Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Chili Cook Off

Tonight I participated in my first official culinary competition--the 1st annual YMCA chili cook off. Why this may not have been Iron Chef America or anything, the $20 entry fee (all going to support the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign) seemed to ensure that there would be some pretty tough competition. One thing I learned about chili competitions tonight, however, is when it comes to chili, it all boils down to very personal preferences. What one person heralded as the best of the best, another person could hardly choke down a single bite. Case in point--my favorite chili (other than my own, of course) was a unique vegetarian dish that Jon couldn't stomach. Another chili, the hottest of the group, seemed to be either a favorite--or an anathema--to those who tried it.

With that said, I'm proud to announce that the winner of tonight's culinary contest was ME! (Why else would I be so excited to blog about this!) Even without the slightly (and I emphasize slightly) biased votes of Jon, Hilari, and Rebekah (who all agreed mine was the best, despite the threats of retribution I innocently insinuated), I still pulled off an impressive victory with my chicken green chili, a truly original recipe since I doubt I could ever exactly duplicate it. Maybe it was because it was unique amongst all the beef and tomato-based dishes, but I have to admit, I'm feeling quite pleased about the win, especially since I more than doubled the votes (5 to 11) of the second place winner--the super hot chili. (That, and I also won 3-months of free family membership to my gym.) So, to Sister Peterson, my BYU freshman ward bishop's wife--it's true. Someone who could once burn water really can grow up to be a decent cook!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Girl's Night!

Game Night and Girl's Night Out

Every month, all our guys get together and have their big "Game Night"--a night where they link up their computers and spend the evening more or less vying for shoot-em-up supremacy while filling themselves on all the junk food and caffeine their wives try to ban the rest of the month. They've been holding these monthly bonding rituals since our early days back in Las Campanas (in Tustin, CA), where some nights would attract as many as 30-40 guys who often played until the sun was coming up. While their numbers don't usually rank anywhere that high these days (I think they average 5-12), and while most are home and in bed between 1-2 am, it's still fun for them to get together, computers in tow, and enjoy a night of just being one of the guys. We wives fully support this event, especially this month when it meant we got to go out and enjoy a real Girl's Night Out.

Most of the time, "Game Night" for the girls ends up being all the girls hanging out at someone's house--with all our kids. While this can be fun, 15+ children running around has a greater likelihood of producing further gray hairs and migraines than producing fun and enjoyable moments of mommy escapism. So, this month, we planned ahead, got our babysitters, and headed out for a night of decadent food and conversation. (Yes, both the food and the conversation were decadent!)

We headed first to Pei Wei for dinner (an offshoot of PF Chang's for those who aren't blessed to be familiar with this yummy establishment) and ate and talked till we noticed the restaurant had gone from standing room only to a few lingering parties. Realizing we had spent way more time at dinner than we had estimated, we were forced to forgo our plans of wandering the cute shops around us and decided to go straight to our next plan--Dessert!! (There's always time for dessert, right?) A Party Platter Pizookie at BJ's seemed to pique everyone's interest (and saliva glands), so we headed there to fill in any available space left in our stomachs with a pizza-size cookie and 9 scoops of ice cream--mmmmm.... I think all that sugar (and just fun company) had its effect on us because we were not exactly the quiet and unassuming group we usually are. (Yeah, right. I know that whatever you were drinking just came out your nose as you read that line and thought about me, Rebekah, and Hilari attempting to be quiet and unassuming.) Okay, so maybe raucous and obsene are slightly better adjectives, but people definitely knew we were there. Despite scaring away a few waiters and almost putting Cary into labor with all our laughing, we had the greatest time and I'm sure we're all looking forward to the boys enjoying their "Game Night" next month so that we can escape for another Girl's Night Out. Do you think we should call and warn the waiters?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Heather's Birthday at the Park

Happy Birthday Heather!

So, now I can say that I am actually "in my thirties." No longer considered "just thirty" or even "early thirties", but turning 33, I feel, seems to come with a sort of acceptance into the "I'm-no-longer-just-a-kid-pretending-to-be-an-adult" club. Of course, that's just me fooling myself into believing that I will ever actually qualify as a real adult, but at least I don't feel like I'm forced to endure the condescending advice of those whose "mid-thirties" have granted them so much more experience. I certainly don't feel like I'm much older than my "late twenties", but if having another birthday seems to grant me a little more substance in the adult world, I'll accept that additional birthday candle with pride. And who knows, maybe in a few years I, too, can offer all the condescending advice of an experienced "mid-thirties."

Okay, enough waxing philosophic about my birthday, here's how I spent my fun-filled weekend!

Since Valentine's Day falls just 4 days before my big day, I consider V-day as my birthday kickoff. Since I'm way too practical to allow Jon to buy me the "typical" Valentine's Day gifts (flowers are always grossly overpriced and who wants to work off a whole box of chocolates?), Jon has found other ways to woo me, always to my delight. This year, I came home to find my bed covered with hearts and love notes--a perfect Valentine's Day treat. (Of course, Jon also had a love note from me, as well.)

On Satuday night, Jon and I celebrated a combined V-day/Birthday date night by going to dinner at a new place to us, Boston's gourmet pizza, and then enjoying one of our favorite activites--wandering the Chandler Mall and sampling some yummy treats. Saturday was about sharing a Cinnabon and a double chocolate chip iced creme from Starbucks. Delicious, but I did end up with a slight tummy ache by the end. Monday, my actual birthday, Jon and I went to the temple in the morning and then had a big party at the park with friends and family where we enjoyed chinese chicken salad, french bread, and Girl Scout cookies. An eclectic mix, I know, but it all tasted great and it was just fun to sit and hang out while we let the kids go crazy at the park (i.e. not bothering the parents--a main consideration in choosing our park location.) To top off the night, my sister Mel was calling as we walked in the door from the park, thwarting my plans to go to the gym, but ending the night on a high note. All in all, it was a fun weekend that passed way too quickly.

Happy Valentine's Day to you all! Hope it was filled with all the love you can handle!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Heather's Big 10K

On February 2, I ran in a local 10K charity event. It was my first such competitive run, and although I was nowhere near the head of the pack, I finished the 6.2 miles in 1 hour 5 minutes, a pretty respectable time, especially for a first-timer. The race was held at the local Schnepf Farms, so the whole race was basically done on graded dirt--providing its own unique challenges to the run. My dear friends Rebekah and Hilari, as well as my personal cheering section of Jon, Aaron, and Sarah, were waiting for me at the finish line where Aaron actually jumped onto the trail and finished the last little bit with his mommy. (We've always called Aaron our "runner"--I'm sure one day we'll be watching him finish these races for real.) Who knows, maybe next year I'll be up for the 1/2 marathon. I've always loved a good goal. =)