Monthly Archives: February 2013


27 Feb

Valentine’s Day the Rachel Way

Posted by on February 27, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Every year I complain about complaining. Yup, you know the drill. I can’t handle the incessant Valentine’s Day whining that is so ubiquitous during February. For crying out loud people! Is doing something special for your special someone really that much of a burden? If they aren’t worth a little effort then one would have to wonder about the accuracy of their “special” title.

Valentine’s Day, that abhorred and adored holiday, just hit again and once more I heard lots of griping over it. For instance, one of my coworkers was grumbling about how Valentine’s Day is the stupidest of holidays because he has to buy his wife flowers. Since, out of all the February moaners, those that object to doing something nice for their spouse annoy me the most, I will focus the venom of this preachy post on that sorry group.

Jason got me such a huge bouquet of flowers I had to rearrange my desk to find a space for it.

Jason got me such a huge bouquet of flowers I had to rearrange my desk to find a space for it.

In contrast to the pathetically unromantic mentioned above, I love Valentine’s Day. It means I GET to do something thoughtful for the man that I adore. It provides an excuse for me to remind Jason, AKA the best husband in the world, that he is my favorite person. I would never waste this occasion with whining and neither would my fine hubby.

This year it was Jason’s turn to plan our Valentine’s Day activities and he wisely chose to get us tickets to Cinderella the ballet. (Yes, you men can go to the ballet with little risk that images of leotards will be permanently burned into your retinas.) We had a great time laughing at the clumsy stepsisters and admiring the grace of the other dancers. A couple of days later, Jason surprised me with another round of Valentine’s fun: a Mexican flavors cooking class up at Sur La Table. I’ve got one smart man. I love to cook and Jason’s culinary skills could use some improving so this tutorial was an excellent idea. Jason’s motives for signing us up for this course may not have been entirely selfless though. I’m sure he realized that this class would increase his chances of getting yummy Mexican food in the future. Whatever his reasons, we thoroughly enjoyed preparing and chowing our flavorful dinner of pork-and-cheese arepas, pork and beef-stuffed poblanos, chipotle-rubbed salmon tacos, and Mexican chocolate pots de crème. Tasty! Obtaining culinary masterfulness obviously requires a lot of eating; I’m willing to make the sacrifice.

Jason and I had to put some effort into eating all of this fruit arrangement before it spoiled but our hard work paid off. Not a single strawberry went bad

Jason and I had to put some serious effort into eating all of this fruit arrangement before it spoiled but our hard work paid off. Not a single strawberry went bad.

Even though it wasn’t my turn to head up our celebrations this year, I still plotted plenty. I sneakily planned a series of treats for Jason. First, I took some fancy donuts and hot chocolate to his office for him to share with his coworkers. Next, on another day, I took some balloons and handmade chocolates to his office for him not to share with his coworkers. And then, on Valentine’s Day, I showered him with a whole slew of presents that I had fastidiously wrapped.

Jason too wasn’t content with just going the extra mile on Valentine’s Day…he wanted to go the extra hundred. He brought a gorgeous bouquet of flowers to me while I was at work and then, a couple of hours later when I suspected nothing, he had another bouquet delivered. This second bouquet was made of delicious fruit and chocolate covered strawberries. I have to say that I got a twinge of warped delight from the shocked look on my coworker’s face, the one that had been complaining about having to give his wife flowers on Valentine’s Day, when he walked by my desk and saw everything Jason had sent me. That’s right dude, there are plenty of fabulous husbands out there that, unlike you, aren’t content with a mediocre marriage and I’m wedded to one of them.

The poblano peppers we stuffed in our cooking class were mighty tasty.

The poblano peppers we stuffed in our cooking class were mighty tasty.

I have the happiest marriage imaginable because both Jason and I see occasions like Valentine’s Day as opportunities not inconveniences. There’s more than just a correlation between our outlook on matters like this and our atypical bliss. I know that some of you, even after my poignant words of wisdom, are still thinking that Valentine’s Day just isn’t for you. For that group, here are a couple of the most common excuses I’ve heard for ignoring Valentine’s Day and the reasons I think that they’re invalid, especially for the permanently committed:

Excuse 1: Doing something nice for my significant other on Valentine’s Day is too expensive.

While I tend to bestow my hubby with a few too many gifts, such is my way, one can show someone how much they love them through many other means: cleaning out their car, making them a yummy dinner, serving them breakfast in bed, selflessly volunteering to take care of the kids while they have a guilt-free day out with their friends, giving them a relaxing foot massage, baking them cookies, writing them a thoughtful love note, cleaning the house, watching their favorite chick flick with them without complaint, surprising them at work with a lunch for two…like the Energizer Bunny I could just keep going and going. The point is that financial limitations are no excuse for not celebrating Valentine’s Day.

I always make sure Jason's Valentine's Day gifts are wrapped extravagantly.

I always make sure Jason’s Valentine’s Day gifts are wrapped extravagantly.

Excuse 2: I don’t like the expectations of this holiday and would rather surprise my significant other on some random day when it will actually be a surprise.

While I get this, I’ve found that those that don’t do anything special for their spouses on Valentine’s Day are usually the same people that are thoughtless the rest of the year and the least likely candidates for ever surprising their partners out of the blue. Putting effort into a relationship is a habit and a refusal to do something considerate for your significant other when given the chance, even if it’s expected, is typically indicative of a trend of marital laziness. I enjoy surprising my husband often and am known for bringing treats unpredictably to his work. (I’m quite popular with his coworkers.) But I still delight in concocting Jason-related Valentine’s Day schemes, even if he expects such shenanigans. After all, he should expect to be shown how much I adore him constantly. If he ever ceases to expect that then I have failed him as a wife.

Jason and I are supremely content with our life together and we have a blast celebrating Valentine’s Day. If you can’t say the same then perhaps you should consider putting forth a little more effort. Any physicist can tell you that you have to put energy into a system to get energy out of it. If you aren’t putting any energy into your relationship, why should you expect to get anything worthwhile out of it? Do I say this with smugness? Absolutely. I’m not exactly known for holding back my opinions on any subject but, considering the strength of my marriage, I think I’m in a pretty good position to give advice on this particular topic. So go forth and celebrate Valentine’s Day and think twice before you come crying to me about having to remember your valentine. Frankly, you’d fare better just buying those flowers without comment.

20 Feb

The Regency Ball

Posted by on February 20, 2013 at 7:32 pm

It’s no secret that I’m an Austenphile. After all, it is a truth universally acknowledged that any woman of good taste must be in want of a Mr. Darcy…and if Mr. Darcy isn’t available then a well-dressed replicate will do.

My hairdresser Stacy created my do for this event. She did a great job; I got lots of compliments.

My hairdresser Stacy created my do for this event. She did a great job; I got lots of compliments.

When I heard that the Jane Austen Society of Utah was holding a Regency Ball and a group of our friends was interested in going, I was instantly on board. Unfortunately, because I only learned of this event two weeks beforehand, I had to sort out our costumes in a hurry. Thankfully, since Jason and I dressed as Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet for Halloween a couple of years ago, I had already made most of what we needed but some quick stitching was still necessary. I had run out of time that Halloween and, consequently, hadn’t gotten around to making the authentic (circa 1790-1830) shirt that I had planned on sewing for Jason. He had had to manage with an obscured pirate blouse. And his waistcoat, another actual pattern from the late 1700s, had turned out undersized even though I had added 3 or 4 inches to its length. (Those Georgian gentlemen must have been puny things like me.) Since I wanted Jason to look perfect for the Regency Ball, I was determined to get that historically accurate shirt done and a new longer waistcoat made for him. Also, being a woman, I felt compelled to accessorize my costume a bit and an Austen style purse, known as a reticule, which could hold all of my girly stuff during the party, was just the thing so I added one of those to my sew list.

The men had snobbish disdain down pretty well. Practice does make perfect.

The men had snobbish disdain down pretty well. Practice does make perfect.

Two weeks isn’t much time to sew a shirt, vest, and purse but it’s doable. Then again, these weren’t your run-of-the-mill clothing items. Because I was using actual 1700s patterns, the instructions were horrendously hard to decipher and follow. Plus, the designs for these articles incorporated a whole lot of extra pieces that didn’t seem to serve any purpose. I ended up completely disregarding the instructions for the waistcoat and just doing my own thing. The shirt’s directions weren’t as awful so I did use them for the most part, even though they called for an absurd number of gussets to be stitched into peculiar places. (Before this experience I didn’t even know what a gusset was.) I also had to make my Princess Peach outfit for our polar plunge in the middle of all of this. (Insert curse word of choice here.) Talk about sewing to near insanity! Everything turned out splendidly though so I have no lasting complaints. Oddly, Jason’s unembellished shirt, with its simple details, was my favorite out of everything I created. Those gussets and strange pieces combined to make something that could have come straight out of Pride and Prejudice.

