Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jason on Ice

* I have been given permission by Jason to write this post. Permission was necessary based on the content of this post, as it could be considered blackmail.*

Our church small group decided to go ice skating (dressed in our finest tacky Christmas sweaters) as part of our Christmas party.

Jason told me that he was a horrible ice skater, and when I thought about that, I was sure it was true. There is just something about his size that doesn't lend to graceful on ice skates.

Well, when he made his debut, he did not disappoint. It was more than I imagined. Check him out.

While this was the best video I captured, it wasn't his best act...but I'm sure he's glad that this was all I captured.

We didn't last long out there, but we sure had some great laughs (and bruises) along the way!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Christmas Stash - 2011 Edition

Well, it is day 1 of 18 of winter break! So looking forward to the extra long break they are giving us this year. I must say that I really have nothing planned for my days off. I do plan on watching many Christmas movies since Christmas is a week away and I am yet to watch ONE Christmas movie. Christmas fail on my part. I haven't even busted out my iPod to listen to my favorite Christmas songs but have rather reverted to the 24 hrs of Christmas music that they play on 96.5 KQUIT, which just isn't the same (because it's not as good as my personal selection).

It's sad, but I feel like I just haven't had the time to get in the Christmas spirit this year. Jason and I have been so busy during this window between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Jason just finished his second term of grad school, which was a crazy class on political economy and required tons of reading and many papers. (We are both very glad that class is over as of last night). This class also just happened to coincide with his busiest time at work, so he spent many evenings and weekends trying to juggle work, grad school, and all the other activities that go on with life. We started leading a college group at our church, which has been so great, but is another night out during the week. We also chose the *best* time of year to try and buy a house, so we've been squeezing the house hunt in as well! All really great stuff, though.

To go along with last year's post, I thought I would give you a preview of my 2011 student stash (gifts from my students). Jason definitely looks forward to this more than I do. When he called me after school yesterday, the first thing he said was, "What did you get?" I think Linkhe is beginning to question how good of a teacher I am though because the stash this year was much lighter than in previous years. But it is always so thoughtful of students to hook their teachers up during the holidays. So, here is what I came home with.
The theme of this year was probably home baked goods and scarves. Lots of treats that my students (or their parents) made. I also got three scarves, which is pretty fun.
I did get some chocolate, but not the 6 pounds worth that I came home with last year, which is probably a good thing.
A handful of coffee gift cards, which came at the perfect time, as I only have a few dollars left on my last card from the end of last school year.
There is always a selection of bath gels and picture frames, too. I love the little hiker ornament that has 'Mrs. Baker' written on it. It's hanging on the Christmas tree! No jewelry this year, though. Or taj mahal replicas.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fall into Christmas

Well, it is officially post-Thanksgiving, which is now the Christmas season.

The day after Thanksgiving is the first day I allow myself to do anything Christmas related (besides celebrate Jesus, of course). So, the fall decorations went away and the Christmas ones came out! Here is a preview of my Fall to Christmas decor...

Since this is the first year I actually I had my 'own' place to decorate, I was quite exited about it. I did have to go out and buy a few more decorations - thank you Target, Ross, and Marshalls :)

Jason and I went to cut down buy our Christmas tree at Home Depot the Saturday after Christmas. This was the first time I had picked out a tree at Home Depot...or anywhere besides the mountains where we cut it down, so it was very anti-climatic for me. (More later on my family tradition of cutting down our Christmas tree).
We went with the first tree the guy un-tied for us. It looked okay, and we figured it would look better once the branches fell and we had decorated it. Well, not so much. Next time we probably won't go with the first tree we see...unless we actually really like it. Home Depot fail.

Jason decided to carry our tree home since we live half a mile from Home Depot. We should have just put the tree on top of our car, as it ended up being heavier than he thought. Again, we

probably won't do that again. Home Depot fail.
Here is our tree all decorated. I'm calling it our bush because I am used to growing up with 13-15 foot Christmas trees. Home Depot fail.
I must say that a bonus of going to Home Depot is that the experience is very fast...and cheap. The whole process took us about 30 minutes and cost us $30. But, I love the experience of cutting down the Christmas tree, so I'm hoping we make that happen next Christmas season!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Operation Christmas Child

Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child is a great opportunity to give a box full of gifts to a child in another country who normally would not receive a gift on Christmas. Samaritan's Purse has been doing this for about twenty years, and this was my second year participating in the project.

