Monthly Archives: May 2013


30 May

The Dirty Dozen

Posted by on May 30, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Jason and I have been ecstatically married for many years, twelve to be exact. It was my turn to make sure that our anniversary was celebrated properly this May and I decided that instead of concentrating on the distantly exotic our revelries were going to focus on the freshly convenient. Salt Lake City, just a short drive away, was exactly what I was looking for. Even though we’ve both been to that metropolis countless times, I was certain that it still held many opportunities for new adventures and I was right. Unfortunately, our new adventures decided to have adventures of their own so not all of our holiday pastimes ended up being entirely of our choosing. However, even with some unexpected setbacks our vacation was mostly delightful.

Jason is a smart and excellent husband. He never ceases to make me feel special.

Jason is a smart and excellent husband. He never ceases to make me feel special.

I reserved a 2-night stay for us at Salt Lake’s most luxurious hotel: the Grand America. The suites at this resort are definitely spacious and the Grand America is in a great location for easy access to many of downtown’s hotspots. But, despite our comfortable quarters, the first night of our getaway was a bit of a hot mess and not in a good way. After work we hurried to get on the road and were halfway to SLC in hectic traffic when I realized that I had forgotten my shoes. No, not the shoes on my feet, but the extra few pairs I was planning on bringing to coordinate with our anticipated activities. A girl has her needs so don’t you roll your eyes at me! Turning around to retrieve my shoes (Yes, I NEEDED them.) made us a few minutes late for our night of John Williams’ music with the Utah Symphony. It was only the first of many things that would go wrong that evening. Another setback occurred when we decided to try Eva, a downtown tapas bar, for a late bite after the concert. We thought this would be a quick culinary excursion but it turned out rather the opposite because we couldn’t find parking anywhere. All of the street stalls had police signs posted on them indicating that parking was not allowed currently. We discovered the following morning that our parking blues were due to the roads closing for a Bike Utah event that ran through the middle of town. It seemed like we drove in endless circles before finally stumbling upon a place we could leave our car. At least Eva, after all that hassle, was tasty, quick and pretty cheap. If you’re looking for an inexpensive and unique place to grab some grub in the downtown area, this might be a good spot for you to try.

Washington Square provided a pleasant place to cram pastries into our piggy mouths.

Washington Square provided a pleasant place to cram pastries into our piggy mouths.

Speaking of spots, our next problem came in the form of a wad of gum that mysteriously found its way onto the shoulder of my jacket while we were eating dinner. Gross! Why am I always a magnet for the unclaimed hair, gum and feces of the world? The last hiccup of our evening was caused by another forgotten item: Jason’s contact case. After realizing he had left it behind, Jason had to go searching for something to put his contacts in. This proved a difficult task since it was past midnight. Eventually he was saved by a 7-Eleven and thus ended our would-be relaxing first night. Not exactly the trip start I had envisioned.

The hills leading to Ensign Peak were strewn with grasses and wild flowers.

The hills leading to Ensign Peak were strewn with grasses and wildflowers.

It was breezy on Ensign Peak but the view made it worth bearing.

It was breezy on Ensign Peak but the view made it worth bearing.

In spite of the snags that had threatened to turn our calm weekend into calamity, the next day we were back on track. We woke up late and walked twenty minutes to a French bakery called Gourmandie’s for decadent pastries which we justified in the name of breakfast/lunch. We took them to Washington Square and enjoyed a makeshift park bench picnic. The rum ball that I gobbled was neither a healthy breakfast nor a healthy lunch but it was better than delicious!

This was the only picture of us together taken all weekend. Thus, despite our silly faces, it's here in this post.

This was the only picture of us together taken all weekend. Thus, despite our silly faces, it’s here in this post.

That black blip is an airplane that was making its way to the SLC airport.

That black blip is an airplane that was making its way to the SLC airport.

