Friday, January 13, 2017

Washington DC New Year's Weekend!

Happy New Year!
SMS and I went to Washington for the New Year's weekend.  We arrived Friday evening and met Mom and Dad at the Old Ebbitt Grill.  SMS and I split half a dozen oysters, yum!  I had a delicious Nicoise salad for my main course and overall, it was a great dinner and fun to spend time with Mom and Dad.

The next day, Mom and Dad headed off to Wintergreen for a wild and crazy New Year's Eve.  SMS and I went into the city.  First, we went to Eastern Market where we ran into a friend of mine from freshman year of high school.  It's a little hard to catch up on 20 years in the course of 15 minutes, but it was really cool to see her.

We went to 7th Hill pizza which was...ok.  Not great but it did the job.  Afterwards, we drove over to the Mall.  We looked at the Hirshhorn sculpture garden on the way over to the Sackler.

The Sackler had some great exhibitions.  We saw the Art of the Qur'an, Turquoise Mountain and Red: Ming Dynasty/Mark Rothko, a visual dialogue on the immensity of the color red (sure).  There was also a modern installation inspired by Whistler's Peacock Room, which is currently undergoing renovation in the Freer.  Although I didn't love the modern take, it was pretty cool to see   

Beautiful Qur'an

Turquoise Mountain: Modern Craftsman, Traditional Techniques
Our New Year's Eve was really mellow.  The next day, we went to the Udvar-Hazy museum which was really cool.  The layout is really logical and the collection is amazing.  I highly recommend visiting, even if you're not the biggest aviation fan.  I liked the space exhibit and the stunt planes.

SR-71 Blackbird

Saturday, January 7, 2017

December Travels

In early December, I traveled to Newport Beach for a SMS' side of the family Christmas party.  We had a really nice time hanging out the weekend and it was pretty low-key.  No new Newport Beach recs, other than SMS' cousin has a pretty cool leggings line called Goldsheep.  I have a pair and I recommend the line although to be completely honest, it's better for fashion than for fitness.  Or maybe I should say, they're not the best for running- yoga and Pilates are fine.   The prints are amazing and cutting-edge.

The end of December, SMS and I traveled to San Diego for Christmas weekend.  We stayed at the La Pensione, a cute and affordable boutique hotel in Little Italy.  I love that neighborhood!  SMS and I met up with his friend for drinks at Craft & Commerce, a very cool bar in Little Italy.  Then we went to SMS' parents' house for Christmas dinner.  It was delicious!  We had fillet mignon, salad and mashed potatoes.  It was really delicious and so nice to celebrate with family.  We exchanged gifts and SMS' parents gave me a gorgeous print of SMS' Thailand sunset photo and a gift card to Lululemon which I cannot wait to use.  SMS got an Open Table gift card which I hope we can put to good use :)

The next day, I went for a run from Little Italy up to Cabrillo National Monument for a total of 14 miles.  It was a gorgeous day and man, do I miss San Diego!   We went to his parents for brunch. Later in the afternoon, we went to his sister's for a Christmas dinner.  It was amazing!  Perfectly roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, incredible dressing with bread from Bread and Cie (I think), cranberry, green vegetables...I was in heaven.  Don't get me wrong- I loved our Thanksgiving meal but to have all the sides be homemade?  I was in Heaven.  A Heaven where I ate too much :)
San Diego find- Coffee + Flower, an incredible coffee, flower shop!  

The next day, SMS and I headed home.  It was a great Christmas weekend and hopefully, we'll stay in SoCal longer next time!

Tumbling Pandas

So, the above gif is of my favorite panda, Tare.  SMS and I first saw him when we were taking Chinese classes last Spring.  We were in a Japanese classroom at Palo Alto High School and I was captivated by his (?) doleful eyes as we obediently and repeatedly butchered Chinese phonetics.  

Anyway, isn't he cute!?  I also love the below picture of a baby panda doing a faceplant.  Part of the hilarity is the completely ineffectual attempted intervention of the caretaker.  I also feel that the photographer knew this was going to happen and thought, "Wait for!"

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Hello there!

Ugh, did I really not post at all in December?  For shame!

But, at the same time, this blog has mainly served to blog my travels and day trips.  Now that I'm not traveling as much, I want to strike a balance between writing on the blog and realizing that I'm not particularly interested in oversharing my everyday life on the internet.

There are some good trips coming up though!  And I may want to write more especially as I finish up an online class that has taken up more time than I'd like!  I can also share favorite links since I tend to find at least one a week where SMS says, "I don't know how you find these things."  I think that's a compliment!

