Happy Hanukkah 2014!

Happy Hanukkah from our family to yours. 

Last night was the first night of Hanukkah. Being an interreligious family, we celebrate both Jewish and Christian holidays. Last year Hanukkah fell on Thanksgiving, but this year it is mid-December.

I made Paula Deen's crockpot pot roast yesterday for the occasion, and somehow I totally misread the directions.  It called for making a "house spice" to use on the beef. I thought it was supposed to be used entirely on the roast when the recipe called for sprinkling it on the meat before searing it. It was actually a supply to keep in storage for many uses - not just this one time. Luckily, I didn't trust it totally and did not make or use the full amount of house spice. Nor did I use any boullion cubes (called for 3). If I had - we would have been ordering out, or going out as the meal would have been a total loss.

Needless to say, even with me leaving out the boullion and only making about 1/2 to 2/3's of the house spice - it was still way too salty. So Tara went into salvage mode by adding the juice of a lemon, and some honey to cut the sugar in the gravy. We actually managed to eat it, but think of oversalted movie popcorn.  Now double that.  That's how salty this was. Plenty of water was consumed by all the rest of the evening. We will polish off the leftovers tonight after some exercise to burn off the sodium, and hydrate heavily for round two.

Happy Hanukkah!


Rainy days and Mondays always get me...

Monday morning and it is raining. In honor or the late Karen Carpenter, I'm making the coffee and organizing breakfast while listening to her golden throat...

The weekend seemed to blow right on through with the warm winds from the south. Fred Lorber's funeral was on Friday. It was a fitting tribute and celebration to Fred's life and how he touched all those he encountered. We shared some special music, listened to three wonderful eulogies, and the Rabbi's message. Fred had touched everyone in the room through his stories, character, charisma, deeds, and love for life. Tears were shared, laughs were shared, respect was shared. One left the Temple filled with the good fortune of having known Fred.  

Since I was all dressed up and in Des Moines, I went shopping in the afternoon for things I need to take to Germany.  I got home and went out for a bike ride to enjoy the warm temperatures.  After a nice warm shower, I had dinner with Tara and Zack.

Saturday began with a meeting from 11:30 - 2:30, and was followed by picking up a suit that was tailored, and dropping off another for alterations.  Then a quick lunch with Tara at Palmer's Deli. A bike ride with my lights on where a buck running at full tilt nearly took me out on the Summerset Trail at dusk. I made it back home and had a lovely dinner of lamb, rice, and butternut squash.

Sunday was a mellow morning in bed with coffee and CBS. We wanted to take advantage of the 60 degree temperatures, so Tara and I headed out on the road bikes. After passing Summerset State Park on the Summerset Trail, there were so many hunters out in the fields and pickups parked along the gravel roads we turned around for fear of getting shot. We altered our route and managed to make up the miles on alternative trails, and roads to get our 2+ hours in for the day. Then I just tuned into football for some mindless entertainment until I went to the store to purchase the evening's produce that I wanted to cook. More football, and then it was bed time. Seems like the three days just flew by...

...and now it is rainy and Monday!


Celebrating Fritz today...

Tara and I have been asked to sing this morning at the memorial service for Fred "Fritz" Lorber who passed away on Tuesday.  His obituary and an edited video of him from last year talking about his WW II experience are at that link.

He touched all that knew him.  My Simpson students had the pleasure of hearing the story of how his family left Vienna to come to the US as World War II was starting.

Tara and I had just been to his 91st birthday celebration dinner a few weeks ago where he was sharp as a tack. He always wanted me to sing some operetta from Vienna, so that is what we will be doing this morning to open the service.

RIP Fritz Lorber...


Saturday's story: It fits!!!

Knowing there would be crowds out shopping, I braved it alone to hit up two of my favorite shopping venues in Des Moines. Saturday noon time had temperatures that were nice, and it fit my day's schedule to shop, get lunch, ride my bike, and end with Virginia and Nix's Christmas Party.

