Wednesday, July 29, 2009

61. Visit every park in Aurora

Tonight I had the girls while Melissa went out with friends from church. I took care of dinner, then went over to visit our neighbor Sharyn. I then thought it would be nice to go out for a jog. So, I strapped the girls into the stroller, put on my running shoes and headed out. There is a park that is about 3/4 of a mile away so I went out fast. (I know, not that far away, but the girls can't take too much in the stroller.) I headed over to Wilder Park. It is the front park just in front of the current Aurora Police Station. This is more of a grassy area than a park, but it was nice to walk around there. I found out that Wilder is the last name of the guy that donated a bunch of land to the city back in the 1800s. He build the first school and was a major businessman that helped to get the city of Aurora started. He was also a veteran from the War of 1812. Now that's the kind of information that I will really never need in my life! Here are a few pictures from the trip tonight:

Here the girls are in front of the Vietnam Memorial.

This is what Maddie's "Cheese" face looks like. You've gotta love it!

Wilder Park is absolutely nothing special, but it is a well kept park that serves as the front lawn of the Police station. 3 more parks to go. I'm hoping to get to all of them before the school year starts. 3 weeks left!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

22. Eat 5 new fruits or vegetables and learn how to prepare them

I finally got to try something I have been interested in trying for awhile, the prickly pear cactus. A couple years ago, my eye caught them and I wondered what you would do with them and how you would eat them. I have been interested in trying them, but never knew what I would do with them if I bought one and took it home. Well, the other day I stopped by a spanish grocery store and surveyed the produce section. I picked up something labeled "tunas". I had no idea what it was, but it looked like something I might want to try. When I got home, I looked up "tunas" under google and all that came up were misspellings for tuna fish. A few pages in, I found tunas under spanish foods. It was listed as a prickly pear cactus. How convenient.
I looked up how to prepare prickly pear cactus and came up with this. I followed the directions and came up with these photos.

The beginning supplies needed:

First step is to cut off the ends:

After cutting off the ends, you make a slit across the outside and then just roll off the peel. It was pretty easy to do.
Here is the fruit after removing the peel.
I cut up the fruit into four pieces to make it easier to eat. The little black flecks you see in the picture are seeds. The website said that they were edible.
This picture shows what was left when I was done eating. Yep three full slices and a majority of the fourth piece. I went into it thinking I would eat the seeds, but my mouth wouldn't let me swallow the seeds as they were all pretty hard. I would compare them to the hardness of apple seeds. Not very edible.
I have to say, I was a little disappointed with this fruit. I was expecting something better tasting. I know it is a cactus fruit, how much taste would you expect. This tasted like a cucumber. I am glad that I now know what these are and how they taste, but overall, I am pretty sure I won't be grabbing for one of these again. There are many other tastier options out there.
Two more fruits or veggies to try!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

22. Eat 5 new fruits or vegetables and learn how to prepare them

Today during my snack time, I decided it was time for me to try to figure out how to cut and eat a mango properly. I have tried it a couple of times before, but have had terrible results. All times before involved far too many juices covering my hands. I knew what I was doing was not the right thing, but I didn't really know what to do. I decided to go to the best place I knew to find out information on how to do stuff. I went to I searched "how to cut a mango properly" and came up with this link. After viewing it, I went and found a sharp knife and got to work.

Here's all I needed to complete this task. A cutting board would have worked just as well, but I needed the lip on the plate as there was quite a bit of juice.

Here's what it looked like after my first four slices. Two big slices and two smaller ones. It still seems to me that there is a lot of wasted fruit, but that is how everyone else does it. (after finishing, I explored the core and found that there really wasn't much lost, it just looks like a lot)

After slicing the fruit part away from the peel, this is what I have left. I was very happy with what I had left as it wasn't a huge mess. All previous attempts up to this point seemed to have more juice than fruit.
This was the final step. In previous attempts, I had mutilated the mango, this time it went just fine. There was a bit of extra juice, but I think for my first attempt with proper direction, I did pretty well.
I enjoyed it, but think that there are plenty of other fruits I would want to eat before the mango. Too much work for me.

8. Read a book about raising a godly daughter

I finally finished my book Raising Unselfish Children in a Self-Absorbed World. The book is by Jill Rigby. Melissa bought this book for me long ago as a birthday present. I have started and stopped reading it multiple times. So many times actually that in this last time, I started from the beginning as I had forgotten a lot of what it had said. Hopefully my memory will be much better after finishing the book.
It was a really good book. I told Melissa that she should read it now that I am done. It gives a ton of practical things to do while raising kids to show them that the world is not all about them. I really appreciated the stories that were in the book that shared how she, or other people she "knew", taught their kids to think of others rather than themselves. I think that is the ultimate goal I would want my kids to be at. Hopefully with what I have read, I can put it into practice.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

81. See all of the Oscar winning best picture movies from my lifetime (back to 1981)

I'm done!
This goal took me awhile to complete. It was definitely not one that could be done in a day. I have had plenty of posts so far: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
I just finished watching Silence of the Lambs. After watching for a few minutes, I realized I had watched it before, but I had to watch it as I have watched each movie including ones I had seen before.
While I know it generated a lot of controversy in the discussions so far on this blog, but the movie wasn't as bad as people made it out to be. It did have some pretty scary parts. I will admit, I wasn't totally excited about taking Sammy outside after the movie, but I wasn't as freaked out as I had expected.
I'm glad this goal is done. I saw a bunch of movies that I am happy I got to see, but there were definitely some that I could care less if I ever hear about again in my life.
Another goal down!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

