Busy holiday

What a whirlwind of a weekend. It was definitely too short, especially since this is my first work holiday since going back to work. How long has it been? Only two months? It feels like ages ago.

We took our first family vacation over the weekend. It was intended to see family, my mom and brother and his family. That part was nice, but we were able to squeeze in some sightseeing while in Seattle. The weather couldn’t be more pleasant. It was nice and sunny and just cool enough that a hoodie would do. I wish we had more time, but I’m sure we will visit again soon. My mom loved seeing E, and couldn’t believe how big she’s gotten. She kept commenting about how chubby her cheeks are. They are quite squeezable.

She was an amazing baby during our flights to and from Washington. Luckily we had window seats on both legs so I was able to nurse during both takeoffs and landing. She did get a bit fussy for no more than ten minutes at the beginning and e d, but only because she was super sleepy. I hate early ,or my flights, but for a short trip, I wanted to maximize our time at the destinations. Anyway, she slept through most of the flights which was great. The only part that was embarrassing was her gas. Boy was she gassy. I hope it was confined to just our row because it stank! Poor baby hadn’t had a bowel movement since Thursday. She finally pood this morning. 20120529-213258.jpg

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Anyway, to recap, we got there Friday morning, grabbed our car rental, and made our way to my brothers house. It’s nice staying at a place for free! My mom was about to head out to a doctors appointment, so we went and grabbed lunch at a Szechuan restaurant. There are lots of Asians eateries up there. Food was ok, I don’t think I like the numbing, tingling effect of the szechuan peppercorn. It was odd and unpleasant. After lunch, we napped before heading out to go your the town. We drove around, but didn’t really have any place to go, so we ended up on Mercer Island and stopped at a cute little coffeeshop called Starbucks.

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After feeding her we had dinner and headed back home. We got an early start the next day, and headed downtown to Pike Place. First we picked up some donuts for breakfast at Top Pot Doughnuts. It’s supposedly famous for its donuts, but after spending
34 dollars for 1.5 dozen donuts it tasted a bit overrated. Hope the rest of the family enjoyed it. Pike place was nice. I wish we had something similar in Dallas, but I don’t think we ever will. We don’t even have water!

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The next day we reluctantly agreed to go on a picnic at Deception Pass National park. Reluctant because it’s a two hour drive, and we wanted to spend our last day with my mom. I’m glad we w t though because the puget sound mixed with the forest and sunny weather was great. We made it nome for dinner and hung our with mom before baby had to go down for bed for the night. We will return soon. More pictures to come. These are just images from our phones.

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Updates on Rome?

I’ve been meaning to post more about Day 2, but geez life got in the way. Plus my computer sucks. Thank goodness Brian updated the OS to Windows 7. It works much better now.

Anyway, I’ll have to post an abbreviated version. Trying to retell the entire vacation is probably boring. Instead, I’d rather sort through all the pictures and share them.

I was able to go through the Rome set and cut out 2/3 of the unwanted pictures. The result…400 pictures to share. Between the two of us, we had 2 cameras. I haven’t even begun to look at the pictures from the other camera.

This is Rome – Days 1 and 2.

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Roma Continued…

IMG_6640So on Day 1, we spent the remainder of the day exploring the neighborhood. We walked to the Tiber which was about 3 blocks from our hotel.

My thoughts, it’s unfortunate that the Tiber is so neglected. Not only can you see the ever-present graffiti on the wall, but the water was murky. I read somewhere that after one of the major floods, the Romans built a high wall and dam and forever neglected it. It’s too bad, but I’m sure 2000 years ago, it was probably beautiful.

Since I’m picking on Rome, the other atrocious thing was the traffic. I wouldn’t dare to drive around in Rome. Those drivers were insane. I think the only rule is not to hit a pedestrian.