The idea is so simple: pack a shoe box full of gifts (from hygiene products to clothing to toys), indicate the appropriate gender and age for the gift, and drop off the gift. Samaritan's Purse then sends the gift to a developing country to bless a child during the Christmas season with a box full of gifts along with a message of the Good News!
Jason and I had so much fun shopping together for our shoe box gifts. I bought for a girl between the ages of 5-9. I packed my box with a toothbrush/toothpaste, hair clips, lip glosses, stickers, crayons, a harmonica, watch, princess purse, jelly belly's, socks, and a shirt.
Jason shopped for a boy between 10-14. He bought a toothbrush/toothpaste, harmonica, jelly bellys, shirt, hat, and (his pride and joy) a glow in the dark neon football!
I'm pretty sure all the boxes have been collected for this year, but if you're looking to give back next Christmas season, this is a great opportunity.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cooking Class Completed!

Well, it's been a light year when it comes to checking items off my 30 before 30, but I completed my second item of this year...I took a cooking class!

My friend's mom was hosting a beginning cooking class through the Livermore Rec Center. That sounded like a fit for me. Plus, it was pretty inexpensive compared to other cooking classes I had researched. She sent out an email about the class in August, and I totally forgot about it until a few days before when she sent out another email asking if I was still interested.

So, I jumped on board! The cooking classes were held each Thursday during the month of October for 2.5 hours each.

Here is a brief summary of each class:

In the first class we made puffed pastries. I couldn't believe how easy they were to make. We sampled one filled with cream cheese and salsa that can be served as an appetizer, and then we made dessert puffed pastries filled with a vanilla pudding and topped with chocolate. Delicious! I will definitely be making these in the future. We also made a crook pot pulled pork that was marinated in beer. We roasted garlic and carmalized onions and added those to our sandwiches. So flavorful! We also learned how to cut up a chicken. I've decided to continue to go with the pre-cut chicken...

Class two was on focused on fish and biscotti. We made a chocolate almond biscotti, which is great for the holidays. We also made two different fish recipes.

The third class was pie class! We each made a pie from scratch. This was my first time making a pie, so I was very excited! Some made apple pie, others pumpkin. I went with apple because neither Jason or I like pumpkin much...and apple is Jason's very favorite. My sister's have both made apple pie for Jason...but as his wife, I had failed to do so. Until a few weeks ago! Apple pie is actually quite easy to make. The hardest part is the crust, which I might cheat on in the future and go with the pre-made :) Part of the reason why the pie was so easy was because our teacher had a food processor that slices the apples up in seconds. Might need to invest in one of those - we used it all the time in our class. Here is my first pie:
Our last class was a mixture of a bunch of things. We made sushi, baked brussel sprouts (definitely were covered in olive oil, butter, and seasoning), more fish, and practiced with pie crust again (focused on doing a lattice top, which is how I made my pie). We took home our pie crusts so that we could make another pie...which is easy once the crust is done.

It was a great class, filled with yummy food, and lots of cooking/baking tips along the way. Glad to check another item off my list!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

100 Years in the Making

This past weekend we celebrated my grandma's (Grammy) 100th Birthday! Yes, she is an official centurion. Grammy is the first person I've known to make it to 100! So proud to have her as my grandmother.
Grammy was born on October 27, 1911. It is amazing to think about how much of our nation's history she has lived through and remembers first hand. She has definitely been through a lot in her own life, and like most, didn't think she would live to see 100. Grammy loves her family more than anyone I know and takes such pride in her two daughters, six grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren (with the 8th due in May). She attributes being surrounded by her loving family as one of the ways she made it to 100. She also gives credit to drinking coffee, staying away from doctors, and having a daily happy hour (vodka cranberry is Grammy's drink of choice).
Grammy's four grand-daughters toasting Grammy with a vodka cranberry!

Grammy is truly one of the strongest women I have met. At age 100, she still lives by herself in the home she had built when she was 80 years old! Maybe she did know she had many years ahead of her! I have many memories in this house of hers...
Grammy spends her days watching sports on her 60'' flat screen. We always come visit her for her birthday in October, and it never fails that she has one of the college games on when we walk through the door. She still follows sports to this day.

