6.0 Earthquake

It always starts out the same.

From a deep sleep, I’m swimming up to wakefulness, then snapped into fighting mode, Who’s shaking the bed?!

Oh.

Earthquake!!

It’s kind of a helpless feeling, knowing that there’s nothing to do except to lay there and wait it out, listening to the screens rattle.

After moving back from Taiwan, I would wake up in the middle of the night, thinking my bed was shaking, knowing full well that Nashville ain’t got no earthquakes. It took about a year for those nightmares to stop.

Then I moved to San Francisco.

The epicenter was near Napa last night, and the town is pretty damaged. 6.0 earthquakes don’t play around. I think we mostly only felt the rocking in the city, but everyone’s ok.

Tough Mudder 2014

My body feels like it got hit by a cement truck. Twice. The truck backed up and made sure that it got the other side too.

I did a Tough Mudder in Tahoe this past weekend. 10+ miles, 20+ obstacles, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears whining (only after Mile 9, ok maybe mile 7). It was definitely one of the most mentally and physically challenging things I’ve ever done.

Here’s an idea of some of the obstacles and the amount of mud I’ll find myself washing out of my nose, ears, clothes, and shoes for the next couple of days.

The boyfriend was doing it with a team of co-workers and significant others were invited as well, so there were 15 of us. Everything they say about camaraderie and teamwork is true. It was a great bonding experience over the weekend with the team. Even on the course, total strangers will help you over obstacles and lend a hand to help you scale walls. The whole thing took about 6 hours from start to finish, as it was mostly walking and then some waiting to get through the obstacles, but the day was long from parking to shuttles to base, bag drops, check-in, and finally to the starting line.

I did things I didn’t realize that my body was capable of doing. It was downhill from the start, which everyone was enjoying, and then that took a quick turn (U-turn, in fact) and went straight up the side of the mountain face. Climbing up NorthStar Tahoe black-diamond ski trails are no joke. After mile 2, I honestly was ready to call it a day. I had to stop a few times to slow my heart-rate down on that first hill due to the elevation, heat, and altitude. The first few obstacles and the next few miles were doable. By mile 7, I couldn’t feel my legs anymore. I skipped the Berlin Walls at mile 8 because I was physically and mentally done for and needed the rest of my juice to even make it across the finish line. (For the record, it was the only obstacle I skipped.) At mile 9, most of the obstacles came into view, and at this point, I mentally rallied and just mechanically climbed ropes and ladders and scaled walls and dunked myself into ice-cold mud tubs without stopping to think. It was a mental game at that point, and I knew if I could just get my head over these things, then my body had to follow, even though I really couldn’t feel my limbs.

The electroshock therapy – live electric dangling wires over a mud pit – at the end, right before the finish line, is supposed to serve as the final mental barrier. After everything, the last thing you want is to get electrocuted and then hit the mud for the last time like a sack of flour. They do give you the option to bypass it or just do it. But I did it. I got zapped, but managed to stay on my feet (with the help of a curse word or two), and ran through the rest of it to be crowned by a Tough Mudder headband at the finish line.

I also like to highlight that if you don’t fight as a couple during something like this, especially when you’re both hungry, physically exhausted, and mentally strained, you’ll definitely come out stronger. With him being only positive, supportive, and encouraging at mile 7, 8, 9, 10 and he’s just as exhausted as you are, (even though you may hate him for putting you on that mountain, covered in 7 layers of mud and dirt with tired feet and an empty stomach) you realize that he’s going to be there for everything else. There’s a sense of euphoria knowing that if you can get through this, then you’re going to be able to get through anything else together as a team.

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Tips for future Mudders:

  1. Wear fingerless gloves. They make you more fearless. Better grip for climbing too.
  2. Eat more in the AM. I was starving by mile 8, and they only had bananas and a couple of electrolyte gummies (but they were the best gummies I have EVER had – I may have been super dehydrated and starving though – but seriously, THE BEST) for the whole route.
  3. Wear lots of sunscreen. I have the funkiest tan lines right now. And my shoulders are so burned.
  4. Wear and bring chapstick. My lips were neglected, and I totally regret it.
  5. Bring body lotion for after you cold-water blast off the dirt and mud at the end. After the 16 layers of mud dry on your skin, it’s very unforgiving.
  6. Drink LOTS OF WATER before, after, and during. You may have to pee a lot but there are restrooms every 2 miles, and if you’re a dude, then the trees are your friends. I feel like I can never be fully hydrated again.
  7. I wore my Vibrams, and they were great for the mud and climbing, and even up and down the mountain sides. However, there were a lot of rocks on the trails, and those were painful. But I don’t know if I could wear socks through the mud pits. And there were a lot of sad-looking abandoned pairs of muddy shoes at the end of the day.