Despite all of this though, the sites made up for it all. It was beautiful nonetheless. I have to say that we were captivated and “romanced” by the city. We headed back towards our neighborhood and found a local ristorante called Vito’s. I ordered the quintessential pasta carbonara, and Brian ordered veal marsala, we also split a pizza topped with prosciutto as a appetizer. The pizza was plenty of food. Here’s a dining tip, restaurants charge a cover fee, and the bread the place on the table also cost you money. Rick Steve’s gives a good overview on dining in Rome. The food was good, but the pasta was a little too al dente for my taste. I found this “quality” everywhere we went. Italian food in Rome is not what you expect, be prepared. I’m not saying it wasn’t good, it’s not like your local Buca di Beppo. Everything tasted fresh and handmade. The restaurants are run by families and are typically quiet.

That pretty much wraps up day 1.

IMG_6630Day 2… We had an early morning start. We caught breakfast at the hotel, and were picked up by Grayline Tours at 8:00am.

The first excursion of the trip was a Classical Rome tour. Our tour guide was great. The bus took us across town to the center of the classical sites. We got off the bus and on foot, they took us to our first stop, the Trajan column.

IMG_6672Next up was the famous Trevi fountain, where we got to take some pictures. Bernini is a genius. His work is found nearly all over Rome. We each threw a coin into the fountain. Of course the legend states that if you throw the coin using your right hand over your left shoulder, you will most certainly come back to Rome. Since it was early morning, the site was pretty quiet.

After we got our 15 minutes at the fountain, we headed up the the highlight of the tour. The Pantheon. Of course we saw other stuff in between, but you’ll have to see the pictures once I’m done going through all of them. The Pantheon epitomizes the engineering skills they had 2000 years ago. Not only that, but it’s the most well preserved site probably in the world. I actually got chills. It was grand and beautiful and perfect. Also, something I didn’t know, the oculus at the top is actually open, so when it rains, it actually rains into the building, but the Romans were smart enough to build in a drain inside the building.

IMG_6708We made a 20 minute “pit stop” at the gift store, after the Pantheon. These pit stops seems to be a scam since we certainly didn’t need 20 minutes at a gift store. But whatever. We headed out to the other side of the river to see St. Peter’s Basilica.

And since it was Wednesday morning, the Pope was actually there leading the mass. How cool is it that we saw the Pope. There was a large crowd, so we walked around. We didn’t spend too much time there, since we were going to come back on our own. So we waited around the bus.

The tour ended after 3 hours. At that point they dropped us off at the location of our choice. Since we had pretty much half a day left, we decided to have them drop off us at the Spanish steps.

We found a restaurant in between the many shops off located right off the steps and stopped for lunch first. I ordered pasta carbonara again while Brian got some other pasta dish.

IMG_6763I’m not sure what the purpose of this spot was, but I guess it was just a place for people to sit. We decided to go up the steps and explore an old church and take in the views. The crowd around the steps was pretty large. We even saw a few puppies and one that looked like Reesey. We couldn’t resist taking a picture.

After being sweaty from walking all day, we decided to walk back to our hotel. We crashed until dinner time.

I’ll have to finish up Day 2 later…

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Europe 2009 – Day 1

IMG_6619Everyone’s been asking how was our vacation. AMAZING. In my usual style, I’m going to document each moment here bit by bit. I meant to bring a journal with me, but left it at my desk at work, so I guess I’ll have to draw things from memory. We have over 1500 pictures but I don’t want to bore everyone with them, so I’ll just post the ones that I like or that captures the essence of it all.

Flight to Rome. At the last minute the agent changed our flight for a better deal. So we got to fly Lufthansa for the first time. The plane ride was smooth. We tried to sleep the entire way there, but of course it was rather cramp and uncomfortable. The service on the plane was definitely great. They serve alcohol for FREE! I had a couple of cups of wine hoping that it would help me sleep, but of course that just gave me a headache. At least the movie selection was good. I fell asleep here and there, but it certainly wasn’t refreshing. 1/3 of the way there, I just sat there tracking the flight on the monitor…”only 4 hours to go”….