Jason and I make a pretty great pair. Maybe that's why we nearly won best couple.

Jason and I make a pretty great pair. Maybe that’s why we nearly won the prize for best couple.

And the ball? Fantastic! Most of our night was spent dancing with only a short intermission for dinner. I love moving my feet so I didn’t grow weary of skipping, spinning, and galloping even after four hours. The meticulous costumes and ubiquitous curtseying successfully made me feel like I had been transported to a time long-gone when a bow to honor your partner was customary before a tune began. We were taught many dances from the Regency Period but we moved through them quite quickly so I’m not entirely sure how much of that footwork my tootsies retained. However, I definitely remember the steps to my favorite dance, the reel, which involve a whole lot of whirling and dosadoing. I’m a twirly kind of girly!

Our group looked spiffy in their mostly homemade attire.

Our group looked spiffy in their mostly homemade attire.

All the members of our group put substantial effort into their attire. Amber made terrific costumes for her and Jeremy. Simone and Abigail bravely sewed their dresses but decided to send their husbands to the costumer’s. And Jason and I looked pretty bona fide adorned in our useless gussets. The work I put into our clothes did not go unnoticed. We were runners-up for best couple out of the roughly 200 people present. It made me feel a little better about all that manic stitching.

Jason's shirt looked like something straight out of Pride and Prejudice.

Jason’s shirt looked like something straight out of Pride and Prejudice.

It was a perfect evening filled with frills and twirls. My feet were throbbing by the end of the night but I enjoyed every minute of the ball regardless. It provided an excellent excuse to get dolled up and then get down. The setting may not have been as plush as the halls of Pemberley but I felt immersed in that classic grandeur all the same. Plus, my late model Mr. Darcy was definitely handsome enough to tempt me. I hope we can attend this event again next year. You might want to consider joining us. After all, any savage can dance.

13 Feb

The Plunging Plumbers

Posted by on February 13, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Most people would never be willing to jump into an ice-topped lake in the middle of winter for any cause, even to save their own mother, but there are a few that would be tempted to participate in a polar plunge once just to cross it off their bucket list. Then there are those, like us, who have plunged again and again. We habitual jumpers repeat this tradition for a different reason- we are crazy.

For the third consecutive year, Jason and I took part in the Polar Bear Plunge, a fundraiser for the Special Olympics. Now, before you gasp in dismay, remember: no ill-fated endeavor is too idiotic for charity. Diving into 30 degree water is stupid but diving into 30 degree water for a cause is heroic…or at least benevolently foolhardy. And believe me, you need those goodwill warm fuzzies when you’re submerged in water so cold that you can’t breathe.

Our super team featured Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad, Waluigi, and Wario.

Our super team featured Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad, Waluigi, and Wario.

Our team again dressed in ridiculous costumes for this event. This time Super Mario Bros. was our muse. Because of my blonde hair, I was nominated to come as Princess Peach. Being royalty was okay with me but it did require some gussying up. I didn’t finish sewing my skirt, crown, and necklace until 2 AM the morning of the jump due to some other stitching projects consuming all of my time. It’s hard being a Highness.

No matter how many times you've plunged that water always feels colder than you remember it being.

Jason and Jeremy again pulled out their special Speedos for this special event.

Our geeky theme turned out to be immensely popular. While we arrived too late to participate in the costume contest, which for unknown reasons started half an hour earlier than scheduled, I’m pretty certain that we would have won had we been present. Once our team had all gathered, it took us about 20 minutes to move the few yards to the jump line because so many people wanted their picture taken buy furosemide lasix no prescription with us. Our costumes also attracted the attention of news crews and we ended up being interviewed by two different stations. Oh the woes of being everyone’s darlings! See the links I posted in the comments section to check out those news clips.

Your unavoidable fate as a Popsicle fills you with horror as you plummet toward that ice water.

Your unavoidable fate as a Popsicle fills you with horror as you plummet toward that icy water.

