The Year in Adventures – 2011.

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2011 was a year of Adventure – great, big and small.

Here are my top 11 (or 13) best adventures of the year.

January we took a ditch day and headed up to the slopes for a little snowboarding adventure.  My first since this accident

damn it felt good to be a gangster again {even if only on the bunny slopes}

In February, I took my first trip to the Race Track with the Mr. (that’s him in the lotus) and went 145+ miles/hour around the track with him in the car.

{don’t ask if I broke the chains that hold the floor mat down.  I was only bracing for my life}

March brought us on an adventure in our own City – the LA Challenge.  This “Amazing Race” style competition had us dashing around downtown LA, racing against other Challengers for immortal glory, and attempting to solve (Google) tricky clues while we explored undiscovered corners of our own city.

{we found a rent-a-cop outside the Los Angeles Public Library}

We also flew to Santa Barbara for the night to catch Foster the People’s last really.small and really.intimate show in Santa Barbara before they became the indie-rock sensation that they are today. At this point they only had a 3 song EP release!

{note: I have a total boy band crush on Foster the People}

April took us down to the pad in Mexico for a little weekend R&R.  For those that know me well, my soul lives somewhere south of the border and any combination of TnT {tacos ‘n tequila}, I’m Winning.

{Bottomless tequila, rocks with a twist}

We pulled out the tents {er, RV} in May to camp for our friends Birthday up by Lake Cachuma in Santa Barbara.

{we may have slept in a real bed, but we roughed it by joining our friends in the ‘no-shower’ clause for the weekend}

Not sure where June went, but by July we were back in Mexico relaxing after a hideously painful 4 days at San Diego Comic Con. {#work fail}. If you’ve been, you know.this.pain.well.

We might have put on our own firework show too…(video here)

In August we joined the VVMC {Venice Vintage Motorcycle Club} for a day long ride along the coast.

{and I discovered that the bike [or my rear end] needs way.more.padding}

Two BIG events in September… I gained a Barbie-in-Law

{yes, she’s as sweet as she is perfect looking. lil’ bro, you scored. big.time}

and I got kidnapped at work for a Birthday Extravaganza which included a scavenger hunt, private planes, more clues, surprise guests, brunch in Avalon on Catalina Island, Zip Lining, and a Surprise Mexican Fiesta Dinner with all my nearest and dearest.

{Dear Mr., you’ve fulfilled your Surprise quota for the year, and I loved it.  love, MF Dre}

P.S. your fear of heights is noted; hand in mouth is a good coping technique.

October brought adventure back to my city with my college Besties – Dr. V and ALR.  It was on this trip, that I realized that despite two back surgeries over the past few years, I was capable of a comeback to distance running again – thank.you.V.

The Mouse House {work} also sent me on an adventure…through the eyes of Rafiki

{the longest, sweatiest, but most incredible 30 minute adventure}

and after said distance.running.revelation with Dr. V, I entered and finished my first Half Marathon in November

December was spent road-tripping, creating, infusing, running for good causes, dining and celebrating.

We’re headed to ring in one more adventure tonight to celebrate the end of an incredible year.

Cheers to an inspired and adventurous 2012.

{MF Dre}

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DT Alert: Hello Dumpling.

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Last year on this trip, I got the chance to go to one of the most famous Dumpling restaurants in the world, Din Tai Fung.  Din Tai Fung is an award-winning restaurant originating in Taiwan, specialising in xiaolongbao (small steamed buns). Outside its native Taiwan, Din Tai Fung also has its restaurant chains in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, the United States, Canada, and Thailand.

A few weeks ago, the Mr’s. Sister and Brother in Law were in town for their Birthdays.  Being that they run a pretty ridiculous restaurant in Oakland {and the spot we’re headed to for NYE}, they are legit foodies and I wasn’t surprised when they picked Din Tai Fung for the celebration.

I RSVP’d yes for us before I even read the entire invite.  {Over-eager? Yes, totally}

From the Westside of LA, getting to Arcadia is quite a feat.  In all honestly, considering LA traffic, flying to China may have been the shorter route, but nothing a few soup dumplings couldn’t make up for instantly.