Next, we went to a matinee showing of Iron Man III at the Gateway. There’s always some geeky blockbuster being released near our anniversary so it’s become kind of a tradition for us to see superheroes in celebration of our own marital superpowers. Who am I to question tradition? Iron Man III was a fun flick, gaping plot holes and all.

The sinking sun silhouetted Jason's dark frame, creating a perfect picture.

The sinking sun silhouetted Jason’s dark frame, creating a perfect picture.

After our show, we hiked to the top of Ensign Peak to watch the sunset. (See, I did need those other shoes.) Although a lifelong Utah resident, Jason had never been to Ensign Peak before and it seemed eager to show him just what he’d been missing. The brilliant scarlets and golds of the dipping sun reflected beautifully off the Great Salt Lake and its many surrounding saline ponds doubling the scene’s kaleidoscopic colors. It was a tad windy and nippy at the summit but we both quite enjoyed this picturesque excursion anyway.

As the sun dropped below the horizon, the sky was set ablaze and the water below reflected that heavenly fire.

As the sun dropped below the horizon, the sky was set ablaze and the water below reflected that heavenly fire.

These drifting clouds looked like they were painted into the sky.

These streaming clouds looked like they were painted into the sky.

Following our walk, it was time to chomp more incredible cuisine. We ate dinner at a newish restaurant called Valter’s Osteria. I would highly recommend this place. The service is impeccable and the food is amazing. Jason got the spinach ravioli and it was honestly the best ravioli I’ve ever had in my life. Yum!

Tracy Aviary is located in the corner of Liberty Park.

Tracy Aviary is located in the corner of Liberty Park.

The next morning we kept up our trend of excessive food intake with brunch at a stylish cafe called Niche that specializes in locally grown ingredients. I had the fish tacos and they were scrumptious. (No, the fish was not locally grown.)

The Tracy Aviary takes in injured birds of prey. Since they can no longer fly, these predators aren't in fully enclosed structures.

The Tracy Aviary takes in injured birds of prey. Since they can no longer fly, these predators aren’t in fully enclosed structures.

We spent the rest of what was a very pleasant afternoon at the Tracy Aviary, a well-kept bird sanctuary that neither of us had been to. It was just big enough that we were able to see most of it without getting overloaded. I liked all of the birds but their many owls were my favorite.

We got to get cozy with this Guira Cuckoo. He definitely looked cuckoo.

We got to get cozy with this Guira Cuckoo. He definitely looked cuckoo.

And that completed our weekend. It may have started out a little rough but it finished nicely. We ate ourselves silly, relaxed, enjoyed perfect spring weather, and relished local favorites. Who says you can’t find novel diversions in your own backyard? After all, an anniversary is a great time to remind yourself that the world holds many treasures but the best ones are right at home. Happy anniversary Jason! More than a dozen years ago I decided that you are remarkable and time has proved that, as always, I was right!

22 May

Showering Aiden

Posted by on May 22, 2013 at 9:59 pm

In April we welcomed the newest addition of our extended family into this exciting world. Jason’s sister Carley became a mommy last month when her son Aiden reluctantly joined humankind via an emergency C-section. This little guy had to be delivered 6 weeks early due to some complications and, unfortunately, he’s had a rough life thus far but we celebrated his arrival nonetheless.

I decided to make this blanket out of 6 inch pieces with 5/8 inch seams: 200 squares in all.

I decided to make this blanket out of 6-inch pieces with 5/8-inch seams: 200 squares in all.

I, along with some of the other family females, planned a baby shower for Carley the last weekend of April. Aiden wasn’t supposed to be around yet but his surprise womb exodus didn’t halt our schemes. Good thing because I had been conspiring up gifts for this event since January.

I used the same polka dotted flannel for the whole backside to keep the quilt from getting too busy.

I used the same polka dotted flannel for the whole backside to keep the quilt from getting too busy.

