Friday, February 19, 2010

Do Work

Sorry for redundancy of topic here, friends, but it has to happen. This may not be my last post related to the Olympics, either. So you may either bear with me or not. :)

I feel like I've been experiencing a total perspective shift in the last week and a half, and yes, it's because of the Olympics, strange as it sounds. The people that are competing this year are inspiring me in so many ways it's ridiculous. Not only are they amazing athletes, but they all work so incredibly hard to be as good as they are. To be the best in the world at something is such a strange and foreign concept to me - I can't even imagine what that would feel like. I'm pretty good at several things, but I've never been the best at anything. In fact, I've never worked anywhere near that hard for anything, either. It's embarrassing. But as I said, it's inspiring. I want to BE BETTER. It's time to do work.

In case you haven't been following along with the events - and I know some of you aren't, because you told me so! - I wanted to share one of the other reasons that I'm so inspired by these athletes. Aside from their incredible work ethics, some of these people have overcome crazy hardships and injuries that for most normal people it would have made it impossible to compete again. Lindsey Vonn (an Alpine skier), for example, shouldn't have been able to compete this week due to a terrible shin injury last week, but she came back the other day and won Gold in the Women's Downhill.

And then there's J.R. Celski, the Short Track speed skater - you probably shouldn't get me started on him, but it's too late. I first heard about him just over a week ago while watching the Biggest Loser - no, he wasn't a contestant, he was at the Olympic Training Center and he helped the contestants and shared his own story. I was blown away and immediately became one of his newest (and perhaps most enthusiastic?) fans. During the Olympic Trials back in September, J.R. had already qualified for three events, and was in the middle of his race for the 500 meters when he sliced into his own thigh with his other skate blade. Say what? I think he said that that gash was 6 inches long across his leg, and 3 inches deep. He also said the blade cut in only a couple inches shy of the main vein in his leg - the vein that, if cut, could be fatal. And yet, by some miracle, and then followed by sheer determination, less than 6 months later, here J.R. is...not only skating in the Olympics, but racing really well. He's already won a Bronze medal and has two more events to compete in, both of which he's already passed the qualifying rounds for.

...And I can't even organize my room or work out four times a week consistently.

These people amaze me, and I really think I'll be walking away from this experience of watching TV for two weeks (ha!) a changed person. I want to live my life differently. I want to know that whatever I do, I  will do the best I possibly can, and I haven't been living that way.

I'll say it again, it's time to DO WORK.

Those are my thoughts for the day.   :)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Olympic Goodness

Okay, so I've been going crazy for the last week because the Olympics are finally here! I don't remember ever being so hyped up for two weeks of sports as I am this year, although I do remember experiencing great joy during the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City - perhaps because they were close to home then, too? I think what's getting me this time is a combination of things: the location - it's practically in my backyard! - I have competitors that I am deeply loyal to (more on that later) & I have this driving force in me that desires to accomplish something great like Olympic competition. I want to be great at something - and I want to always be striving to be at my best, which is something that I feel like I haven't been doing in the last few years.

I'm not an athlete, but I do have a deep affection for sports, which is often veiled by my intense involvement in the arts during the last decade. For those of you who don't know, here is a brief history of my life in sport:

Age 4: Gymnastics. I took a Parks & Rec class with two other kids. My awesome instructor broke her leg or something equally terrible for a gymnast and was replaced by a horrible man who had legally changed his name to Jim Nast. No, I am not being facetious. I quit shortly after that - it wasn't my calling.

4th Grade: Softball. Played on a Parks & Rec team (The Purple Pandas) with my cousin. I recall being a decent catcher and I liked playing 3rd base also. My career ended due to the fact that my family moved the next year and I never got back into it.

5th Grade: Soccer. I was signed up for a team due to start in October - we moved before the first practice. Ha! End of soccer career.

6th Grade: Figure Skating. Okay, this wasn't really so much a sport that I participated in but rather was deeply obsessed with for a year or so. I've been on the ice maybe five times in my life, but I still love the sport. For a while I was desperate to be an Olympic figure skater, even though at that point I had never put on a pair of skates. Crazy? Maybe. Oh well. :)

6th-8th Grades: Track & Field. I fancied myself to be a sprinter - in my head I could handle it due to the short distances of the races. I ended up being a shot putter. I wasn't great, but I liked it even though I didn't compete in 8th grade. I was moved up a competition class - based on age and weight - and hadn't improved enough to feel like I could compete against the better kids.

7th-8th Grades: Volleyball. Probably my favorite sport to play. I didn't make Varsity, and I couldn't spike to save my life - hello, I'm 5 feet tall! - but I'm pretty competitive when I need to be, and I loved being in the middle of the action.

AND...that's the end of my sports career. I moved on to my high school life in the arts as a theater nerd. But it is far from the end of my career as a fan. I don't know why I hide this part of my life - I hide my enthusiasm so well sometimes that even I forget it's there...but these Winter Games in Vancouver have ripped open this part of my insides that's so excited and keenly devoted to these sports and these athletes that I can hardly contain myself at moments. It's weird.

