Monday, July 16, 2012

Warrior Dash Iowa - 2012

Last weekend I finally participated in a Warrior Dash and it was AWESOME!  Really, the whole weekend was now I will give you a play-by-play so you can be jealous of my awesomeness.  You're welcome.

Pre-Warrior Dash Photo!  Look how cute we are!
I slept fitfully on Friday night because I was very nervous/excited about the Warrior Dash.  I have some travel anxiety issues, so I had already read through the Warrior Dash website a few times, I shared the website with bulleted important information for my friends (like what to bring, when to arrive, etc.), and I carefully prepared my weekend packet (which included hotel reservation confirmation, directions to the hotel just in case my GPS stopped working, Warrior Dash waivers for everyone in our group in case they forgot theirs, directions to the dash from the hotel, etc.).  Seriously, I have issues.  But...I was still fairly certain that I was forgetting I didn't sleep well.

Morning came and we were actually ON TIME!  If you know Ian and me (or any of our friends), you should know that we are almost never on time.  I should clarify...I'm on time to things that matter to me (think anything that involves the courthouse or when I was in school, class, or really anything where someone tells me that I need to be somewhere at a designated time and that someone is not my mom, my sister, or my grandma...and by "on time" in those situations I mean 10-15 minutes early or I'm freaking out and a mess).  But for other events, I'm generally late. 
Ian has a more fluid definition of "on time" for everything.  For instance, if I'm going to be two minutes early to class, I'm not going to class because that's "late" and that is embarrassing...if Ian is going to be two minutes early to class he finds something else to do that will take him 10-20 minutes and then he will go to class.  This little difference sometimes causes a wee bit of see, my travel anxiety combined with Ian's fluid relationship with time...combined with the fact that me nagging him makes him move slower = a really stressful situation for everyone involved.
So...I slept fitfully because I just KNEW we were going to be LATE to the Warrior Dash...and we all know the world ends when you are late to the Warrior Dash.  Right?!

Ok, rant over.  So, we weren't late.  Everyone was actually very prompt and we got out the door and to the middle of nowhere (where the event was staged) in plenty of time!
The first shocking thing about the Warrior Dash was the fact that there were like a thousand people out there at 9:00 AM.  I just assumed that people want to sleep in on Saturday...I assumed wrong.

So, we got ourselves all registered and checked our stuff in to the appropriate places, and then we stood around and waited for the race to begin.  When it was time to line up, we purposely got toward the back of the pack...saving the serious athletes from the added obstacle of passing us.  Two things happened at this point: (1) I was very, very thirsty, so I wandered up to where the table with the water and grabbed a cup and then came back...but everyone had started moving forward and I had a frantic moment where I couldn't find my group.  I felt like a child lost in a clothing store.  It was embarrassing.  (2)  I had a moment where I was like, "You really don't want to do this...GET OUT NOW WHILE YOU STILL CAN THERE IS STILL TIME!"  I didn't listen to the voice freaking out in my head.  That voice lies.

The race started and we were off!  Kinda.  Really, the people at the front of the line started jogging and we walked forward until it was our turn.  Then WE WERE OFF.  Kinda.  You see, we ran for about 20 feet and immediately started walking...because everyone was walking.  The first approximately half mile was straight up a hill...and I wish I was exaggerating but I'm not.  I swear! to describe the course...I was unprepared for the course.  I knew we would be running around in the semi-wilderness, but I really hadn't contemplated what that means.  We were running through a partially patted down path.  There were tree limbs in the way, tall weeds, steps carved out of the dirt, big toe-stubbing rocks, etc.  There were portions of the path where you had to run single file...there was poison ivy in the was definitely the wilderness.  Also...there were A LOT of hills.  I don't care how much I train to run, as long as my training takes place in Kansas, I will never be prepared to run on hills (PS: I'm not saying I actually trained properly for this race...because that would be a lie!). 

The obstacles were awesome and I'm proud to say that both Ian and I completed every obstacle!  Words of wisdom: if you are planning to do a Warrior Dash...part of your training should include crawling around in the woods.  Seriously.  That's not pleasant...and there is definitely more crawling than you would expect! 

In other news, I didn't fall off of anything!  Some of those obstacles required you to climb something really high...and there is no safety "you're dumb and you fell off that really high wall" mat to catch you.  If you fall, you land on the ground.  So yay!  There is a rumor that someone in the 10:30 wave compound fractured his arm (with bone sticking out and all that gross stuff).  I have no idea if this is true, but I also wouldn't be surprised.
Our group ended up walking a large portion of the Warrior Dash for a variety of reasons...but I'm proud to say that we all finished and we all had a good time!  I think the very best portion of the event is when you get close to the finish line and you can hear everyone run around the bend and out of the woods to jump over fire and then into the mud pit for the finish line!  So awesome! 
I'm definitely planning to do this (and other runs like this) again!  (I've started trying to convince Ian that we need to do one in October!).