About ten years ago when Grammy hit 90 and was still going strong, we began to talk about her making it to 100. As each birthday after that came and went, we encouraged her all the more to keep going strong. And she kept going and hit triple digits. On her birthday, she received a letter from the president, a letter from Willard Scott of the Today Show, and was featured in her local newspaper.
We had so much fun honoring Grammy and celebrating her life this weekend!
Happy 100th, Grammy! We love you!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

SF Tourist

I love San Francisco. I would not want to live there, but I love going into the city. On Father's Day weekend, my parents, sister, and I went to the Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building. It was so fun! The weather was gorgeous, and it was great to walk around, sample yummy food, and enjoy the hustle and bustle. Jason was at a Dodger's game (boo) that day with his dad, so I've been wanting to go back with him for quite a while. Our weekends have been so busy though with bridal showers, bachelorette parties, weddings, family gatherings, or grad school for Jason, so we haven't had a free Saturday in forever. This past Saturday was one of the first free Saturdays we've had in months...and the last we'll have for weeks, so we wanted to make the best of it. Plus, Jason is in between terms for grad school, so he didn't have any homework to do this weekend. Yay!

A few weeks ago we marked October 22nd as our fun day. We planned to go into the city and just explore. I, of course, had a few things on the agenda: Farmer's Market, Coffee Bean, Gott's for lunch, Land's End Trail...Well, we got all of that in, plus more. The weather was on our side...October is definitely the city's summer. Such a pretty day.
We sampled lots of yummy goodies at the Farmer's Market and enjoyed great burgers and sweet potato fries at Gott's for lunch.

Jason works for Ross Corporate, and they just opened a store at Fisherman's Wharf, so we did a little store visit there.
We then played SF tourist and started driving...drove through North Beach, then down Union Street (so cute), down to Crissy Field, then through the Presidio to the Land's End Trail.

Jason proposed on the Land's End Trail, but it was crummy weather that day, so we were excited to walk the trail on a clear day with a perfect view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
And, a day in the city wouldn't be complete without a stop at Coffee Bean and a stroll through Pac Heights. We had such a fun day exploring and enjoying the beautiful San Francisco weather!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Eat Around the World - Chile

Last weekend we had our first 'eat around the world' experience with some friends! We actually have friends that are as adventurous as we are when it comes to trying crazy cuisines!

Our friends, Brandon and Mary, actually found this restaurant themselves. We were super excited for Chilean food because it wasn't a cuisine we had on our list to try.

The restaurant was called Valparaiso (Yelp review here) and was in Berkeley (like most of the restaurants we have been to).
Right away, I loved the ambiance of the restaurant. It was probably one of the best that we've experience (Jason had to tell me to put my camera away).
Jason and I split two entrees. One was Pollo Bahia:boneless chicken thigh sautéed in coconut milk, tomatoes, onion, bell peppers, and white wine. Served with rice and black beans. This was extremely flavorful!
The other entree was Chorrillana: fried potatoes (french fries) tossed with onion, eggs, and beef sautéed in red wine. It actually tastes much better than it looks! It was kinda like an egg scramble...with french fries :)
We also got a side of fried plaintans, which were so good...(even though they look a little 'interesting')!
The four of us shared two desserts: Torta Milhoja (a Chilean specialty pastry layered with walnuts and caramel milk) and Nino Envuelto (a Chilean pancake stuffed with manjar -caramel milk). Both were very good, but the winner goes to the Torta Milhoja. Delicious!

All in all, we had a great time. Loved the ambiance and the food was good. I wouldn't say that the food is great the restaurant a 7 out of 10.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Blue Angels Fail

On Sunday, I headed out to San Francisco with my parents and sister Elyse (Jason had grad school homework to do) to see the Blue Angels. I had never seen the Blue Angels, and my mom had talked up the show, so I was excited for the festivities.

Two years ago, my dad attempted to take his boat out on the bay to watch the Blue Angels. However, the water was so choppy that our boat felt like a roller coaster ride. It was a failed attempt to see the Blue Angels from the water, and we ended up having to turn around just a few minutes after getting on the water.

This time I was more hopeful. The weather was beautiful as we headed into the city, so we were excited for a good show. We were able to find a parking spot about a mile away from the Aquatic Center. The walk down was so fun because of the Columbus Day parade going on in North Beach.

We made it down to the Aquatic Center, right at 3pm for the start of the Blue Angels. First though, my sister and I did a quick stop at Buena Vista to get some Irish coffees. Yummy.

We got all settled in with the crowd, excited for the show to start. The Blue Angels did their first fly by...and then the announcer comes on and says that the show will be delayed about 5-10 minutes while they decide whether to proceed or not due to the weather.

Yes, that fog off in the distance was the concern. Blue skies above us...but fog on the other side of the Bay. We sat and waited, hoping the show would continue.

But, alas, it was canceled. We were so sad. Two and a half hours to get into the city...and no show. This was about as much of the Blue Angels as we saw..

My mom, who hates the city, was especially disappointed. Instead, we headed to the Ferry Building and walked around for a bit. Hoping next year is a better success!