So, to finish up this crazy little journey into my mind, here's a little rundown on the sports that I'm committed to for the next two weeks. If you can't find me between now and the end of the month, it's because I'm watching the Olympics.

Short Track (Speed Skating): Athletes to watch: Apolo Ohno and J.R. Celski. I can't hide the fact that I am deeply loyal to Apolo Ohno - I've watched him in the Olympics starting with his debut in 2002 at SLC, and I have to admit that I watched every episode of Dancing with the Stars the season he competed (and won!). Okay, so I watch every season of DWTS, but that's not the point - that season was especially great. J.R. Celski, on the other hand is a new discovery - I learned about him a week ago when he helped train the contestants on the Biggest Loser. But he's no novice when it comes to skating, even though he's only 19 - he took Bronze last night in his first Olympic race - Apolo took Silver in the same race. And this is after a horrible injury J.R. experienced in September at the trials!

Snowboarding: Athletes to watch: Louie Vito and Shaun White. I love Louie for several reasons - one, he was on the last season of Dancing with the Stars. ...okay, it's a sickness, I admit it! Too much dancing. I was so excited when I found out that he would be at the Olympics. Snowboard Halfpipe - the one with all the crazy tricks - is one of my favorites to watch in the games, and is the event that both Louie and Shaun (the defending Olympic Gold Medalist from Torino '06) are competing in. I'm also super excited for the Women's Halfpipe, the Snowboard Cross, and the Downhill events.

Figure Skating: I haven't been following the sport recently, but I'm watching the Pairs Short Program as I write this, and remembering just how much I love this sport! I can't wait to watch all of the following events - Men's, Women's, Ice Dancing, and the Pairs Free tomorrow night. My favorite for the Pairs is the Chinese team of Shen & Zhao (sorry USA!).

Skiing: Just fell in love with Freestyle: Moguls last night while watching Hannah Kearney take Gold for USA, and watched the Men's a little while ago. I absolutely can't wait until Lindsey Vonn's first Downhill race on Thursday night, and the Olympic debut of Ski Cross.

Okay, that's my top 4 sports (ha!) for the Games. And my battery is about to die, so I will end this extremely long post. I just felt the need to reveal a piece of myself that most people in my life know nothing about. I learned some about myself through this, too. A good time all around, I think.

Are you watching the Games?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Getting LOST

Ladies and Gentlemen...
may I present my first blog about food (that I made):

Okay, so for those of you who may not know, I am a diehard fan of LOST. My lovely friend Jennifer invited some of us over to watch the premiere of The Final Season. First let me say that I love how much ABC is hyping this season - this leads me to believe one of two things: 1) ABC is afraid that people won't watch the last season because they (being the fans) are fearful that it won't end the way they want it to (even though it will probably be fantastic), or 2) ABC knows that it will be a fantastic disappointment to end one of their most popular shows, and they want to get their money's worth out of every last episode. 

Actually, now that I look at it, I think it may very well be a combination of the two. But I digress...

Onto the CAKE!

I skipped documenting the preparation phase because I used a boxed cake mix, which really requires no baking skill and therefore needs no here's my lovely Devil's Food Cake in the oven:

*Note: I did however, deviate from the recipe on the box because I discovered that our canola oil had passed it's expiration date (crazy, I know, but we just don't bake with oil), so I used equal measure melted butter, and it worked great!

After the cake was baked, I put it in the fridge for an hour to cool it off so it would be easier to ice (a great tip I picked up from my friend Merilee). After I took it out, I removed it from the pan and transferred it to the base of a cake carrier, since I was going to be taking it away from the house when I was done. I then covered the entire thing with whipped cream cheese icing, and then scored it down the middle to create the shoreline. (Because what's LOST without the island?)

For the beach, I used graham cracker crumbs, then sprinkled raw sugar over the top to give it sparkle and dimension. After the beach was finished, I put the cake into the freezer for a while to get everything to set up. Then it was time to create the ocean:

For this, I took half a container of the icing (I bought two for this project) and mixed in blue food coloring until I got the desired shade for the water. Once the cake came out of the freezer, I spread the blue icing over the empty space. *Make sure that the icing is dry from the first layer before you do this, or it won't spread evenly.* I then took a toothpick and some of the leftover white icing and created the waves.

To finish up, I created a distress signal on the sand with rocks (or chocolate chips, if you must!) and my mom was so kind as to make a couple of adorable chocolate palm trees with a candy mold.

Time for the show!
(sorry it's kind of blurry - I took all the pictures with my phone)

By the way, in case you're not a LOST fanatic, the premiere was amazing and had all of us going, "Say what???" (That's a good reaction, by the way!) I would not, however, recommend that you begin watching the show now, because I can guarantee that it won't make ANY sense whatsoever. I *would* recommend that you find Season 1 and start there. 

But be warned, once you get LOST, you can't go back. :)

The Island is calling...