Greetings and welcome to Dinosaur Bear’s first post of 2019!
When we last left off I had just implored you to be a Lawrence for 2019 and that’s a recommendation that still stands. As for the real Lawrence, he is doing well.
And while Lawrence gets 2019 off to a good start, this post is going to jump back to the ancient time of 2018 to recap some holiday escapades in and around the Taco household. As is usual for us the first sign of the looming holiday season, even before the decorations, is the introduction of winter/holiday-themed beer sampler packs. This year was no exception.
So, with our “Snow Pack” beer box in hand (mostly mine, I cannot lie) we moved into the holidays. Another sign of the times was the influx of Christmas cards! Now, here it must be said that a sizeable portion of the cards weren’t actually for us but were instead for the Boys.
Yes, as if their popularity was even remotely in doubt the nearly continuous arrival of cards in their names removed any notion of that thought process.
In fairness the Dinosaur Bear mailbox/front door got really busy for all of us. The big reason for that is that since SB and I decided to stay home for the holidays we had a lot of glorious pressies coming in the mail! In a funny turn of events, pretty much the entirety of these pressies arrived over a 48 hour period leading to some funny conversations with the UPS driver. USPS for their part did a wonderful job of not delivering things on time and with the finesse that only USPS can muster. 😉
However, here it must be noted for the ages that Tristen’s birthday comes before Christmas – and while in years past his birthday has normally been punctuated by travel, this year it was all Tristen in his own domain. His sixth birthday got off to an especially dangerous start when we decided to let him have an energy drink.
It was, in hindsight, probably a mistake. A hyper Tristen is a crazy Tristen. As if the caffeine wasn’t enough, he had requested a “treat” for his birthday which is a fair request in and of itself. We had originally planned on making him a gingerbread cake, but we couldn’t find the proper ingredients for it. So we opted for a gingerbread cookie-cake. We normally make green-themed things for the dinos in the house (and pink for Valentino and “mud” for Pig) and since I didn’t need a whole tub of icing for the top of the cookie, I mixed some into the batter. As a result we had a cream cheese gingerbread cookie-cake!
While Tristen is pretty adamant about his birthday being distinct from the holidays, there is no doubting that he appreciates the blend of Tristen-centric and holiday-centric activities. One such example is our tradition of watching both It’s a Wonderful Life and The Polar Express around Christmas.
Though let’s not get too sentimental, Tristen still commands a lot of attention: be it “requests” (i.e. orders) for “manries” breakfasts:
These “Hatchin’ Grow Dino” eggs are reminiscent of the little foam dinosaurs you used to buy in capsule format, except a little bigger and more grand. They also take much longer to hatch and fully grow than did the pill-dinos of yesteryear. Fortunately we had plenty of time on our hands for (and experience with) dinosaur rearing. Needless to say Tristen took over as the lead hatching expert.
We’ll return to the dino egg in a bit, as it took it a few days to start busting out of its shell. While dino egg #1 was submerged, we went into full on Christmas mode. Our Christmases were tiered over the course of a few days, which is the usual for us despite the newfound remote factor. One of SB’s big gifts was a new blender/mixing system, which we promptly put to good use in making smoothies.
You might be thinking, “what, its just a nail on a piece of wood.” Well you would be wrong in more focused sense, but correct in that that is essentially what this is. However, it’s a bit more nuanced than that. This bottle opener does two things very well that other openers don’t do. First – it doesn’t bend the cap. This is generally a non-issue for people who don’t care, but if you’re like me and you collect unique beer caps, then a bent cap is a ruined cap. Yes, there are methods that use lighters and quarters and I know how to do both. Yet this is so much more easy. Second, as you can see in the above photo, there is a built in magnet that catches the cap and keeps it from flying off. Sure, it’s probably an over-engineered way of opening a beer (insofar as a nail on a board can be over-engineered) but I love it.
So, between the smoothies, the scotch, the beer, and SB’s new oil infuser:
Before we knew it it was Christmas day – and that’s when we had our own small family Christmas.
It was a good day full of warm (to us) weather and sunshine, and while I am still in the process of adjusting to the change in climate from my past residences, the plants were all big fans of the sunlight.
Frida (yes, named after that Frida) is an aloe plant that is going to live on SB’s desk at work – however she needed to be repotted first and now they are rearranging the office space so Frida is hanging out on top of our plant stand with Little Friend for the time being.
Anyways, back to Christmas day. The big highlight of the day was our Christmas dinner. It wasn’t anything super fancy and was very low effort, but it was scrumptious! The centerpiece of the meal was a vegan roast which I cooked with a coffee stout.
Later in the evening we popped open the first of our two bottles of sparkling wine (something which required me going to France before I realized how much I like it, lol).