We were expecting to be blown about and snowed upon by a winter storm as we were bounding into Utah Lake but, thankfully, the skies cleared unexpectedly that morning for a bit. Although it was still unbearably cold, that sunshine, and its imagined warmth, made us feel a little better about charging into water that had been covered with ice 18 inches thick just a few days earlier. The lake was so iced up this year that the usual chainsaw method could not be used to cut a plunging hole. Yup, it’s been a frigid winter and the bits of the lake that weren’t frozen solid felt like they might as well have been when we hit them.

No matter how many times you've plunged, that water always feels colder than you remember it being.

No matter how many times you’ve plunged, that water always feels colder than you remember it being.

The plunge was a miserable but fun experience. Several of our would-be teammates chickened out at the last minute and practically had to be forced into signing up. They claimed that this would be their final plunge ever. Yet, before feeling had even returned to their extremities, they were plotting next year’s costumes. I guess that pre-plunge dread makes some people forget that this wacky experience isn’t all suffering. I can guarantee that Jason and I will be participating again next year because we are just that stupid. We don’t let things like heart-stopping cold, hypothermia, or frozen limbs get in the way of making fools of ourselves. And making fools of ourselves for a cause is even better. May the Speedo-girded glory of the Plunging Plumbers reign forever!

6 Feb

Into the Trees

Posted by on February 6, 2013 at 11:16 pm

Jason and I have been home even less frequently than usual as of late. Between mini-vacations, Sundance films, work trips, and all that regular stuff, the last few weeks have flown by in an awful hurry. But that didn’t stop us from somehow squishing yet another weekend getaway into our schedule. Our friends, Cam and Jim, are involved in a business together. They, along with their wives, were going to spend a couple days at a cabin up at Daniels Summit as a corporate retreat. Jason and I are not connected with their company in any way but they extended an invite for us to tag along nonetheless. We are usually the ones offering the free stays so this was a reversal of norms. I guess sometimes karma does give kickbacks.

The cabin had a large living area that made a great place to relax and laugh.

The cabin had a large living area that made a great place to relax and laugh.

The cabin turned out to be monstrous. I think our house would probably have fit in it a couple times over. Its cozy living space quickly became game central. Jason and I taught the gang Saboteur and then tried to teach everyone Bang. The concept of Bang is apparently more elusive than I thought, which explains why the team Jason and I were on slaughtered all the others effortlessly.

Jason and I got trapped in our room by a blockade of fluff.

Jason and I got trapped in our room by a blockade of fluff.

After our gaming that first night, Jason became a rabble-rouser. My hubby is an instigator, as many of you know, and he was in true mischief-maker mode that evening. He prompted a few juvenile pranks and soon pillows were flying everywhere. Before long, that ringleader and I found ourselves barricaded in our room by a wall of couch cushions. Good times.

Our posse of riders boldly went where no snowmobile had gone before...and then got stuck there.

Our posse of riders boldly went where no snowmobile had gone before…and then got stuck there.

The next day we spent all hours of light out on Daniels Summit’s many trails and meadows with our rented snowmobiles. The area has plentiful path options, some of which take as long as 2 hours to loop. For the most part we traveled as an earsplitting pack but Jason and I took a breather from the group midday in order to hit the Summit’s summit. Apparently, when the skies are clear the view is amazing from the top but we couldn’t see the blanketed valleys strewn out below us; we couldn’t even see a few feet in the distance. Although a cloud was taking a rest on the saddle, making visibility minimal and temperatures chilly, we still enjoyed checking out that misty peak.

It looks like I've got a grey backdrop behind me but it's just the peak's mist.

It looks like I’ve got a grey backdrop behind me but it’s just the peak’s mist.

When Jason and I were riding with the gang, we consumed a lot of time digging stuck snowmobiles out of the powder. Let me rephrase that, we spent a lot of time digging other people’s stuck snowmobiles out of the powder. (Turning my snowmobile upside-down does not count. That was easy to fix and didn’t require superhuman strength.) Some members of our group were more adventurous (i.e. foolish) when it came to taking their snowmobiles places they shouldn’t go. One particularly steep field seized almost every machine. Jason and I had to help push out mobile after mobile, none of which were ours. Boy was it tiring!

The scenes we whizzed through were lovely. They ranged from open meadows, to hills covered with aspens almost as white as the snow, to pine packed knolls.

The scenes we whizzed through were lovely. They ranged from open meadows, to hills covered with aspens almost as white as the snow, to pine packed knolls.