The rest of the day was really awesome as well!  We drank our free beer, listened to some music, and ate giant turkey legs! 

I know, it's a wienie bite!

He is actually dancing with the turkey leg...

Drinking double...

I'll spare you the pics of us going at the turkey leg lady and the tramp style...

Then we went to the hotel and sat in the hot tub/went swimming all afternoon!  It was great! 
We continued to celebrate our awesomeness into the evening when we went out on the town.  Did you know that Des Moines is actually a somewhat happening place?  Or that a German restaurant with a live polka band would be the place where all of the youngsters want to booze the evening away?  Me either!

We went out with our fuzzy warrior helmets on...because really, why wouldn't we?!  All night long people would yell "WARRIORS!" at us...which was strange.  A stranger asked to take a picture of us...and we obliged...

We finished up the weekend with Sunday lunch at a place called Zombie Burger.  It was awesome (in a "my heart wants to die just thinking about what I ate) kind of way! 

I made it look strange...but this is their sign!
Front of the Menu!
Description of what I ate...
What I ate...
Description of what Ian ate...

All in all, I call this weekend a success (and I'm thoroughly impressed with Des Moines!).

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Blueberry Pie

The most important thing you need to know about pie-baking is that you shouldn't just up and decide that you would like to make a pie from scratch and also be able to eat it in like 4 hours.  Pie baking doesn't work like that.  Apparently. 

About a month ago, I decided that it would be a really awesome idea to purchase a gallon bag of fresh from the farm organic blueberries:

Ian says I am obsessed with Instagram...he is possibly correct.
I made this decision because (a) blueberries are delicious and (b) I wanted to bake with them.  Much to Ian's consternation, I baked gluten-full and gluten-free blueberry muffins as soon as I had these blueberries in my possession (I haven't written about these baked goods yet for multiple reasons...but let's just agree to blame laziness). 

Ian, who is back in Iowa these days, was a little peeved...he may have been the one who put the blueberry muffin idea in my head in the first place...and I may have rubbed in how delicious the muffins were every chance I got.  Not on purpose, really, just because I happened to be eating a lot of delicious muffins around the times I happened to be on the phone with Ian. 

Anyway, I baked a lot, ate a lot of the blueberries, and then put the rest in the freezer to use for baking purposes at a later time.

So, Ian came to visit me this past weekend and we semi-invited ourselves to our friends' house for dinner and hanging out on Saturday.  While we were lazily hanging out during the day, the idea of how delicious a blueberry pie would taste just came to me...and Ian got a little sad look on his face and said something about how it did sound delicious but that it didn't matter because I was just going to bake it when he was in Iowa anyway. 

At about 2:00, I decided that I wanted to bake the pie right then and there.  We were supposed to be over for dinner at 6:30 and the drive would take about 20 minutes...I figured we had time to "whip up" a pie. 

I'm not going to walk you through the specifics of baking this pie or even give you the recipe, because it is a complicated process that you have to do 100% correct to end up with delicious flaky crust...and with this being my first pie and all...I think you are better off relying on the real instructions.  Crust (doubled) and filling.

I will, however, tell you what I learned.

So, first things first, apparently in order to have good crust you absolutely NEED everything to be as cold as humanly possible. The directions I followed suggested keeping butter in the freezer at all times just in case the urge to bake a pie strikes. Clearly, as this is the first pie I've ever attempted to make outside of high school home ec class, I did not have butter in my freezer. So I quickly threw some butter in the freezer and waited minimum amount of time before I began preparing my dough.

Apparently this "keep everything cold" rule follows through all of the pie making process.  You need your dough cold when you roll it out if you do want a flaky crust and don't want it to stick to the counter.  I pulled my dough out of the fridge, rolled it out all carefully so it was a circle, trying hard to make sure it would fit my pie plate...and then asked Ian to check it.  He came in and was like, "Oh...this is totally stuck to the counter.  You are going to have to try again."  FML.  So, keep it cold and work fast!

Pie making isn't for the impatient (which I am).  Because of the whole "keep everything cold" crap, there is just a lot of time hanging out while you are waiting for stuff to get cold.

The entire pie making experience turned in to a team exercise at the end.  I prepared the dough and the filling; Ian assembled the beautiful pie!  I'm very impressed with his pie assembly skills!  We've been showing off the picture of the pie like it is a child.  Seriously.

Anyway, the most important lesson I learned in regards to baking a pie is that when the directions tell you that you need to let the pie cool completely before cutting it, you actually do need to let the pie cool completely.  We took our assembled pie over to our friends' house and baked it there while we were preparing and eating dinner.  It came out of the oven right when we sat down to eat.  It cooled for maybe two hours, and we thought it was fine to eat. 

