saw him in A Cool Dry Place, though I try to ignore the fact that he was in Old School and Dodgeball   It was awesome to see Jean Reno as the guru-guy considering his previous roles like in Ronin and The Da Vinci Code.  It wasn't the same humor as Old School, thank the movie-making-powers-that-be.  It was very adult humor, with really great writing, and some overall great insights about couples.  The movie was way better than what I was expecting it to be. 

It was a very nice, very low-key Valentines Day for us.  Very similar to our normal days, but just done up a notch.  

Oh, and if anyone still wants to see Valentine's Day, let me know.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Orange-Champagne Salad

Last night in my cooking class our assignment was to make a salad to go with our salad dressing we made in the previous class.

Mine kicked @$$!

I'm super proud of it.  It was really pretty.  It tasted awesome.  We had to lay the plates out for group critique, and one of the other girls in the class said that I inspired her.  She wanted to eat my salad before she ate her own.  It made my day.  Quite possibly my week.

I have eaten a lot of salads.  I got tired of them really quickly, so now I look for unique ones.  So this assignment was right for me.   (If you're tired of salads, try some of the ones at California Pizza Kitchen!)

This one is made of shredded lettuce as the base, with orange sections, yellow bell pepper, red onion, and cilantro.  I'm calling the dressing Orange-Champagne Viniagrette.  It's made from champagne vinegar, olive oil, orange marmalade, garlic, salt, and pepper.   It was tangy with a sweet finish. I really enjoyed it.  And I'm a salad dressing snob. (Also from eating way too many salads.) 

My salad had some critique points about it.  Normally you should put diced items in salad so people don't have to chase them around the plate.  It was too large, as it's spilling over into the rim.  I shredded the lettuce with a knife, which will bruise it if prepared a while before serving. 

I don't know what grade I got on it, but it doesn't really matter.  I challenged myself.  I had fun doing it. And I inspired someone else.  That's all I really want to do in life.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

He's Just Not That Into You

This book has been recommended to me by both my sisters.   Sometimes my sisters are much smarter than me.  But since I've seen the Sex and the City episode that was the launchpad for the concept, as well as watched the movie that came out last year, I thought I knew what it was talking about.  Because my smarter sister told me to, I read the book. 

This was the first book I read on my nook.  It worked really well in the gym.  I read most of it while completing my long run this morning.  Not having to hold the pages down while running was nice.  Being able to increase the text size was very cool.  Usually I had to pick which book had the bigger font and most space between lines of text.  Loving it.

The major topics from the book were shown really well in the film adaptation: guys who don't make the first move, guys who don't call, guys who don't want to jump you, guys who cheat, etc.  The film writers did a good job showing how those scenarios would look in real life. Ginnifer Goodwin is just so darn cute.  She and Justin Long did a great job with their roles.

But you were really hoping for insight on how the magical understanding gained from this book helped me to quit settling for guys who weren't good enough for me. 

If I had read this book in 2004 when it came out, I think it would have changed a lot of the really stupid things I did as a single lady then through 2008.  I threw myself at a lot of guys who just weren't into me and I took it really hard every time.  At the time, I probably could have benefited from the information, but I don't know if I could have really used it effectively.  I heard the immortal phrases, "Wow you're really awesome. Why are you still single?"  and "That guy isn't good enough for you," and their variations way too much for comfort.  I was also very confused as to what kind of guy would actually be good enough for me.  "Good enough" was one of my hated phrases at the time.

Now though, I'm in a different place.  It's too personal to relate to in this forum, but some of the topics hit too close to home.  And that kind of sucks, because I have the same wants and fears as the book's target demographic.  Who am I kidding... I AM the target demographic.

Overall, the book was well done.  They did a good job targeting the feel and pace of the book to Sex and the City viewers.  It had the same quirky story examples, humor to soften emotional subjects, and a healthy dose of sex. 

I really hope I'm the exception and not the rule....

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Day of FAIL, Night of WIN!

In case you didn't already know, my life is very glamorous.  Here's the play by play on a semi-typical night.

7pm - Day of FAIL! Plans in place to transform into Night of WIN!  Champagne chilling (Editor's note: Martini & Rossi Asti, my current fave).  Cleaning counterspace for making doughnuts.

730pm - Started doughnuts and drinking champagne.  My Life in Ruins is on, and laughter should be coming shortly.

758pm - First laugh of the evening.  The creepy innkeeper hits on what's-her-face (Editor's note: Nia Vardalos) to try to convince her to sleep with him in order to pay for postage.

830pm - Realized I got Italian bread instead of pizza crust.  Oh well.  Mmm bread!  What's-her-face (Editor's note: Nia Vardalos)  looks pretty hot in this movie.

9pm - There is beauty in a good long marriage.  Beauty I would like to see first hand.

908pm- Movie ends.  But there's still wine, bread's coming out of the oven, and the doughnuts aren't even frosted yet!  Putting in Post Grad.

933pm - Doughnuts are done! Complete with Valentine's day Sprinkles! I laugh at the Nestle warning label: Do not consume raw cookie dough.