I also want to finish the Switzerland trip daily wrap-ups and maybe even go far enough back in time to further flesh out our Korean Memorial Day Trip 2015.  Other plans include fleshing out the itinerary page to be more than just an empty link.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Reflections on 2016

Since 2011, I've used this list to help reflect back on the year.  I really enjoy looking back while preparing to move forward.  So...

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
I went hut-to-hut hiking in the Alps with SMS!  It was awesome!  I would love to do longer, multi-day treks in the future.  But for our first time out, the 2 day-1 night adventure was great.  On the second night, we ended up in a hostel but I don't quite count it as part of the hike since we ended the day on trains and buses to get there!

2.  Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Professionally, I am doing well in transitioning to a successful academic career.  I have a  great project and applying for grant money.  Even if I don't get the grant, I am well-situated to start the study and I'm looking forward to completing it this year.  That's my big goal.

Personally, I wanted to broaden my writing endeavors.  This definitely took a back-burner to work. I'm completing a hybrid classroom-online three class sequence and that ended up taking a lot of time since May.  Currently, I'm taking two classes and that is a lot of reading and writing.  One class ends this January so I will re-evaluate my writing goals then.  

I still aspire to be a Renaissance woman and want to work on a variety of different skills.  It's a little dilettantish but I enjoy trying lots of things!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Babies are starting to blur.  I have a lot of friends with babies who just turned one or are about to. They are all very cute!  I've just always been bad with birthdays!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?
US (Colorado, several road trips including a cross-country haul!)

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
Publications! (repeat)

7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Etched might be a little strong since I had to confirm in my planner (ha, ha) but memorable days included-
1/8/2016: Our friend Melinda's wedding, which we photographed!
2/14/2016: Seeing the "Firefall" in Yosemite and climbing the 5-pitch "Nutcracker"
3/6/2016: Napa Marathon and qualifying for the Boston Marathon!
5/16/2016: Beyonce in concert!!!!
7/1-7/17/2016: Switzerland trip

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I feel like I'm doing a good job at having a great marriage between two people who are very dedicated to their careers!

9. What was your biggest failure?
Getting over work-related disappointments and realizing there is more than one way to achieve professional happiness.   (To be clear, this is a failure that I'm trying to turn into a positive, if not a success.)

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Plane tickets! (repeat)

12. Where did most of your money go?
Travel, rent, savings (repeat)

13. What did you get really excited about?
I really get excited about vacations.   This is basically a paraphrase of last year's answer!

14. What song will always remind you of 2014?
The Hamilton soundtrack, "Sorry" by Justin Beiber (shameful!), "Cake by the Ocean" by DNCE, "Valerie" by Amy Winehouse/Mark Ronson, "Wagon Wheel" by Darius Rucker, "Parachute" by Chris Stapleton

15. Compared to this time last year, are you: 
– happier or sadder? Happier
– thinner or fatter? A little fatter, which marathon training will hopefully remedy!
– richer or poorer? Richer (continuing to save)
16. What's one thing you wish you had done more of?
Exercise more consistently.  As the marathon gets closer, I'm going to figure out a post-race workout plan that works for me.  I spent too much of this past year getting just enough exercise as not to get completely out of shape.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Phone-scrolling.  It has to stop.  

18. How did you spend Christmas?
We had a great day in San Diego!  I ran 14 miles, we got breakfast and then we hung out with SMS' side of the family for the day.  We had an incredible turkey dinner and I feasted!  (Sounds classier than "pigged out.")

19. What was your favorite TV program?
Orphan Black.  Amazing!  We also liked Mozart in the Jungle and Westworld.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?
Fiction: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
             Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Cleave
                   Thanks for the Feedback by Heen
                   Just Mercy by Stephenson
                   When Breath Becomes Air by Kalanithi
21. What was your favorite music from this year?
Chris Stapleton, the Hamilton cast
22. What were your favorite films of the year?
Hell or High Water

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
36. We had an amazing day of wine-tasting in Napa.  We stayed at a great Airbnb and had a great weekend trip with my parents!

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
More La Croix water.  Ha, ha.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Scrubs and business professional with some running outfits mixed in!
26. What kept you sane?
SMS and my family!

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
That America has a serious problem in that there are many people who feel so disenfranchised and left out of the American Dream that they are willing to risk it all for change.  

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Tahoe Thanksgiving!

Balcony view
Happy Thanksgiving!  SMS and I took a weekend trip to Lake Tahoe!  It's 4 hours away and it's hard to muster up the motivation to drive out there on an ordinary weekend.  I booked an AirBnb cabin and we headed up on Thursday morning.