We finally landed in Frankfurt but had to board almost immediately. For some reason, being in Germany scared me. Maybe because everyone was 1 foot taller than I am?

IMG_6622Anyway, after 1.5 more hours on the second flight, we finally landed in Rome. We grabbed our baggage and found our driver. Unfortunately we had no change, so we couldn’t tip the driver :-(. The same thing happen with the Parking Spot driver. All we had with us were Euros on the way to the airport. :-(

Despite feeling like a jerk we finally arrived at the hotel. We stayed at the Visconti Palace Hotel which is somewhat modern compared to everything else in Rome. It was built in the 70s. The rooms were small, but I expected that. The one thing that mattered was that the bathroom was modern and clean, which it was. It even had a bidet, which grosses me out by the way.

IMG_6629We unpacked, changed, and decided to explore the neighborhood. First up was lunch. Since it was already quite late for lunch, we wanted something small. After walking up and down the streets we found a tiny pizzeria. You pretty much had to stand and eat. The pizza didn’t look very tempting, so Brian got a calzone stuffed with sausage and rice, and I got some weird fried thing. I rate it a 1 out 5. Actually it was rather gross. It was cold and flavorless. Ick. Here’s a picture of Brian trying to be nice. “Mmmmmm”. With the disappointing lunch, I was hoping we’d find something better for dinner.

With that said, I’ll have to finish day 1 later…

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Vacation Planning, only 14 more days to go

I have this thing about vacations where I want to experience EVERYTHING in of course a very short period of time.

An ideal vacation for me is to experience the sights, the food, the culture, and of course relaxing the whole time. I’m not sure how any of that can be balanced especially if you throw in relaxation.

I’ve been putting together an itinerary, hour by hour itinerary. I’ve even gone to google maps to see what the scenary will look like if we walked from point A to point B. I am after a project manager :-p. Maybe I should stay home and enjoy the trip from my laptop ;-)

Brian on the other hand thinks it’s silly and refuses to acknowledge it. He thinks we should just play it by ear when we get there. We already have 50% of the activities planned. UGH. I don’t want to spend the trip trying to figure out what to do or where to go. If I just lay it out, we can always veto things when we get there.

I’ve got the first two days planned out. Last night I had asked him if we should plan having breakfast out on the third day because we have something at 2pm. But since breakfast is already included with the hotel, should we save the money and eat there? He looked at me as if I was insane. I get his point…

This will be an interesting trip :-)

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Update Fail!

I haven’t written in awhile. Mainly because I’ve been trying to keep myself from pulling my hair out from all the other daily stress. You know, work, parents, blah blah.

It’s not bad at all, but I do prefer to come home and zone out in front of the tv or cooking for my husband or reading.

I’m currently reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. Life as a chef is quite dysfunctional. I’m glad I don’t aspire to be one.

I have been trying to stick to my diet, but I’ll have a failure every now and then. I certainly can’t make good choices when we go out. So I need to bring my lunch in more often and cook at home more.

My birthday is in 2 weeks. I thought about doing a dinner with some friends, but I don’t think I’m going to keep it low key. The stress of trying to plan anything (although shouldn’t Brian be doing that?) is unnecessary.

Anyway, we just paid off our trip and now I get to go shopping for it. The weather will be nice a cool. Hopefully it won’t be too cold. We need another carryon bag and Brian and I vehemently disagree on what to buy. He wants the five star quality and I could care less. Bah. Maybe we should stop at one of the outlet stores and see what they have to offer.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got.

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Look an update!

Wow, sorry for the lack of updates. Things have been slow, so I had nothing to post about. My entire family is visiting us over the next two weeks so that should be interesting. I haven’t seen my brother’s family since our wedding day. We really ought to make a trip up to the northwest one of these days. It’s so beautiful up there. My sister and her family is also visiting. From the pictures I’ve seen, her girls have grown so much. Melody, the oldest is already 15, yikes!

