December 28, 2009

Merry Christmas from TEXAS!

This year we did Christmas in Texas to spend time with the Howe family! Here are some brief highlights of what we managed to cram into our quick vacation:

For some reason our gate (and only our gate) was decorated like a castle, complete with a knight in shining armor.




Life Lesson #58: Do not fall asleep while doing a sudoku puzzle on your tray table - it may transfer to your forehead :)



We ate - A LOT. Dave got a "birthday pickle" from his brother Tim that was probably the size of my forearm.


Ally and Jack (niece and nephew) introduced me to the world's yummiest chocolate chip cookies at Potbellys. We had fun eating together, and I'll admit that I may have been the one who told Jack to put ice down Bill's shirt :)



We saw a couple movies - Avatar in 3D and Sherlock Holmes. Dave and I were both amazed by how "real" Avatar's graphics were. We loved it and definitely recommend to others!


We were suprised by a White Christmas! On Wednesday it was sunny with temps in the 70s - I wore shorts and we played a game of tennis with Tim and Cindy. The next day was cold and when we came out of whirlyball, flakes were falling. By Christmas morning there was at least an inch on the ground!


We reconnected with friends - gosh we miss living near you guys!


It was really fun to see everyone and we hope to make a trip back soon. We love and miss you Howes!

December 21, 2009

Christmas Downtown!

Every year my family goes downtown to see the lights, ride the carousel, and visit the gingerbread display at the Sheraton Hotel.

In front of the star over Macy's


The giant toy train display in Macy's corner window


The carousel at Westlake Center - yes we probably are too old to be riding, but we're never ones to pass on some fun :)

A big boy riding on a very small horse

The theme of the Gingerbread Village this year was Christmas Movies. All the houses are huge and amazingly intricate, but here are a few of my favorites:

A Christmas Story, complete with leg lamp

The side panel of Muppet Christmas Carol - I wonder how long it took them to sort through all the Jelly Bellies to create this...

Nightmare Before Christmas

Polar Express

Merry Christmas Everyone!

December 20, 2009

Skis in Rain Guy (& Girl)

This was us on Saturday. It was raining, but we have season passes so we are going to use them! This describes things pretty accurately:




December 14, 2009

Blind Sided by New Moon



On Saturday night Dave and I went to see The Blind Side. It turned out to be a bit of an emotional roller coaster:

We left our house a little late and when we got to the theater our show had already started. The box office gave us tickets to New Moon instead so we could get into the theater. We were relieved it wasn't sold out.

We went into the theater for Blind Side. The previews had started and the place was packed. Luckily the two seats in the middle back row were just holding coats - not being reserved. We were really, really glad we didn't have to sit on the front row.

After taking our seats, there were still several previews to sit through. After the first few, we starting to sense a theme: teenage romances. First Dear John, followed by Remember Me, then Letters to Juliet. Not what you would expect to see for a football movie... We were a little confused.

Then there was a preview for New Moon, or that's what we thought. Bella was standing in a field with Edward, it panned to a mirror, then they were staring at each other and started breathing heavily, and then we realized that this wasn't a preview but the start of the movie. We somehow went in the wrong theater.

But that couldn't be right- our tickets said New Moon, but we swore we went into the right theater. It certianly explained the strange previews. We didn't really want to walk out though, since we were in the middle and had already climbed over everyone on the way in. We had no idea what to do.

Then we looked around the theater - there were way too many men for this to be New Moon. You could see heads looking for the exits and a murmur could be heard throughout the theater. Apparently we weren't the only ones who had been duped. We were starting to feel less like idiots.

A theater rep came into to inform us that the wrong movie had been loaded and Blind Side would start soon. To compensate us for our trouble, everyone in the theater would receive complimentary movie passes. We were ecstatic.

About 40 minutes after the original scheduled start time, our movie finally began. We loved it - a great date night and now we can see something again next week FOR FREE!

December 10, 2009

Crystal clear and cold, cold, cold!

Seattle's typical cloud cover lifted last week, making the skies uncharacteristically clear and the weather uncharacteristically cold. I think I'm starting to develop permanent goosebumps!

I have, however, enjoyed the break from the rain and the amazing sunsets. How am I supposed to work when it looks like this out the windows by my desk??







