Wednesday, March 20, 2013

July 2012

Note: to save time, in this post I've linked to several articles I've written for TheTalkingBox. 

Jonathan and I spent a week in Southern California. We drove to Los Angeles on a Monday and hung out with a HS friend. The next morning we went to a taping of The Price is Right (which will air June 25th after two delays from the original schedule), which was a lot of fun! I'd totally recommend it! You can read about the experience in full here.

After The Price is Right, we went to a taping of The Tonight Show, which wasn't as exciting as it could have been. I'd skip it next time. For the full experience, read here. I'll share the picture we bought, though! (It looks better in real life!)
After that, we drove to San Marcos, a cute little city, for the night. On Wednesday, it was onward to San Diego! We've both been numerous times before, but this was our second trip together. We were there for the specific purpose of attending Comic-Con, which I wrote about extensively for TheTalkingBox, and links to each article can be found here. Here's a photo of each of us, though, taken near the Batmobiles. We're wearing Gandalf hats. JB is sporting a Def-Con shirt (a hacking thing) and I'm wearing a Packrat shirt (an online game). My Danica Patrick nametag is a joke from The Neighbors television show.

Also in July, we finally got a Chick-Fil-A restaurant in our area, about 15 minutes away. We went a few days after it opened and a few more times in the following weeks, introducing various friends to the delicious chicken they have.

We really enjoyed watching the Olympics and even altered our daily lives to be able to watch many events live, which was really exciting.

We went to Psycho Donuts with our friends, Jim and Diana, which is a great little shoppe. We went to the Campbell location, although there's also one in San Jose. Here's a picture of my s'mores donut. 

We also went to the Gilroy Garlic Festival, which is overpriced for what it is, but really pretty neat. You can get just about anything with garlic, including garlic ice cream, garlic popcorn, garlic crab fries, and just about anything else you can think of! There are fair rides and a lot of children's activities, plus some musicians and other entertainment acts. I really liked the variety of crafts vendors, and we picked up a couple of gifts for people, including a really neat bread knife for Jonathan's mother. We'd go again, but we'd probably seek out some discount coupons or something that gave more money off than just buying online!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

June 2012

With our ten-year high school reunion on the horizon, I went to Florida the week before so that I'd have time to get some last-minute details accomplished, as well as meet up with my summer camp friends for a three-day weekend. I'm sorry to say that I only took one photo all weekend, and it was of my friend's new baby, so no great images to share.

The reunion was not without its problems, but on the whole it was successful. I was pretty stressed out by the end of the weekend, but luckily everyone close to me tried their best to keep me sane. :)  That said, here's a picture of me with my two best friends from HS, Tori and Jessica.
Also while I was in Florida I was finally able to try one of those places where you learn to paint a picture in just a couple of hours. I struggled quite a bit, but here's my tiger and the instructor's... you can guess who did which!
When I returned to California I started back on my quest to make more friends here. I went to a lovely lunch that was organized on (my second with that group), but the group ended up disbanding shortly thereafter. Some of the girls joined another group, which I went to once, but it just wasn't for me. BUT, the important thing was that I had a fabulous lunch at Jubba in San Jose (African food, with an emphasis on Somali cuisine, I believe). I can't wait to eat there again!
We also went to the annual Greek Festival in San Jose, which we went to once in the past. It was still amazing and much better than the one in St. Lucie County, but it doesn't compare to the one we went to in New Orleans in 2006! Here's a picture of some items inside the sanctuary of the church.
Jonathan never ceases to be lucky when it comes to winning things... I was really excited about buying tickets to see the Olympic Gymnastics Trials here in San Jose, but he ended up winning a pair at work so we were able to sit in a skybox to see the first day of the Men's Events. It was unbelievably exciting! Because we were so far away, it was difficult to get good photos, but, trust me, it was really special to be in the audience to cheer on athletes who would compete for our country just a couple of months later!

Monday, March 18, 2013

May 2012

In May we celebrated our five-year wedding anniversary in Yosemite with Jonathan's parents. We saw a bunch of different areas of the park, some repeats from last year (here and here) and some new. Jonathan and his dad both had a good time photographing various sights (we even went out to try some long-exposure night shots!), and below you can see a picture I took of them trying to get great photos of a waterfall!

