Tuesday, March 25, 2014

It's Official!

My medal!!

It's currently hanging from my quiver... Hopefully it will get some friends added to it in the future! 

Indoor competition season is over, unfortunately... So now I have to decide if I want to compete in outdoor as well. It would require getting different arrows and re-tuning my bow, but it's either that - or no competitions for quite some time. Although, that's not really a bad thing for me at the moment because I'm still working on my new technique and still struggling a bit. My scores are definitely not what they were... I think I'm going to focus on that before I worry about competition.

I am really looking forward to the next set of competition now that we know more... Next year, we will definitely be competing more. We are even thinking of either going to the competition in Vancouver or the one in Nimes. Nimes is higher on my WANT TO list, simply because neither of us have ever been to Europe. When we told our cousin-in-law from Paris that the tournament was in Nimes - all he said was, "GO." Plus, our 10-year anniversary is next year, so it's a good excuse to take an awesome trip. If we do go, we will take a couple weeks and spend a couple days in England, Paris, and Italy around the tournament.

But I'd be happy with Vancouver too... When we took the Alaska cruise for our honeymoon, we left out of Vancouver and it seemed like a really cool place. We've been wanting to go back there again anyway... We'll see.

FOR SURE we will be doing California State Indoor and Vegas again next year. And we are adding in Regional in Northern California and possibly Nationals (which I think is in Kentucky or Ohio or somewhere like that.......). And if we decide to do outdoor - there are TONS of different tournaments to add in all summer! 

For now, I'm still enjoying the fact that I actually placed in my first tournament ever! Even though it really means absolutely nothing in the real world..... It's pretty cool in mine. :-)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

2014 Vegas Shoot!


Back when registration first opened up for the Vegas Shoot, J and I both decided that we were crazy enough to have our first archery tournament be… oh, I don’t know… Just the BIGGEST archery tournament in the WORLD. Because – go big, or go home, right? So we signed up with no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

As the tournament got closer, I got more nervous and excited and kept trying to research what to expect. I looked at how my scores leading up to it would rank me compared to last year’s scores… We got the California State Indoor Championship under our belts a couple weeks before we left for Vegas, but I still keep saying that that one doesn't count as our first tournament because it felt like just another day shooting at our normal archery range. Plus – they still haven’t released the rankings, so it’s not going to seem real until I see where I placed.

Luckily we have family out that way, so we didn't have to deal with what we later found out were the most MISERABLE elevator lines imaginable. Just picture it – every two hours during the day there are around 200 archers trying to get downstairs to get ready for their shoot time or get back upstairs after they are done. I feel sorry for anyone staying at the hotel that had nothing to do with the tournament. Sure, it would have been nice to have a room to disappear to in the breaks between the two of us shooting to put our stuff away or to lay down for a minute, but it wasn’t too bad.

We went on Thursday to the South Point to check in to the tournament and get our bearings. J had the 7 am butt-crack-of-dawn shoot on Friday, so we wanted to make sure we knew where to zombie-shuffle to the next morning. We found where we would each be shooting on Friday and Saturday and then wandered the trade show for a bit.


Friday morning we got there EXTRA early because J wanted to try to get on the practice lanes to warm up – I did the same that day before my 1pm shoot time, but after seeing how long you have to wait in line and how you really only get about 3-4 ends in the span of 45 minutes (there are constantly people leaving and coming in, so every end there are people taking down or putting up targets and it takes FOREVER), we didn't bother trying to warm up (other than stretching - GOTTA stretch!) after the first day.

 J's group day 1 and 2

My group Day 1 and 2

We had decided beforehand that we wanted to get to our shooting areas early each day so that we could have first pick of target position – we felt that starting with your target in the high position would be better because then when you move it to the lower position half-way through and your arm is tired, you don’t have to raise the bow up as high… We over-think things. A lot. But we each got our targets where we wanted them each day. And neither of us shot the wrong target after we moved them like we saw a few others do…. (BIG oops – shooting the wrong target = miss = loss of the points you could have gotten if you had shot the correct target) So that was good.