I wanted to make a blanket for Aiden, as I have done for our last few nieces and nephews, but not an ugly blanket. I’ve tinkered with some hand-quilting in the past and these experiments haven’t exactly turned out fabulously so I decided to put the curious scientist inside aside this time and stick to an established quilt fabrication method…mostly. While I didn’t want Aiden to end up with the crafting equivalent of an exploding beaker, I couldn’t resist trying one teensy material modification with his blanket. I’ve made a number of rag quilts from flannel over the years so I was intrigued by several online sites I found recently that recommended the use of a minky/flannel mix to create the optimal combination of fraying and softness. My curiosity compelled me to give this rag variation a shot. Aiden’s blanket ended up incorporating 100 squares of each type of fabric assembled into a flannel side and a minky side. It took a considerable amount of time to connect all those pieces. I questioned the wisdom of using minky at several points throughout the process, usually when I was choking on fuzz balls. Cutting or sewing this fabric creates masses of fluffy lint that get on everything. No need to fear if you are making a minky rag quilt though, constructing it may produce a fibrous mess but once it’s washed the minky sheds no more. Aiden’s blanket turned out cute and colorful; I finished it just in time for the party.

My friend Robyn made an adorable cake for the shower that matched the invites.

My friend Robyn made an adorable cake for the shower that matched the invites.

I bought four delicious varieties of cupcake to supplement Robyn's darling cake.

I bought four delicious varieties of cupcake to supplement Robyn’s darling cake.

Carley’s baby shower proceeded as most do, with perpetual oohing and awing over miniature apparel. My friend Robyn decorated a fantastic cake for the group of gift givers and I complemented its adorableness with cupcakes from Cravings Alisha’s Cupcakes. Yes, sweetness and well-wishers were both abundant at this event. Many thanks to all of you that came and supported Carley and her mini-man.

Jason and I were only able to meet Aiden recently due to RSV season restrictions.

Jason and I were only able to meet Aiden recently due to RSV season restrictions.

As for Aiden, the wee tike had to go in for surgery earlier this week to have a portion of his intestines removed but he is recovering nicely and hopefully in a month he’ll be able to come home. Welcome to the Sabin clan Aiden! Good thing you’ve already got toughness in the bag because, where your family is concerned, you’re going to need it.

16 May

Half Full of Thanks

Posted by on May 16, 2013 at 10:32 pm

On New Year’s Eve, my brother Drew and his wife Simone decided to sign up for the Thanksgiving Point Half Marathon in order to increase their chances of sticking to their resolution to get in shape. Honestly, when I heard that they’d registered for this event I was a little skeptical. It takes some determined training to get ready for a half marathon and I wasn’t sure if they had it in them. But any chance for them to chicken out clucked away with a click of our mouse. At the end of February, we, along with our friend Jeremy, added our own names to the registration list thus making it impossible for Drew and Simone to back out gracefully…and simultaneously impossible for us to retreat without disgrace.

We did most of our longer training runs with Andrew and Simone. The many miles go faster with some chatter.

We did most of our longer training runs with Andrew and Simone. The many miles go faster with some chatter.

While the largeness of our group convinced us that this race would be a winner, Jason and I had some apprehensions about finishing it as losers. Since the event was so early in the spring, we were a little concerned that the weather would inhibit our ability to prepare for it properly. Just train indoors you say? Are you aware that jogging 10 miles around a track would require roughly 70 laps and would likely be about as exciting as listening to an insurance policy manual on tape? I think I’ll pass but if you like extreme monotony by all means give that revolving tedium a whirl. As it turns out, for us, no worry over weather was warranted. Our outdoor workouts ended up working out. Sure, we had to dash in rain, snow and frost but we also got to sprint in some pretty darn perfect conditions. Jason and I stuck to our training regimen like filthy flies on fresh poop. We ran 4X a week with an extended session every Saturday. At the peak of our training, this totaled to 24 miles per week. Admittedly, it was a little tiring donning our tennis shoes for those distances but the main problem with our program was actually the time involved. Extra-long runs take an extra-long time. Our perseverance and sacrifice paid off though. We were ready and confident come race day.

No, my enthusiasm did not last but my legs did.