The hunt for tall/slim man's clothing has improved! Everything I have purchased in the past two weeks was on sale to boot. My new Levi's (a nice pair of 32 x 36 original fit 501's) arrived from San Francisco yesterday.

According to the tracking # of a pair of sweaters, they are due to arrive on my doorstep tomorrow. Two new Michael Kors suits - 40L with 32 x 36" trousers - both being taken in a bit in the waist of the pants, and the sides of the jacket - will be ready by the 16th of the month.

A Calvin Klein suit I bought last year that fit great at the time before I dropped 20 pounds is being altered in the same manner - taken in at the waist, and the jacket sides are being tapered in for a trimmer fit.  I still need a few more dress shirts in a tapered slim fit with long enough sleeves, but that's next on the hunting list.  I got one new belt and some new socks on sale as well yesterday.

My first purchase of a pair of Danish Company ECCO shoes confirms that I have now moved into old age going for comfort over style.  They actually are a great blend of form, function, and style compared to my usual Italian or Johnston and Murphy loafer preference.  Color me impressed. Imagine?  Me with a pair of shoes that do not have leather soles!!!!  I'll have to get used to walking again...

I stumbled upon a heavily discounted pair of Steve Madden shoes that was the final pair the store had in that model from last year.  The sales price was aided by an additional 25% discount at Younkers which meant they also graced my shopping bag.

I stopped in at Palmer's Deli for a Turnberry sandwich to go, and couldn't resist grabbing a 7 layer bar to toss in my lunch bag with the pickle, sandwich, and bottled water as well.  I knew I had 30 miles on tap for a training ride and would easily burn the calories.  Wow, was it good.  YUM!!!

I headed out for my 2 hour ride on my own version of the Global Fat Bike day by running my 30mm wide gravel tires on the road bike.  ;-)  I had my music going full bore with Sinatra, Beethoven, Saint-Saens, Kiss, AC/DC, Nazareth, Joan Jett, Massenet, etc..., heart rate pumping in the 145 - 162 range the entire ride, and all was well until mile 25 when the iPhone battery suddenly went from 1/2 charged to giving me the low battery signal - which then about a minute later resulted in it shutting off.  Go figure, but it turns out it was the cold air.  iPhones do not like the cold and since it was mounted on my handlebars, the windchill made it act up.  I plugged it in at home and after a couple of minutes it jumped to life and warmed up only to show that the battery indeed still had 1/2 a charge.

I shaved and showered, got dressed and headed to Des Moines with Tara to enjoy a wonderful Christmas Party at the Lauridsen's.  The Simpson College Madrigal Singers were singing at the party, and we all sang Christmas Carols with Jamie and Bernard taking turns at the piano.  My favorite moment came when I was standing next to an attractive woman about my age who was nursing a glass of wine and enjoying the music we were all singing. After she heard me sing various carols, and after I cut loose on O Holy Night - she asked me if I had been in high school choir.  Too funny!!  I said yes, and asked her if she had been in high school choir as well.  She said no, but she was on the baton twirling team. It was a great moment and I wasn't going to spoil it for her that I had trained beyond "high school choir" for a few decades. The party was such fun with beautiful decorations, delicious food and what seemed like an endless supply of beverages that were enjoyed by the crowd of what looked to be 100.  Thank you Virginia and Nix!!!!

All in all a great Saturday.  And one that FIT all the way around...


Black Friday and weekend Shopping BUST!!!

I have been holding off on purchasing new clothes since I dropped weight this year, and making do with what I do have (even though I am really swimming in all of it).  Now that I am back to my 31" waist, I remember well the frustration from years ago of trying to get pants that fit.  Hilfiger worked back then, but they don't make much in my length anymore for some reason.  Buying off the rack is nearly impossible as very few stores anywhere have pants that are 31" x 36" or even 32 x 36" which I could get altered to snug them up.