Another thing we did while his parents were visiting was attend the annual Sunnyvale Downtown Wine & Food Stroll, which we all enjoyed. We also went to a street fair in downtown Campbell, which is an area I don't get to much but always like. We went to Maker Faire for the second time. While it was still fun, I don't think I'll be making an annual thing out of it. And, up in San Francisco, we rode the cable cars and visited the Cable Car Museum (worth a short trip, although they had some terrible editing errors in the displays).

I also did some video game testing. I can't really say much about it because of non-disclosure agreements, but one of the games I played is now available for purchase, so it's kinda cool to see that I might have made a difference somewhere.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

April 2012

I'm going to try to catch up on the past 11 months and get this going again. obviously, I've forgotten a lot of what we've done, but something is better than nothing! 

First, a quick run-down on the last weekend of March (which I forgot about earlier)... Jim and Diana stayed the night at our place on a Friday so that we could all go to Great America the next day - Lockheed had rented it out again for Employee Day. Unfortunately, it rained the ENTIRE day. We originally planned to get there at 10am, but, because of the rain, we went out to breakfast first. The rain only got worse, so we decided to do something else instead. And we hit a ton of failing options. First, we drove to the closest bowling alley from where we ate... only it was going to be FIFTY-SIX DOLLARS for the four of us to bowl ONE GAME. And this wasn't even laser bowling or anything... just plain 11am bowling! We walked right out and across the street to go ice skating instead. Sadly, open-skate didn't start until 2pm, due to lessons that morning. So, we went to the other end of the mall to look at movie times. Except, our friends had to catch a 2pm train back to the city and there weren't any movies starting in time for us to see. So, we walked the mall for a bit... nothing too exciting. We considered playing remote-control cars, but it was like $1/min/person and there was a wait. Jonathan and I kept thinking that the rain would let up and we would head to the park (it's the one only ten minutes from the house), but it never stopped for more than 20-30 minutes, so it would have been a disaster.

Now, on to April! You may or may not know that we have a Major League Soccer team right around the corner - the San Jose Earthquakes. Now, I'd seen a national game before, but I still don't know a lot about soccer. Still, it was fun to go! We got our tickets through a Living Social deal (love those!) and found parking without too much of a problem. (It probably helped that the game was at a local University.) Our seats weren't the best, but they were fine for the casual fan. I actually thought that halftime was really neat - they had some martial arts demonstrations and even a lion dance! 
We had our annual Easter dinner, though it was just the two of us for the second year in a row. I made a ham with a cherry glaze. We're not sure what it was, but we both agreed that it was one of the best hams we've had in our lives, so that was fun. I also tried my hand at making mashed potatoes from scratch for the first time... it wasn't THAT much more work, but the result wasn't that much different, either. I was more excited about making green bean casserole (not normal Easter fare, but we both missed having it at Christmas), which I also made from scratch. I liked it a little more than Jonathan, and I definitely learned some tweaks for the future... for instance, I'd halve the cheese, cut the beans (I steamed fresh ones for the recipe rather than use canned), and add mushrooms (I didn't use canned soup, either... I made the sauce with butter, flour, sour cream, etc). I rounded out the meal with fresh rolls and red velvet cookies... the rolls turned out too heavy (they didn't rise too much the second time, so I think that was the problem) and the cookies were a bit dry (or, perhaps, red velvet is just better as cake!). Honestly, I was most proud of the fact that I pulled off a 2pm lunch after getting home from church and taking some Easter pictures, LoL!

We celebrated our 12th anniversary as a couple at our favorite Mediterranean restaurant again, with us both ordering our favorite dishes. Then, we planned to spend the weekend camping at Pinnacles National Monument, about 90 minutes away. Unfortunately, they ended up being full when we arrived at 11am (they have walk-up tent sites), so we just spent a day there instead. It was still pretty neat to explore the Talus Caves (we'll save the Balconies Caves for another day!), see the reservoir, and hike a few trails. The high was around 60, so it wasn't too cold... the low was in the 30s, though, so maybe it was a good thing that they didn't have any sites left! On our way home we stopped for BBQ in Hollister - not the best, and the sauce was a little vinegary for our liking, but give Maverick's a try if you're there!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My Bad

