Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

Of all the holidays, Halloween is probably my least favorite.  I'm sort of ambivalent about it, really.  I mean, I happen to adore Halloween candy, but the dressing up thing never thrilled me.  I think the last time I dressed up I was ten or eleven and even then, I didn't care all that much.   Besides, my mom ate all of our good candy; doing all the hard work so she could eat the Snickers and leave us with Dum-Dum suckers didn't have much appeal to me.

Caroline is appropriately thrilled about Halloween, as most kids are.  She and her friends are plotting their trick or treating strategy and are hoping to increase their candy load from last year. It's all about the candy anyway.  Which, despite my ambivalence towards costumes, gory movies and haunted houses, I can appreciate.  Hopefully Caroline will come home with the some good stuff, as I take my role as quality control specialist very seriously.  I hope there are a couple of Pay Days and Heath bars in the mix.  Maybe some Twizzlers and Milky Way Midnights, too.  Heh, I was just complaining about my own mom eating the good stuff and here I am, clearly excited about my own late night raid of Caroline's goodies.  That's the perk of parenthood, I suppose. 

Since I don't have pictures of Caroline in this year's costume yet, I thought I'd take you on a photo walk down memory lane to share with you some of her previous costumes.   We didn't start dressing Caroline up until she was nearly three.  Also, I somehow failed to take a picture of the Super Girl costume she wore when she was four.  Anyway, here are the rest:

2004 Elephant

2005 Lady Bug

2007 Cat

2008 Butterfly (and the year she chose NOT to cooperate for the camera)

2009 Spike the dog

Clearly, Caroline likes to dress up like animals.  Probably because we don't have any pets of our own.  If you can't have one, be one? 

But this year, we're veering from the animal costumes and taking a different route; we're celebrating a family theme this year with Caroline's costume.

I'll share pictures tomorrow.

What's your favorite Halloween candy?
I love candy corn, but for trick or treating purposes, I'm all about Pay Days, Snickers and Milky Way Midnight.  Ooh, and Sour Patch Kids and Twizzlers.  I despise the cheap know, the foil wrapped kind that tastes like wax.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


We're hard at work on Caroline's economics project.  Notice I said WE'RE hard at work.  It's a group effort.  The kids have to design a product, name it and create a slogan.  Caroline's product idea is TV-on-the-Toe, a little television that attaches to your shoe.

Need a TV on the go?  Try a TV-on-the-Toe!

We're almost done, which is good because it's due on Wednesday.  All we need to do is take a picture of Caroline using her TV-on-the-Toe and attach it to the poster. 

Speaking of shoes, we went to the running store today.  Craig had to return a pair of shoes he bought online that were too small.  That's a dangerous store, I tell you.  Running seems like a simple, inexpensive hobby, but when you factor in shoes, racing fees and all the products promising speed and comfort, you can be out tons of money.

We went for Craig's shoes, but in the end, we both ended up with new shoes.  It's funny how that happens.

Hey, when your $100 shoes are on sale for $72, it's practically a sin to pass that kind of deal up.  Besides, we were planning on buying new shoes in December to break them in for our January marathon.  I guess we're just a little ahead of the game. 

The early bird saves $28.

Anyway, our Saturday has been somewhat eventful already with a traffic ridden drive to the running store, followed by lunch at Subway.  We're home for a bit before we head out to Caroline's soccer game.  I'm told that we'll also be carving a pumpkin tonight, but I'm secretly hoping to avoid it.  I end up doing all the work because Caroline loses interest all too quickly.  Our pumpkin is big and I'm just not feeling the carving love right now.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Next Stop: Plumbing Repair School

Guess who fixed her running toilet?

That would be me!

Humble me.

It took three phone calls to my dad, a trip to Home Depot, a kind and very helpful (and patient) mustached stranger in the plumbing aisle

and a little liquid encouragement

but I fixed the toilet. 

And I only got confused 37 times. 

I consider that a success.

The man who came to my rescue at Home Depot was my plumbing angel.  He reminded me of my dad (minus the mustache) because he was just as patient and helpful.  It may seem stereotypical and maybe even slightly sexist, but when a chick is standing in the plumbing aisle confused by the fill valve choices in front of her, it's nice to have a knowledgeable plumber-man come to her rescue.  I don't enjoy looking incapable, but sometimes, in situations such as these, I AM incapable.

Or, at least I thought I was.  So far the new fill valve seems to be working fine;  I guess I am capable.

I've flushed the toilet at least 37 times and all the parts seem to be working.  However, the pessimist in me is half way expecting something to explode.

Although, I certainly hope nothing actually does explode; I'm not really in the mood to mop.