 

Now, the million-dollar question: Would I do it again?

At this point, while it still hurts to just brush my teeth and I’m still discovering new bruises every day, I’m leaning towards a no. But ask me again in a month or so, and maybe I’ll say yes with all my new muscles.

MoH Speech

As someone who’s going to be a bridesmaid in her 6th wedding next year, I would just like to share how accurate this is, and also you know, just in case you need a template.

Mt. Livermore

On Sunday, we took a ferry to Angel Island to hike Mt. Livermore. It cost $17 round trip on the ferry, which includes admission to the state park on Angel Island.

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It was a 5.9 mile hike around the island, including a short detour to the 788-foot summit of Mt. Livermore. It was an absolutely beautiful, clear, and sunny day, so the view from the top was amazing.

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It was nice to get out of the city and enjoy the nature, although my allergies hit me full force, and I sneezed for about 4 out of the 6 miles.

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Bacon Roses

For Valentine’s Day, I made bacon roses for that special someone.

I bought 12 strips of thick-cut bacon from the butcher on the corner. (I love the fact that there’s a butcher shop in my neighborhood.)

Then I just rubbed brown sugar on each side of the bacon strip, rolled them up, stuck two toothpicks crosswise at the bottom (fatty side down), and sat them over the holes in a muffin tin.

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Then, just pop these babies in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. The bacon grease will drip down in the holes, so the bacon doesn’t cook in them and will get all crispy on the outside.

I bought fake flowers, pulled off the flower buds and kept the stems. Then you just wait for the bacon to cool and stick them on the stems.

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Surprise your guy with this bouquet, and the look on his face is like Christmas morning. Plus, you get to enjoy the delicious bacon too because who can eat all 12 anyway?

Recipe: Chicken and Mini Penne with a Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce

As requested, here’s the recipe for the pasta last night. When I make new things, I like to look at a few different recipes and take my favorite parts from each one and combine it to make my own. I also tend to add a dash of this and that, you know, whatever just feels right at the moment.

Ingredients
Penne pasta (mini or regular size)
Couple of chicken breasts
2-3 cloves of garlic
2-3 shallots (or an onion)
a cup of heavy cream (heavy whipping cream is the same)
a cup of vodka
a can of tomato puree (14 ounces)
butter
salt
pepper
red pepper flakes
parmesan cheese
fresh basil leaves

For the garlic bread -
Slice up a french baguette, and drizzle with extra virgin with olive oil. Mince up some garlic, mix it up with some melted butter and brush it on the slices. Pop it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. When you take it out of the oven, sprinkle some parsley on top.

Now to the good stuff -
Mince up the garlic and shallots.

Cut the chicken breasts in slices (against the grain, which means your knife is perpendicular to the lines on the chicken). Salt, pepper, and drizzle the chicken slices with olive oil. Grill on the side until fully cooked. Set aside.

Boil some water for pasta. Cook according to the instructions on box, but do a minute shy of al dente.

In a sauce pan, put an appropriate amount of butter. I’ll leave that up to you. Sautee the garlic and shallots/onion for a few minutes until they’re nicely brown and smells up your kitchen wonderfully. Pour in the vodka, and let it simmer on medium for a few minutes. Then add the tomato puree and mix it up. Let it simmer for a few more minutes. Turn the heat down to low, and add the heavy cream, season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you want it.)

Add in the chicken strips, and let this simmer for about 10 minutes or so until the sauce is reduced and is more of a creamy thicker consistency. Toss in the pasta for a minute or so. Top with parmesan cheese and the basil leaves. And it’s beautiful.

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Rainy Weekend

The bay area has been in a drought this season, but we finally got some much-needed rain recently. Alas, it does make for a rainy weekend.

A weekend in means feeling ok with laying around in bed all day, having taco night with wine and Cards Against Humanity, finally getting around to scrubbing the kitchen floor, and making creamy wholesome comfort food like this chicken and mini penne with a vodka tomato cream sauce. A sweet french baguette from the small bakery on the corner drizzled in olive oil, butter, minced garlic, and a dash of parsley completes it all.

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