22. Eat 5 new fruits or vegetables and learn how to prepare them

I made dinner tonight. I hadn't planned on it until today when I was at Jewel in the produce section and decided to look around to see if there was anything I should try out. I made it around to the portabella mushrooms and thought I would give them a try. I'm not sure if they qualify as a vegetable (probably not) but I think it fits close enough into this goal. I had never had them and thought it would be fun to put them on the grill and try out a Portabella Burger. I also grabbed some asparagus to throw on the grill. I rounded it out with some toasted bruschetta. I figured it was a complete meal. Check it out.
The bruschetta was good, the asparagus was good. The portabella mushroom burgers weren't so great. Melissa almost finished it, but with two bites left she said she was full. I on the other hand didn't make it that far. I did give them a fair shot, but I couldn't get over the weird texture. I've heard that they are very similar to eating real burgers, but anyone who has ever said that is totally wrong. It is nothing like that. It was a lot more chewy. I gave it a shot and now know how to properly oil and season a portabella mushroom. Here's my plate when I was done.
I gave it two tries. That was enough. At least now I can say that I've tried them.

Monday, July 13, 2009

44. Take Melissa somewhere fun overnight without the girls/45. Take Melissa to The Taste of Chicago

I did these two with Melissa a couple weeks back. As described earlier, I didn't have the extra time to blog in the past few weeks. Melissa did a write up on our trip, but I will share a few things I liked about the trip.
1. My Mom watched the girls for the night and there were no real problems.
2. We ate out a lot. While I don't like it a lot of times, I enjoy going out to fun places. Everywhere we went was new for me...too bad I already had that goal done.
3. I love staying in hotels. Melissa and Matt think it's stupid/crazy, but I love sitting in bed and watching TV. We don't have a TV in our bedroom so it is a special treat for me.
4. The Taste wasn't too busy, it made for a much more enjoyable time not having to push your way through hundreds of people to get your food.
5. We got to check out what Second City was all about. It was a fun time. The stage was super small. We talked about how crazy it was that so many famous people had been on that stage on their way to greatness.
6. We ate dinner at 10:15 after our Second City show. With kids that would never happen. We ate at Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. We had all been there before and knew it was so good that we needed to go back. It is basically like a pizza pot pie. It was/is delicious!
7. The hotel we stayed at had a pool. I haven't been swimming without kids in a long time. It was nice to be able to relax and just goof around in the pool and not worry about where the kids were. Yes, I did a bunch of canon balls!
8. The last thing I liked is that I think we found a new annual tradition that we want to keep in the coming years. What a good time!

Breakfast - I had stuffed french toast. It was delicious.
I had never seen the bean before this day. I had to convince everyone that I wasn't lying. The only times I had seen it is when people took pictures of their reflections on the bean, so I figured I needed to replicate that pose.
I love this picture for how awkward everyone looks. The funny thing is that they are posed, this isn't just a candid picture as they are getting ready.
I love watching TV in hotel rooms. And no, I didn't just watch the menu channel. I caught some ESPN and CNNs coverage of the Bernie Madoff trial. Talk about thrilling!
Look how empty the street is! I have only been to the taste one other time, and it was terribly busy there.
Here we are waiting for the show to start at Second City. It was a good time.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

72. Canoe to I-88 and back with Matt

Matt and I made it out on the river yesterday. I didn't think this one would happen after Matt's experience from our trip we made last month. The water was swift, but we made it. has the trip up the river at 1.86 miles, it felt far beyond that. I didn't bring my camera for the trip but there would have been a few good shots. The first good shot, us going backward any time we stopped paddling for more than four seconds. The second shot, me pulling the boat (and Matt) through some low spots where we were dragging on the river bottom. The third shot would be the crazy rapids created by the construction that is happening at I-88. We actually didn't officially make it to I-88, I think we made it to about 40 feet away, but the water was just a little too swift and rough to make it that close. It was close enough.
Matt, you can officially retire from canoeing. Thanks for doing this with me.

55. Go camping

It's been awhile. Matt has told me that a bunch of times. This isn't the first time it has happened in this blog's history. I've been busy. I'm going to try to see if I can get more posts up this week. We'll see.

I didn't really mention in my last post that I had gone camping. I think as I was doing it, that I didn't even realize that I was accomplishing it as I was doing it. On the canoe trip, we camped out three times. The first was on a walking trail just off the river. It was a rough night as we were pretty near a major road that had plenty of truck traffic.
Here's a picture of Mike cooking up breakfast at our first spot. One night down!

The second night was a little more adventurous as we thought we had a place, but they told us we couldn't stay there. So what did we do? We stayed there anyway. Luckily, it didn't bring up any problems and no one talked to us.

The last night was my most favorite as I got to go to Judson College/University for the night. They were incredibly hospitable there. We got showers, dinner, entertainment (television in the Commons building) and a safe place to sleep (campus safety told us where we could stay and were very willing to help with anything we may have needed.)Here's our spot at Judson. Nicely tucked between some bushes and right next to the creek.

I know, I reused pictures, and I am not in them, but it's what I've got.

While I know this wasn't the most typical camping trip, it was camping. Hopefully I can get out sometime to do the typical camping experience. You know, the kind where you cook hotdogs over the fire and roast smores. That time may come, but until then, this goal is done!