Now, I’m just sure you were waiting with bated breath and unrestrained curiosity to find out what was happening with dino egg #1. Well, life was finding a way.
The thing is, once the dino is out of the shell the fun isn’t over yet! In fact it’s recommended that you return the dinosaur to the water so it can continue to grow even larger. So, after passing a Tristen inspection dino #1’s water was refreshed and then it was placed back into the pitcher.
Tristen and I went about putting the T-Rex puzzle together, a process which ended up with a completed T-Rex but a very sore thumb on the part of yours truly. Tristen celebrated the final product with a beer, which isn’t surprising given Tristen’s desire to celebrate nearly everything with a beer. 🙂
Beer – as always – provides a nice segue into the next bit of holiday season adventure: SB and I actually went out to eat! Yes, SB and I had not went out to eat a single time since we moved here four months ago. A big part of this has to do with finances, but we also are pretty content just staying in anymore. However, as a way of preemptively celebrating the New Year we had decided that we wanted to go out to eat. As such, Santa brought me a certificate to a brewery of my choice and I chose to invoke the certificate the Friday before New Year’s Eve. After perusing the local options I opted to try out Bosque Brewery because it’s right next to the university and I figured that the holidays might be a good time to try it given the fact that a large number of the students would be gone.
When we first got there we were a bit confused as the location has both a bar and a restaurant. We went to the listed location and found a fairly small and very crowded bar. We then realized that the restaurant was not one, not two, but three businesses down from the bar. Fortunately we decided to walk a bit further down (even though the suites were listed as being sequential) and spotted it – and I say fortunately because it was very good!
Since it was our first time there we opted for a 6-beer flight and it was definitely a good choice. Pigsten (as always) and Broli served as our personal beer attendants.
It was a super yummy dinner and the beer was really good as well. After some good food, good beer, and good chatting we decided to make our way back home because an early dinner was about the extent of our craziness. 😉
However, not to discount us too much, we did veer off course on the way home – mostly at the insistence of Valentino – and got a treat out rather than eat any of the myriad of sweets we had back home. We’d been wanting to try Caliche’s Frozen Custard for a bit now, so we went for it!
From there on out it was just the final push to the New Year. While 2018 was in its waning hours, dino #1 was experiencing a huge growth spurt.
It was about that time that we realized that dino #1 was nearing the maximum capacity of the pitcher. He’d bee horizontally crunched for a while, but now he was nearing the max water level of the pitcher as well. So we needed to ponder that one despite already having placed dino #1 into the largest container we had. Of course dino #1 probably wasn’t in a huge rush to get out the pitcher as it was also about that time that things got cold here – and I don’t mean “cold” in the sense of “oh it’s not 70 degrees in December anymore!” – but actually cold enough to snow.
Now, considering the amount of snow I’ve seen in the past I do have to say that this was very little snow (at least in the sense of accumulation, though we did get several hours of snowfall). That said, we did get accumulation that lasted for more than 5 minutes for the first time since we moved here.
The whole state had gotten a pretty big winter weather front and some of the more northern areas had gotten quite a bit of accumulation. For us the most substantial snowfall was (unsurprisingly) restricted to the mountains, but what a view that made!
Valentino was excited to go check out the mountains, though that probably has just as much to do with his tendency to collect snow in his satchel (and later store it in our freezer) as it did the wonderful views.
The good news about the cold snap (aside from the nice mountain views) was that it made it even easier to just hibernate indoors and enjoy our new pressies and sweets/snacks. One of the most exciting of such sweets was something that Santa brought SB and Pig – a box of Chakra-themed chocolates!
These are some super fancy chocolates that you almost (almost) feel too guilty to eat. They have ornate pictures of the 7 Chakras on the chocolate and the flavors are themed to match the meaning of each Chakra. SB and Pig decided that they would design a weekly yoga practice around each Chakra and treat themselves to the related chocolate! Sounds like a good and yummy plan.
In addition to the intriguing flavors (Lemon Thyme, Lavender Lemongrass, and Sage Marshmallow) these lollipops are “seed-bearing.” Not only do the lollipops have the flavor of listed plant (e.g. sage), they also have seeds for that plant embedded within the biodegradable sticks. So yes, you plant the lollipop stick (after eating the candy of course!) and it will grow into that plant. Seems really cool. So far we’ve eaten 2/3 of them and we are planning on trying to plant the sticks once the weather has warmed up. I’ll update in the future if it pans out. 😀
That takes us up to the very end of 2018. While this year only had a smattering of fireworks (especially in comparison to last year’s war zone) we did repeat the same lofty goal of staying in all night – notice the pattern. 😉
Our New Year’s Eve dinner consisted of some tamales which had been heartily recommended to us by one of SB’s coworkers as well as some stuffed poblano peppers (which turned out to be the hottest poblanos I’ve ever had – even more hot than some jalapenos [but nowhere near the whole habenero a dumber version of me once decided to eat]).