A typical suit in 42L comes with the smallest pants being 36" waist.  No way they can take in 5" off of the waist without the front pockets becoming back pockets!!!  And the crease would be from my hip to the knee which would be way too funny.  Buying suit separates would be my ticket, but even then - it is rare to find pants with enough of an inseam I need to match the waist unless I up the game to a Brooks Brothers $1200 suit.  I can find a lot of 30" x 32" or 31" by 32" pants - but I need 4 more inches in length.  Even online, all the designers don't have pants in my size.

I did manage to try on enough things this weekend in the war zone of Black Friday weekend to get the waist correct.  I ordered and got a sale on Levi 501's from the Strauss website in the correct size as no store carried my size.  And I got a couple of sweaters online for the Black Friday sale price that are being shipped to me.  Same sale price as this weekend, but I have to pay the shipping to get the sizes I need.

I am sorely in need of a couple of new suits in my size since most everything else I have is 44L with 34 or 36" waist pants from my unhealthy years.  One suit, I think I can take in from 34" waist and salvage it (my black Calvin Klein suit).  The rest are history for now.

I may have to wait until I get over in Europe where I never had a problem getting things long enough - even off the rack - in Austria, and Germany.  Suffice it to say, the hunt is on for the sizing and style I can live with for the price.

It's much like buying bikes for me.  Stores and companies only target the majority.  Being tall and slim puts one in the minority as the supply and demand equation is not in my favor for clothes here in the US.

One of my favorite blogs, Tall Adaptations, is well versed in my dilemma.


Post Thanksgiving calorie burn...

No need to deny that we joined everyone else in the US by downing 3000 - 4000 calories on Thursday, and then again with the leftovers on Friday.  Ma Nature dialed in a 57 degree day yesterday (which was up from the 2 degrees on Thanksgiving morning) and led to a husband/wife Fall ride out and about to burn 1400 of those calories.

The snow was melting, the pavement was sweating and in various areas there was plenty of moisture to kick up off of the tires.  Tara stopped as we cruised through the Summerset State Park loop...

I was riding the mountain bike today due to all of the moisture, sand, salt and grit on the roads from what they dump around here when it snows...

The ride to Carlisle was fairly easy with a nice tailwind.  Arriving in Carlisle, I realized I was being fueled only by a piece of pumpkin pie that I had eaten about an hour before we headed out.  So I stopped at the Casey's and got a Snickers Almond small bar to chow down to fuel my ride home against the wind.

Turning against the headwind jacked the heart rate up about 12 beats to maintain the same speed, but we tucked down and headed south.  The sun was shining, but was blocked at times by a very thin cloud covering.  Yet it was still Fall temperatures in the 50's and it was nice to be out grinding away.

We stopped at the new icon entitled Beneath the Maples on the Simpson Campus to get a shot of the icon...

Once home, I dived into making my traditional turkey casserole.  While it cooked, I got busy preparing a speech in German for an event in January.  We all dove into the casserole when Tara pointed out I forgot to put the bag of peas I purchased into it.  RATS!  Oh well, maybe next year. Dessert was a bottle of special Eiswein from the Burgenland in Austria that I had been given as a gift. Yum!  Add that to the calories consumed column.

Temperatures are down to 19 this morning with howling winds, which will make the choice of today's calorie burn most likely of the indoor variety.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing a very Happy Thanksgiving to all family and friends today!

I had planned on attending the 15th Annual Turkey Day Ride at Center Trails this morning at 8 am. However, due to temperatures being 4 degrees, and all the snow we got yesterday along with my mountain bikes all being fitted with XC Renegades at the moment - I decided to stay upright and safe here at home.  Trainer ride in the basement instead.  It will jump from 4 degrees this morning, to 54 on Saturday which should melt the snow and allow me to get out on pavement to burn off the food we are about to enjoy.

My niece is here from California, and two of my college students who did not travel home for Thanksgiving will be joining us to give thanks on this day.  The turkey is about to come out of the honey brine, and will go on the Big Green Egg for a nice smoke at about 11:30 this morning.  Pies are made.  Bread is made.  Sweet potatoes are made.  Everything else is about to commence for the big day.