I know. I came back and did a ton of posts and promised to do better.... then took another two-month hiatus. But, we've been busy. I've been swamped, honestly. Between taking on my high school reunion and good weather bringing people out to visit and giving us more to do on a regular basis, it's just been a constant stream of "stuff." I'll work on it. I just wanted you to know I haven't forgotten completely. ;)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

March 2012

March was another whirlwind month for us, though nothing much actually happened. Jonathan did more volunteer work with the science high schoolers (oh, we went to a big Boy Scout award dinner at the beginning of February to thank all of the volunteers over the course of the year - it was one of the most inspirational things I've ever been to!) and I took on being part of our high school reunion committee (ten years in June! wow!). We talked about going skiing before the end of the season, but didn't really have the time or energy... luckily, it's just been a junky year for snow and nobody is really having great experiences anyway, so we don't really feel bad.

We did, however, take a short trip to Florida to see one of my oldest friends (since sixth grade!), Jessica, finally marry Bret. They were engaged for about six years (she's been in med school), so it was wonderful to share in their special day. We got a chance to see Jonathan's aunt and uncle as well, so it was a pretty eventful getaway. The wedding day was incredibly rainy, but, luckily, they had a very large tent, so it wasn't that big of a problem (though the humidity level was pretty high later in the evening). It did delay the start of things, however, as the ceremony was in the open, near some gorgeous trees. Jonathan had his camera and took some great pictures, so I'll post a few.
cupcakes & pies instead of wedding cake!

they wrote their own vows... Jess's made ME cry!

just after the kiss!

with the bride! (and, for those of you following the hair
drama, this is four days after I had it recolored)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

February 2012: Cake Decorating

February wasn't the busiest month for us, mainly because we had done so much traveling between November, December, and January. We needed a break! Our friend, Tony, spent a day with us while he was in town. He lives in Denver now, so it was nice to see him, especially given the fact that he was only around for less than 24 hours before he continues his trip down to San Diego. And, it just so happened that I began the next set of cake decorating classes that night as well!

It has been a full year since I took the Decorating Basics course, so I was excited to finally be taking Flowers & Cake Design, offered at Michael's by Wilton. I switched locations to get a different instructor, and there were only eight of us in my class. I enjoyed the instructor much more, so I was very sad to hear that she was retiring after that month. Otherwise, I would have been more likely to consider taking the next course (fondant!) right away. Now, it looks like I'll likely wait until at least August, if not longer. But, that's okay. I still had a lot of fun and learned a lot. There was still a lot of homework with practicing flowers and techniques, but at least we weren't swimming in cake all month. This course required just one cake, for the final. It was a big one, though, as it needed to be 3-4" high. I definitely chose an ambitious cake to replicate for my final, and three of my seven classmates stayed until I finished (I was the only one who took the entire two hours) to take photos. It was a chocolate cappuccino cake with chocolate cream cheese filling and chocolate buttercream frosting - all from scratch, of course. I sent half of it in for Jonathan's colleagues (who get spoiled by my baking and Jonathan's chili/ribs/pork/etc) and we shared the other half with some friends over the next week.

roses (you can tell the early ones from the later ones!) and lilies

daffodils, primroses, apple blossoms

these were my "backup" flowers for my final cake - roses,
apple blossoms, and violets

my final cake! roses and lilies on top, apple blossoms and violets
on the sides, reverse shell border, and all-around basketweave

a look inside the cake and a little better peak at the basketweave

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

January 2012: Weddings & Birthdays

When we left Las Vegas, we flew to Orlando. We're not always able to attend every wedding for which we're invited, but seeing how two were on the same day, in the same city, Jonathan has known the grooms since childhood, and one of the grooms was in our wedding party, we made the arrangements. Now, this was complicated by the fact that the weddings began only thirty minutes apart! Luckily, things went swimmingly and we were able to catch many of the major events at both! [I thought we had taken some photos, but they must be on a memory card someplace, so nothing to share there, sorry!]

