Monthly Archives: December 2014


31 Dec

A Routine Festival

Posted by on December 31, 2014 at 2:09 pm

As I mentioned a couple of months ago, Jason and I recently achieved unprecedented dancing fame and by “unprecedented dancing fame” I mean fame that is not satisfied until unprecedented amounts of dancing have occurred. Our most recent performance was at the Festival of Trees, an annual fundraising event for Primary Children’s Hospital. Here are all the twists and twirls of that affair.

Our group had a great time preparing and performing together.

Our group had a great time preparing and performing together.

In addition to the significant stints spent at our regular dance class, our group of twelve performers practiced almost ten extra hours to perfect our routine. Although these rehearsals sucked up so much time that it seemed like all Jason and I did everyday was go to work and prance about, preparing for FoT was tremendously fun. Laughter and banter erupted so frequently at our practices that they felt more like hangouts than workouts.

Many vintage dances are done in a round.

Many vintage dances are done in a round.

Soldier's Joy is one of my favorite vintage dances. It involves a lot of spinning.

Soldier’s Joy is one of my favorite vintage dances. It involves a lot of spinning.

Our show at FoT was half an hour long and included nine different songs. We had a few wardrobe malfunctions, namely flying shoes and falling pantaloons, but our on-stage romping proceeded relatively smoothly otherwise. The crowd of onlookers started pretty small but it grew throughout our segment.

The Oslo Waltz is a very elegant dance that is performed in a circle.

The Oslo Waltz is a very elegant dance that is performed in a circle.

When wearing a massive skirt that flips regularly, appropriate undergarments are necessary.

When wearing a massive skirt that flips regularly, appropriate undergarments are necessary.

For me, the greatest challenge of this recital was my costume. My proper 1860s attire included a corset and a hoop skirt that was nearly as wide as I am tall. I can’t convey how preposterous trying to dance is when you have a five-foot girth and are bound up tighter than a mummy. Leaping Jehoshaphat! After our performance, Jason and I walked around the exhibit hall where I was constantly bombarded by children (mostly girls) that wanted to talk to or have their picture taken with a princess. Yes, that “princess” was me with my excessive skirt. My royal ascension was unexpected but amusing.

Out of all the enormous skirts in our group, mine was the hugest.

Out of all the enormous skirts in our group, mine was the hugest.

I suspect that Jason and I will be prancing around town more frequently in the future. Our Festival of Trees premier was so enjoyable that I’d even willingly submit to hoop-skirt ungainliness again for a chance to repeat the experience.

23 Dec

Thanks for Thanksgiving

Posted by on December 23, 2014 at 11:36 pm

Thanksgiving is not a relaxing holiday for Jason and me. Between cooking and making rounds with our families, there’s little time for rump ease.

This year, Jason and I were up baking caramel apple pies and rum cake until Thanksgiving’s wee hours. After a sleep break, we recommenced the cooking with phyllo wrapped asparagus before heading off to the first in our succession of family meals.

Jason's family is notorious for their inability to take a normal picture.

Jason’s family is notorious for their inability to take a normal picture.

Our opening dinner was really lunch and it was with Jason’s side. As usual, at this get-together there were more spuds and ham than most could consume and more teasing than most could tolerate. Luckily, my skin is thick and my love for taters nearly infinite.

One of my culinary concoctions this year was a rum cake. It turned out rather sinfully fabulous.

One of my culinary concoctions this year was a rum cake. It turned out rather sinfully fabulous.

Following our first gorging, we ate supper with my folks. My dad made his delicious from-scratch stuffing and my mom her celebrated cranberry sauce. Although we were still digesting our earlier crammings, we filled up heartily. Not all of my clan was present but, nonetheless, the games and conversations overflowed almost as much as our bellies.

I only had to take about forty photos of my family to get one that turned out.

I only had to take about forty photos of my family to get one that turned out.