We had a “cheering” section on Saturday when my family that is local came to watch. I warned them that it’s not a super action-packed sport to watch, but they braved it anyway. There were also people from our local range that were there either to shoot or just to watch that stopped in each day. We were all constantly popping in and out of the halls to watch each other shoot and constantly checking the on-line rankings to see each of our people’s current standings.


We found out around 11pm Saturday night what our shooting times were going to be in the morning which SUCKED because I scored that horrible 7am shooting time. I told J on the way to the hotel in the morning that it was kind of a good thing because I was just too tired to care about being nervous. I shot my best round that day, so I was happy with it – it was closer to what my usual scores are. (I was having an off week… I don’t know if it was jitters or what, but I was pretty grumpy about how I was shooting all week) I shot a 285 (out of 300 possible points each day) Friday, 286 Saturday, and a 290 on Sunday which put me 19th out of 38 in my flight. No money, but I wasn't expecting to win anyway. I was actually pretty pleased with it because I moved up from pretty much LAST in my flight when they aligned them to the middle. And I was better than about 400 other people in my division, so not too shabby…

 You can't see how tired I am right now...

J got a 271 Friday, 256 Saturday, and 254 Sunday. He ended up 20th out of 35 in his flight. He had been having a hard time shooting lately, so he was happy for the experience and to not finish last.

Now I am working on basically completely relearning how to shoot because I picked up a couple new releases for my bow that are more traditional target releases. I learned with a wrist release and I was the only person I saw in my division still using one. But I knew that it would take a good chunk of time to learn a completely new technique and I knew I didn't have that kind of time before Vegas. And I really wanted to wait until I could go to the trade show and actually hold them in my hand to see which ones fit me best. I ended up going with a Stanislawsky release because it felt good in my hand and they had a blank bale set up where you could bring your bow and actually try out the release.

It hasn't come in yet because it was back-ordered, but I just got the e-mail yesterday that it shipped!! Plus, I had bought a different style one from another company that is meant to be used purely as a training aide and I have been using that since I got back. I was SHOCKED by how sore my arms and back are after using it – it’s a different set of muscles than I was using before. And I’m also a little embarrassed at how terribly I am shooting. I've gotten a LOT better already – the first day was ridiculous. I kept flinching because I had no idea when it was going to go off (which is actually a good thing…). J and I were cracking up after one particularly embarrassing shot where I not only flinched away – I also scrunched my eyes closed and cringed away from the bow… Not an ideal shooting technique…

Basically… We both shot with really cool people each day and had a really good time. It was an AWESOME experience. We came home with a much better understanding of what to expect at tournament, some new equipment, and very sore muscles… Now we are looking into several other tournaments around the country coming up, but we might be a little too late to get in them this year… We are also definitely thinking about going to a tournament in Vancouver next year! No matter what, we will DEFINITELY be going back to Vegas!!

Maybe we'll even be shooting in here with the championship division sometime.... :-)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Getting Out of My Own Way

Ever since I got my new bow – I have been shooting better than ever before. I have begun breaking horrible habits that I had never even come close to figuring out how to break in the past year of shooting…

Things like grabbing my bow – I am NOTORIOUSLY bad about this. No matter how many times I internally yell at my hand to stop grabbing the bow after a shot, I still would. EVERY TIME. Last Saturday I finally figured out what it felt like to let the bow fall. Not that it can fall on the ground – I have a finger sling that stops that from possibly happening, but you don’t want to do anything to the bow that could mess with the natural motion of the shot… And I just couldn’t get my brain to be ok with that. Until now… I still catch myself doing it occasionally, but I’m getting better…

Or “punching the trigger” on my release… You want a smooth, steady amount of pressure in order to have a smooth, steady shot… And I had a lot of trouble getting my brain to connect with my right hand (I blame it on being a lefty… me and my right hand don’t usually have to coordinate on many things...) in order to get that smooth motion. But now I am finally getting more smooth shots than not.

And it has increased my scores to levels of AWESOME that I thought I would never see... I keep waiting for the wheels to fall off, but they haven't! I’ve gotten more perfect triple bulls-eyes in the past two weeks than I did in the past year! I’ve been working on my mental game to break down the bad habits – I know my body knows how to make a good shot… I just have to trust it!

