Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Keep the Yuletide Gay

My friend Jenn and I went to see the cutest theater production - Keep the Yuletide Gay in Palo Alto at the Dragon Theater. The venue was super quaint, probably about 30 or so seats. The play was was about a group of single girlfriends (plus one gay friend) who have an annual Christmas Eve dinner and gift exchange. On this particular year, one friend is engaged and the rest of the gals go to extremes to keep her from marrying the wrong guy. It was a fun storyline, the characters were vivid and the acting was excellent. I highly recommend seeing it if you're in town - it's playing through December 30.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

'Tis the Season

Yep, the holiday season is upon us...there's a bite in the winter air, traffic is getting worse and stores are flooded with crazy shoppers scurrying around to find the perfect gifts for people on their lists. Call me Scrooge, but it seems to be taking me longer each year to get into the Christmas spirit. Since Benjamin and I will be traveling, we opted out of a tree and instead decided to decorate the fireplace mantle. The scent of fresh garland and cinnamon, hanging stockings and lights definitely help me feel more festive. Don't get me's not that I don't enjoy the holiday season, I just sometimes get annoyed at how commercialized it's become. For the past couple years, I've pleaded with my family to refrain from gift giving. I thought I had them convinced this season...until I called my sister last week and she reluctantly informed me that we are in fact exchanging gifts (and "Oh no! What are we going to get everyone??") We go through this every year - trying to figure out what to give our family members is quite a daunting task because the reality is, we don't NEED anything! We should all be thankful for what we have, which is a lot - good health, food on the table, a roof over our heads and a loving family. I think next year I will propose that we get gifts for needy families instead of each other. My company is participating in the Family Giving Tree and there are so many people out there who are asking for warm clothes and grocery store gift certificates. It breaks my heart to think about how some families can't even afford to stay warm or have a decent meal and here we are stressing about what to get each other. I hope we all take a moment this holiday season to think about the non-materialistic things in our lives that we are grateful for.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Triplets Take Disneyland

My brother, sister-in-law, and triplet nieces are visiting from New Zealand! They will be in the states for about a month and a half. Grace, Hope and Joy just turned 7 so my sister Kathy and I thought it would be the perfect age to take them to Disneyland! We flew down to LA over the weekend to embark on our adventure. Although exhausting, we had such a fun time. On Sunday, we took the girls to Knotts Berry Farm without the parents. Whew, it was a bit of a handful with only 2 adults supervising 3 children. Luckily Grace, Hope and Joy are well behaved. Check out pictures from the trip. It amazes me how fast kids grow. It seems like just yesterday that they were learning their abc's and now they can already write short stories. I can't wait to see everyone again over Christmas!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Kauai - SCUBA!

This is what we were waiting for...our first dive since getting certified in Monterey last spring. Not to mention, it would be our first dive in the tropics. We got up at 5am so we could make it to Fathom Five Divers in Poipu by 7am. We signed up for a boat dive - it's the only way to go. There were 2 other couples on our boat (Chris and kris, Erik and Erika...yeah, we felt left out). Fathom Five took great care of us - they had everything set up when we arrived. All we had to do was put on our gear and backflip off the boat into the water, easy as pie. No carrying all that weight around and getting into the water awkwardly like you do on a shore dive. The first site was Sheraton Caverns - it was awesome! The water was so clear (even down at 60 feet), it was like swimming in a huge tropical aquarium. We saw all kinds of colorful fish and lots of sea turtles, they are very friendly and come right up to you. Benjamin spotted a Moray Eel sleeping in a reef - he's good at finding creatures. The second dive was less reefy and had a sandy bottom, not quite as exciting but still very cool. We saw some frog fish and more turtles. Check out our underwater pictures (thanks to Erik and Erika who took lots of photos and shared them with us). We can't wait for our next diving excursion already!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Kauai - Waimea Canyon Hike

After seeing the Waimea Canyon from a helicopter, we couldn't wait to get out there and hike it. We decided to do a 12 mile trek that covered three different trails and took about a total of 6 hours. The trails were pretty muddy due to recent rainfall which made for tricky manuevering, especially downhill. The first part (Nu'alolo Trail) took us to Lolo Vista Point which offered AMAZING views of the Na Pali coast and Nu'alolo Valley. See pictures. It was surreal, like you were on a different planet. So peaceful and breathtaking, I wanted to stay there forever. But we had more ground to cover. The next few miles were along the Cliffs Trail...we needed a weedwacker for this one! The plants were as tall as I was and you had to literally move them out of the way to forge ahead. It had started raining at this point so we were pretty drenched. Once we made it through, we connected up with the Awa-'awapuhi trail which would eventually lead us back to the main was pretty much all uphill. We were beat by the time we finished and then we had to walk another 2 miles back to where our car was parked. What a day! We were a bit sore afterwards, but those views definitely were well worth the trek. Next posting will be about our SCUBA diving adventures (woo hoo!).

