Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Year In Review

On this last day of 2008, it's time to reflect on what happened this year, and what it all means to me. :: Putting on my pensive face:: I really got into scrapbooking hardcore this year. I made 270 pages in total, which surprised even me. That's a lot of time spent in front of the computer! But one thing I am VERY thankful for is the online friends I've made this year because of digital scrapbooking, and how some of them have truly become real life friends. Before this year, I've never really thought that I could make friends with people online... I mean, isn't that a little creepy? Turns out that's not true at all. I'm thankful for the friendships with the girls at Pixel Gypsy Designs, and also very thankful for my witty, honest, and very funny friend Peppermint. I chat with these friends almost on a daily basis. I KNOW their families and their lives as well as a friend I could have living next door. That's what keeps me doing the things I do in the digi-community, because of these wonderful people. :) On the fitness and weight-loss front, I was kind of at a standstill. I started gaining weight after my mom passed away (Feb 2007). So far I'm up about 12-15 lbs. I'm not FAT by any stretch of the imagination, but I want to weigh between 115-118 lbs again. For my height (5'3") and how I want my body to perform and feel, that's the weight range for me. I ran my fastest 5K when I was around 115 lbs. Running was MUCH easier at that weight. I tried losing weight this year by joining The Daily Plate and keeping track of my calorie intake. That worked for a while, but I put the weight back on in Nov/Dec. ;p Also, I'm fairly certain that being on Paxil for the first half of this year didn't help on the weight-loss and exercise front. The medication made me lethargic. I'm happy that I'm off the medication now and I haven't had any panic/anxiety attacks for a year and a half now. I weaned off the medication in June, it was difficult but totally worth it. I hope to get back to my prime running form in 2009, join a group, run a couple of races, and get back in shape physically and cardiovascularly. I didn't read as many books as I wanted to this year. I think scrapbooking took up most of my free time. Peppermint introduced me to Emily Giffin books and Janet Evanovich books. I also finished up Freakonomics, which was entertaining and thought-provoking. Picked up Case Histories by Kate Atkinson from Costco and read it in a weekend. Terrific narrative mystery novel. I'm going to try to read more in 2009, because I really do enjoy it and want to make more time for it. From a spiritual perspective, I feel like time stood still for me this year. I'll be honest and say that I just haven't drawn myself close to God since my mom died. I didn't do this on purpose, it just happened, and I let it happen. I didn't show up at the church building regularly on Sundays. We would watch church on the internet sometimes, but even then it wasn't on a regular basis. I do feel the void, I do. I wouldn't say that I'm exactly angry at God. But my mom passing away when I prayed so hard for her healing really put a barrier up between me and God. I want to be close again, but it'll take some work on my part. If you're an evangelical Christian, or my friend, please pray that I'll make my way closer to my Jesus in 2009. Emotionally/socially, I was a little lacking again. I didn't spend as much time doing things with my friends as I had in previous years. I have a tendency to be a hermit if nobody takes the initiative with me. So for that, I'm thankful to my friend Sally (whom I've been friends with since I was 12 years old!), who I can always count on to call me and make plans to do something together. I didn't spend as much time with our friends AJ & Meera as I wanted to either. It's something that I would like to change in 2009. I made this fun layout as a tribute to a wonderful 2008. As you can imagine it took a few hours, but it was worth it. Below it is my last LIST of 2008 - made of all the fantastic-ness that was this year. Photobucket
  • Jan 7 - we had some friends over to our house to watch the BCS National Championship game , the Buckeyes vs LSU. Todd made blueberry cream cheese cupcakes and fun was had by all. Except the Buckeyes. They lost.
  • Jan 18 - my friend Barbara's friends organized a surprise birthday party for her. It was quite an enchanting evening as we helped Barbara celebrate her 31st birthday.
  • Jan 19 - got our photos taken by the fabulous photographer Melissa Koehler.
  • Feb 2 - our next door neighbors Fred & Annie had a coffee party, with Elvis Presley as the theme!