So I’ve been analyzing the breakdown of what is going on during a “good” shot and what is going on during a “bad” shot…

**Side note: I have those in quotes because I’m trying to break the habit of seeing it as “good” or “bad” and instead just seeing it as what it is – a shot. An opportunity to get a bulls-eye or not. Does it matter if I get a bulls-eye? Nope. Not really. I’m here for fun. Yes, I want to improve and that’s why I keep practicing and trying to do better, but it doesn’t REALLY matter. It’s not going to change anyone’s opinion about me as a person, so why should I let it change my opinion about me? If that even makes sense… Anyway…**

It’s kinda hard to really explain, but a “bad” shot is generally full of mental arguing, self-doubt, and name-calling. We are always our worst bullies… I would never tell someone they are an idiot for doing something simple wrong during a shot, but I’ve told myself that a million times. There’s a lot of fighting myself when I know that the shot just does not feel right and I should really just let down and start over, but my brain just keeps saying “Nah, I got this. Fight through it.” But those shots never turn out well… They just feel awkward and you end up frustrated and discouraged… Plus, there’s a much bigger chance that you are going to hit yourself with the string because your form is off. Which HURTS – btw.

Now a “good” shot? I love those. Those are the ones where you are calm and detached. Your body goes through the motions smoothly – nothing is forced. I told J the other day that a good shot feels incredibly graceful to me. He disagrees – his best shots feel the least graceful to him. There’s really no right answer (seriously – it doesn’t matter that he’s been struggling lately and isn’t shooting as well), everyone has to find their own, unique groove for it. But for me it feels beautiful. The positioning, the draw, the breathing… Smooth, controlled… Peaceful. And there is no mental arguing – no bullying.

In fact, I tell people all the time that they wouldn’t believe the stupid crap going through my mind when I’m shooting well. Yeah, I go through my mental checklist of what needs to be happening, but that’s secondary to my insane random chatter. Like the other day – for reasons I can’t even begin to explain – I kept thinking, “If Anne Hath-a-will, Anne Hathaway” and then giggling hysterically in my head. If I need to distract myself, I’ll start spelling state names… Or humming songs in my head with the wrong lyrics that make me laugh…It’s all about getting your brain out of the way and just letting your body do what it knows how to do.

With these break-throughs lately, I feel so much more prepared for the tournaments that I have coming up. My first one is tomorrow – it’s the California State Indoor Championships. Throughout January each archery range in California has had available times to shoot and then all the scores will be compiled to determine who the winners are. I’ve decided that I’m just going to look at it as just another Saturday at my usual archery range. I’m not going to get too fixated on the score or else my brain will start trying to take over. But between me and you? I have a REAL chance of getting a medal. Like, for real real. And I still think it would be awesome if I could get a new State Record – the one now for my division was set back in 1996. It’s about time someone beat it! But that’s a BIG-TIME stretch… I would have to have an almost perfect round, which I have not yet done… But who knows? It could happen…

And then we go to Vegas next month… I was looking at last year’s scores and if I can get myself into the right group – there’s a chance I could actually win some money! That is CRAZY-PANTS!! I just have to keep my mind in the right place and go through it one shot at a time!
  

And with her – I FEEL like a pro…

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Do I Look Happy? I Feel Like I Look Happy....

MY NEW BOW IS HERE!!! AND I HAVE BEEN RIDICULOUSLY ALL-CAPS EXCITED SINCE I FIRST HELD IT!

Look how pretty it is!!! LOOOOOOOOOK!!!!!!

MY PRECIOUS!!!!!!!

Sidenote: No idea who that kind lady in the background is, so she is now a smiley... MARVEL AT MY AMAZING PHOTO EDITING SKILLS!!

We didn't think that there was a chance of it getting here in time for the tournament coming up in February, but HERE IT IS!!! I am SO excited!! I feel so professional now! 

I'm going to be spending a lot of time at the archery range so that I can be sure to get her broken in and get to know her.

Someone asked me how I know it's a her.... Simple - she's way too pretty to be a dude.

