put it on a t-shirt

If you’re gonna do something adventurous, put it on a t-shirt…that’s my motto. Last years mountain bike trip to AK had some pretty cool memories…ones I didn’t get to enjoy. But one of the memories stuck out as pretty awesome — FIRE RIDING! Basically, the guys had a few beers and decided to ride their bikes over a stack of burning wood. Pretty cool, eh? So in honor of this soon to be yearly ritual, a t-shirt has been created. I can’t wait to get mine, and my chance to ride over the blazing logs.


pedal faster, i hear banjos

As most of you know, I’m a pretty avid mountain biker. This year I, urbanbigfoot (as I’m know in the mountain biking community), was lucky enough to be invited on a trip to Arkansas for a week of trail riding on some pretty amazing trails – one of which is Womble – an IMBA Epic. Though I’m excited as hell, I have to admit, I’m a little nervous as well.

Brett and Jason are the organizers of the trip. They’ve been venturing down to Ouachita National Forest for the past 10 years, and they have this trip down to a science. They send out a recommended packing list and provide useful information like trail names, miles we’ll ride per day, elevation we’ll climb per day, etc…and emergency contact information – just in case we go missing in the back-woods of Arkansas.

Since I’m the ‘newbie’ this year, I want to have all my gear in order so I don’t get a ribbing from the other guys. I’ve tweaked and tuned my bike – it’ll ride like a dream down there. I’ve packed most of my gear – like my tent, sleeping bag, pillow, poison ivy block, poison ivy wash (this shit grows mad down there), riding gear for 7 days, shorts/shirts/undies for 7 days, power bars, gel fuel for energy, electrolite drinks, BEER…the list goes on and on. But thanks to Brett and Jason, I didn’t have to think too hard on what to pack – they did that for me.

The trails are really going to test my riding skills. I consider myself a strong rider, but I don’t have a ton of experience riding over rough jagged rock…it just doesn’t exist around our area. My technical skills are leaps and bounds better than they were last year at this time, largely due to the extensive amount of training I’ve put in this year. I sure hope it pays off…

We start our adventure on Friday…just three short days from now. I’ve already got a case of poison ivy on my leg…nothing severe, but enough to make life a little uncomfortable. I think I picked it up last week riding, but maybe at a trail work day…who knows? On top of poison ivy, I’ve also come down w/ a cold. I hope Anna’s homemade Veggie-Beef soup will get me over that hump. Other than that…I’m totally ready for Friday.

I’ll post up some pictures from the trip, and probably some cool video (most likely of my crashing). So come back in about two weeks to see how the trip went. I’m betting it’ll be AMAZING!

wow…I miss blogging

It’s been a VERY long time since my last blog post. I could blame in on my oft busy and hectic schedule…a well lived life, if you will. I could blame it on technology overload. Really though, I’ve just neglected to feed my inner need to document my life in more detail. I blame Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook and Twitter allow me to chronicle my life in short bursts. It’s sort of a lazy way to go about it, but it’s effortless. I’m vowing now to resolve this. I’m going to blog again, a little at first, and more as the year progresses. So stay tuned…

she finally loses a tooth

Toothless Zoë

Toothless Zoë

Zoë finally lost her first tooth. Since the beginning of the school year, nearly a year ago, she’s wanted to lose a tooth. Why? Because all of her friends had lost a tooth. Not just her friends, but EVERYBODY in her class. Seemed a little dramatic to me, but you know how little girls can be…DRAMA, DRAMA, DRAMA! So finally, about a month ago, she had her first loose tooth. With all the excitement of Christmas morning, she told us all about it. She even wanted us to feel how loose it was. What she didn’t know was that it would take just over a month to finally fall out. Or in her case, get twisted out. Apparently, one of her friends told her to just grab it and twist it. So she did and it popped right out. “It didn’t even hurt”, she said. So congratuations to Zoë for the lose of her first tooth. But this isn’t the end of the story.

With a lost tooth comes a visit from the Tooth Fairy. Pretty typical happening for a lot of families, right? Anna and I figured we’d sneak a dollar or two under her pillow when she fell asleep, but then that all changed when Zoë mentioned that her friend got a Webkinz AND $5 from the Tooth Fairy. Hmmm…Houston…we have a problem. I wasn’t about to go out and get her a Webkinz just because her friend, who is obviously spoiled by her parents, got one. It was time for Plan B. As luck had it, Anna had recently purchase a small book, a tube of lip-gloss, some fingernail polish, and some hair clips. Since we didn’t want to completely ruin Zoë’s idea of the Tooth Fairy, we decided these little gifts would be perfect for the “special” first tooth. (We made a point of explaining that the first tooth lost was the special one where you get a special gift.) So when Zoë awoke, she was quite pleased w/ her gift from the Tooth Fairy. It wasn’t a Webkinz, but then again, she loves books. Hopefully this doesn’t happen again the next time she loses a tooth. She’ll be sorely disappointed, because I don’t plan to make this the norm.

easter sunday 2009

3006_1090497436489_1648087894_244348_1584242_n It’s oddly strange to be celebrating Easter in our own home. Most years we travel to my sister’s house for the holiday. This year Cam had to server breakfast at church to help raise money for the summer mission trip, so we weren’t able to make it to my sister’s house. I was bummed at first, but then it dawned on me…this was our first holiday in our new home.