941pm - Damn... this dude is hot. (Editor's Note: Said dude is Zach Gilford.) Like Channing Tatum hot. The scale is going to hate me in the morning.  Michael Keaton is hilarious. Oh man -that's the guy from Love Actually. Hottie alert. (Editor's note: Said hottie is Rodrigo Santoro.) Tonight has been awesome. Making doughnuts was really found.
950 pm- Maybe this movie is funnier than I thought.
10:02 -  Now out of champagne.  Yeah, definitely funnier than expected.  They are burying a dead cat in a pizza box... to the tune of "Memory" ... from Cats.

10:09 Oh yeah, that feels good.  PJs are WAY past due.  So glad that this guy (Editor's Note: this guy = Love Actually hottie) ends up half naked in all the movies I've seen him in. Michael Keaton is HILARIOUS. First LOL tonight.

10:22 - Good anthem song (Editor's note: "One Day" by Jack Savoretti). Wow she (Editor's note: Alexis Bledel) has REALLY blue eyes. Like my sister's.

10:52 - Smiling like a moron. What a glorious feeling.  I miss it.

Well, there you have it folks.  Don't you wish you could be me?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Restaurant Review: Paesano's 1604

Paesano's is a San Antonio staple.  The Paesano's Restaurant Group has recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of the original restaurant.  The location on 1604 opened up around the same time I came to San Antonio in 2005.  I've been to the 1604 location once for a work lunch and the Riverwalk location once for a dinner with Scott's family last year.  For Scott's birthday, Paesano's 1604 was our restaurant choice for our celebration.

We were seated in the enclosed portion of the patio.  It was an unexpectedly cold night, but even next to the exterior gate-like doors that open to the rest of the patio it was very nice.  I didn't have a good view of the rest of the interior, but I did like the light fixtures in our area, and the large marble tile was very nice.  If it was a nice night, like most spring and fall evenings, the patio would be a very nice place for dinner.

We started with a bottle recommended by the waiter, Mollydooker Boxer Shiraz.  It was more expensive than we were originally looking at, but it was an excellent bottle of wine.  It was spicy and fruity, just wet enough to be a refreshing accompaniment to the rest of the dinner and had a really smooth finish.  Instead of using sulphites as a preservative, the Mollydooker line uses nitrogen gas instead.  So they recommend to do what they call the "Mollydooker Shake" in order to distribute the gas before serving as an alternative to decanting.  This wine is definitely worth a repeat.  The manager said that it was difficult to come by, so we'll probably need to do some searching for it.

We started with the Mascarpone Garlic Bread.  At first, it looks and smells more like Parmesan, which they most likely used to get a bit of a crust on it.  But when you get into the middle of the bread, it has the creaminess I expected from mascarpone cheese.  Probably the cheapest thing on the menu, but it was excellent.

We both ordered entrees off the specials menu.  Scott had a Baked Tortellini that was very well done.  The tortellini almost tasted like it was made from homemade pasta, but I couldn't quite tell.  The tomato-cheese sauce that came with the tortellini looked kind of clumpy.  Overall it was good, but not quite memorable.

I had the Roasted Sea Bass.  I almost always go to fish when Scott and I don't split an entree since he doesn't touch the stuff.  He really missed out on this one.  The sea bass was cooked perfectly and it almost melted in my mouth with the tomato ragout sauce that came with it.  The peas that came with it were also cooked perfectly.  The Spanish style rice wasn't as sticky as I expected it to be.  I think they used a different grain of rice that kept the grains separate and chewy.  An excellent dish.

It's a little out of our price range for the everyday meal, but could be very doable with split portions.  It was a great place for a nice night out and we had a good time.  There's a reason why this restaurant has made it for 40 years, and I expect that they will still be serving dishes like these for another 40 years.

Monday, February 01, 2010

January Wrap-Up

So I have some pretty lofty goals for 2010.  Only one month in, how am I doing?
  • Read 3 books: Terrier; Women, Work, and the Art of Savoir Faire; Chalice.  In progress on two others: Love in the Time of Cholera, Angel Time.  Means I'm slightly behind on my book-a-week goal, but it's probably a "stretch" goal anyway. 
  • Splurged on a TV/DVD combo for the kitchen so I can have something to watch when I'm cooking. Otherwise I'm well on my way toward paying off my car.  My tax refund is in, and in the next few weeks I should be getting my company's bonus.  I'm hoping that will take care the rest of the balance, but I'll have to wait to see.  Keeping my fingers crossed for a good performance review.  I'm nervous! 
  • Wrote 10,134 words in January!  My blog accounted for 57% of the total, so for February, I'm going to try to write more on my novel than I do on my blog.  But so far I've been consistent at writing every few days, and that's a good sign!
  • Raced well. I've decided on a couple of trail runs to do as my February runs.  The last couple of weeks had a good schedule of workouts and combination of running and lifting weights. 
  • Attended a Symphony concert.   Was inspired.  I definitely should do that more often.
  • Challenged my cooking skills!  My mom asked for one of Paula Deen's Gooey Butter Cakes for her birthday, pictured above.  It was easier to make than I was expecting, but it was very well received at her party.  My niece Ava bounced very happily when she got some.  I also was responsible for bringing breakfast for my team at work earlier this month.  I brought in smoked salmon on wheat pancakes and fruit with cream cheese frosting on sugar crackers.  The guys at work cleaned me out of the fruit things because most of them got queasy at the thought of salmon. 
The year has gone well so far.  This month was filled with more good days than bad, several inspiring moments, and increasing amounts of hope for the future.  I know they can't all be this good, but I shall revel in the small accomplishments.  January has been a month well lived.