It's a relief to finally have this fixed.  I kept putting it off because I was unsure of my ability to fix the problem.  That's the mark of a true procrastinating pefectionist; I put things off because I don't want to screw up.  Some procrastinators procrastinate because they're lazy.  I procrastinate because I want to do things perfectly the first time and if I don't think I will, I put it off. 

Okay, enough plumbing talk. Besides, I'm hardly an expert and I certainly don't look the part.  I don't drive a work van, I will never snake a drain and most importantly, my pants do not fall below the equater, if you catch my drift.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Look Mom, No Cracks!

Sure, the edges might be a tad too brown and there are some strange little brown spots dotting the surface, BUT my cheesecake didn't crack.

Hallelujah!  Miracles do happen.

Of course, the apple topping (unpictured because I'm a bonehead and forgot) covered the crack-less surface, so my triumph will go unnoticed by the cheesecake consumers.   It's all good, though.  I know the truth.  And now, so do you.

Victory is sweet.

Speaking of sweet, the apple topping portion of the cheesecake is especially delicious.  Caroline went crazy for it and acted like one of those begging dogs you have to keep shooing away from the Thanksgiving table before it tries to snatch some of your dinner.  I finally had to give her a big spoonful of the apples just to keep her out of my way.

If you like to bake and ever find the need or desire to bake a cheesecake, I suggest you give this one a try.  If you're like me and are  slightly afraid of butter and cream due to their coronary clogging implications, just pretend the recipe doesn't have four blocks of cream cheese and 6 oz of heavy cream in it.  Or bake it and send it to work with your spouse.  That's how I handle my love for baking with my fear of needing triple bypass surgery when I'm older.

In other news (I seem to say that a lot, don't I?), I actually haven't any other news to report.  It's raining.  And humid.  My hair isn't responding well to this humidity.  Not that it ever responds well to non-humid air.

Um, yeah.  I really have nothing else to share.

I hope your day is more exciting than mine.  :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Baking Equation

Ginger snap crumbs

+  four (!) blocks of cream cheese

 + granny smith apples

+ cimmanin

-  one disobedient egg

+ a water bath

+ a well used (and not very spic and span) kitchen timer

apple cinnamon cheesecake

At least I hope it does!

When all you see from your kitchen window is this

it's hard not to be inspired to bake something autumnal in flavor.

I've had minimal success with cheesecake baking; they're always tasty, but I have yet to produce one without a big crack (or two) in it.  Thankfully, this cheesecake has an apple topping that will hide any potential cracks.   Fruit topping, much like gravy, chocolate drizzle, or a dusting of confectioner's sugar, can hide a multitude of culinary sins.

It's kind of a dreary day today; that's okay, I kind of like days like this.  Tomorrow was supposed to be Caroline's school field day, but it was postponed until Friday because we're expecting some rain tomorrow.  I'm scheduled to help at field day and I'm kind of glad it isn't until Friday now, so I can go to Body Pump at the gym tomorrow.  Skewed priorities much? 

I helped at field day last year and was relegated to the basketball courts to supervise the rubber chicken toss.  I'm not going to lie, it wasn't my favorite volunteering activity.  When Caroline asked if I could volunteer again this year, I said yes, but it was a rather hesitant yes.  I certainly don't want to disappoint her, especially since I'll be considered an embarrassment to her in a few short years.  And let's not forget about the ever looming stay-at-home-mom-to-an-only-child-who-is-in- school-all-day guilt.  I have NO reason to say no.    Except......rubber chickens?  I've since learned that this year's field day theme is science oriented and as far as I can tell, no rubber chickens will be tossed.  That's a relief.

I suppose it's meant to be.  Fridays are usually our long run day for marathon training, but this week is a pull back week, where the mileage is significantly lower.  I suppose that's so we don't burn out or fall apart too early in the game.  I can appreciate that!  Anyway,  I only have to run five miles on Friday, which I can do anytime, or even on a different day, so helping at field day is certainly doable.

My cheesecake is currently sitting in the turned off oven, as the instructions state.  I hope it comes out nicely, but Craig's co workers aren't that picky.  They seem to appreciate the effort, regardless.

Okay, time to wash the floor,  If it weren't for that pesky roll away egg, I wouldn't have to.  Oh, who am I kidding?  Our floor always needs to be cleaned.  Especially since I had a gingersnap vs. food processor situation, which resulted in a gingersnap crumb explosion of epic proportions.

It literally rained gingersnap crumbs.

Welcome to my life.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

They Called My Name!

This morning, Craig and I were up early to race in the Army Ten Miler.  I was really nervous at first, considering the sheer size of this event, but all the fretting I did was totally worth it.  I'm not sure that I've ever had a better double digit run.  Must be the race day adrenaline.