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Kauai - Helicopter Tour

Aloha! We had such a fabulous time in Kauai. The weather was perfect - in the 80's with a few showers here and there. The island has a different feel than Oahu and Maui, it's a lot more laid back. Vast vegetation, mountains and minimal commercialization. You definitely need a car to get around. We stayed on the north part of the island in Princeville and it took about 1.5 hours to drive to the south which is about 45 miles or so.

I'm going to recap our trip in several separate blog entries so you don't have to read a novel. :)

Day 1
Arrived in Lihue around 2pm, picked up our rental car and drove up to Princeville. Checked in at the Cliffs resort and settled in. We really enjoyed staying here - the property is a condo vs. hotel so we had a full kitchen and a washer/dryer which came in quite handy. One of the first things we noticed about Kauai are the wild chickens running around...they're big birds!

Our pimp convertible Sebring/Wild Kauai rooster:

Day 2
Got up at the butt crack of dawn to drive down to Koloa for our helicopter tour. We went with Inter-Island which is the only company that has doorless helicopters for maximized visibility. It was a blast! The views were incredible. Our Italian-accented pilot, Luca, was a great narrator. He showed us breathtaking views of the entire island, including craters, waterfalls, Na Pali coast and Waimea Canyon (the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific" as Mark Twain called it). Much of Kauai can only be seen by helicopter. In fact, you can only drive about half of the island - the rest is accessible by hiking, heli or boat. After the helicopter tour, we had brunch at the Princeville Hotel (pricey so-so food, but amazing views) and then went snorkeling.

Aboard the door-less helicopter/Na Pali coastline:

Jurassic Park waterfall/Waimea Canyon:

View more pictures

Stay tuned for the next installment... Mahalo!

Friday, November 17, 2006


That's "turkey" in Hawaiian! Benjamin and I leave for Kauai tomorrow morning for a week long vacation in the tropics. We didn't want to miss out on a home-cooked Thanksgiving family dinner so we celebrated early with Jeff and Sara. We had quite the feast with a roasted turkey and all the trimmings...Benjamin even made a sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top!

Speaking of families, Benjamin's parents made a visit a couple weekends ago all the way from Atlanta. They are such nice people! We had a great time showing them around the area, including some places neither Benjamin or I had ever been to - like the Rose Garden and Japanese Friendship Garden where we took lots of pictures. I'm excited for our trip to Georgia next month, I've always heard Atlanta was a fun place!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sexiest Man Alive

I may be cheesy, but I love my honey!

Friday, November 10, 2006

When I Grow Up...

Do you remember what you wanted to be when you grew up? For the longest time, I wanted to be a lawyer. Then I came to my senses (no offense) and decided I wanted to work on Wall Street, so I picked Business as my major in college. After my first finance class I realized I would never be happy as a number cruncher but I did enjoy my psych classes, so I decided I would be a clinical therapist. Scary thought, huh? I even switched my major to Psychology for a while. When I found out that I would need 8 years of grad school in order to help people with their problems, I switched back to Business and stuck with it. Ultimately, I ended up University Relations. Like most HR professionals, I didn't pick this just sort of fell in my lap. I have to admit I have a pretty fun job but there are days when I still think about what I really want to be when I grow up. If only I had access to this funny video back in kindergarten!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Happy Halloween!

We carved our first pumpkin tonight! Benjamin did most of the cutting since we didn't have one of those special carving tools. It looked too dangerous for my tastes using a regular knife. Benjamin did an awesome job! Now we're ready for the trick-or-treaters. By the way, did you notice the sweatshirt I'm wearing in the picture? That's right, Oregon State Beavers!! If you weren't aware, we beat USC on Saturday 33-31. It was a major upset for the Trojans who haven't lost a game in four years!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

