One of the first things that people do before starting on their 60-mile walk at the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure is dedicate their walk to friends and loved ones who have fought breast cancer, in the form of little handwritten notes.

Soccer, Don't Stop!

3Po's and Jammy's soccer league season ended last weekend, and there's more than a vacancy in our Monday, Wednesday and Saturday schedules -- there's a a hole in our heart. Okay, that's overdramatizing, but 3Po and Jammy are really are going to miss those practices and games. The soccer bug has bitten them hard, and they're really sad about not being part of a team any more. Getting a shiny trophy and a snazzy pin at the last game (which, to add insult to injury, was canceled due to the rain) was small consolation for the prospect of being deprived of soccer games throughout the winter.

The Signing of the Cards

Despite my addiction to email and Yahoo! Instant Messenger, I'm still a big fan of the handwritten note. There's a time and a place for instant communication to convey ideas and information, and there's a time and a place for the personal touch and the extra time and effort it takes to convey gratitude, delight and other emotions. Whenever my kids receive presents for their birthdays or the holidays, I ask them to write thank-you cards. Virtual thank-you cards or emails or even pre-printed cards with fill-in-the-blank spaces for the giver, gift and recipient won't cut it. Now that they can write, I expect my kids to write a brief note of thanks and appreciation.

The same applies to holiday cards.

Not your ordinary barbershop..

I took this photo somewhere in San Francisco; the reason I'm not exactly sure where is that I was delirious with pain, having walked about 50 miles over the past 3 days in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure, with 10 miles still left to go.

But I digress. The fact is, this sign pierced the fog of pain and exhaustion that surrounded me and totally made my day (okay, finishing a 60-mile walk totally made my day, but this was icing on the cake). Any English person -- or anyone who has watched Austin Powers -- knows that one does not name an establishment "Shag Salon" and trumpet that name out to the whole neighborhood, and expect respectable people to patronize them. Or perhaps they did it deliberately, in the hopes that curious people would visit, hoping to find more than the usual haircut and blow dry? As they say, a man only needs 3 things to be happy: a shit, a shave and a shag.......

My apologies for the blurriness.... that says "... eggplant with Galic Sauce". Now, is that supposed to be a pronunciation guide? Maybe the owner is actually Bostonian and thinks everyone should say "Garlic" the way she does: "Gahhh-lic".


With berries this juicy and sweet, it's a wonder any of them make it into the berry-picking bucket!

This photo was inspired by the Photo Hunt theme of the week. Feel free to leave links to your own Photo Hunt entries below. And for more juiciness, click here.

Making a recipe your own: Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Two weeks ago -- on Halloween, to be precise -- we took the kids to the Oakland Zoo for their Boo at the Zoo event. Despite the crowds, we enjoyed all the zoo's special activities, like scavenger hunts, trick-or-treating, free train rides, costume parades, Zhu Zhu Pets, hairy-scary spiders.... and the best pumpkin soup we've ever tasted. I've slurped my way through many a bowl of pumpkin soup before, but this was the first one I've had that tastes like it belongs in an Indian restaurant. It had a hint of curry, turmeric and nutmeg, and it was delicious! It was just begging to be eaten with a chunk of hot nan bread. It was nothing at all like the typical things you'd find in a zoo cafe -- hotdogs, burgers and the like -- and it was delicious! We were bitterly disappointed to find out that the zoo only serves it for Halloween, and I was too shy to ask if I could have a copy of the recipe. We resigned ourselves to feasting on the memory of that lovely soup until we could come back next Halloween.

13.1 Reasons I enjoyed the Big Sur Half Marathon

About 30 minutes after I finished the Big Sur Half-Marathon yesterday, I received a tweet asking me if I had fun. Fun? I had a difficult final third -- my heel, knee and legs were hurting for the last 4 miles -- so Fun was the last thing on my mind at that moment. But after taking a deep breath and sipping a nice cup of hot soup at the post-race event, I was able to recall quite a few moments of pure enjoyment. The last time I ran a half-marathon I was able to look back and list 13.1 reasons I enjoyed the event. Three years later, I'm doing it again:

1 - I got to run beside the Pacific Ocean. There's nothing like seeing blue ocean and white waves crashing on the rocks to take your mind off how much farther you have to go.