The Lake- approximately 3 blocks from our cabin.  
The cabin was in Carnelian Bay, North Lake Tahoe.  It was a residential neighborhood but there was a lot of space between cabins and the trees made it feel more secluded.  Inside the house, it was super cozy and cute.  I told SMS, "I want to buy a cabin in the woods!"   He pointed out we could just keep booking AirBnBs.   Touché.  
Thanksgiving Feast, semi-home cooked style- roasted turkey breast, box stuffing, rolls
from a can, cranberry sauce from a can, roasted brussel sprouts and sweet potato
casserole.  The heavenly light seems to be favoring the rolls.
Thanksgiving was pretty mellow.   We relaxed after our drive and started cooking.  We had a delicious feast with a ton of leftovers so it was definitely a successful Thanksgiving!

Inspiration Point with Emerald Bay below
Emerald Bay
The next day, we took a field trip to South Lake Tahoe to check out Emerald Bay and Inspiration Point.  It was fairly crowded but we found a parking spot without too much trouble by utilizing one of the road pullouts.  It's legal as long as the car is inside the line, aka completely off the main road.  If we had waited for one of the lots, it would have been awhile!

Tree along the trail
We hiked down a gravel road to Vikingsholm, a former Summer residence of several rich Californians as it changed hands over the years.  Now it's owned by the State and open for tours in the Summer.  Ever since visiting Denmark twice, I've enjoy checking out Scandinavian design so it was cool to see here in Tahoe.  I recommend checking it out!

Our brief foray outside
On Saturday, we had a leisurely drive back to Mountain View.  Our first stop was in Truckee at the very cool Coffeebar.  Our drinks were delicious and SMS had an awesome sausage breakfast burrito.  We tried to brave the outside in the full sun but we wimped out and headed inside.  Our drinks would have been cold in an instant!

The coveted Gose, second from the right!
In Sacramento, we stopped for lunch at our favorite spot, Nido.  I had the vegan nut burger, SMS had the vegan steam buns and we split a beer sampler.  According to SMS, I drank more than my fair share of the Gose so I went back up to get another sampler.  Peace restored! 

Then we drove home and traded cars with our friend.  We had borrowed his front-wheel car with chains since snow was (remotely) in the forecast.  Better safe than sorry!  We actually just missed the snow- there was snow on the ground while we were there and on Saturday overnight, 8 inches fell!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Holiday Weekend!

The past weekend was a federal holiday weekend (yay!) and a nice mixture of being mellow and hanging out with family and friends.  This post will be scant on pictures.  It was a "live the moment" weekend instead of picture-taking, which I know, I know, does not make for very good blogging.
Gorgeous flowers outside of Neiman Marcus.  
 Anyway!  I took Friday off and was pretty mellow while SMS was at work.  I ran to his work and we met up for lunch.  I spent the rest of the afternoon at the shopping mall trying to find a specific lipstick but had no luck.  That night, we went to Tomi for dinner, which was pretty delicious.

ZZZZzzzzz....wake up!  The weekend gets more interesting!  On Saturday, SMS and I went to run club.  Neither one of us had been for awhile so it was nice to see our running friends.  Then, we went into the city to hang out with SMS's sister and brother-in-law.  We headed up to Tomales Bay, picked up oysters and had an amazing picnic in Pt. Reyes Station.  Afterwards, we drove out to Pt. Reyes lighthouse, admiring the happy cows along the way.  Does this sound familiar?   It's because we did the same trip with SMS' parents and his sister wanted to recreate it.
After we dropped them off, SMS and I went out to dinner in the city.  I hadn't really thought of a place, so we ended up going to the Dogpatch and eating at Smokestack.  I loved the interior and the BBQ and drinks were delicious.  Another huge bonus is they had free water on tap- still and sparkling!  I love bubbles!  I ordered a salad b/c I wasn't very hungry.  SMS ordered some delicious BBQ, sustainably sourced and cooked over a woodchip grill only, of course.  I mean, really, we are in San Francisco (ha ha).

The next day, we met up with a friend of ours for brunch.  I really wanted the chicken and waffle, but went with a big salad instead.  Aiming for healthier eating is not always the most fun, but choices, choices.   Afterwards, we went to the American Heritage Museum in Palo Alto, which was pretty cute.  It was staffed by a lot of older volunteers, who gave us a tour.  We saw several old printing presses, staffed by a guy who had been a typesetter for 30+ years.  I really liked the interior of the house, since a doctor owned it and one room was an OR theatre.  You can't tell now, but the skylights were perfectly positioned for illuminating the operative field.  I loved it!

Since we had been eating out like kings and queens, we decided to eat at home.  I made a version of tacorisu, a Japanese dish that translates into....wait for it...taco rice!  It was pretty good so I'll be making it again.