My Last Marathon

Last weekend I ran my fifth and final marathon - the Nike Women's up in San Francisco - with my good friends Niki and Jennifer. If you read my blog, you'll know that I couldn't wait for this thing to be over. I was burned out on running. The longest distance in my training was 15 miles (it's recommended to go up to 20-22) and I hardly ran at all the last couple months due to my hectic travel schedule. Ironically, out of all the marathons I've completed I felt the best after this one - not much soreness, pain or agony during or after. And I finished in 4:53. I think I'm onto something with my "less is more" training regimen. It helped to have support from my friends Sara and Drew and my honey Benjamin during the last half. Thanks guys for coming out! They were able to follow along most of the course on their mountain bikes. It's nice to see familiar faces when you're out there. The event was a lot of fun despite the hilly course. Nike provided a lot of frills - oxygen bar, chocolate station, Tiffany finisher's necklace and most impressive of shoes! There was one caveat with the free shoes though - you had to stop and change out of your old ones at mile 23. They were promoting their new Nike+ running shoes with the built in iPod nano which is a pretty cool system that tracks your workout stats. I wouldn't normally recommend stopping so far into the race, let alone wear brand new shoes during a marathon, but I couldn't resist the temptation of free shoes. Given that this was my final 26.2 mile race, you'd think I'd be overwhelmed with joy and relief after it was over. Not so. Some sick and twisted part of me wants to do it again. But then I think about all the training and that 'winging it' probably isn't the best strategy especially now that I'm older and more vulnerable to injuries. I think I'll just stick to half marathons for the time being.
Hanging out at the Expo/I found my name on the wall of participants!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Finishing Touches

This weekend, Benjamin and I worked on the condo. Nothing too major, just finishing up what I had started with the baseboards and paint last year. I had left the dining area and kitchen unfinished mainly because I couldn't figure out the angles of the bay windows, but also because I was a little burned out with home improvements. Benjamin cracked the whip and said we needed to finish it up so that Jeff and Sara wouldn't have to look at trimless walls any longer. He's a better landlord than I am! Now all that's left to update are the bedrooms and master bathroom. The A's game was on while we were working and there were two Detroit fans sitting in the living room, it was very sad. The A's couldn't pull off the win so the Tigers are headed to the World Series.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Cute as a Button

Check out this adorable picture my friend Paula took of her baby! Josie is 4 months old now and getting cuter every day. It's amazing how fast babies grow, one day they can't hold their head up and the next day they're crawling around. One of my old co-workers told me that her little neice started walking at 6 months! That's crazy. It seems like just yesterday when my triplet neices were toddlers and now they are seven years old. I can't wait to see them in December, they will be visiting from New Zealand. My sister and I are taking them to Disneyland! I was in Ann Arbor for an event at the Univ of Michigan this week. Everyone was ecstatic about the Tigers winning the first two games of the series against our A's. Last night was a close one but we still ended up losing. Now, the A's face the Tigers in Detroit and the odds are against them. They are going to have to pull out an Oregon State-style victory. Let's go A's!

Monday, October 09, 2006

13.1 down, 26.2 to go

I ran the San Jose Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon on Sunday as part of my "training" for the Nike Marathon which is coming up in a couple weeks. It was pretty fun, the course was very flat and took us through different parts of San Jose that I hadn't seen before. I finished in 2 hours and 10 minutes, not too shabby for such a slacker! My best half time is 2:08 - Santa Barbara, 2003 - when I was training quite vigorously. So of course, for better or worse (probably worse), Sunday's performance only validated my procrastination habits and "less is more" running mantra. Although I was relieved when I crossed the finish line, I had to supress the anxiety and pain that kept creeping into my head when I reminded myself that I'd only be halfway done at this point in a couple weeks. Thanks to my Benji for being our chauffeur for the day. :) The rest of the weekend was pretty calm, except for Saturday when I ate it going downhill on my new Craigslist mountain bike. Benjamin says my loose kickstand caused the crash, but I think he's just being nice. My first bike ride and I already have battle wounds, I'm getting old! On Saturday we celebrated Cyrus's birthday at Kyoto Palace where they cook your food in front of you with flare. Fun times!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Birthdays and Gardens

It's officially fall - the weather has dropped about 20 degrees and it's raining out! Being an Oregon native who quickly acclimated to the CA sun, I'm not a big fan of precipitation but I was actually happy to see and hear the drops coming down today, it's rather refreshing and makes me want to cuddle up on the sofa with a cup of cocoa (and my honey). We celebrated Jeff's birthday on Friday evening at Los Gatos Brewing Company; he's usually in Michigan over his birthday, so it was fun to actually be able to celebrate with him this year. On Saturday, we went to Paula's surprise 30th birthday party which was also a good time. Today we went to the farmer's market with John and Carolyn and then visited their community garden. There were some pretty impressive-sized vegetables growing, it made me and Benjamin want to start a garden of our own...but we'd have to demolish all the concrete in the backyard first. Hmmm, I've always wanted to try using a jackhammer!