I can’t say that my day was incident free though. In fact, I definitely get the distinctive prize for the worst accident. You know those nightmares where you’re aware that something awful is about to happen to you but you are powerless to prevent it? Well, I had a real-life bout of that dreadful helplessness. Our group was cruising on the trail probably a tad faster than they should have been. (I prefer to go at a slower and safer speed when traversing wooded areas but some members of our bunch were a little impatient.) I came to a section of the road that angled right and steered my machine accordingly only it didn’t turn right but instead went left. What the what? Despite my forceful attempts to get it to go right, there was just no deterring it from its left how to buy lasix online bound course. A couple seconds later my opposite-than-planned direction of travel abruptly ended when I hit a tree. Although I’d like to think I braked or at least let off the gas in the middle of this, I’m not entirely sure I did either. It happened too fast and I was too confused about why my snowmobile wouldn’t go the way it was supposed to. A second of puzzlement was long enough for that tree to find me. I doubt you could have done better on a machine that you were not accustomed to driving and that was doing precisely the reverse of what it was intended to do. Besides, it’s unlikely that braking for half a second would have made much of a difference in the outcome of this scenario; snowmobiles don’t stop on a dime unless that dime is the size of a football field.

I was frazzled after my impact but not loopy, at least not loopier than normal.

I was frazzled after my impact but not loopy, at least not loopier than normal.

Even if I couldn’t fix everything in that second or two, I did do one thing brilliantly. When I hit that trunk I held onto my handlebars with a death grip that would have made Darth Vader proud. Since I was going about 25 MPH and was thrown from my seat by the impact, that tight clasp was the only thing that preventing me from smacking the tree myself or being tossed into the woods. I came extremely close to striking the trunk as it was, the group of friends riding in back of me thought I had, but dang if those stubby hands of mine didn’t hold on for all that they’re worth. Thanks to their unexpected strength, I came away from the experience with nothing more than black-and-blue knees, a bump on my head where it collided with my helmet, a little whiplash, sore wrists, and some understandable sketchiness. (Plus, a $165 fee for a bent ski rod.) Thank you little feisty fingers!

Jim's vehicle was the second one we rescued from powder oblivion.

Jim’s vehicle was the second one we rescued from powder oblivion.

My hubby, for reasons unknown, really cares about me. He leapt from his snowmobile while it was still moving the moment I collided with that poor aspen. Almost instantly he was at my side checking my pupils and lucidity. (He was convinced that I had gotten a concussion or worse from body slamming that tree, which I hadn’t hit.)

Shortly after I flipped my snowmobile Fran flipped hers on the same hill.

Shortly after I flipped my snowmobile, Fran flipped hers on the same hill.

What caused my snowmobile to suddenly get a rebellious mind of its own? Ice on the skis? Possession? Who knows. The guys at the rental shop did say that the snow conditions were just right for poor control and slow response time. You don’t say. I think I would count spontaneous oppositional travel as a little more than poor control. The mystery remains unsolved.

Jason, as always, was my favorite riding companion.

Jason, as always, was my favorite riding companion.

After our snow play, Jason and I treated everyone to dinner at the Spin Café, a yummy little joint we discovered last time we were in Heber. It was our small way of thanking our hosts. Everyone seemed to enjoy their meal and the housemade gelato was a hit. It sure was a hit with my stomach anyway.

The cabin we stayed at was spacious and comfortable.

The cabin we stayed at was spacious and comfortable.

More games awaited us when we returned to the cabin with full bellies. We got in a few rounds of Killer Oompi before some of the crew started losing Oompi oomph. Jim, Cindy, Jason, and I were the last ones conscious and playing. Which means no one else got to see Jason as a pony or Jim’s upper thigh revealed. Their loss.

Jason lost a couple rounds of Killer Oompi. For one of his penalties he had to prance around like a pony with Cindy on his back.

Jason lost a couple rounds of Killer Oompi. For one of his penalties he had to prance around like a pony with Cindy on his back.

It was an amusing weekend. I could have done without the tree incident and I wouldn’t have minded pulling a few less snowmobiles out of powder potholes but such are the hazards of fun. Plus, I guess we freeloaders need to earn our keep somehow. Many thanks to the kind souls that let me and Jason tag along on this winter escape; we would be happy to strain our muscles heaving your hefty snowmobiles from the mire anytime.