December 8, 2009

Christmas Date

Last night Dave and I enjoyed some FREE holiday entertainment!

First stop was the Ice Arena in Bellevue. Normally skating and rentals would be $10/person, but thanks to Bank of America,we went for free! Our skating skills are pretty pathetic, and it took a couple laps before we felt confident enoughto leave the wall. Soon we were dodging children, having gliding contests, and pulling each other around the rink. Best part of the evening - no one fell down!

This isn't the best shot of us, but we were lucky to get a picture at all - it was FREEZING and the camera was not cooperating. We would turn it on, immediately press the button, and just hope it would have enough juice to take a picture. Brrrr!


Next we drove to the Garden d'Lights, also in Bellevue. This attraction is apparently a very popular destination for little kids and old people. The light displays were pretty amamzing and we had a great time looking around.


We are standing right in front of a "grape vineyard" in this picture



The lady at the information desk told us that this tree has 12,500 lights and took 350 hours to put together - WOW!!



To wrap up our evening, we stopped at Best Buy on the way home to look at laptops (mine broke) and cameras. It was supposed to be an in-and-out trip, but we spent almost an hour in there! Who knew taking picture of each other with the display cameras could be so fun??

December 5, 2009

Joy to the World!

I finally finished! Actually I finished a couple weeks ago, and good thing too, or there would have been no place to eat Thanksgiving dinner at the cabin :)

This is probably the hardest puzzle I own. You may be thinking, "The hardest? That doesn't look too bad." Don't be deceived. The continents aren't that bad, but the oceans are a BEAST. This puzzle is a photomosiac, so each piece has 3-4 teeny tiny pictures on it. Thus, to put together the big blue mass, you have pick up a piece that has has a picture of a woman in a chaise lounge or an eagle or a white boat, seach the box to find that one little picture, and then put the piece on the table approximately where it is supposed to go. Evetually the pieces start to hook together. It is as painstaking as it sounds, but well worth it in the end.

Behold my pride and joy!



November 30, 2009

Two Left Feet

We spent our Thanksgiving break up at the cabin, so we went to "mountain church" (the Mt. Si Ward) on Sunday. About 10 minutes before we had to leave for church, I realized that in my haste to pack and start our mini-vacation I had grabbed two left shoes from my closet...

I am a horrible dancer, but since I don't actually have two left feet this was a bit of a problem. I searched the cabin to see if I could find any alternative footwear. These were my options:
  • My old gray tennis shoes
  • Snow boots
  • Hiking shoes
  • White sheepskin slippers
  • Fluffy blue slippers with clouds on them
  • My dad's flip flops
While the slippers would have been very comfy, I decided to go with the tennis shoes. Dave said I reminded him of Pam from The Office - wearing sneakers with my dress :) 

I supposed I could have forgetten something much worse, like my dress, but I was still pretty self-conscious the whole meeting. I made Dave go in through the back entrance, we sat on the last row of the overflow, and I strategicially placed my purse in front of my feet. Next Sunday I will be very thankful for my regular church shoes!

November 28, 2009

The Ornament Collection

One Christmas as we were decorating our family tree, I noticed I had a few ornaments with a similar theme - Santa on a bear, Santa on a goose, and Santa on a salmon. Then when my family went to Gatorland in Florida several years ago, I saw a "Santa on an alligator" ornament in the gift shop and decided to buy it with my souvenir money. That was the beginning of my collection.

In more recent years I have added Santa on a dolphin and a turtle (Hawaii), Santa on a polar bear (Alaska), and Santa on a marlin (North Carolina).


Now everytime I'm in a store I look at the ornaments to see if I can add to my collection. Hard as I've tried, though, I haven't been able to find anything this year... if you see something I don't have, let me know!!

November 24, 2009

Howe Exercise Regime

Dave and I are not known for our committment to exercise. We aren't sedentary lazy bums, but you certainly won't find us at the gym or jogging through the neighborhood on a regular basis... We just don't like to exercise for the sake of exercising, so for us it's best if the workout is disguised as part of some other (more fun) activity.