We started out at Steve & Karen's ceremony, which was in the same sanctuary where Jonathan and I were married. They both looked so happy. We had originally planned to go straight to their reception, but at the last minute we decided to pop by Eric & Kara's ceremony to get a program. Fortunately, they seemed to have gotten a late start, so we went in and sat near the back and were able to see most of the ceremony. On the way out, we talked to a few friends so we were excited to see them later. We hadn't missed much when we arrived at Steve & Karen's reception, and spent some time catching up with the others at our table and some others as well. We stayed for dinner and really enjoyed the pasta station they had! We got a chance to talk with the bride and groom, but we headed out just before the first dance. Originally, we had planned to stay a little longer, but the second reception had changed venues and we needed to give ourselves extra time for travel. We arrived at Eric & Kara's reception about ten minutes before their cocktail hour was over, then picked at the dinner served. Most of our table didn't show up, so it was just Jonathan and me, his parents, and our friend, Justin. It did make it easier to talk with a few friends, though, with extra space at our table! The cake was good, the speeches were cute, but we didn't get to do much dancing. We left before the very end, but were still able to participate in the "Dollar Dance" and see the happy couple one-on-one.

When we landed back in Florida I noticed there were advertisements at the airport for the Ice Skating World Championships - apparently they were being held in San Jose this year! I was immediately obsessed with getting tickets, and Jonathan kindly obliged my desire. I ultimately decided to buy Championship Pairs tickets, an event which took place just after my birthday. But, I didn't want to get slammed with a Ticketmaster fee, so I waited. Turned out to work out perfectly! Jonathan had entered a raffle at work for tickets to the Junior Ladies Short Program, and he won! So, we went there on Monday night for that competition, and while we were there, we bought the other tickets directly from the box office! I was overjoyed at being able to be there and see the skaters in real life. Jonathan was a good sport, and we made a game out of picking who would win and who would fall when we first saw each round of skaters in warm-ups. (You'll clearly be able to tell which photos I took with my simple camera and which ones Jonathan took with his fancy camera, LoL)
I made champagne cupcakes with champagne frosting
and decorated them with vanilla hippos.

Mariah Bell
Ashley Cain
Tiffany Vise & Don Baldwin

Kloe Chanel Bautista & Tyler Harris

Kloe Chanel Bautista & Tyler Harris

Rita Fehr & Peter Biver

Felicia Zhang & Nathan Bartholomay

Mary Beth Marley & Rockne Brubaker - They Won!

Amanda Evora &Mark Ladwig - Even with a fall, they came in 2nd

Sunday, April 15, 2012

January 2012: TCA & CES

We had a heck of a January. We were only home for a few days before we started traveling again. Long story short, I had to change my travel plans to join Jonathan at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas so that I could spend a day down in LA for business. Luckily, I had booked on Southwest so I just changed my flight to leave from Burbank instead of San Jose. Then, I rented a car and drove to Pasadena the day before so I could be there for FOX's winter press day. I left as soon as the last panel finished, drove to Burbank, dropped off the car, and flew to Vegas. Jonathan had been there for nine hours or so already, so we reconnected and got settled into Paris for the night. I love that place - so many things to look at, plus there is some delicious food there!
There were still some Christmas decorations when we arrived, but they were down by the time we left. This is the tree outside the Venetian.
gotta love the fountains!

The next morning we got started a little later than we had hoped, but still managed to check-out of Paris and check-in to Imperial Palace, where we stayed for the remainder of the convention. We both had plenty of stuff to see on our lists and spent the next few days splitting up and meeting up to talk about the latest technologies. I stopped at several booths (there are THOUSANDS) to talk about television updates and upcoming features, while Jonathan had other interests. Jonathan had been to CES twice before, but this was his first time as press, so he enjoyed being able to attend more of the panels and discussions. It was also very handy to have internet access and post stories immediately. I won't post too many pictures, as we did cover CES over at TheTalkingBox.
a look from the monorail at the expansiveness that is CES
just an inside shot
it's a busy place!

we learned all about DISH's Hopper, and I had my picture taken with their kangaroo mascot!
We had very little free time in Vegas, which was a bit of a shame. We did, however, manage to eat at two buffets (something Vegas is known for and I had never tried one) and Hash Hash A Go Go, where we shared one of the famous meals from Man v. Food - the Chicken Benedict (sage-fried chicken with fresh spinach, bacon, tomato, griddled mozzarella, chipotle cream, and scrambled eggs on top of a fresh biscuit and griddled mashed potatoes). It was amazing, and we were sorry that, between the two of us, we still didn't finish it!