I think her name may be Scarlett....  

For the curious: It's a 2014 Hoyt Pro Comp Elite in Red Fusion. It's also love at first sight. Sigh...... :-)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Randoms – The Wifening Update, Photo Shoot, General Geekiness, and Other Randomness


UPDATES!

- The Wifening continues.... Kinda. I did make dinner again the second week This time it was Spicy Sausage Pasta.

I found the recipe for it here.

I used Aidell’s Cajun Andouille sausage for mine. I thought it was yummy. I even ate leftovers of it the next night! GASP! (Seriously – GASP! I don’t eat leftovers.... Except Chinese food, pizza, and the chicken parm from the Italian place that we go to) J thought it was “Okay.” Whatever.

And then life got busy. And I haven’t made dinner since... Unless you count ordering pizza online from the new place across the street – which I totally do.

- Remember when I was ridiculously excited about something? Well, I’m still not entirely sure how much I’m really allowed to say about it, so just quick... I got to go to Philly to be in a Nutrisystem photo shoot!! Here’s one of my cell phone pictures of the main outfit they used.

 Except the shoes – they changed those...

It was super awesome and I got to make a bunch of new friends that are also big “losers” there to have their “After” shots taken. I have no idea when or where the pictures will start to show up. People from my group have already shown up in commercials and in magazine ads. Can’t wait to see myself in the ads!!

- My dear old laptop bit the dust. It was a hard little worker, but it was already way past its prime. I was already kind of looking out for good deals, but I just couldn’t justify it as long as the old one was still kickin’. So I had to go get a new one... And since the HUGE one was on sale for $50 less than the smaller one.... Obviously. 


She starts in the corner and progressively gets closer over time... DON’T BLINK.

- Unfortunately this put a dent in my “new bow fund” for archery... So I’m stuck with my little bow for a while longer. Don’t get me wrong – my little Craze has been a great bow. And I’m pretty good with it, if I do say so myself. And I do. 


Three out of three rats would.... Agree? Disagree?

Rat Kebab!

- My office went to an Angel’s game the other day... As much as I hate baseball, it’s better than sitting in the office!



- I finally ordered myself an Adipose stress doll. If you aren’t a Doctor Who watcher, this means nothing to you... If you are like me and LOVE Doctor Who, this definitely means more. The Adipose are little creatures made up of fat and I think they are just too cute. And when I saw that they made a stress doll version of them, I just knew that it would be most like what I imagine they would feel like. I was soooo right. It’s exactly what I picture when I see them on the show... And it’s so ridiculously adorable. I honestly want to take it with me everywhere, but I don’t want anyone else to touch it.


It needs me to protect it! It’s just a baby!

I don’t even have to squeeze it to get the stress relief from it... I just have to snuggle it. And I do.

- And I will definitely enjoy snuggling it in my NEW BLANKET!! (Sorry... People from my office went to a filming of Price is Right and Bob Barker’s voice keeps playing in my head... Even though he hasn’t been on the show in YEARS...) My friend’s mum makes these super awesome blankets and I’ve always had a major green-eyed-monster desire for one. And now I have one!! Totally by surprise!! And it’s so perfectly ME. The reds and blacks.... The soft fuzziness of the back... I just love it!


ALL MINE!!!!

- We were playing cards at our friends’ house last weekend and I think their dog MAY have been taking a nap around here somewhere.......


Has anyone seen Cowboy anywhere?

- Even though I haven’t been cooking, I’ve been doing a lot of baking lately. I’ve been making my favorite cookies of all time – recipe here. I like to play with the base recipe to make other flavors... Like I’ve use Heath toffee bits instead and that’s delicious. I revisited the rolo-stuffed cookie that was a total disaster at Christmas time using this dough (minus the m’s) and was actually successful this time around! I still want to try more variations...
 To be honest, I actually use slightly less chocolate chips and mini m’s than it calls for... I know it sounds INSANE, but the first time I made them there was just a little bit too much STUFF in them....

I made these mascarpone cookies, but no one was really impressed with my attempt at making them taste like tiramisu, so I’ll just stick with the original from now on...

