Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Fanciest Tasting Menu Race

"It's not death, it's just cake" is my new motto.

If you haven't been watching "Top Chef: Just Desserts," you've been missing out. Probably lots of people say it's not as interesting as the original Top Chef because it's all one general idea (Make a fantastic dessert...GO!), but those people must not have enough cake, ice cream, or salted caramel in their lives. I love it. Plus, it's fun to see how weird pastry chefs apparently are...I mean, Seth is making Marcel look almost suave. (P.S. Am I going to have to wait for the reunion to find out how Heather gashed her forehead open?)

If you've missed Just Desserts until now, the good news is that you've still got lots of season left. The same is not true if you missed "The Great Food Truck Race," which I really think was the most under-publicized and under-rated food show of the summer. (I say that having no idea how it was publicized or received by critics.)

With the premise being simply that six food trucks were going to drive around the country trying to outsell each other - and with the host being everyone's favorite Applebee's chef Tyler Florence - there was a high risk of failure for The Food Truck Race. But fail, it did not.

Sure, it might have been even more fun if they'd made the teams solve clues to figure out where to go and what to do, but as it was, the way they'd make them drive to some new city and then set them loose to figure out how to get their ingredients and where to park their trucks and how to make the most money, was awesome. The lack of strict rules was pretty refreshing, as most reality shows pretty much control everything so tightly that contestants rarely have room to show how they got good at what they do in the first place. But alas, it's over. All I can do is hope for a season 2...and watch "The Amazing Race," which finally started its new season on Sunday!

I love treasure hunts. I love clues. I love travel. The Amazing Race is all of that, plus reality television drama. And I'm happy to see that they're bringing back the requirement that contestants have a tiny bit of common sense in order to solve some of their clues. If you've ever watched the early seasons (they are now in season 17!), they used to make the clues kinda hard. Then it got dumbed down to the point that no one really had to figure anything out, they just went where the next card told them to go...which, I should add, did not stop me from watching the show, but I like it better when there's more room for error.

While I don't particularly fantasize about being a contestant on The Amazing Race due to all of the surprise bungee-jumping and bug eating, I do fantasize about running around the world solving clues and traveling for free...maybe with more happiness and fun and less fear and injury.

But as soon as the Top Chef producers get together with The Amazing Race producers to create some sort of competition involving racing around the world to eat gourmet food, I'm totally in.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


We are all sick here. Actually, my husband is not sick, but I attribute that to him rarely being here now that he is actually opening his improv theater.

I, on the other hand, estimate that I spend an average of 23 hours per day in my house, which gives me ample opportunity to soak up all the germs that my children thoughtfully bring home with them from school. Ew. Really, I'm not that sick. I'm more an annoying type of sick - the kind where your nose runs and you feel generally worn out and somewhat light-headed when you talk too much. I think Owen is there with me. Aidan, on the other hand, has an upper respiratory infection.

We kept him home all week and then today I really thought he could go back to school (and he wanted to), but, of course, I got the dreaded call from the school nurse where she makes you feel like you should be ashamed of yourself for even considering sending your child to school in his condition. The cherry on top was the way that, on our way out, she reminded me that he couldn't come back to school tomorrow, either, due to his fever (which I SWEAR he didn't have when sent him to school). Ah probably sucks to be a school nurse.

I suppose it all worked out because thanks to the nurse's insistence that we should really bring him to the doctor because he could be developing pneumonia (due to my negligence, I'm sure), we found out he doesn't actually have the flu (or pneumonia), but an upper respiratory infection, which can be treated with antibiotics.

Cross your fingers that we're all recovered enough to walk the Walk Now for Autism Speaks on Saturday because not only do we have the cutest shirts in all the land, but Team Owen met its $1000 goal! Many thanks to everyone who contributed!

