Monthly Archives: June 2011

29 Jun

Shoot Em Up!

Posted by on June 29, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Laser tag is a standard in any nerd’s repertoire and, therefore, always a diversion I welcome. That goes double if the celebration of my birthday is in question.

We tagging veterans got to play for an extra half-hour while everyone else received instructions on how not to die.

Jason planned a great geeky gathering for my birthday this year: a 2 hour outdoor game of laser tag featuring a couple dozen of our friends. Awesome! He doesn’t deserve all the credit for this unique and nerdy idea though. A couple months ago one of our friends celebrated his birthday in a similar manner and Jason and I had such a great time crawling through the bushes and firing on our buddies that he thought my birthday would be a great excuse to do it all over again. He was correct.

Wendy, Chuong, and I look like we are either licensed to kill or preparing to make some dork fetish film.

Watch out for these hardened predators!

We held the party at Mt. Timpanogos Park with the games starting just as it was getting dark. The park cleared out shortly after night set in and we soon had the entire area to ourselves. I’m certain that that desertion had nothing to do with park goers feeling like they were getting swarmed by an armed nerd herd.

Nothing says geek like a group of adults strapping on headgear and sneaking through the night like the fate of the free world depended on them.

It turned out to be the perfect evening for our tactical operations. A nice breeze, along with the thick layers of sweat covering our poorly conditioned bodies, kept us cool as we attempted to regain some of our youthful magnificence.

Aimee is a seasoned expert. Her laser can do more damage than a shopping trip on Sunday.

I may be growing another year older but hiding behind rocks and sprinting across the grass made me feel a lot like a little kid playing kick the can in the warm summer twilight. There’s nothing like a little nostalgic childhood regression to counteract the effects of time.

Oh yeah! Whoever said strapless was sexier didn't consider that beautifully belted headgear.

Many thanks to all the friends who eagerly let go of any semblance of maturity and embraced the pain of unwanted exercise for the glory of the game. The night just wouldn’t have been the same without you as a target.

21 Jun

Officially Never Summer

Posted by on June 21, 2011 at 7:06 pm

A couple months ago I whined about the boarding season ending. It turns out that that bellyaching was a bit premature.

That tiny dot is me. I look like I'm contemplating the majesty of the universe when really I'm just contemplating that slushy black diamond and if I can make it down without toppling. And no, you don't need to adjust your computer screen; the snow really was that dirty.

It’s summertime. The unmistakable smell of grilled meats wafts through the air intermingled with the melodic chirping of birds and yet Jason and I went snowboarding a week ago at Snowbird Resort and the snow was still incredible. It may be hard to believe, while mosquitoes nip at your skin and flowers bloom underfoot, that just 45 minutes away the landscape remains sheathed in white but that is the glorious truth.

Although there is still an enormous amount of snow up at Snowbird, the canyon is definitely melting. Little Cottonwood Creek, a normally docile stream, was a tumbling and churning mass of chaotic whitewater. Nearly at the flooding stage, it ripped by us at 600-800 cubic feet per second. See the comments section below for a link to the You Tube clip we took of this bad boy.

This year Utah’s hefty winter turned into a very rainy and cold spring. The relentless precipitation has resulted in some record-breaking water levels and frequent flood threats. But those bemoaning our flow situation are looking at the glass half empty as far as I’m concerned. We may have some streams running amuck but I got to go boarding in the middle of June on 150 inches of snow. Surely my boarding pleasure is worth a few overflowing riverbanks. 🙂

Since "The Flying Tomato" is already taken perhaps Jason should start calling himself "The Flailing Parsnip."

The day we spent at Snowbird was beautiful. The snow was pretty slushy by the afternoon but it was sublimely warm. I just wore a thin shell jacket with all the zippers undone and my temperature fluctuated between perfect and uncomfortably cozy. Despite the unseasonable powder supply the slopes weren’t crowded at all. Apparently, the fact that it’s officially summer has some people confused about the state of their peaks. All the more snow for me.