We’ve made scones... And plan on making them again soon – I’m thinking chocolate raspberry. Or maybe caramel... Oooh! Or chocolate toffee.... SOO many options......
 These were blueberry. They went FAST.

And I made cupcakes for archery league. In fact, most of my baked goods end up at the archery range. It’s my way of being able to bake without having the goods in my house tempting me...


One lonely little cupcake left... 

They all had my favorite marshmallow buttercream on them. There were chocolate ones too, but those went FAST. With very good reason - they were PHENOMENAL. I will be using this chocolate cupcake recipe for a LONG time. Drooling just thinking about it......

- I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to be for Halloween, but I really have NO idea... At least not anything that would be quick and easy. And I just don’t know how to top last year... 

 Being all of the Avengers at once was pretty awesome....

I’ll have to keep thinking... Someone in my department thinks we should all go as different color crayons... Could work...

So, there we are... Should be pretty much caught up. For now...

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Wifening – Part The Second



Reporting in on The Wifening... I made dinner. Just like a real grown up. And I handled raw chicken and everything... And no one got salmonella! 

I call that a success!

I decided to make a twist between a recipe that we already love (that’s not really a recipe at all) and a recipe that I found on-line (I think it was on food.com). For the part we already love: simply take however many boneless skinless chicken breasts you need to feed who you are feeding, put it in a Ziploc bag with a crap-ton (real measurement) of sweet-hot mustard (or whatever mustard you happen to enjoy), and let it soak in that overnight. J would normally just cook this up in a pan the next day and it is ridiculously simple and delicious. Something about that sweet and spicy mustard coating the chicken is just magical.

But I had to make it different. Because I wanted to make it mine. SO... For the twist: Take it out of the mustard and coat it in a mixture of panko bread crumbs and fresh shredded parmesan cheese (slightly more panko than cheese). Then put it on a rack on a foil-covered tray (I improvised this and used the roasting tray out of our turkey pan on a cookie sheet) that has been sprayed with olive oil (or other oil...) and bake it at 450 degrees for about 20-ish minutes. Maybe more, maybe less depending on the size of your chickens. There were two random chicken strips in our pack of chicken, so I made those too. I just put them in the oven about 7 minutes or so into cooking the rest of the chicken so that they wouldn't be overdone.

For a side – because I had to make sure there was a veggie too... I made carrots with garlic and shallots. This is something that we have regularly because it’s simple and yummy. Basically peel and chop your carrots, par boil them for about a minute, dump out the water and set them to the side. Chop up about 2 cloves of garlic and 2-3 shallots (TOTALLY depends on how much you like...), throw them in a pan with some olive oil and let that cook up until the shallots start to get pale. Toss in the carrots and make sure it’s all mixed together. I also added some spicy Japanese seasoning that we love at this point... Then shove the pan in the oven for about 10 minutes. Normally J would have it at 350, but since the chicken was already in there at 450, it went in at that... It's pretty forgiving. Just keep an eye on it – you want the shallots to get crispy, but not burnt. I sorta failed on the crispiness because I was overly concerned with the non-burntness... But they still tasted good... I just really love when the shallots are super crispy...

So there you go... My easy dinner.



It’s not super pretty (well, the chicken actually is quite nice looking – the carrots aren’t lookers, but they sure are yummy), but it’s still dinner. And fairly healthy. And I thought it was delicious. J said he didn’t love the parmesan with the mustard, so if I make it again I will probably leave it out. I actually liked the flavors together, but I’m not gonna lose sleep over taking it out...

It wasn’t nearly as difficult as I had built it up to be in my mind and I’m slightly less worried about cooking chicken now. I thought it was going to be super dry, but it was delicious and moist.

My big problem is that I love baking, but I don’t like cooking. And the biggest irritation for me with cooking is that there aren’t really any exacts. Not with measurements or times or anything! There are too many variables... And I never liked that. Baking is so specific and orderly.... Cooking feels like just slappin’ some stuff together, cooking it “until it’s done,” and hoping it’s good. J loves that kind of thing – he can walk into the kitchen with no idea what he wants to make and come out with something incredible like pomegranate duck or salmon with a plum-chile glaze. I have to have a game plan.

