Monday, August 25, 2008

The Ramen Noodle turned 50 years old today!

I heard on NPR today that the ramen noodle was invented by Momofuku Ando 50 years ago today! I must pay homage, since I love all kinds of ramen noodles, but especially the spicy asian kinds that you can find at 99 Ranch supermarkets. The only sad thing is that ramen noodles can be pretty fatty and caloric. I love adding veggies and an egg to my noodles... mmm mmm good! You can read about the NPR story here.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Todd's Fabulous UK Adventures

I asked Todd to be a guest blogger and write an entry about his adventures visiting England on a business trip in July. Below is his personal account. :) *** Last year listgirl and I nearly traveled to jolly old England for the first time to attend her cousin's wedding. That trip did not come together for a few reasons - not least of which was the cost due to the failing US dollar. Happily for me, last month my company decided to send me there for a full week. Going on their purse alleviated the dollar problem, at least for me. Now I've been invited to share some impressions from that trip here on her blog. I'll try to include at least one list. We (my boss and I) flew on Virgin Atlantic direct from LAX to Heathrow. Direct is good but it's still a long 10 hours in an uncomfortable seat. Too bad those Concordes never became financially viable! At least I cranked though a solid 700 pages of the books I'd brought. I recommend Virgin, BTW. They have nice service, good food, and a nice entertainment device right at your seat. Look, my first mini-list! Our destination, Winchester, was about an hour ride away. Winchester was the capital of England several hundred years ago. In the middle of town is a statue of King Arthur.
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It's also well known for the historic Winchester Cathedral. Parts of The Da Vinci Code were filmed at the cathedral a couple of years back. Photobucket We were confined to being on foot much of the time which worked out fine. It's the norm over there. Of course, we were there in July when it was 65-70 degrees and sunny rather than the rest of the year when the weather is crap. One of the guys over there, Kevin, visited our office a few months back. On that trip, his hotel was about 3/4 miles from the beach as the seagull flies. With the gears in his British mind turning, he thought he'd walk over. Heh. Our pedestrian unfriendly roads made his walk more like a mile and a half with some harrowing street crossing thrown in. We showed him! Another time he wanted to check out the scene downtown. He again utilized (I should say utilised) British logic and hopped on a bus for the 20 mile trip. Double heh, 2 hours and 1490 bus stops later he finally arrived. USA, USA!! That difference in mindset is one thing I noticed. Most offices had no parking. Commuters either came in by train, or parked at the edge of town for £5 and walked to work. Want to eat lunch out? Time to walk again. There was lots of walking. And smoking. And wearing of fashionable clothing. I felt a bit like a simpleton wearing my t-shirts. Even my cool shirt that says, "Come to the dark side, we have cookies." On Saturday, we took a train into the city. The train cost £28 for an overnight round trip but only about £18 if we had returned on the same day. I never got a good explanation for that. It was raining when we arrived and I feared our day would be rather grim. But within an hour it cleared up and we bought some tour bus tickets (£24). On board and on foot we saw the sights of London and Westminster including... Westminster Abbey Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket The London Eye Photobucket Many shoppers at the Oxford Circus Photobucket House of Parliament (including Big Ben) Photobucket Photobucket the Tower of London Photobucket We rode around town on a bus that looked like this. Photobucket (List requirement now fulfilled!) Our hotel that night was right by Soho, which is a happening nightlife / gay neighborhood. My boss had a favorite pizza place ("the best pizza in London") that we patronized. I liked it but I have to say I did not prefer it to Bongiornos. We also found a fresh cream puff shop which was super yummy. After dinner we walked around for hours and enjoyed the drag queens and other wacky folks. Then on Sunday we hopped into a rented car. Incidentally, not only do they drive on the left but our car was a manual transmission. That means that the stick was in the driver's left hand. I'm not sure if the pedals were reversed too. Luckily my boss is from South Africa and was right at home with all the oddity. I could probably handle driving on the left side. But I've driven a manual transmission maybe twice in my life outside of video games so I would not have been eager to deal with all that newness. The above is not to mention the different wording on signs. Photobucket Or the road lines apparently laid down after a long trip to the pub. Photobucket Our first destination was Stonehenge. We paid about £5 to get in and were given a self-directed audio tour with admission. It told of all the interesting history and funny superstitions over the years regarding the place. I'm sure you can read all the same info on Wikipedia if you're interested. I had recently watched This Is Spinal Tap so I had extra reasons to chuckle during this visit. Photobucket Photobucket From there we headed to Bournemouth which is on the southern coast. The clouds of the early part of the day cleared and we were treated to a very pleasant afternoon at the beach. Photobucket We walked up and down the path and also out on the pier. I was shocked to learn we'd have to pay 50p to traverse the pier. Photobucket Before leaving we could not pass up eating the traditional British dish of fish and chips. £4.50 including drink, yummy. Photobucket It's been said that the US and UK are divided by a common language. I certainly enjoyed listening to the (what were for me) idiosyncrasies. On Friday night I enjoyed a pudding (dessert) after dinner. BTW, my particular pudding was a brownie. I read in the newspaper about some folks who received the elbow (were laid off). It was surprisingly difficult to find litter (garbage) receptacles in public. The fruity (frisky) guys were not just in Soho but could be anywhere. Fortunately, I never noticeably blew off (farted) in public. And on and on... All-in-all, the trip left me eager to go abroad again. It takes a bit more adventurousness than going to Santa Barbara, but it has different rewards. It's a bit embarrassing that I have not yet been to either China or Taiwan. I hope that will be my next international destination. If it happens, a report will no doubt appear right here including a list comparing west and east. Cheerio!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