After boarding we grabbed some grub at the Birdfeeder and enjoyed our meal in the pleasant sunshine. I decided to get a chilidog-not a common food choice for a Rachel. The chilidog was extremely messy but it tasted pretty fantastic after hours of boarding. It should be noted that my pants are unzipped here because of the heat not because the chili was already causing havoc in my GI tract.

Lots of slush and lots of sun: the best day of spring boarding ever! I am thrilled to report that Snowbird is scheduled to remain open for a few more weeks. Snowboarding in Utah in July! I am salivating at the mere thought.

15 Jun

Conjuring Hogwarts

Posted by on June 15, 2011 at 10:05 pm

I was introduced to Harry Potter over a decade ago by a friend (Thanks Jenn.) and immediately fell in love with the fantastical world portrayed in these books. Since Jason is a longtime fan too we decided that before the final half of the last movie comes out we should prepare for its theatrical majesty by holding a Harry Potter party: a celebration involving watching the first half of The Deathly Hollows, eating Hogwarts style cuisine, and testing everyone’s Potter knowledge with a little house vs. house trivia contest.

We had quite the crowd at our party. All of the 20 chairs in our theater room had a butt in them.

As with all Sabin parties, I wasn’t willing to just let this be a mediocre get-together; I wanted it to be a party of Potter proportions! With that goal in mind Jason and I spent a large chunk of time making decorations and preparing food. We made mandrakes out of celery root and extendable ears and Galleons out of Sculpey. We further spruced up the décor with some homemade potions jars and few random items we dug out of our massive Halloween supply. Most impressive where the half dozen wands we designed using wooden dowels, clay, hot glue, and paint; they looked pretty convincing.

Each of the wands we made looked unique. It's amazing what you can do with some Sculpey and imagination.

We had a healthy mandrake crop made out of celery roots and silk leaves.

Our handmade sticks may have been perfect for a little flicking and swishing practice but man cannot live on wands alone. Yes, food would be needed to fill our bellies with magical fullness. However, Jason and I had a hard time deciding what victuals would be the most Potterish. Finally, after reviewing the books, we determined that students at Hogwarts eat an incredible amount of sugar in the form of pastries and candy so we agreed to make those the staples of the evening. We made chocolate caramel frogs and white mice candy and bought lemon drops, old-fashioned suckers, every flavor jelly beans, tarts, éclairs, and chocolate mousse cups. And, to keep everyone from going into a diabetic coma, we supplied a large tray of sandwiches. I know sandwiches aren’t exactly prolific at Hogwarts but cold meat pies wouldn’t have been very appetizing.

I made chewy chocolate caramel frogs instead of plain chocolate frogs. I love chocolate but blobs of straight chocolate that huge seemed a bit much.

These white mice were made more for looks than taste. They were mostly comprised of sugar and therefore resembled blobs of frosting.

Nothing washes down sugar quite as nicely as more sugar. This is why we provided pumpkin juice, which was really a pumpkin shake, and butterbeer as thirst quenchers. Converting standard soda into butterbeer was tricky. We took root beer and cream soda bottles, removed all their labeling, and replaced it with our own. It took some time but it worked splendidly.

We made three different butterbeer labels for three varieties of soda. You could chose your favorite: The Three Broomsticks, The Hog's Head, or Banshee Blend.

When the scene was set and the gorging underway it was time to focus on the night’s entertainment. We held this party in the theater room at Noah’s so we could comfortably view The Deathly Hollows from plush recliners. Oh yeah! After the show we sorted everyone into houses for a Potter trivia competition. The contest was intense but in the end Slytherin slid their way to victory.

I dressed up as Hermione for the party and Jason went as Sirius. Being Hermione was easy for me. Not only do I have the unruly hair, I've got the know-it-all attitude.

Jeremy Brown won the prize for best costume. He deserved it with his creative representation of Sirius in Azkaban.

We put a cell phone on speaker inside this hat so it could talk to the wearer. Our sorting ceremony was an amusing way to get attendees divided into teams for the trivia contest.

Creating the magic of Hogwarts was time-consuming and somewhat of an inspirational challenge but it was also fun. We hope the spell we cast adequately paid homage to the books we love.