No, my enthusiasm did not last but my legs did.

This half marathon stays entirely on the Thanksgiving Point property. From paths around their tranquil gardens to trails on their swanky golf course, you’d be hard-pressed to find a prettier run. However, being pretty has a price. Usually that drawback is narcissism or an expensive shopping habit but, in this case, it’s hills. The half marathon routes we’ve done before have primarily descended but this one makes you struggle up for every step it lets you ease down. Talk about an incline infestation!

Spring flowers created a landscape of color all around us runners.

Spring flowers created a landscape of color all around us runners.

This course may have its ups and downs but the weather while we scurried along it was solely an upper. The conditions were ideal! Unlike my last half marathon, which ended with dehydration followed by puking, I did not overheat. I wised up after that experience and carried a water bottle with me this time to encourage buy lasix without prescription liquid uptake; the pleasant temperatures did the rest. Barf really doesn’t make the best trophy; sure it’s showy but it kind of stinks.

At the nine mile point, the path went up a giant hill. Ugh! I wasn't the only one that struggled up that incline; I noticed two vomit puddles on its slopes.

At the nine mile point, the path went up a giant hill. Ugh! I wasn’t the only one that struggled up that incline; I noticed two vomit puddles on its slope.

I completed the race after 2 hours and 25 minutes. This beat my former time of two and a half hours and met my goal. I was pleased with myself and very proud of all the other runners in our group. Jason crossed the finish line at 1 hour and 47 minutes. His objective was to finish in less than 2 hours and he definitely succeeded. Drew and Jeremy came in only 6 seconds apart right around 2 hours and 13 minutes. And Simone was about 10 minutes behind me. Way to go everyone!

Jason's exuberant thumb reflected the quickness of his run.

Jason’s exuberant thumb reflected the quickness of his run.

From these pictures it's apparent that I was zoned out through most of the race. Hey, when you have over 13 miles to conquer Rachel Land ain't a bad place to be.

From these pictures it’s apparent that I was zoned out through most of the race. Hey, when you have over 13 miles to conquer Rachel Land ain’t a bad place to be.

I don’t know if it was the race’s many hilly miles or just my body’s many years of miles but the rest of the day, following the event, my hips and knees were pretty sore. It hurt to sit and it hurt not to sit so my options for avoiding pain were pretty limited. Jason fared no better. In fact, he suffered like a fussy baby without a binky and almost cried as much. My thigh muscles may have been grumpy about going down stairs for a few days but Jason’s calves reportedly felt like they were going to rip in half. I guess, considering his finishing time, he earned the right to be a little whiney. (And yes, in case you’re wondering, my calves are much tougher than his.)

Jason leaped like a gazelle as he neared the finish line. I don't know how he had bounds of energy left.

Jason leaped like a gazelle as he neared the finish line. I don’t know how he had bounds of energy left.

My finish was much less dramatic than Jason's...and considerably slower.

My finish was much less dramatic than Jason’s…and considerably slower.

My ankle, as my physical therapist predicted, handled this whole affair, including the prep workouts, pretty well. It would hurt after my lengthier runs and swell a little but it didn’t declare all-out war; I was satisfied with that precarious truce. Yeah for ankles that tolerate and can be tolerated!

I was proud of everyone in our group. Their diligence paid off.

I was proud of everyone in our group. Their diligence paid off.

The Thanksgiving Point Half Marathon was a great experience. I’m glad Drew and Simone initiated our participation with their hasty resolution. The race was lovely, though horizontally challenged, and our training for it went according to plan. Our large troupe provided added motivation and entertaining running buddies. Yup, misery really does like company even if that company is prone to dispense harassment. Peer pressure and persistence got us across the finish line with our dignity intact. It’s nice to be barely at the brink of summer and already in such great shape. Now we’ll just have to continue hitting the pavement in order to keep that shape from sagging into the recognizable silhouette of a bowl of Jell-O.