One Point Five

I woke up this morning thinking of and missing my mom. Then I realized that today is exactly 1.5 years since she passed away. In some ways I can't believe it's been that long. It still feels fresh. I can still hear her voice and see her smile in my head. Since I've gotten off my med for anxiety, I have been missing her more and been crying more freely when that happens. People are right when they say that you never "get over it". You just get used to it. And even that hasn't happened fully for me yet. I lost her when I was 36 and she was 63. So young for her to go, and so young for me to lose her. I can't believe that we were only together on earth for 36 years. It's not enough time for me. My only consolation is that she's with the Jesus whom she loved her whole life, and that I'll get an eternity to be with her in heaven as well.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

What Family Means to Me... and a free template!

I'm on the Pixel Gypsy site creative team, and we've been doing a series of All About Me challenges every week. Anyone can join in at any time! You can find out more about the AAM challenges here.

This week we will be doing a page about what our family means to us. I thought about this for a while, and finally came up with the concept for my layout. Family means unconditional love to me. No matter what I do and where I am, I love my family always, and they feel the same about me. The love is also endless, like a circle.

So with that in mind, I set to work and created this.

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Credits:
Sherrie Piegdon @ Pixel Gypsy Designs:
This Boy Papers
This Boy Elements
Life Is Sweet Elements
Popsicle Sticks (PGD Collab)
Christine's Seaside Escape Papers
Urban Edge Papers
Candy's Fairy Dreams Papers
Flannel Jammies - Cozy Papers
Everyday Joy Solids Papers

Ami Collofello @ Pixel Gypsy Designs:
Popsicle Sticks (PGD Collab)

Natalie Braxton @ The Lilypad:
Stringaling II
Stringaling III
Ribbon Tie Fasterners
Summer Alpha Squares

Kate Hadfield @ The Lilypad:
Home Sweet Home
Hand Sewn Stitches

Katie Pertiet @ Designer Digitals:
Expressions Tapes
Graphic Pop Clusters #2
Graphic Pop Dots #2

Background paper is Plain Jane Cardstock - Powders by Laurie Ann HGD @ Scrap Artist.
Some papers from Tutti Frutti by Paislee Press & Emily Powers @ {we are} storytellers.
For Him For Her paper by Kasia @ Shabby Pickle.
Beach Boy papers by Heidi Larsen @ Little Dreamer Designs.
Alpha Stickies by Gina Miller @ Gina Miller Designs.

Center photo by Melissa Koehler Photography.
Font is CK Marisa.


Now that you've made it this far, I'd like to offer you a layout template that I made from my layout. You can download it here. (Another link here if you encounter bandwidth issues with the first link.) Please remember it's for personal use only, and to credit "Christine Newman" or "supertwinkle" if you post your layout in public galleries. Please don't redistribute the template. You can simply refer your friends to my site here. :)



Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Totally Us Blog Contest

My friend Jan Crowley / Queen of Quirk is having a blog contest over at her blog. You can win this Shutterfly-ready 12x12 quick page album before it even goes on sale! It's totally cute and it's made using her Monkey Do kit, but there are some extra goodies in here not available in the kit. The contest is easy. All you have to do is comment on her blog by telling a story. Go now! You can also click here to see her whole album at Shutterfly.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Magazine inspirations and calorie ignorance