Everything at Din Tai Fung is made on site.  When you walk in, you can see them at work crafting their amazing dumplings through a glass window.

We left the foodies to Dominate the Menu.

one.of.each.please

and wound up with a table filled with the most delightful food. Dare I say it was AS GOOD as my experience in Beijing?

Din Tai Fung does not take reservations so when a party of 10 arrives at 8pm (they close at 10p on weeknights), we had to make a few menu sacrifices due to the fact that they were already out for the night.  But our menu was still pretty strong:

  • Noodles with Sesame Sauce
  • Pork Fried Noodles
  • Vegetable and Pork Wonton Soup
  • Sautéed Seasonal Vegetables (Bok Choy, Spinach and Green Beans)
  • Juicy Pork Dumplings
  • Juicy Crab and Pork Dumplings
  • Fish Dumplings
  • Chicken Dumplings
  • Rice and Pork Shiaomai
  • Shrimp and Pork Shiaomai

And for Happy Birthday Dessert:

  • Red Bean Rice Cake
  • Sesame Buns

A few pictures of the Deliciousness:

Soup Dumplings

Pork Dumplings

Pork and Rice Shiaomai

Sesame Noodles

Green Beans

Spicy Pork Noodles

Really you should go. In fact, Go.Right.Now.

The dumplings literally melt in your mouth.  Rather than the Americanized dumplings that we all seem to think are great, you haven’t lived dumplings unless you’ve been to DTF. Their dumplings are filled with a soup liquid that surrounds the meat in each of them and they burst open when you eat them.  DO.NOT.PASS GO.UNTIL.YOU.TRY.THE PORK.DUMPLINGS.  The noodles are exquisite {not sure I’ve ever described food this way, but we did order 2 more rounds of each}.

  And the best part about all of this is that we stuffed our faces and for 10 people, the bill was $150. WHAT???  Yes, $15/each. This is unheard of in LA {guess that is why they’re located in Arcadia}.  But really, for the quality and the quantity of food we scarfed down, Din Tai Fung is No Joke.

We left VERY happy stuffed Campers.

{MF Dre}

P.S. DTF does not serve alcohol and I do not recall seeing any signage that allows BYOB.

P.P.S. My camera didn’t function well most of the night so most images courtesy of Google.

You Gotta Fight For Your Right To Party

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We hosted our first “In Between” Party last night.  This Holiday Season, the Mr. and I decided that we were overdue for a soiree at our casa, but were having a hard time trying to find the right night that didn’t compete with other holiday happenings.  Why fight the madness?  The Answer: Don’t.  We decided to mix things up and fill the void between Christmas and New Years. And based on the number of dishes I have this morning, I think we can safely say the party was a hit.  And we’re already signed on to host the next In Between. Here were a few of our tricks:

Make at least 50 bazillion bacon wrapped dates. People will stay as long as there are still dates.

Bacon Wrapped Dates

Infused Vodka, Gin, Tequila and Whiskey (with Muddled Orange) and MORE…

Infusions

Bubbles, Grapes and More

Corn Dogs (yes, more Whiskey Tango in this house)

Corn Dogs

Ambiance

Mood Lighting

Flowers

A Relaxed, Laid Back Attitude

Shiitake Happens….

A Safe and Secure Coat Check

Treats Accepted.

Incredible Friends, Neighbors and Family

MUAH

and a little silly time before the endless cleanup begins

Now Will You Clean With Me?

Thanks for coming! See you next year!

{MF Dre}

(and Angry P)

Last Race of 2011.

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Waking up at 5:45a when you’re supposed to be on vacation must mean that you’re a runner. Or else crazy. Or perhaps both.  {me}.    Most days, I catch the sunrise towards the end of my run, today it was on the way to my last race of the year, the Operation Jack 1/2 Marathon.

After a full two days of festivities, I disruptively forced myself out of bed (and food comas) to get back to working on my fitness with a Half Marathon.  The race started down in Manhattan Beach at the edge of El Porto – one of the most famous surf breaks in So Cal.