Caroline stayed with our neighbor this morning while Craig and I raced.  Actually, she and her two friends stayed the night over here last night and when they woke up (after we left), they went over to her friend's house for the rest of the morning.  Sarah is 12, so we didn't feel weird about leaving them to sleep alone in the house. 

I wish I could share more (and better) pictures with you, but it's kind of hard to be a race photographer while actually participating in the race.  Security was tight, so phones, cameras and ipods were not allowed on the course; therefore, I had to turn my camera in before it got light enough to take pictures around the Pentagon, where the race starts and finishes.

As it turns out, security was not that tight.  The way they made it seem, I thought they were going to pat us down or something.  People brought their phones, cameras and ipods on the course. I even ran past a lady who was texting while running!  Oh well, at least I followed the rules.....and I didn't trip over a pot hole while updating my Facebook status (which, I don't even do when I'm not running.)

Anyway, the pictures are virtually non existent, which is a bummer, but the race is still sharp in my mind.  I literally felt nothing for the first 8 miles.  No pain, no breathing issues.  It was great.  The hardest part was weaving through massive crowds and all the walkers who impede the runner's traffic.  I still can't get over how great I felt out there; the last 3/4 of a mile was a little, er...a LOT, hard, but I survived and finished way earlier than I had hoped.  My big goal (besides finishing, not crying and not getting injured) was to finish in or just under 1:40.  My smaller goal was to finish in 1:35.  Well, according to my watch, I finished the race in 1:33:50!   And the best part is after I crossed the finish line with probably fifty other people, the race announcer said my name:  "Alison Smith from Alexandria, VA."  That was a fun surprise.

After I made my way through the chute, I finally found Craig, who had finished the race over 30 minutes earlier.  He's fast.  Last year he ran the race in 1:06:50, today he ran it in 1:05:34.  His only goal was to run faster than last year and boy am I glad he did.  For if he hadn't, it would have been one long and unpleasant ride home. 
Here we are after the race, a little sweaty, a lot stinky and a whole lot tired.

Actually, I think this is a more accurate representation of the way we feel right now.

Okay, enough running talk; I don't want to bore you.  Time to relax, watch some football and secretly hope some brownies suddenly appear in our kitchen.
Happy Sunday!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Very Long Metro Ride

Whew, we've had quite a long day, which started with a very long metro ride into DC to pick up our race packets for tomorrow's Army Ten Miler. 

A 50 minute Metro ride leaves you plenty of time to work on your Economics project

and stare out the window and day dream.

Eventually we made it to our destination:  the DC National Guard Armory, which is located right next to RFK Stadium, where the Redskins used to play and the DC United soccer team currently plays.

It was cool, crisp morning.  We arrived before 10 am, when the doors were set to open, so we spent a little time outside. 

In an attempt to occupy ourselves, we played on the stairs,

watched Airborne soldiers jump from above,

took pictures of our feet

and were entertained by a Drum and Fife band (corps?). 

They look kind of bad ass stoic, don't they?

Once we were let inside the Armory, we picked up our race numbers,

long sleeved t-shirts

and $12 socks.

I hope they're comfy, otherwise, I'll be kind of mad for dropping $25 on two new pairs of socks.  If they keep our feet warm, I suppose they'll be worth the $$.

Thankfully we couldn't stay too long at the race expo (read:  spend too much money on running gear) because Caroline had a soccer game at 12:45.

We hopped back on the Metro, got to our car, made a quick stop at Firehouse Subs for lunch to-go and made it to the field with a few minutes to spare.  Caroline ate in the car, but Craig and I waited to eat until we arrived at the soccer field.  By then we were starving.  The whole time we were eating, I kept saying " man, I love food" over and over.
Food just tastes better when you're really hungry.

Anyway, we're home now and have grand plans to rest our bodies for tomorrow's race.  Craig is extremely competitive, internally, and is filled with lots of nervous energy and tension.  His goal is to beat last year's time, which I'm convinced he can do quite easily.  As for me?  Well, I'll just be happy to finish in a decent time.  The good thing about being a newbie to racing is that every new race I run sets my personal best time.  I have nothing to compare to and nothing to beat, so I feel absolutely no pressure.  I'm much more concerned with being elbow to elbow with tens of  thousands of people.  I'm claustrophobic and really appreciate personal space.

Somehow, I think I'll need to overcome this issue by tomorrow morning. 

I'm going to try my best to get some pictures before and after the race, but not during, like I kind of hoped.  Security is really tight at this type of event and no cameras are allowed.  Boo.  Hopefully I'll be able to capture some of tomorrow's moments to share with you.

Wish us luck!