Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Car Quandary

K will be getting his driver's license on April 5th (not like we're counting the days or anything). He has expressed a distinct dislike for driving a manual transmission car. (Another topic entirely. People, men in particular, should have in their list of skills the ability to drive a stick. But, whatever.)

We have two vehicles, a Tacoma truck (auto) and an Acura RSX (manual). K has been driving the truck whenever we insist that he practices driving. He does just fine, very well in fact, but it is not going to be practical to have that be his main source of transportation when he can drive solo. We're going to get him a sturdy, used car, most likely a 4-door Honda or Toyota sedan.

So that has made me think about trading the Acura in sometime this spring for something fun for me to drive. I have narrowed the list down to three cars, as you may have noticed by my sidebar poll. The options are: Volvo C30, Lexus IS 250 and the Mini Cooper S. I did not include the Porsche Cayman or 911, because I'm just not at the point where I wouldn't feel guilty about spending that much for a car (even though the Cayman can be had used for about half the cost of a 911--it's still a lot of money, and I was always feeling guilty about the Lexus 400h).

Here are my thoughts so far:

Volvo C30

Twihards may recognize this as Edward's car in Twilight. Well, I saw it first, so there! It's fun to drive, cute, has good gas mileage, is relatively inexpensive, very safe (it's a Volvo, after all), and there aren't 50 of them in the MD parking lot already.

Mini Cooper S

Well, what can I say? The Mini is adorable, fun to drive, has great resale value, I could buy a used one in good condition if I wanted to, and J would be ecstatic (but she can't drive a stick, either!). However, they are ubiquitous, and that's the main thing that puts me off about them. If I did get one, I would pick the non-metallic blue.

Lexus IS 250

This is a perfectly attractive sedan, and I loved my other Lexus. It would have both heated and cooled seats, probably room for all 5 of us, if we ever needed to travel all together and didn't want to use the truck. It comes in dark blue, which I think is quite nice. I think it would be fun to drive. However, the thing I worry about is that it would be sort-of "Mumsy", you know--mature, stolid. If we get another 4-door sedan for K to drive, we could always take that if we needed a sedan. As much as I love the luxuries in the Lexus, I'm not completely sure that I need to spend the $10K more than the Mini or Volvo.

Rowdy says, "You owe it to yourself to at least look at the Subaru Impreza WRX". Hmmm...I think that it's more that he would like one. They're used as rally cars. They come in the four-door model, and I'm sure that they're snappy to drive. But I don't like the scoupe on the front or the spoiler on the back. I'll have to test-drive one just to see what they're like. You never know, I might like it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Here In Utah...

We took our time driving up to Salt Lake, staying overnight in St. George. T, my FIL, works for a resort-management company, and he reserved a lovely condo for us just outside of town.

It was rainy, then snowy on the drive up to Salt Lake. Hooray for our truck! We were able to negotiate the different conditions without any trouble.

Tuesday night, we just hung around at T and L's house, playing with Beelzebrock (our new name for the littlest McLaughlin) and B-rad.

J and M came up from Lehi. M and some friends celebrated their last day of school before the break by wearing women's thongs over their pants. They made it through their first two classes before they had to take them off. I think that was pretty hilarious.

R and I took his sister, Tory, up to Brighton to snowboard. It was my best boarding day ever. I only fell off the lift once, and I even taught T and another random lady I rode up the lift with how to get off without falling. R got me to go up the Majestic lift with him. I had to stop several times on the way down the run because my quads were so tired. I need to stand up more and not keep my knees so bent, apparently.

And then last night, we watched the Poinsettia Bowl. Not that I'm that much of a Utes fan, but it was still good to see a Mountain West team clobber their opponent.

Today is opening presents with the kids in the morning, Jamie and Amy and their family arrive later today, and Molly and Craig and their kids should roll up about midnight. I'm going to try to stay away from all of the treats at T and L's house. Yesterday, I was not at all successful in doing that.

Merry Christmas to all! Hope your holidays are wonderful and filled with love.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Our Traditional Christmas Adwenture, Huzzah!

We're headed up to Utah today to spend Christmas with the Bricco clan. This is our year to have the kids for Christmas, and all of R's siblings will be at his parents' in Taylorsville. I have this week off, so we're getting on the road in just a few hours. We'll stop in St. George tonight, then continue up to SLC tomorrow. Our sweet friend, Amber, works in the hospitality industry and helped us out with a great deal on a hotel room for the week. With a total of four kids, their spouses and twelve grandkids (and one on the way), T and L's house would be bursting at the seams if we were all staying there.

When we go on long car trips, we like to listen to audio books. A few of our favorites have been: The Hobbit, Guests of the Ayatollah (about the Iran hostages), The Bin Ladens and The Devil Under the Microscope (the story of the discovery of penicillin). We also like to listen to old radio programs and the comedy channels on satellite radio.