In fact, so full of capsaicin were these pappers that the oil basically created an invisible fog of death in the kitchen that had both SB and I gagging and sneezing. It was both funny and annoying at the same time. It was a weird thing as we’ve had poblano peppers several times since moving here, but this one was especially “feisty.” We ended having to open a door (despite it being literally freezing outside) and we lit a nice candle Meem got us to help counteract the tingly pepper smell.
The good news is that all that spiciness aside, the dinner was delicious! The spice level was a bit high for SB, but I thought both the tamales and the peppers were piquant once I stopped asphyxiating. For desert we had an angle food cake I had tried to make. Heavy, heavy emphasis on the word “tried.” Between not having an electric mixer, not having the right pan, not having a big enough pan, and not calculating in some altitude changes the result was less of an angel food cake and more of a “monster” cake. Coincidentally, that is exactly what we decided to call it!
Layered Green Monster (not Monsta) Cake.
Despite looking well.. not at all like angel food cake, it tasted.. mostly like angel food cake. While not exactly the same, we all agreed that it was good – and honestly is that not the point when you stuff yourself with sugar bread? 🙂 We paired it with Cool Whip and some super good strawberries we got from Sprouts.
Along with our dinner we went on a big Adventure Time marathon. SB and I have worked up to Season 7 and had just hit a pretty pivotal story arch called “Stakes” which spanned 8 episodes and we ended up watching all of them. After our Adventure Time marathon Tristen and I played Bloodborne for a bit, which is to say that Tristen and I died repeatedly in Bloodborne – though Tristen will argue that he died far less than I did.
Later, one once our tamales and peppers and monster cake had worn off we busted out the snack bar which consisted of buffalo cheese, sweet potato chips, olives, jalapeno hummus, and crackers. Oh and beer, always beer!
Now, this isn’t just arbitrarily eating 12 grapes – there is actually some history behind it. You make a wish for each of the 12 grapes (one for each month of the new year) and then you traditionally eat a grape with each chime of the New Year’s bell (which is honestly probably a bit slower than once per second, but we live in the digital age now, git gud). While SB and I had no town bell to listen for, we did make it super official and employed a stopwatch to ensure we conformed to protocol.
In order to make the challenge a bit more feasible, we planned our wishes for each grape in advance and then we race was on! Final result: Taco 12 out of 12, SB 8 out of 12. Not too shabby for our first time. As a personal thought, it starts off easy but then around grape 6 you realize that you have less than half the time left to consume 6 grapes. It’s certainly doable, but it’s not as laughably easy as you might think.
With a bunch of spicy food, monster cake, snacks, alcohol, and 12 grapes in our systems we retired 2018.
The next day – or rather the first day of 2019 – we were actually fairly productive. We took down the holiday decorations and not only did some apartment cleaning we also did quite a bit of downsizing (we generated more than an entire large box of stuff to donate). Part of the clearing out process involved taking down our holiday cards.
The one member of the Taco household that wasn’t very pleased was Little Friend. With the exception of last year he has been decorated every holiday season for the past decade. Having little ornaments is one of his favorite parts of the year. In fact, so excited was Little Friend that he even started to grow little arms to hold his ornaments better!
We were pretty excited about this, as ever since Little Friend’s partial corporeal death earlier in 2018 we weren’t sure if this new part of him was going to branch off or just grow straight up. For lots of reasons we were hoping he would branch, and sure enough just before Christmas he started to! Now, in our excitement we forgot how ornery Little Friend is. Turns out that Little Friend wasn’t growing the arms to hold the ornaments up, he was growing the arms to hold the ornaments forever. In fact, he grew one of his arms so much that I thought I was going to have to cut the ornament to get it off of him. Then the string partially cut into one of his arms and he did his pouty-sticky thing and it was a very typical Little Friend moment. While he can be frustrating we are glad to see him getting back to his old (albeit much smaller) self. 🙂
After the 1st life started to return to normal. Our cold weather snap has continued and we got an even more “substantial” (relatively speaking) bit of accumulation than we had had before.
So the cold continues and our heater has actually had to, you know, run – something which it hasn’t had to do much of so far. SB is back to work and I’m back to working on a case I joined, so routine is the name of the game once more.
Well.. almost. There is a little fellow starting to poke out into the big ole’ world:
As for dino #2’s older sibling dino #1? Fret not. After determining that the pitcher was getting too small for it I moved the dino to bigger “pastures” so to speak. By that I mean I put it in our large bathtub in the second bathroom so it can continue to grow. 😀
Happy New Year and thanks, as always, for reading the blog!
Until next time,