2 - I got to run in absolutely perfect running conditions -- cool, sunny, not a trace of fog or headwind.

3 - Heck, I got to run! I haven't been running regularly for the past two years because of my plantar fascitis, so I figured I would have to walk most of the way (my "in your dreams" wish was to run half of it). But my heel didn't let me down, and the beautiful scenery, crowd energy, and my family being there to cheer me on just gave me the willpower to keep running. Of course, today I feel like I've been thrown from the Empire State Building, but that's another story.

4 - I feel good about participating in an event that donates all proceeds to a great cause: JUST RUN, a free program designed to assist schools and other youth organizations by providing vital youth fitness programs that promote fitness and healthy lifestyles. With 30% of this country's youth classified as obese, we need more programs that encourage physical activity and healthy eating habits.

5 - We got to discover the pleasures of downtown Monterey. The only places we ever go to in Monterey are the Aquarium, Cannery Row, and Fisherman's Wharf. Who knew there was a whole collection of streets with charming shops and cafes nearby? Thanks to this race, we do.

6 - My kids got to taste oysters for the first time (and one of them even liked it).

7 - Alfie has been searching for a stretch of road where I can film him riding his beloved Triumph Bonneville, before he sells it. I think I've found the perfect place.

8 - The course loops back on itself, so as I was heading to the halfway point, I got to see some of the fastest runners in the country sprinting away on their last 2 or 3 miles. Amazing!

I even got to take a photo with one of them:

9 - I got to run past Alfie and the kids (the course ran right in front of our hotel), give them high-fives and revel in their proud smiles and encouraging cheers (I also got to throw my jacket to Alfie so I wouldn't have to tie it around my waist and have it irritate me for the next 10 miles).

10 - I got to high-five them again as they cheered me from the sidelines, 3 seconds before crossing the finish line.

11 - After the race, I scarfed down an In-And-Out Cheeseburger, Animal Fries and chocolate milkshake -- and Alfie didn't bat an eyelash.

12 - I've finished 3 half-marathons and run two of them -- which makes me a half-marathon veteran. Sort of.

13 - My time -- 2:32:09 -- is only 10 minutes slower than my last half-marathon time 3 years ago. I said back then that I wasn't expecting to finish below 3 hours, but I really wasn't expecting to this time around. In fact, I was scared they'd have to put me in a van and drive me to the finish line!

0.1 - Did I mention that Tiffany necklace? Oh, drat, that was last time. Unlike my Nike Half-Marathon finisher's medal, I won't be wearing this one out on a date anytime soon. But I'm so grateful to have earned it, I don't care. I'm just happy it's mine.

When Typos Go Bad: What's on the Menu?

My apologies for the blurriness.... that says "... eggplant with Galic Sauce". Now, is that supposed to be a pronunciation guide? Maybe the owner is actually Bostonian and thinks everyone should say "Garlic" the way she does: "Gahhh-lic".

I'm sorry, but when businesses are this careless with their printed materials, they deserve to be made fun of. Even manually scratching out the offending typo and hand-writing the correct word would have been better; it shows that even though they may be cheap, they're not stupid.

3D? Not for me.

With the kids out of school today, I thought it would be nice for them to do something other than draw on the floor beside me while I blogged the day away. We've got season passes to Gilroy Gardens expiring at the end of the month, but I was too lazy to make the 2-hour round trip drive, so I took them to see Megamind instead. They really wanted to see the movie, so they forgave me for reneging on my promise to take them to Gilroy Gardens one last time, and we all had a good time. The movie was fun, our seats were great, the popcorn was buttery, the candy was free (taken from the kids' Halloween stash) -- what more could you ask for?

Looking Back on 31 Days of Pink

October has come and gone, and I'm proud to say that I really and truly turned my world pink for 31 days in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month. On October 1, 2 and 3 I walked 60 miles as Energizer's Keep Going Blogger in the San Francisco Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. I blogged about products and companies that support breast cancer research on my review blog. And I wore pink every day in October in an effort to raise awareness for this terrible disease. Here are a few of my pinkest moments from last week: