Thursday, March 27, 2014

Chocolate and Dinosaurs

Throughout history, there have been 2 things that all civilizations have agreed are pretty much the best things ever.   Those two things are dinosaurs and chocolate.  Science has been unclear on which of the two is actually more awesome.  (Other than, OBVIOUSLY DINOSAURS!  I mean, they're giant lizards, for crying out loud!)

Truthfully, the best things ever would clearly be dinosaurs and bacon.  But if I said that, it wouldn't be a very good segway into the story I'm about to tell you where I went to a museum that had exhibits about dinosaurs and chocolate, so just bear with me on this one, okee dokee?  It did include me eating chocolate covered bacon, so there's no denying it was the best day ever.

Robyn and I went to the Natural History Museum of Utah on Saturday with my brother and his wife.  We all know that natural history includes a number of branches of history.  But my brain automatically translates the words "natural history museum" into "dinosaur museum".  So clearly I was there for the dinosaurs.  But there is a temporary exhibit about chocolate as well.

First, let's talk dinosaurs.

I've been a dinosaur nerd since I was like 3 years old.  The only reason I even consented to attend Kindergarten was because my mom said that if I went to school I would be able to read the dinosaur book by myself.  (Side note: I was very angry at the end of my first day when they didn't even try to teach me how to read the dinosaur book.  But the good news is that I have read many dinosaur books since then.)

Despite my nerdiness about dinosaurs, it turns out there was an awesome dinosaur that was native to Utah that I didn't even know about.  How embarrassing is that?

Let me introduce you to diabloceratops.
Diabloceratops was the cool kid of the ceratops community.  What he lacked in a third horn on his face, he made up for with two extra horns coming out of the top of his bony frill.

Diabloceratops was super popular with the ladies.  He was captain of the football team and most importantly, he was native to Utah.  (Note: the part about being native to Utah is true.  The rest of this paragraph is purely speculative.)

This is what diabloceratops looked like when he was getting ready to build a nest in my backyard.
You know diabloceratops was cool, because of his name.  Think about it.  Triceratops got his name because he has 3 horns.  Big deal.  Diabloceratops was so tough and intimidating, they named him after the devil.

Plus, he was pretty cool because he agreed to pose for this picture with me.
Diabloceratops and I were both disappointed that we were photobombed by other lesser ceratops individuals.
Diabloceratops may have been the biggest new thing I learned about in the prehistoric exhibit, but here are a few other snapshots of some fun experiences.

Zack and I were discussing how much of a deterrent the stegosaurus ridged back would be against predators.  Robyn snapped a pic of our nerdiness.

It turns out alligators have been around for 76 million years.  But they were even more ginormous back then.

Bears have been around a long time too.  But back then they walked around like zombies, and so did Zack and I.

In case you were wondering, tyrannosaurs had bigger feet than Robyn.  Do you think tyrannosaurs liked shoes as much as she does?
After seeing the dinosaur exhibit, we did learn some other things about Utah history.  But it clearly wasn't as awesome as learning about dinosaurs.  So I only have one picture to share with you in that section.

Zack and I are pottery masters
They had different pots that were all broken up.  It was supposed to simulate what you would find if you dug them up.  You got to put them back together like a puzzle.  The guy before us wasn't able to figure it out, but we dominated it because that's how we roll.

The last exhibit was the chocolate exhibit.  There were two parts.  There was the exhibit itself, which gave some history about chocolate.   Then they had also invited local chocolate makers to set up booths and give out samples of their chocolate.  I can't remember who gave me chocolate covered bacon, but it was surprisingly delicious.  The other best thing was fudge from The Chocolate Covered Wagon.  (You probably don't care, but I'm writing it down so that I can come back and remember where I need to buy that fudge when my heart begins to yearn for it.)

Without further ado, let's talk about the chocolate exhibit.
The most important thing I learned was that the Mayans were the first people to ruin chocolate.  That's not quite how the exhibit worded it, but it's the truth.  They made a spicy chocolate drink by mixing the cacao beans with chili peppers.  Isn't that an abomination?  Can you believe that people were concerned a few years ago that the Mayan calendar ending must mean the end of the world?  These people couldn't even make hot chocolate properly and we're concerned that they knew when the world would end?

We got to see what a chocolate tree looks like.  Look at those ginormous cacao pods.
Zack was very precious with this European lady.  Europeans were the first to figure out how to make chocolate taste good by mixing it with sugar.  I'd like to say that's why Zack was so enamored with her, but I think he was just trying to be funny because he was bored with the history of chocolate.
This was my favorite part of the chocolate exhibit.  It didn't have anything historical to teach us, but it made me imagine how awesome it would be if we could get a giant box of chocolates.  Are you with me?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Pi/e Day Party!

I am so happy that spring is here (sort of, it did still snow this week)!  I love the sunshine, colors, and beauty of Spring!  I think it is my favorite season. 

Well, spring means that it is that time of year again.  No, not cleaning (though I should do that too), but Pi/e day!  Every year on March 14th (3.14) we have a party with our friends to celebrate pie.  We have a contest and just enjoy being with people we love.  This year we had so may people, I wasn't sure everyone was going to fit in the house.  Here are some highlights from the evening.

One of my student's parents own the Pie Pizzeria in Sandy.  She happened to be our VIP student (star student, whatever you want to call it) and so they brought in a treat for the kids for pie day. I got to take the leftovers home for the party.

I made mini cherry pies.  I forgot to take a close up shot when they were done baking.

We had LOTS of pie.

Chocolate Pie
Boston Cream Pie

Sugar Free Apple Pie

The pie in the bottom left of the picture was the prize winning pie!  My sister Megan happened to make it.  That is why we have other people judge the pies so it will be fair. 

Our friend Mike won 3rd prize with his apple pie.  He was so excited to get autographed photos of Jeff and I as part of his prize! 

Our friend Dann made a bacon pie that won 2nd place

Megan and her 1st prize!

Our friend Dave was one of the judges.

Melissa (on the far right) was the other judge.

As you can see we had a lot of food and lots of friends.  We had so much fun (despite the fact that my kitchen looks like a disaster zone) and we look forward to next year! 

Friday, March 7, 2014

I'm totally a Biker!

Most of you are probably aware that exercise has become a much more important part of my life over the past year.  I spend the majority of my mornings on the treadmill before I go to work.

For the last little while, Robyn and I have been talking about what we could do to get some variety into our exercise routine.  We decided that a good strategy would be to become bikers.

We consulted a few friends on what kind of bikes we should get, and finally made our way to the bike shop.  Despite being armed with the information our friends had given us as well as what the internet had to say, we let the salesman at the bike shop know that we were newbs when it came to biking.  He thought that was hilarious.

Note to salesmen everywhere:  If you think I am funny, I will rightly assume that you are knowledgeable and wise.  I'll totally trust your judgement on anything you tell me from that point on.

We rode around the parking lot on a few different bikes.  While I was test driving the bikes, I made sure to look sophisticated and intelligent so that everyone would think that I was a knowledgeable biker looking for the perfect fit.  Mostly I was feeling to see which bike hurt my bum the least.

We each selected a bike and took them home to their new home in our basement.

Aren't they so cute?
We have too much junk in our garage, but eventually the garage will be their home when we clear space for it.

Naturally, I had to hop on my bike right away and give it a go.  Also, one of the first things I did while riding was take a selfie.
Fun fact: Taking a selfie while riding a bike is harder than it looks.  Therefore, achievement unlocked!

I rode around our neighborhood and quickly discovered a problem.  The fact that we live at the top of a hill makes the beginning of the ride super awesome, and the end of the ride super sad.  On my maiden voyage, I was only able to make it 90% of the way back to the top before I got off and walked.

I tried again this morning. This time I made it all the way to our driveway!  It was only my second try!  (Achievement unlocked!)  My legs were burning and I could barely stand, but I totally did it.  However, I did have to send this text to Robyn:
But don't worry.  I kept my promise this evening.  My new goal:  ride all the way to the top of the hill and still have strength to carry the bike downstairs.