For Jason and me, Thanksgiving is not a break from busyness. Yet, its camaraderie is as plentiful as its turkey and that is indeed something to be thankful for.

17 Dec

Gastronomic Games

Posted by on December 17, 2014 at 11:00 pm

My Bunko group has been gathering once a month for over a decade. However, lately it’s struggled somewhat with consistent turnout. Since November was my month to host, I opted to make things a little swankier than usual to bring back the crowds and the enthusiasm. (“Crowds” in this case refers to a total of twelve women.) Yes, it was time to bring in an upscaling professional.

Close to our complete dozen attended.

Close to our complete dozen attended.

Chef J. is an executive chef and a friend of an acquaintance. Because I’d sampled his work before and my stomach had wholly approved, I decided to hire him to make some heavy-duty small plates at my Bunko event. His menu for the evening consisted of Underground chicken skewers with a blood orange aioli sauce and warm tortillas, cold soba noodles with raw vegetables and a coriander wasabi sauce, and dark chocolate mousse with a mocha rum sauce. While everything was delicious, the mousse was definitely my favorite; I could have eaten a mountain of that stuff, or a molehill at the very least.

Chef J. served his foods in a fun fashion.

Chef J. served his foods in a fun fashion.

My fancification tactics were satisfactorily successful. Nearly a full dozen ladies showed up ready to high roll and gobble some hired grub. Hooray for gaming made gastronomic!

11 Dec

Vegas Business

Posted by on December 11, 2014 at 9:36 pm

Jason and I have traveled to Las Vegas many times, brought there by conferences, anniversaries, and juvenile frolics. This November it was business that took us to Sin City but amusement and cuisine that kept us there.

Las Vegas is an odd place. It may look modern but in lots of ways it’s completely backwards. Although elsewhere humanity has made progress, in Vegas it’s still okay to objectify women and blow cigarette smoke in someone’s face. Yes, some things about that epicenter of indulgence literally stink. However, few places on this planet are packed with as many tantalizing restaurant and entertainment options. I’m salivating simply at the thought.

Attending La Reve gave us an excuse to wander around Wynn.

Attending La Reve gave us an excuse to wander around Wynn.

Jason had company business and clients to attend to the first couple of days we were in Vegas but that didn’t stop us from enjoying ourselves. We ate fabulous dinners at Delmonico Steakhouse and Tom Colicchio’s Heritage Steak and caught The Beatles LOVE with his customers and coworkers.

Jason didn't mind following my suggestion for a little sunshine.

Jason didn’t mind following my suggestion for a little sunshine.

Once Jason’s work was over, we spent the rest of the weekend shopping, showing, and soaking in all 76 degrees of the sun’s glory.

The Venetian, like many of the hotels on The Strip, has a posh pool area.

The Venetian, like many of the hotels on The Strip, has a posh pool area.

We sampled scrumptious seafood at AquaKnox and saw Le Reve, the aquatic masterpiece voted best show in Vegas. But, even with all that fanciness, my favorite part of our whole trip was just sitting by the pool with an iced green tea and a laptop. Relaxation is the rarest adventure in our lives.

Las Vegas isn’t a place I could be content for more than a few days but for a limited amount of time, surrounded by sunshine and shops, I can cope just fine.

6 Dec

Desert Pursuits Part II

Posted by on December 6, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Oddly, although the temperatures were rather cool in Moab, we spent the afternoon, following our Dinosaur Stomping Ground Tracks excursion, in a Fiery Furnace. The Fiery Furnace is an area of Arches National Park that’s covered in a labyrinth of towering sandstone fins. There are no paths or signs in this region and access is limited to special hiking permits and ranger-led tours. We’ve been trying to join one of these tours for years now but tickets are hard to come by. Finally, this time, success was ours!

Beyond this slit, three arches awaited.

Beyond this slit, three arches awaited.