8 May

At Snow’s End

Posted by on May 8, 2013 at 11:41 pm

It is with a heavy heart that I must report on the “closed” signs at the ski resorts. Yes, the snowboarding season has officially ended in most of the mountains around these parts. Which means that the time has now come to reflect on what has passed in the powder over the last months. How did the conditions this year compare to other seasons? How did our skills compare?

snowboarding-2013-pioneer-u

I wish I could say that the snow blew me away this year but, alas, only the wind did that. The precipitation we received this winter was not spectacular yet it wasn’t completely awful either. As it turns out, its so-so abundance wasn’t the biggest obstruction to our enjoyment of the slopes. The main problem we encountered was that each snow flurry had a blustery bite on its backend. Almost every time a storm dumped decent amounts of powder, the post-dump days were filled with howling winds and/or nearly subzero temperatures. Those persistent gusts ruined many of our would-be-great boarding opportunities. To be separated from fresh precipitation in its prime by an overbearing climate was nearly intolerable.

Every year Jason and I buy a 10 pack of tickets to Brighton Resort. These are cheap to purchase in the preseason and we typically use them all up by mid-March. However, due to the windy weather, we didn’t even make it to Brighton’s slopes until the middle of February. Despicable! In order to deplete our passes, we ended up boarding nearly every weekend between the beginning of March and the middle of April. Hitting Brighton’s hills constantly was mostly fantastic but not altogether awesome. We were training for a half marathon at the same time (to be discussed next week) so every Saturday we’d go on an extra-long run and then we’d follow it up the next day with a bunch of extra-long runs down the mountain. In short, we’d wear ourselves out every weekend yet still be behind on our cleaning and errands when all was said and done. I know, I know, it’s pretty hard to feel sorry for me. Boohoo, I had to go boarding a whole lot. What a baby!

Although we were at Brighton perpetually, the best two days we spent in the mountains this winter weren’t actually at that resort. Our trips to Powder Mountain and Brian Head ended up coinciding perfectly with powder-pumping blizzards. Those two outings were so incredible that they almost made up for the rest of the season’s inadequacies. Almost.

And skills? Jason claims that my ability to cruise through deep powder increased many folds this winter. Improving my powder power was never on my mind, I was always just having fun, but I have to admit that I can practically ride the fluffy stuff like a pro now. I’m not exactly sure when that happened.

Except for a couple of outstanding days, the boarding this year was rather lackluster. Wind, wind, and more wind spoiled any chance at greatness this season might have had. But, I must say, those two outstanding days were absolutely amazing! Now that the boarding season and our half marathon are over, maybe our weekends will leave us feeling refreshed and caught up instead of drained and behind or maybe they’ll just leave us craving what we’re missing: the frosty thrill of carving downhill while a vicious breeze pelts prickly snow crystals at our faces. Then again, maybe not.

2 May

The Great Nerd Surge

Posted by on May 2, 2013 at 8:51 pm

This April our friends, the Rowleys, for the third time hosted RowleyCon: a weekend teeming with board games, videogames, anime, cosplay, and all other things geek. Jason and I again attended and again conquered…while simultaneously being utterly overthrown.

I have quite a bit more hair now than I did last time I dressed as Frodo so a wig cap and a lot of bobby pins had to be employed before I could don my curly locks.

I have quite a bit more hair now than I did last time I dressed as Frodo so a wig cap and a whole lot of bobby pins had to be employed before I could don my curly locks.

Although costumes are encouraged for RowleyCon, the vast majority of goers do not dress up. Either they lack the motivation or they lack the lack of dignity necessary. Luckily, I have heaps of motivation and a complete dignity deficiency so sign me up for working hard at looking stupid anytime. Jason and I decided that this year, with The Hobbit’s recent release, it was time to pull out the LOTR costumes I made for us a decade ago. So, for the first night of the Con, Jason came as Aragorn and I dressed as Frodo. (Remember, I feel no shame wearing something even a chocobo would snub.) I spent a great deal of time creating these costumes back in the day and I was impressed by the extent of their detail when I reexamined them. Nothing had been overlooked, including: Sting, the One Ring, the Evenstar, pointy ears, and hairy feet. It took us a bit to dig up all of the pieces for these outfits but they came back together nicely.

