Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sunday Runday: 2018 Wrap Up

So the end of the year came and went, and with the sprained ankle, there was a lot less running than there usually is.  I've picked it back up now that I'm all healed and better.  Plus that's always a fun way to start the new year.

I've also been lax, because here we are, 2 weeks into the new year and I haven't really summarized the old one!  But at least it's still January.

Last year was the year of the 10k, and I ran a fair amount of them.  While 5ks and half marathons are plentiful in my area, 10ks aren't as common, and most of them are stuffed into the beginning of the year.  (Probably when all us resolutioners are signing up for every race we can!)  Which is a real shame, because I have such love for the 10ks here in San Diego.

The Cardiff Kook 10k has a beautiful view, which makes the entire course worthwhile.

St. Patrick's Day 10k has a fantastic beer garden, and the course is flat and fast.

My only complaint is that the Strawberry Run changed their course, so it's all pain with no reward.  Thatkid has already expressed interest in doing it this year, but I think I'll drop down to the 5k - no sense in running up that hill for no reason!

As the kids get older, and Thatkid gets more interested in running with me, I tend to do a lot more 5ks than I did before, and they're a lot slower as I run/walk with Thatkid.  And as I was putting this together, I realized I never blogged about the Jingle Bell Run, which we do every year - so let me quickly remind you that it is AMAZING, always one of our favorite races, and maybe even better with the new course this year.

Of course there were the old favorites like the Sharon's Ride, The Grape Day 5k, and the Fit Foodie.  They make the calendar every year, and I don't see that ending any time soon!

Ghouls on the Run was a new 5k this year, that we really liked.  I can't wait to do it again next year without an aircast on!

With my focus on 10ks, I only ran 2 half marathons this year, The San Diego Half Marathon and Revel Mount Charleston.  I don't forsee me repeating either of them, but I do forsee a lot more Half Marathons in my future.  More on that really really soon!

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Christmas 2018: Sugar Plums

Once again, we packed up a few days before Christmas and made the long trip to Thatboy's family for the holiday.   We only were there for a few days, but his family let us know they didn't really have time to spend with us, because they had other things to do.  Which meant we had a lot of time on our own.

Once I found out that we would need to occupy ourselves, I did a quick internet search and found out that a nearby museum was having a very cool sounding exhibit.  

"Explore four floors of dazzling exhibits, play inside a village of laser luminescence and roam through a lustrous forest of touchable, radiant sculptures."

"Dance with circles of spinning light, design fluorescent art in a black light play area, create shadows on phosphorescent surfaces and dial a rainbow of pixelated color."

The rest of the time we were there, we spent exploring various playgrounds.

On Christmas Eve, Thatboy's family was finally ready to see us.  At their church for services.  So we got ourselves all dolled up.

We had dinner with the family, and then headed back to our hotel. 

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.  

And while they slumbered, the man in red visited!

They woke up and dove right in!

Because Thatboy's family doesn't serve breakfast until....very late for children who awake before 6am, Santa always leaves a little something to tide them over.

After that we headed over to the inlaws house to wait a couple hours before breakfast and present opening.

Even Thatdog got into the spirit!

As soon as presents were open, TBIL kicked us out of his house so he could get things ready for his own sister in law who was coming over.  Thatbaby took to the street to try out one of his gifts.

And before long, Thatkid joined him.

After nap, TSIL's sister and family showed up and it was good catching up with them. But before too long we all packed up our things to go.  We had to get our things in order for our trip home the next morning.

And the next day, we loaded up the car and headed home.  We did a short detour in Solvang to stretch our legs and grab a bite to eat.

I'm always thankful to be home after these trips.  And although most of us are making New Year resolutions to eat healthier and cut down on sweets, I can't end a Christmas post with something...healthy.   Christmas is about sweets right?  I mean it's right there in "The Night Before Christmas."  Those children aren't dreaming of salads.  They're dreaming of sugar plums.

And since Thatbaby has been really interested in every Christmas treat feature in a song or book, it seems fitting to end the season with those self-same sugar plums.  These are one of those cheater treats.  Sure they're sweet - they're rolled in sugar, but their contents are prunes, almonds and apricots.  They're practically diet food!

Sugar Plums (From Food Network Magazine)
1 1/4 cups toasted almonds
1 1/2 cups prunes
1 1/2 cups dried apricots
3 Tbsp honey
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg.
Demara sugar
  1. Chop all the ingredients in a food processor.
  2. Roll the mixture into balls.
  3. Roll the balls in the Demara sugar.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Lighted Trees: Anise Seed Cookies

One of the best parts of the Christmas season is the lights.  Every tree seems to glow, because they're decked out in their finest.  And we love going to visit them.  We ended Chanukah, and began Christmas-ing with the always gorgeous tree in the Hotel Del.

After last year's fun, we went to Legoland to check out their lighted lego tree.

Along with all their other lights.

We discovered last year that they have a German-style market during the holiday season, and we love some giant pretzels.

Which we ate while watching some fun musical performances and waiting to see the tree light up.

We also made sure to visit a certain bearded someone while we were there.

Thatkid and I checked out some more festive trees when we went on our annual Nutcracker date.

And while they're not technically Christmas trees, we can't get through the holiday season without a trip to the Botanical Garden's Garden of Lights to see their lighted non-Christmas trees.

And we listened to music.

And got in some last-minute face time with Mr. Claus.

Of course we had to hit up our usual favorites - the trains, 

The snow, 

And the sledding!

This year we decided to try something new - a horse drawn carriage ride through the lights!

Each one of these stops is a tradition that just makes our holiday.  In truth, traditions are my favorite part of any holiday.  Doing the same thing every year, gives me something to look forward to because we always enjoy these events as a family.  This also holds true with some of the stuff I make year after year.  These anise cookies are a household favorite.  I think I first started making them before the kids were born, finding them in a cookbook my mother gave me.  Anise has a very black-licorice flavor that can be off-putting, but in these cookies, it adds just the faintest flavor.  Like a mellower version of gingerbread.

They're little and HIGHLY addictive.  Which is one of the reason they keep coming back year after year.

Anise Seed Cookies (From Maida Heatter)
1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
1 tsp anise seeds
4 oz butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
3 cups flour
1 egg white
  1. Place the almonds in a small pan over medium heat.  Shake or stir until they are lightly colored.  
  2. Crush the anise seeds.
  3. Beat the butter in an electric mixer until smooth.
  4. Add the vanilla and the sugar and beat until well mixed.
  5. Add the salt and eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition, until incorporated.
  6. Add the anise seeds, and on low speed, gradually add the flour, scraping the bowl with a rupper spatula and beating only until mixed.
  7. Chill the dough in the freezer for half an hour. Preheat the oven to 350.  Line 2 cookie sheets with silpat liners. 
  8. Working with half of the dough at a time, flour a work surface, a rolling pin, and your hands.  Knead the dough briefly, then form it into a ball.  Flour the ball and flatten it into a disk with your hands.  Roll it out with your rolling pin until it is 1/2 inch thick.
  9. Flour a 1 1/2 inch round cutter and cut rounds of the dough, cutting each cookie as close to the next as possible.  Place them 1 inch apart on the lined cookie sheet.
  10. Repeat with second half of the dough.
  11. Beat the egg white until foamy.  Brush it over the tops of the cookies with a pastry brush.
  12. Press an almond on it's flat side into the top of each cookie.
  13. Brush over the almond again with the egg white.
  14. Sprinkle the tops with sugar and bake for 20-22 minutes.  Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.  Store them in an airtight at room temperature for a few days before serving.