As we warmed up, picked up race packets and waited for the race to start, we watched the sun rise and the early bird surfers bare the 57* water.  It begged the question, who was actually crazier?  The 360 runners about to do 13.1 (or for some even crazier post-Christmas runners, 26.2 miles) or the surfers in 57* water?

The race started on time right after a quick greeting and thank you from Sam of Operation Jack.  Sam founded Operation Jack about 2 years ago to help raise money for Autism related charities after his son Jack was diagnosed.  Both Sam and his wife thanked us and told us to run/jog/walk our as*es off during the run. If you ask me, pretty cool Dad to mobilize a kick a** fund-raising action plan that generated over $36K in one day to support Autism.  As he wrote in April 2011, Operation Jack is my never-ending quest to help causes in need, one charitable act at a time. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t know how I’m going to do it. But I have faith I’ll get it done. That’s what Operation Jack is.

Besides the race in Southern California this morning, there were Satellite runs in Portland, OR, Portland, ME,  Houston and Kabul, Afghanistan.

Pre-Race, Ready to Go.  Hopeful to beat my Santa Barbara 1/2 Marathon time of 1:57

The race started out well.  Pacing an average of 8:12.  I thought, well, this is going to be good. A nice, fairly flat, BEAUTIFUL course.

Unfortunately though, I think that two days of feasting may have caught up with me, because around mile 4, my stomach started to feel really wonky and went through waves the rest of the course. Major bummer.  I stopped a few times and walked probably a total of .75 mile during the course.

Not sure if this was a good mile or a bad one…my face could technically be screaming HELP! or HEY!  But seriously look how pretty it is and.how.lucky.I.am.to.be.able.to.run.here.

Overall, I averaged a pace of about 8:45.

Now here’s where I can’t decide if I did well (considering) or Not.  My race time was a 1:59:30 according to the official clock.  But since I stopped 4x along the course, I paused my watch, knowing that the official clock wasn’t stopping. It wasn’t like I chose to stop, I had to.  So I wanted to get a sense of what my time would be if I had not had to stop.  My watch time said 1:53.  Which would technically be a PR.

Who wins?  Official Time or My Time?  

Either way, I still received the BEST race medal ever and I got to meet Sarah from OUAL who had a pretty kick-butt race.

Cheers to enjoying the rest of 2011 race-free and gearing up for some great 2012 goals.

{MF Dre}

Run Time

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Time to break out the kicks and get back to the training program after a few merry and feast-ful days. I’m at the start line waiting for the Operation Jack 1/2 Marathon to start and hoping to beat my 1:57 last time. It’s a beautiful morning and running 13.1 along this is not a tough ask. See you at the finish.

20111226-064305.jpg

{MF Dre}

Merry Happy Holidays.

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Wishing you and your families the Happiest of Holidays and a Bright and Cheery New Year.

Love, Angry Pete & the MF Dre

It’s Christmas Vacation.

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It’s finally here.  A bazillion and a half days off.  Ok 12, but that’s a lot for me.  Here are some of the ways I plan on spending my time away from the office.

  • Operation Jack 1/2 Marathon
  • Hosting our first (and hopefully annual) “In Between” Holiday Party next week.
  • Heading up to the Bay Area to ring in the New Year at the Mr.’s Sister and Brother in Law’s restaurant, Camino
  • Spending a full (child free) day with my friend T – I do adore your kids though!
  • Finally finishing a DIY project that has taken a bit longer than anticipated
  • Spending time with our families
  • Hopefully a semi-impromptu trip up to visit the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo
  • Late Morning vs. 6am Runs (and attempting my first 20 miler)
  • Finally catching up on Dexter Seasons 3-5 – yes, I’m waaaaaaaaaaaay behind
  • Finishing the.longest.book.ever – Shantaram – promise it’s really good though
  • Endless Christmas Movie Marathons

and most importantly, helping the Mr. with a BIG.NEW.ADVENTURE – details coming January 3rd!

But first.  We kicked off the start to the official Holiday Season (i.e. no work, all celebrate) with a well deserved cocktail.

   

                                         The Honey Badger – yes really {His}                          Prosecco {Hers}

Cheers!

{MF Dre}