Here is what we did this weekend:

1. Dave played three 30-minute games of flag football on Saturday morning.

2. Both of us participated in the orienteering event at Magnuson Park in Seattle. This course had double the number of controls and was significantly longer than our first attempt at Lake Sammamish State Park. The map said our course was 4.1km, but that was if you stayed on target... I'm pretty sure we covered at least 5km when you include all our detours. As you can see, we spent a good amout of time searching for the 6th marker:


Part of the reason we had a hard time finding control #6 was because we couldn't even find where we were in the park. We were lost in some very marshy land surrounded by little ponds and ducks. After running aimlessly for several minutes, we finally popped out by a road and right in front of us was marker #7! It wasn't the one we were looking for, but at lease we knew where we were! Looking back, we now realize why we couldn't for the life of us find our position on the map - our position was not on the map - we were out of bounds, a good 800 ft off course...


We did finish in under an hour though, which was our goal, so I was very happy. Next time I think we'll aim to complete in 50 minutes or less!

3. We moved all the Christmas boxes and the giant Christmas tree (it's fake) from the crawl space of my parent's house to the entry way.

4. I donned a snow suit to shovel 8 inches of snow off the driveway at the cabin. Trust me - you'll work up a good sweat doing this!

5. And finally the most taxing thing we did - run a gazillion errands amidst the crowd of holiday shoppers out on the last Saturday morning before Thanksgiving!

November 18, 2009

Mini Pizzas!

Once upon a time Dave and I were up at the cabin. I had packed some cheese and pepperoni slices, and for dinner we were going to make a pizza with the Boboli crust that was in the fridge. Only it turns out there was no crust in the fridge, and I had no back-up plans for dinner...

After scrounging around a bit, I found a sleeve of English muffins and said to Dave, "Would this work??"

And so mini pizzas were born!



We thought we were geniuses for coming up with such a good idea. However, when we told other people about our invention they were like, "Haven't you ever heard of that before? Everybody knows about those!"

But if everybody knows about these, then why don't they make them more often?? They are seriously the easiest dinner ever and taste delicious! Mini pizzas instantly became a favorite dinner of ours and now we make them once a week.

So incase you are like us and haven't discovered this pizza secret, I'm here to spread the word - now you know!

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 and grease a cookie sheet
  2. Slice English muffins in half and spread out on tray
  3. Spoon on sauce, sprinkle on cheese (we use mozerlla and cheddar), and place toppings (use whatever you want - we're boring and like simplicity so we just stick with pepperoni)
  4. After baking for 5-7 minutes, switch to broil and cook until the cheese starts to bubble
  5. Remove and enjoy!

November 16, 2009

Doing my part for market research

A couple weeks ago I took a survey for a market research company and qualified for a home test of the product being studied.

On Friday, this box arrived via FedEx at my office, and yes it was as big as it looks! After keeping it under my desk all day, I had to carry it a few blocks to the bus tunnel, and then ride with it all the way home on a crowded bus. Clearly I was not thinking things through when I decided to have it shipped to work rather than our apartment:


Once I opened the monstrous box, I found that in addition to 6 ice packs and 8 inches of bubble wrap, there were only these two little packages inside - products 3R7 and 4M7:


Fortunately both products were delicious, and I had no trouble eating several samples - all in the name of research of course!


November 15, 2009

Snow Shoeing

On Friday, 10 inches of light and fluffy snow fell in Snoqualmie Pass. It was enough for Summit West (the ski hill right by our cabin) to open a couple chairlifts so people could enjoy a few runs. I wasn't able to hit the slopes, but I did strap on some snow shoes!

My mom, dad, brother, and I enjoyed a hike through the beautiful snow-covered forest:


Me and my mom in our matching black outfits, Norwegian hats, and snowshoes:


Plus, no winter recreation outfit is complete without colorful knee-high socks!



But where was Dave during all of this?

On Saturday he played NINE GAMES of flag football - three in the morning (Korean church league team) and six in the evening (regional single's ward tournment held at UW Stadium). When he finally crawled into bed around 11pm, he was out before I could say "good night."

November 12, 2009

The danger of blue bathrobes

Dave has a bathrobe - it is big, blue, furry and looks something like this:



When I did laundry earlier this week, I learned that in addition to being warm and wonderful, this bathrobe can also be a menace.

Normally I wash the bathrobe by itself, but apparently I wasn't thinking and threw it in with everything else. As a result, Dave and I are now suffering from an acute case of fuzzitis - a non-fatal, although embarrassing, condition in which little tufts of blue fluff can be found on your person. The symptoms first appeared on our clothes and have since spread to the carpet, couch, and bed.