Brian and I have been trying to get healthier. I know we talk about it all the time, but this time we’re pretty serious. He and I bought lost 12 lbs each. I’m doing the biggest loser competition at work and so far I’ve managed to get 3rd place. My coworker friend and I have been working out like crazy over the past 4 weeks. I can definitely tell my endurance is getting better since my heart rate isn’t as high when I’m doing plain cardio. I need to start mixing in more weights so that I can increase my metobolism. We’re also trying to eat cleaner and have the appropriate serving. The only challenge with eating is finding the time to cook the proper food since I don’t get home from the gym until after 7 and sometimes 8. I think once our weekends slow down, I can probably try to plan it better. I have been consuming lots of fruit since it’s in abundance. I told Brian that if I reach my ideal goal, I should get a new car. :-)

Speaking of car, my check engine light is on again. Grrr. Hopefully whatever they find tomorrow isn’t a big deal.

Leah and Reesey are doing well. Reesey spent 2 weeks with her grandparents. We went and picked her up over the weekend after visiting with Brian’s new nephew. Baby A is tiny by the way. Congrats to the new parents.
Speaking of kids, we still haven’t made plans yet, but we keep going back and forth with baby names. It seems our first choice has gotten too popular. My mom keeps pressuring me to start but we both still feel so young. Everyone should check back in a couple years to see where we are with that thought.

Work is still the same. Nothing new for either of us. I’m still very grateful that we’re both in a good position both financially and with our jobs.

In other news, we finally booked our big trip to Europe. 11 days in Rome and Paris in Sept. This is our anniversary gift to each other I suppose even though it’s a few weeks after. I’m super excited, but I guess it hasn’t sunk in yet since it’s still far out. Of course this is the first of many trips.

My next goal is either Japan or China. But I think we may have to make a trip to Cambodia and Thailand since that’s where I’m from and all.

I’ll be sure to blog our excursion while we in Europe.

Other than that, that’s all I’ve got. I’ll try to post more, and hopefully I’ll have interesting things to talk about.

I leave you with pictures of us at a Central Market cooking class enjoying a souffle we help make. I totally recommend their courses. Very entertaining and the hands on aspect is well worth it.

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2009 Resolutions

Recap of 2008. There were several ups and downs but overall it was a good year.

1. Brian got a new car.
2. Dad got sick and was hospitalized for 2 weeks.
3. We got puppy Leah.
4. I traveled to Richmond for work.
5. Both my parents health has been stabilized.
6. We went to San Diego for vacation.
7. My maternal grandmother passed away. Click here to see neat a mausoleom my mom’s family built in Cambodia.
8. We bought a dining set (my half of the deal since Brian got the new Macbook). Only one more room to fill – formal dining room.
9. We threw a holiday party.
10. Took a much needed vacation where I did absolutely nothing.

So here’s my personal resolution for 2009. I know it’s silly to make resolutions especially when they’re broken in about 2 months, but hopefully, just maybe I keep these resolutions.

1. Workout 4-5 times a week
2. Learn how to meditate
3. Read at least 1 book a quarter
4. Eat more veggies
5. Eat out no more than once a week at work
6. Cook more
7. Blog more
8. Wake up earlier and begin a morning routine (ie. do chores, walk the dogs, eat breakfast, chill, then get ready)
9. Organize our closet
10. Do more gardening
11. Read the news more
12. Organize the stuff in our cabinets
13. Fix the hole in the ceiling of our dining room
14. GO TO EUROPE

I think all of these are attainable, with the exception of the last one. We’re hoping to plan a big trip for the fall, but I haven’t even begun to do my research. I was hoping I was going to get some that research done during my holiday vacation, and I suppose I still have a couple days left, but the task seems to be overly daunting. Maybe I should just call the travel agent that a friend recommended.

Happy New Year everyone!

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