8 Jun

Sneaks, Shows, and Shopping

Posted by on June 8, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Jason is a sneaky fellow. He’s come up with a crafty method for making each minute of his time off really count. How does he maximize his days off?

Jason’s new strategy regarding PTO involves utilizing multi-functionality. By getting sick right when we are about to leave on vacation he turns what would just be vacation days into all-purpose vacation/sick days, which saves him a lot of sick time. Maybe this habit is great for preserving his PTO but I find it trying. Sigh.

Jason’s only illnesses in the last year have been synchronized with our vacations. When we went to NYC in December he was fighting off a bug and when we traveled to Mississippi in February he was battling an illness that he generously shared with me so I could be sick on our trip too.

Last week I had to travel to Las Vegas for an SCC seminar and Jason tagged along. Considering Jason’s recent sickness patterns I was more exasperated than surprised when he informed me the night before we were leaving that he felt like he was coming down with something. Geeze boy! Ill or not, Vegas couldn’t be delayed so we did our best not to let his cold keep us from having a good time. Admittedly, this was probably an easier task for me than him considering I felt fine but I think we both fared pretty well in the fun department.

When Jason and I go to Vegas it’s pretty much a guarantee that we are going to catch a show. This time, however, we ended up seeing two. First, we went to Phantom of the Opera at the Venetian. Although I have seen Phantom of the Opera live before I’ve had a hankering to see it again and thus I’ve been “suggesting” that we go see it the last few times we’ve been in Vegas. Jason finally caught on that my suggestions weren’t actually suggestions so he agreed to patronize Sir Weber with me. Phantom was delightful and even Jason was intrigued by its special effects. The second show we watched was Cirque du Soleil’s O playing at the Bellagio. We weren’t planning on checking out O this trip but, since we were staying at the Bellagio, we were too tempted by the ease of attending this spectacle that we have long wanted to see. It was a captivating program but it left me and Jason with a pesky urge to play in some water.

The pools at Bellagio are reportedly some of the best on the strip. That rumor is true.

Even with our two shows there was plenty of spare furosemide to buy online time to go blow some bills. A lot of people go to Vegas to spend money and I do too, just not at the casinos. I can’t go to Vegas without doing some shopping and by “some” I mean many more hours than the average person could tolerate. The Vegas shops and I were obviously placed in each other’s lives for a reason. I’m pretty sure finding cute new clothes was that reason but I bought some jewelry too just in case I misinterpreted the will of the universe. Better safe than sorry.

The stores we perused were plentiful but the demands of fashion weren’t the only ones diminishing our pocketbooks. My stomach seems to think that when good food is present it needs to eat it and the Bellagio houses plenty of world class restaurants so you can guess the outcome of that scenario. The nearness of scrumptious food and my fondness for the stuff led to a chain of conspiring events that ultimately resulted in mass deliciousness consumption. We caught up with a coworker of Jason’s that happened to also be in Vegas at Todd English’s Olives for a nice casual lunch. The fig and prosciutto flatbread I ordered was a yummy combination of sweet, salty, and pungent. Mmmm! Additionally, we practically ate our weight in pastries, crepes, and desserts at the Jean Philippe Patisserie. We couldn’t help it; this award winning pastry chef’s shop also houses the world’s largest chocolate fountain and those 27 feet of molten chocolate kept calling us back. (It really is a Guinness world record; you can look it up.) We also stuffed our gullets with classy Cantonese dishes at Jasmine and while we filled our stomachs the manmade splendor of the Bellagio fountains filled our eyes.

Jasmine, a Catonese restaurant, is located over Bellagio's lake so we had a front row view of the fountain show while we gobbled our delicious meals.

Although we had barely unpacked our bags from Maui when it was time to pack them again for Vegas, and Jason insisted on getting sick just as we were leaving, it was still a good trip. Jason’s cold turned out to be pretty mild fortunately so it didn’t interfere with my shopping marathon much. With a little assistance from our friend Sudafed he seemed to feel almost normal and he didn’t sneeze on me enough to get me sick. Lady luck and the shopping gods must be with me!

I left a lot of money in Vegas but my butt and scarf selection grew substantially so I’d call the trip a success.