Dave's comment on the situation: "It looks like Cookie Monster was wearing my underwear."



I guess it's time to break out the lint roller!

November 8, 2009

100% All Natural

I don't normally go for organic stuff, but there is one food I make an exception for - SNOW CONES!


This tasty treat--the first of the season--was made with 100% all natural snow, freshly gathered from the back balcony. No presevatives. No hormones. No pesticides. The lime and cherry syrups, on the other hand, are probably 100% artificial flavors and colors which would negate the "organic" label. Oh well... :)


Looking out at the cabin across the street - I was so excited because it snowed the whole time we were up in the mountains. It really felt like Christmas was just around the corner!



Stay warm everyone!

November 7, 2009

One of these boys is not like the others...


Dave was invited by a work friend to play flag football in a Korean church league! Today was their first set of games and the team did great - 3 wins and 1 tie.

Dave was the MVP of rushing and blocking  - way to go! He was also the only non-Korean player on the field; I was the only non-Korean person cheering on the sideline - fun times :)

Post-edit: my sister pointed out that Dave is also the only one not wearing a hat, coat, gloves or long pants!

Finding Our True North!


Today Dave and I completed our first orienteering course!  

We were introduced to orienteering by Dave's brother Tim. When we showed up at the park, we almost left before we even got started - it was pouring and the big crowd of people milling all over the place was a little daunting. Luckily Tim caught us on our way out. He showed us where to register, how to get a map & flash drive tracker, and helped us choose a course to run. Since we were beginners, we elected to try the short course with the fewest markers.

Now we were ready to set off! After dashing through the starting gate however, we made it only a few hundered feet before stopping to stare at each other with "what on earth do we do now??" looks. Neither of us had ever done this before and we realized that we had no clue what to do next.

Taking refuge under a tree, I got out our map to figure out where we were and where we were supposed to be going. Soon we were off - running through the downpour and gigantic puddles towards station 1. We got DRENCHED. Our shoes were sloshing and by the time found the 7 stations and crossed the finish line, every layer of clothing was soaked - yes, even our underwear.

Despite this, we had a BLAST - it was a ton of fun, we got good exercise, and orienteering wasn't nearly as nerdy as we thought it would be. We can't wait to try a longer course at the next event in a couple weeks!!

November 3, 2009

Can you KENKEN?

I used to like Sudoku puzzles, but then I discovered KenKens. Dave says that they hurt his brain, but I LOVE them! If you've ever had fun doing a Sudoku, then you really should give KenKens a try!

Rules for playing KenKen:
  1. Fill in each box with a number - which numbers you use depends on the grid size. If the grid is 4x4, then you use the numbers 1-4. If the grid is 7x7, then you use the numbers 1-7.
  2. Do not repeat a number in any row or column.
  3. The numbers in each heavily outlined set of of squares, called cages, must combine (in any order) to produce the target number in the top corner, using the mathmatical operation indicated. For example: if the symbol at the top of a cage was 3- and you had a 6x6 grid, then possible numbers for that cage are 6-3, 5-2, or 4-1.
  4. Until you know what the numbers are, it helps to write down possible options in the bottom of the squares or in the margins.  
The most basic puzzles are the 4x4 grids. Here is how you would solve this one:



Want to give your brain some exercise today? Try this 5x5 puzzle:



If you thought that was a cinch and want a challenge, more KenKens that are updated daily can be found here. The 7x7 for today was a doozy!

November 1, 2009

Bring out the big guns!

On Saturday we went to the shooting range with my dad and brother. I had only shot a gun once in my life before this and was really looking forward to doing it again! After the standard safety lesson, we took some shots at a target grid to get used to the guns.


 Next we moved to one of the skeet & trap fields to shoot some clay pigeons. My dad and Dave did awesome, but I didn't get off to the best start... 


Things finally started clicking when we moved over to the 5-stand. I hit seven in a row and was really stoked about it!


At the 5-stand, the pigeons were launched from several different stations. Dave and I were both able to hit a report pair (two pigeons fired from different stations in succession) and a true pair (two pigeons fired from different stations at the same time). Go us!!



We both had an AWESOME time and would love to go back and do it again!!