Anna and Cam got up early and made it to the church by 6:00 am to help serving breakfast. Zoe and I slept in until 6:30 am before we had to prepare for church. To Zoe’s surprise, the Easter Bunny had come and left a basket right outside her door.

3006_1090584838674_1648087894_244537_3879543_n Easter church service was excellent, as always. Of course we’ve only made it to Easter service twice in the last 8 years. Again, this is because we’re not here to go…we’re typically in Kansas. After the service, we sat at Cam’s table, where he served us breakfast. The eggs, pancakes, and sausage was very good, and the money we left in the basket will go to a good cause. Cam was doing an excellent job of serving in the name of the Lord. As much as he complained about having to get up early and serve breakfast, I think he actually enjoyed the experience.

After church, Zoe and I stopped by my favorite coffee shop (Roasters Coffee House) and had a quick cup of coffee. After wishing the manager a Happy Easter, we headed home to see if Anna was working hard on one of my favorite things about the holiday…Easter Dinner.

Anna was cooking up a storm when we got home. The menu was quite excellent. Spiral Ham (honey glazed), garlic baked mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, fresh rolls, carrots & celery, wine, and carrot cake for dessert. The house smelled wonderful.

As we gathered around the table to enjoy a wonderful meal, I turned on some light classical music (courtesy of Iowa Public Radio), and started the fireplace. We gave thanks to the Lord for a wonderful meal, and we enjoyed our first Easter dinner together in our new home. It was really nice.

The remainder of the day will be spent in a food coma, watching some TV with the family, and enjoying leftovers for supper. It’s very peaceful here today, and I’m making the most of it.

Happy Easter to you and your family.

– the UB

did you miss me?

Blogging is one of those things I could take or leave, and of late, I’ve been leaving it. I honestly didn’t intend to take the last month or so off from blogging, I just couldn’t find the time – and when I did have the time, I didn’t have the ambition. I think this largely had to do with my mood. Life can be hectic at times, and the last couple months have been exactly that.

At least things are coming to a sustainable pace. We’re in our new home, and only days away from throwing a housewarming party. That doesn’t mean we’re completely settled, it just means we’re as close as we’re going to be before Spring gets here.

Work has been a little stressful these past couple months as well. You may think that has more to do with the economy,  and to some degree I guess it does. Mostly it’s because I’ve been moved to a new team. There was an opening and I was asked if I’d be interested in moving positions. The only real issue is the transition period. Instead of making a clean break from one team to the other, I’ll be slowly transitioning over the next 6 months. So that means I’ll be on both teams in a 50/50 role. That also means trying to please two managers…sounds like the perfect storm, doesn’t it?

On the plus side, I’ve missed a few days of work due to a two week cold from hell. Why is it I always catch a cold this time of  year? I just can’t seem to catch a break…but I’m not complaining. Things are still good…

Other than these few busy, non-fun things, I’ve also had a few positive things to keep me busy. I just joined a new book club for software developers in the Cedar Rapids area. I look forward to learning a few new things because of this experience.

I’ve also had the chance to work on a couple of freelance projects. This of course means higher earnings (on the side), and who doesn’t like a little extra money.

So now that I’m out of excuses, I’ll see if I can find some additional time to blog about the family, and hopefully a few technology things. Check back and let me know if you want to hear anything specific.

– the UB

my wife’s beef pizziola

A request was made for my wife’s recipe of Beef Pizziola, and she has been kind enough to share with the world. This recipe is one that was handed down by her mother, Betty, and it’s one of my favorites. But then again, I’m a meat and potatoes kind of guy.

Beef Pizzaiola
The original recipe:

1 chuck roast, 2-3 lbs
Unseasoned meat tenderizer
1 14 oz can tomatoes
¾ tsp oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
¼ tsp salt
Dash pepper
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
8 oz Mozzarella cheese

Tenderize meat as suggested by manufacturer.

Cut meat into serving pieces then reassemble in the original shape in a shallow baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Try to use a dish that is a good fit for the meat (i.e. not too big).

Drain off half the juice from the tomatoes and reserve; break up tomatoes with a fork.

To tomatoes, add oregano, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Mix and pour over meat. Drizzle 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over all.

Bake in 350° oven uncovered for about 90 minutes or until tender. Look at meat occasionally, and add some of the reserved juice if the bottom of dish is getting dry.

When meat is tender, top with slices of mozzarella and bake for 15 minutes longer or until cheese is melted and golden.

Serve with mashed potatoes, and use tomato mixture as a sauce over the potatoes like you would gravy.

Anna’s changes:

Omit meat tenderizer and vegetable oil. Instead of baking in the oven, place meat and all other ingredients (except cheese) in crock pot. Cook on low for about 6 hours or until tender. Add cheese and cover, until melted.

I think I’ll make Anna’s recipes a regular post, maybe one a month. So if you’re looking for some good recipes, come back and I’ll see what I can do.

Happy Eating!

– the UB