The relationship between me and Jason might stretch the standard definition of "a fellowship" slightly.

The relationship between me and Jason might stretch the standard definition of a “fellowship” slightly.

Forget Gangnam Style, I worked Dance Central 3 hobbit style.

Forget Gangnam Style, I worked Dance Central 3 hobbit style.

For our Saturday attire, I took our somewhat simple polar plunge outfits from this year, Mario and Princess Peach, and embellished them. I added extra layers of puffy girliness to my Princess Peach dress, which I didn’t finish sewing together until 2 AM that morning. These embellishments represented an interesting challenge because I had to construct them primarily without a pattern. But there’s nothing you can’t accomplish when you put pink before sleep.

We were thrilled to have the opportunity to meet Tracy Hickman, the famous fantasy writer, at RowleyCon. He was quite clever, not that that was a surprise.

We were thrilled to have the opportunity to meet Tracy Hickman, the famous fantasy writer, at RowleyCon. He was quite clever, not that that was a surprise.

I wore more pink as Princess Peach than I ever have in my life. I pretty much looked like a giant gumball.

I wore more pink as Princess Peach than I ever have in my life. I pretty much looked like a giant gumball.

Jason and I won the prizes for the best costumes once more. Since we were practically the only ones that dressed up, it wasn’t exactly an epic battle. With our two sets of homemade outfits, I’d like to think that the other geeks would need a power-up if they wanted to beat us anyway but that self-assured theory remains to be tested. The Sabin reign of triumph didn’t stop there though. We also participated in the contest for ultimate nerdination. This year the competition games were: For Sale, Dominion, StarCraft II, Dance Central 3, and a Jeremy concocted anime trivia match. I ruled For Sale but had to give up my distinguished title in order to claim 2nd place overall. I was okay with that. Yeah! Abigail, my only gaming superior, was declared the supreme nerdinator. Let 2013 be forever known as the year the testosterone-laden were tested and found lacking. That’s right you momma’s basement dwellers, you may be able to out stink us but that doesn’t mean you can out think us. Plus, we wave slide like the gods.

Jeremy's anime trivia game included penalties. Jacob and John got "angry eyebrows" as a result.

Jeremy’s anime trivia game included penalties. Jacob and John got “angry eyebrows” as a result.

Drew and Isabelle dressed as Totoros. They were among the few in costume.

Drew and Isabelle dressed as Totoros. They were among the few in costume.

As you may recall, it was Jason that walked away with the grandest geek prize last year. This time, however, my dear sweet geekalo came in dead last. My darling nerd, what has become of your skills? I thought I would always be able to count on your hotkeys expertise and your dice-rolling aptitude. But, instead, you bring shame to the family with a shortage of victory points. I can only hope that someday you’ll regain your bases and your honor.

Adam lost For Sale and his 2nd place ranking to me.

Adam lost For Sale and his 2nd place ranking to me.

Abigail and I massacred a bunch of men in order to assert our supremacy.

Abigail and I massacred a bunch of men in order to assert our supremacy.

Many thanks to the Rowleys and their underlings (i.e. Lee) for putting together another weekend of geeky delight. We came, we fought, we rolled, we danced, we practically slept at your house. You have done more for the cause of geekery than anyone* since the creation of PONG.**

Disclaimers:

*”Anyone” solely refers to those two guys that discussed who would win in a fight between Han Solo and Captain Kirk with us once.

**This statement has not been evaluated by the Opinionated and Self-important Gamers Committee. RowelyCon is not intended to cure or mitigate hipsterness. Side effects may include: body odor, caffeine overdose, lack of friends, weight gain, lack of showering, man-funk, spontaneous spell casting, delusions of popularity, and dance skill overestimation.