The Fiery Furnace was impressive and worth the wait. Our three-hour expedition involved discovering quite a few arches, crawling through cracks, hopping over fins, and wedging up steep rock. It was fantastic! It’s easy to see why searches/rescues happen in the Fiery Furnace every two weeks on average though. Getting lost or breaking a limb would be simple in that sea of crevices.

We hiked down fins, over fins, and up fins in the Fiery Furnace.

We hiked down fins, over fins, and up fins in the Fiery Furnace.

Skull Arch is among the Fiery Furnace's numerous surprises.

Skull Arch is among the Fiery Furnace’s numerous surprises.

We finished our hiking day with what should have been a quick jaunt to Eye of the Whale Arch, which is also in Arches National Park. This arch is accessible via a short hiking trail that juts off a 4×4 road. Although only about two miles of four-wheeling is required to reach the arch’s footpath, it’s a rough enough journey to discourage all but the hardiest of off-roaders…and my too-assured husband.

The Fiery Furnace is both roomy and squishy.

The Fiery Furnace is both roomy and squishy.

The Fiery Furnace frequently required crab walking and undignified scampering.

The Fiery Furnace frequently required crab walking and undignified scampering.

Jason suggested that we check out Eye of the Whale and was convinced that our Forester could handle its bumpy access road. I, on the other hand, remained thoroughly unconvinced. Clearly, if I’m taking the time to convey this story in great detail, I was right but let’s proceed as if you don’t already know that.

Trekking through the Fiery Furnace felt like an adventure.

Trekking through the Fiery Furnace felt like an adventure.

Jason’s confidence bested my caution and off to Eye of the Whale we went. A little over a mile in, the road traversed an extensive wash area where it had been so distorted by the intermittent flow of water that our mighty Subaru seemed unavoidably destined for High Centerville. Yet, Jason remained irrationally undaunted. We made it halfway through the washy patch before he finally realized that, as ever, my assessment was correct. However, because we were surrounded by steep embankments, we ended up having to drive backwards for quite a ways to a point wide enough for turning around. Going forward was bad enough, trying to navigate in reverse was completely unsettling.

Balanced Rock, the size of three school buses, is just one of Arches many wonders.

Balanced Rock, the size of three school buses, is just one of Arches many wonders.

After all that, there was no way I was missing Eye of the Whale so we parked our car and trekked the last bit to its trailhead on foot. Eye of the Whale was pretty cool and provided great views through its opening of Herdina Park, the western section of Arches. So, at least, this ill-conceived outing wasn’t a complete flop.

Eye of the Whale is "fishy" on one side. This isn't that side.

Eye of the Whale is “fishy” on one side. This isn’t that side.

During our return drive, a souped-up Jeep passed us. Its passengers were plainly concerned about our ability to make it out. They made sure we cleared one particularly brutal hill before continuing on their way. The moral of this story? Wives should be heeded at all times. They are infallibly wise and always right. Don’t agree? That’s because you’re wrong.

Jason loved Intrepid's constantly changing surface.

Jason loved Intrepid’s constantly changing surface.

Intrepid just kept dishing out the awesome.

Intrepid just kept dishing out the awesome.

We spent our last day in Moab biking the Intrepid Trail System at Dead Horse Point State Park. Intrepid offers seventeen miles of mouthwatering singletracks. It provided us with nonstop delights, from its breathtaking and intimidating panoramas of Canyonlands National Park to its twisting joy of a path. While biking nine miles on the Big Chief, Great Pyramid, and Raven Roll Trails, we took in the Colorado River from 2,000 feet up and raced through playful rock gardens and undulating grasslands. Dead Horse Point is a mountain biker’s dream, a dream I hope to have again soon.

The views from Intrepid are unbelievable and worthy of pause.

The views from Intrepid are unbelievable and worthy of pause.

Oh Moab! No praise could ever overstate you, no frilly vocabulary could ever adequately describe you, and no amount of visits could ever make you commonplace. Between your stunning scenery and diverse diversions, you will forever remain one of my favorite spots on earth.