I'm going to let you in on a little secret: I started this post intending to talk to you about television because I am so thrilled with the onslaught of season premieres. My brain went another direction (which part of my body was thinking about TV?). That means I will have to save my praise for Just Desserts and anticipation for The Amazing Race for another post...get excited.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Support Team Owen!

Although I've neglected to mention it here until now, I'm raising money for the Minneapolis Walk Now for Autism Speaks. We're walking as Team Owen.

I've participated in the virtual walk and also raised money for one of the walks in previous years, but never actually walked it, so I'm excited to get out and physically show my support.

Plus, I'd like to think that it could be enlightening for my boys to get a feel for how many people have or are affected by autism. Probably Aidan, especially, would be happy to know that there are legions of siblings who are equally annoyed by their brother or sister's insistence on rigidity and tendency to space out.

I'm hoping that we'll meet our goal of raising $1000 by Saturday. I know that it's a drop in the bucket when it comes to all the research that needs to be done and all the kids who need help, but it feels like a good solid contribution at least. Autism Speaks is important for a lot of reasons, but there are two big ones that makes me grateful for them.

First, they have been instrumental in raising awareness of autism and of spreading the truth about this disorder in the face of so many lies and misrepresentations. As the mother of a little boy who will probably have to deal with this disorder for his entire life, it's important to me that more people - that everyone - understand what autism is and what it isn't, and that he receives the support and the understanding he deserves.

Second, Autism Speaks funds research. Let's all remember that we don't even know where this disorder comes from. Why Owen? He deserves to know. I'm not a scientist, but it seems to me that once we can figure out what the hell is causing it, we'd have a much better chance of figuring out how to treat it. That's not to say that we haven't come a long way in developing treatments (we have), but we haven't cured it. We haven't even slowed it down. That's not okay with me. I want the scientists to have as much money as they need to figure this thing out.

And so, we will be walking next weekend in support of our Owen and the amazing work that Autism Speaks does on behalf of people with autism. If you can spare $20 (or more), please consider supporting us. Thank you.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Race Day!

I competed in my third annual Great Urban Race Minneapolis yesterday! As you might recall, this was my second GUR this year - my husband and I took on Chicago just two short months ago.

For the Minneapolis race, I reunited with BFF Gretchen for our second run as "Communication Breakdown." Along with help from BFF Rachel, who played the role of Google lifeline, we rocked it.

We had every clue solved within the first 20 minutes....unfortunately, none of the clues were especially difficult. Now, I could say that the Minneapolis race probably just seemed easy in comparison to the Chicago race, which was a challenge given that we don't live there and the city is huge. Except, Gretchen wasn't with me in Chicago and she thought it was easy, too. I'd be surprised if anyone who spends even a little time in downtown or Uptown Minneapolis would say that the clues were hard.

So now you're thinking, Well, if it was so easy, you won then, right? Solving the clues is a relatively small portion of the race. Then you have to go to all 11 locations, perform whatever task is demanded of you, and get yourself back to the finish line, all using public transportation. None of the tasks were hard, but we did travel a good 10+ miles, much it on foot.

We got off to a really strong start, knocking out the first five locations in under an hour - and I think we actually sprinted from place to place. Then the tedious bus ride to Uptown slowed us down a bit and, after completing two more tasks, we made a pit stop. There was a moment where I think we considered pressing on minus a cool, refreshing adult beverage, but then we remembered that 1) that wouldn't be as fun and 2) we still weren't going to win.

And so, drinks were had. I think we made a good choice. If the GUR ever turns into being all about the competition for me, I don't think I want to do it anymore. (But, side note: the winners came in at 1 hour 55 minutes, so we actually probably had a fighting change to make the top 25 were it not for that pit stop. As it stands, we're crossing our fingers that we finally made the top 100.)

Anyway, it was very fun day. I recommend the race to anyone (assuming you like to have fun). And even though I think the clues could have been harder, I'm definitely still in again for next year, because, you know what they say...

A day spent solving clues and running around like an idiot is a day well spent, indeed.