Sunday, September 17, 2006


We've been trying to go to the movies but there just doesn't seem to be anything out that's worth seeing. We were happy when we finally found Lucky Number Slevin after roaming the aisles of Blockbuster. It was a decent flick, kind of hard to follow at first but kept you guessing until the end. On Saturday, we went to the Gilroy outlets with Jeff and Sara. The outlets can be quite a headache on a weekend but we were efficient shoppers and made it out of there in a timely manner, with some purchases of course. Afterward, Benjamin and I made our first Indian dinner (from scratch!) and it was pretty tasty. Jeff and Sara came over to join in on the feast and we watched another movie rental - Something New. It was about as cheesy as they come, but we had a few good laughs. Today, I went running and then lounged around for the rest of the day. I love relaxing weekends!

Here are some pics of our trip to Oregon in July. My good friend Jennifer got married in Bend, it was a blast!

Tumalo Falls (remains of a forest fire caused by a reckless campfire)

Timberline Lodge (where The Shining was filmed) and Mt Hood

Wayne and Jennifer - the Newlyweds!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Weekend Recap

Benjamin went to the motorcycle track over Labor Day weekend so I was left to entertain myself for a couple days. Jeff and I went to the A's game on Sunday. It was a blast, we had excellent seats 12 rows back from home plate. We saw the players up close and there was a kid next to me who kept trying to get autographs so I was able to get some pretty good pictures. The A's ended up beating Baltimore 10-1, woo hoo! After the game, we went over to the Fostinos for a small get together and dinner at Fiesta Del Mar. It was good to see everyone! On Monday, I was supposed to run 18 miles but that didn't quite happen - I just wasn't in the mood. Why the heck would I run that far? I'm training for the Nike Women's marathon which will take place on Oct 22 in San Francisco. It will be my second year running this particular event, and my fifth marathon overall. For some reason, running just isn't fun anymore and it's become more of a burden than something I look forward to doing. I think I'm in a running rut. Knowing I can finish 26.2 miles without practice like I did back in June (not a recommended method but do-able when you've procrastinated) combined with my current lack of motivation has made training fall a couple notches on my priority list. I've decided that this is going to be my last's time to retire my running shoes and find a different hobby! I've always wanted to do a triathlon so I'm going to take up cycling for awhile and possibly learn how to swim at some point.

I'm trying to get Benjamin to be my guest blogger but he seems skeptical. I think I should also change the title of this blog since it's not really focused on condo renovations anymore, although I still have plans to take on a couple small projects soon.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

House (of sin) Warming Party

Benjamin and I hosted our first party last night! It was great to have our friends over to check out the house.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Fostino Wedding

Our friends John and Carolyn got married on July 22. The girls met up with Carolyn the morning of the big day and kept her company while she got her hair and make-up done. She was such a beautiful bride! After her appointments, we drove Carolyn down to the Fortino Winery in Gilroy where the wedding took place. Gilroy is about 20 degrees warmer than San Jose and we were in the middle of the big CA heat wave - it was around 118 degrees when we arrived. Yikes! Good thing the bride's room was air conditioned. We helped Carolyn get dressed and then got ready ourselves while she and John went down to the barrel room for pictures. The ceremony started at 5pm, followed by the reception. It was the quickest ceremony I'd ever been to, probably about 5-10 minutes long. It was great! The reception was a lot of fun. John and Carolyn provided margaritas from Fiesta del Mar (their favorite Mexican restaurant) and boy, were they potent! We all danced the night away. It was great to see everyone and celebrate with the Fostinos on their special day. View more pictures

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Burning Rubber

I've always wanted to be a race car driver. Today, I got my chance....well, sort of. I took my Acura out for a little action at Thunderhill track in Willows which is about 90 miles north of Sacramento. I signed up for a novice/instructional course with NCRC (Northern California Racing Club). Benjamin races his motorcycle at Thunderhill, so he was able to give me pointers and prep me for track day. We started with a classroom course in the morning where I learned the basics and then we broke out into our 20 minute track sessions. I had a seasoned driver sitting in the passenger seat with me at all times. It was such a blast! The first few laps were pretty slow, trying to get a feel for the track and familiarize myself with the different turns (there are 15 of them). The sessions after were progressively better. I picked up speed, learned correct cornering techniques (brake, turn in, apex, exit) and started feeling more like Mario Andretti. It was such a fun experience, I'll definitely do it again! Photos courtesy of bkd photography