Well, this post is gonna be a hodge-podge of stuff, so I didn't know how to title my post. :) Yesterday I woke up and uploaded my scrapbooking page for the day, and played the praise game at DST and MSA. Then Todd woke up and we chatted about what to do for the day. Stuff like what to eat, where and when to exercise, etc. I got frustrated because I kinda didn't want to plan out the day (which is so anti-me, I don't know what came over me). So finally Todd was frustrated too and said I'd been snippy for three days. I quickly realized that it was true, and apologized. I blame it on prolonged calorie-deprivation, even though I know it's not true. I've been keeping track of my food intake via The Daily Plate for a month now, but only losing at the most TWO measly pounds. Plus I've been so much better at exercising too, so what gives? While it's frustrating to see the lack of downward movement on the scales, I've lost weight before and I know I can do it again. So I did this layout for Manda Bean (I'm the August guest CT there) using her new kit Let's Get Physical, a collab with Heather Roselli. Photobucket Full credits can be seen here. So after breakfast, we headed over to the local high school track to run for 30 minutes. Man, it was hard-going at first. It felt like 90 degrees down there, even though I know it wasn't. The track and football field is sunken, with bleachers around it, so there was hardly a breeze. I ran 2.5 miles and that was all I could take. Then we went home and showered and headed to lunch at Nozomi, my favorite Japanese restaurant. I had the Hawaiian Roll there, with cucumber, krab meat, shrimp tempura inside the roll, and spicy tuna on top of the roll. With the orange spicy sauce, it was delicious. Of course, it was not low-cal due to the fried and sauce stuffs. But I tried not to eat all the rice, at least. I was happy to finally go back there to eat! After that, it was hot, so we went to Linens N Things and Borders for some A/C refuge. We had some 20% off coupons for LNT, so we finally purchased our long-coveted Waffle Maker. We used it this morning and made two kinds: regular (which we topped with ready-whip and fresh blueberries), and one where we mixed in grounded and sweetened red beans. BOTH were delicious! Photobucket Photobucket Now who wouldn't want to wake up with your husband preparing yummy belgian waffles for you??! So then, at Borders (continuing on from yesterday), we got some tea, and a piece of carrot cake. We LOVE the carrot cake at Borders, cuz it's made with real cream cheese. Then I came home and found it on The Daily Plate that each slice is over 800 calories! :( Good thing we only shared one! I picked up two magazines while at Borders, because they inspired me in different ways. First, this.
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It's the August 2008 issue of Runners World. Sorry photo's so small, it's the best I can pilfer off the internet. But I was totally intrigued because that woman just looks so FAB running in that running skirt! I've been in such a rut fashion-wise in running. I've been basically wearing the same running clothes for 6 years. Now the new rage in women's running gear are these running skirts! I big puffy *heart* them and wanna go try one on! Plus, this issue has a half-marathon special, which I hope to achieve within the next 8 months. I've run a whole marathon (26.2 miles) before, but that was a long time ago (2000 Honolulu Marathon), so I need to start from scratch training-wise again. So, picture me looking FAB, crossing the finish line in a running skirt! :: big smiles :: Now that's motivation! This was exactly the motivation that I was looking for, to get fit and thin again. The other magazine I got was the current issue of the San Diego Magazine, which is their annual "Best Of" issue. We've found many a restaurant and cool hangout based on this annual issue, so I had to pick this one up.
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Then last night, we watched the movie "21" because it came in Netflix. It was okay, nothing to write home about. The character development was a little bit lacking. The concept of counting cards in black jack in intriguing, but not my kind of thing.
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Kevin Spacey was a non-redeeming jerk, so he got what he deserved at the end. There was no character development with him either. Lastly for today... I am a big proponent of public schools teaching about personal finance and food nutrition. I feel both topics are essential life skills that don't get taught, so the general public is severely uninformed. This was confirmed by this article from the Freakonomics blog that Todd sent me the other day. Personal finance should not be a mystery. The basics are easy to acquire, and the benefits to each individual is astounding. Just the simple concepts of compounding interest, diversification, inflation, and time value of money goes a long ways in helping people make the right choices about money. I'm passionate about people educating themselves on such matters. People just don't understand the importance of start saving young when it comes to the time value of money and compounding. The nutrition education is non-existent in our schools too. People aren't equipped with the knowledge they need to make the right eating choices. Look at the rate of obesity climbing steadily at a staggering rate. We're fatter than ever before. :: Sigh :: I know it's not something I can change about everyone, but I'm happy to be taking steps to educate myself about the calorie content of the foods I eat so that I can make better choices for myself.

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