But I’m going to keep doing this – I already picked out what I’m making this week. For the time being, I’m going to go into each week with my meal picked out so that I at least know WHAT I’m making. I’ll work up to the grabbing of random things and making a dinner out of them eventually... And I’ll keep enjoying watching J have to do the dishes for a change on the nights I cook... haha

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Wifening


What? It can be a word if I want it to be one...

Welcome to my little experiment. I realized one night after making dinner for J (stuffed peppers – YUM!) and being overly proud of myself that it was the first time I had ever made a real dinner for the poor guy! In just over 8 years of marriage... Ooops.

I mean, I had made things that I wanted before and just happened to make enough for him... The problem is that I tend to want to eat like a 5 year old a lot and that’s not his cuppa tea. Like when I made him tamale casserole – a dish that I grew up on and love to this day. He took about two bites and then made himself something else if I remember correctly - I know he did NOT like it. Or when I made him crescent dogs! What a delicious night that was!

**To my credit, I had tried to make him my mom’s lasagna once, but he kept taking over, so I abandoned the kitchen and played games on my Nintendo DS on the couch while he made dinner. And I have since made lasagna without him home, so he COULDN’T take over. AND I do all the laundry... So there’s that...**

I don’t know what it is... I just don’t have the “wife” gene. It must have skipped me somehow. I hate cooking. I REALLY hate cleaning... I think part of me feels like – “I’m at work all day, then I go to the gym after work, and the last thing I want to do when I get home is cook dinner! If we want a housewife in this house, I’m gonna have to start doin’ a whole lot less of this ‘goin’ to work’ nonsense.” Which is unfair of me. I know this... He works too – farther from home and longer hours to be quite honest, but still... He actually LIKES to cook. And is really good at it!

He makes BEAUTIFUL dinners! Out of things that seem completely random to me. He just knows what will taste good together just BECAUSE. He does kitchen sorcery like “cracking an egg open with one hand” or “flipping things in a pan instead of stirring”.... Things that would leave me with a handful of crushed egg or a wall covered in food... And he always has everything finished cooking at the same time – and everything is perfectly timed and wonderful. I try to think of doing that and snort-laugh. A lot.

I can’t look in the fridge and go, “Hey, there’s a pork tenderloin. I’m gonna make.......” Because that’s literally where my brain shuts off. Seriously... I couldn’t even make up an example to use here! My brain had a panic attack and ran away to look at recipes for cupcakes and cookies.

Because that’s what I enjoy. I love baking. I could make some sort of bread, cookie, cake, cupcake, sweet... every day of the week. I have recipes that I know by heart because they are my standards. A thing that is definitely NOT true about COOKING. I don’t know any recipe by heart and I certainly don’t have anything that would just pop into my head to create!

I WANT to be a better cook... Kind of... Ok, not really... But I feel like I SHOULD want to be a better cook... Because grown-ups know how to make something for dinner other than a tuna sandwich... So I’m determined to change some things around my house.

I will arm myself with a stock of recipes that I feel fairly confident I would be able to make and I will start trying to cook dinner. And I will try to be better about straightening up... And maybe vacuuming more than biannually (seriously not that much of an exaggeration). I’m not putting any kind of “numbers” or “times” on this – not for real real. I’ll just say.....

I am going to cook dinner one night next week!

GULP!

I will pick something that seems easy enough to make and I WILL make it! I will pick it before our weekly shopping trip so that I can buy whatever I need to make it and can’t make excuses about not having the ingredients! I will not curl up in the corner at the thought of touching raw chicken! The meal will be well-rounded and include protein, veggies, and a carb of some sort!

And if it comes out dry and disgusting, I will try again next week!

I’ll let ya know how it goes... J may decide that he doesn't REALLY wish I could cook like he thinks he does and will resume all cooking duties... We'll see. Maybe I'm gonna be a naturally awesome chef - I just haven't made an honest enough attempt at recognizing my full potential yet.... 

Yeah.. See? There's that snort-laugh again......

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