It wasn't.

Don't get me wrong, it tasted awesome and it was cool enough to eat.  But it was like pie soup.  Delicious, blueberry, pie soup.

We ate half of the pie that night and took the rest home.  When we woke up and ate pie for breakfast (stop judging me), the remaining pieces had filling that had miraculously firmed up!  There is a purpose for the waiting, people!

But if you can't wait, warm but soupy pie is still you should feel free to dig in!

The only thing I regret is that there is only one slice left:
(I'm eating it tonight!)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Warrior Dash

Two posts in one day?!  I know, I'm CRAZY!  But, this one is short and awesome.

Next Saturday, Ian and I (and a couple of friends) are participating in the Iowa Warrior Dash.  If you've never heard of it, the Warrior Dash is essentially a 5K obstacle course.  Every course is a little bit different, but ours includes such obstacles as climbing through some rusted wreckage, climbing a barricade wall, crawling through dirt/under logs, crawling under barbed wire, jumping over fire, and crawling through mud (There is apparently a lot of crawling...).  Participants get a stein of beer, a fuzzy warrior helmet, and a metal. 

I'm excited for the Warrior Dash, but I'm also excited that Ian and I signed up to be St. Jude's Warriors.  Essentially, this means that we are trying to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.  Our goal was small - $500 - and we have already raised it...but more money = helping more children!  So, please go to our website and make a donation!

St. Jude's helps thousands of patients every year, all through donations from wonderful people like you!  Any amount go here, donate now!  Thanks!

40th Surprise Party

So...remember that post I had almost a month ago where I talked about Red Velvet cupcakes and told you to check back later in the week for a post about my first order...well...this is that post you've been waiting for.  I know.  I suck.  You love me anyway.

Anyway, my first ever order was for 1 dozen Pina Colada Cupcakes, 1 dozen S'mores Cupcakes, and 2 dozen red velvet cupcakes.  This also happened to be the very first time baking in my new kitchen.  Oh, and it was the first week of the summer associate program where my law firm has activities that involve drinking booze literally every night of the week.  It was an interesting baking experience...or, and interesting experience in time management, to say the least.

First, I love my new kitchen:

I especially like the lovely island in the middle.  The one problem is that once you pull out your ingredients and your "cookbook" (aka, my iPad)...and my computer for watching TV, there really isn't a whole lot of room on the counter.  So, it took some work to figure out where my cooling racks would work best, where my ingredients should sit waiting patiently for me to use them, etc.  I did figure it out, though.

Baking for actual events makes me nervous...but happy.  It definitely makes me feel good that someone liked my baking so much they wanted to order it! makes me nervous because WHAT IF I MESS UP?! 

To accommodate all of the drinking and working I had to do that week, I baked the order over the course of a couple of days (which my customer knew was likely to happen since she ordered some complex cupcakes).  It actually went a lot more smoothly than I anticipated.  I didn't mess up the recipes at all...I had an order for baking...the S'mores turned out even better than the usually do...I made colorful Pina Colada Cupcakes (it was a 40th birthday party for a I figured all pink was a no no):

I even got to use my new mini fridge for its intended purpose for the very first time:

Please see the beautiful cupcakes...and ignore the beer).
I was a little nervous that the Red Velvet Cupcakes were messed up.  You see, usually before I let anyone else eat a cupcake, I taste-test the batch first.  But, the customer ordered 2 dozen Red Velvet Cupcakes, and the recipe makes exactly there weren't any extras to taste.  I was petrified that I had left out an important ingredient (like...idk...sugar!) and just didn't know it.  If they were messed up, you know, no big deal...just the birthday boy's FAVORITE FREAKING CAKE.  So yeah, that part made me nervous (they weren't messed up, in case you were concerned).

The most nerve-racking portion of the whole experience, however, was the transportation.  All I needed to do was get 5 dozen cupcakes to the customer without messing any up, and I would be good to go...but I was so nervous I was going to drop them!  I mean, I had to get them from my basement, to my car, to the fridge at work, back to my car, and then to the drop-off location.  It was a lot of travel...

I managed...but then that night I got a text message from my friend that said, "My worst nightmare just happened.  The bottom of one of the tupperwares just fell out!!!!!  Thank God the cupcakes were salvageable.  F*ck my life."  And my heart dropped...

Luckily, no cupcakes were harmed in the drop...

Anyway, the experience was good, the customer passed out some of my business cards, and maybe someone else will order in the future!  Until then, I'll just keep baking for the fun of it! 

(P.S. - the customer was going to take a picture of the cupcakes sitting out, but was too busy having no finished product pics for you this time!  Sorry folks!).