The title of this post is from Blackadder's Christmas Carol. Here's a snippet of it, courtesy of YouTube. The quote in question comes at around the 4:40 mark.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I have been busy...

as I'm sure you all have. Here's a rundown of what I've been up to:

12/2--Attending the world premiere of "Think Global, Race Local". We were told to dress up, so we did. I wore an LBD from Target (about $20), a fabulous faux fir jacket from Forever 21 ($37.50) and jazzed it up with a fancy ring from FXXI ($5.90). Handsome date--priceless!

12/3--RS Christmas party
12/5--California Grappling Championships
12/6--church, tithing settlement, hanging with the Wildes and playing Rock Band for the first time. Meh. I'd rather learn how to play instruments for real.
12/7--My return to the ballet world. It had been 12 years since I last took class (actually, maybe longer), so I decided to go to "Absolute Beginners". Turns out, that class was combined with a beginner/intermediate class. It ended up being more like an advanced beginner level. I LOVED it, and I was able to keep up okay. It made me happy enough that
12/8--found me back in ballet class again. This was definitely more of an intermediate class. My mind knows what to do, but my body still needs some time to figure it out again. At the end of class, I told the teacher that I hadn't taken class for 12 years. He said, "Really? Wow! You did really well today. You're going to be sore tomorrow, though." Actually, I did need to ice my hip when I got home and took a vicodin before bed, but I didn't feel all that bad the next day.
12/9--Visiting Teaching! My companion, Lenora, and I got all of our visits done!!
12/10--Scouts meeting
12/11--work a normal workday, then 5p-7p shift, then 7p-7a
12/12--then it's straight to Advanced Cardiac Life Support class from 7:45 to 4:30, home, grocery shopping, taking a BLS course online, spending time with the fam, finally going to bed at 9:30 p.
12/13--finish ACLS, then home for a nap. Rowdy made his famous (in our house anyway) homemade chicken pot pie, and the missionaries came over for dinner.

Interspersed in that was lots of Christmas treat making. I've made Swedish shortbread cookies, gingersnaps, Heath bars and Swedish toffee to give as gifts. Rowdy has made some amazing smoked salmon and beef jerky.

Heath Bars

...or, as I've been calling it, "Christmas Crack".

AmyJo Jacobson, my dancing pal from South Carolina, taught me this easy and delicious recipe for homemade Heath bars. Since I can't see a really reasonable way to mail all y'all some, I'll give you the recipe here, and you can make your own. Not as fun as getting a care package, but still...


1 c. butter
1 c. light brown sugar
milk chocolate chips
nuts, such as sliced almonds, if desired

1) Preheat oven to 400F.
2) Line a jelly roll pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, then line the pan with saltines. Set aside.
3) In a small saucepan, combine the butter and brown sugar. Heat to boiling, and let boil for four minutes, stirring constantly.

4) Pour the toffee mixture over the saltines, and bake at 400 degrees for five minutes.

5) Cover the toffee and crackers with milk chocolate. Let melt for two minutes. Spread the melted chocolate over the toffee.

6) If desired, sprinkle chopped nuts over the chocolate. Touch the nuts into the chocolate.

7) Let the candy sit until the pan is cool-enough to place in the freezer. Freeze until set.
8) Break the toffee into irregular pieces, like peanut brittle.

9) Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Rowdy and Keiler competed in the California State Submission Grappling Championships last Saturday. Rowdy worked very hard to prepare, including losing 9 pounds in about a week. Keiler, on the other hand, was just there to have his first Brazilian jiujitsu competition experience. He's only been consistently taking class for four months, after all.

So, guess who brought home the gold? Yep--KRB! What a proud moment for all of us!

Sadly, Rowdy came up against a guy who happened to know how to expose and capitalize on his weaknesses. It was best 2-out-of-3, and R came up short this time. But, no matter! He won the silver all the same and learned some good lessons.

Looking relaxed beforehand

Discussing strategy

K and his instructor, Alex Brandao


The super-proud parents

And then he advanced to yellow belt the following Monday

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Shameless Promotion Division Here At Rad Life Plaza

My very lovely and talented younger sister, Karen, has written a beautiful Christmas song and recorded it with her group, Bobtown. Check it out here. Feel free to buy their album when it comes out. Buy several, so you can keep one and give the rest as gifts.

Ben McAdams, who many of you know, has announced his candidacy for the Utah State Senate seat vacated by Scott McCoy. He is intelligent, compassionate, dedicated, fair-minded and capable. District 2 will be very fortunate to have him as their senator. Senator McCoy's replacement will be decided by delegates, but when you have the opportunity to vote for Ben McAdams for public office (and I hope that we all will have that opportunity some day), he will be worthy of your support.

And finally, another of my New York friends, Evan Smith, has returned to the live music scene (apart from playing the organ in church). His band, OnSeven, performed tonight. I checked out their MySpace page and was really impressed.
My Rad Life!