  • Feb 5 - Todd's birthday. Todd's parents Tim & Sylvia were here from Ohio to help celebrate. Sylvia made a strawberry whipped cream cake and we all played sports on the Wii.
  • Feb 9 - met up with our friends AJ & Meera (& little Andon) at Lou's Records in Encinitas to hear Jon Forman (of Switchfoot) sing and sign his new solo record. Afterwards went to Pannikin Cafe for dessert and tea.
  • Feb 14 - a bittersweet Valentine's Day for me as I came to grips with the one year anniversary of my mom going to heaven.
  • Mar 1 - my dad & Shelly got married and had a banquet. Joyce flew in from Dallas to attend.
  • Mar 8 - attended Todd's friends Jessica and Kurt's wedding reception in downtown SD.
  • Mar 11 - my birthday. Went to Nine-Ten Restaurant in La Jolla for dinner, where I had a spectacular lobster salad.
  • Mar 15 - went to Heaven Sent Desserts in North Park and had a seriously SPICY jalapeno chocolate mousse! My mouth was overwhelmed by the senses.
  • Mar 28 - went to an all-girls karaoke March birthday party at Patsy's house. Fun was had by all.
  • Apr 1 - got my very first speeding ticket ever, and it cost me dearly. Unfortunately it wasn't an April Fool's joke.
  • Apr 5 - we went to Huntington Beach for the weekend, just to get away to some place we've never been.
  • Apr 12 - a very hot weekend as San Diego's temps reached into the 90's. Went running at the coast, had Bongiornos pizza for lunch (one of many times this year), had afternoon desserts with Sally @ Heaven Sent Desserts, and dinner with Sally at Ranchos Mexican in North Park. Afterwards we walked around the art galleries at Ray At Night.
  • May 10 - the first of many photo shoots featuring ourselves and a tripod. We have many good photos of us that I scrapped this year, all because of the trusty tripod.
  • May 11 - had my second Mother's Day without my mom.
  • May 14 - went to Japengo for dinner with Todd, because I was awarded a Night On The Town from work for a project I worked on. Todd loved the tempura banana dessert.
  • May 17 - one of many photos of Todd about to devour food. Photoshoot in Balboa Park, with our tripod again.
  • May 26 - had Sally and our neighbors Fred & Annie over for Memorial Day luncheon.
  • May 29 - one of our many runs/skates at Miramar Lake.
  • Jun 23 - dinner at the Marine Room in Ja Jolla, to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary.
  • Jun 24 - went to San Francisco for a few days and did many fun things.
  • Jul - mid - Todd went to the UK for the first time for work, and had many adventures.
  • Jul 26 - went to LA to celebrate Dad's birthday. His friends had a potluck party for him.
  • Aug 3 - Todd made me homemade Belgian waffles for breakfast, on our new waffle maker.
  • Aug 8 - went to Napa Valley for my friend Minnie's wedding to Mike. The wedding was spectacular! It was beautiful there and we enjoyed touring the wineries, even though we're not big wine fans.
  • Aug 15 - went to the horse races in Del Mar for the first time ever, even though we've been living in San Diego since 2000. Todd's company had an outing there and we ate some food but didn't bet on any horses. People thought we were weird.
  • Aug 16 - went to sushi at Nozomi with Sally.
  • Aug 23 - went to The Linkery in North Park for a sausage lunch, but wasn't impressed. Met Sally down the street from there at Heaven Sent Desserts for latte and cake, which were more impressive.
  • Aug 31 - went to a Padres game at Petco Park with Sally & Brian. It was way fun and we had Mama's Lebanese for lunch!
  • Sep 13 - went to the Ohio State game vs. USC at LA Memorial Coliseum. The Trojans blew out the Buckeyes and deflated our hopes for another shot at the National Championship. Todd's parents Tim & Sylvia came all the way from Ohio for this! Also got to meet up with some old friends Chris & Tim, and the Townsends (all from NCR Dayton days). Tim & Sylvia had Japanese food for the first time. And I have a photo to prove it.
  • Sep 17 - Taste of Downtown - we ate lots of food at different restaurants. Enough said.
  • Sep 20 - tripod photoshoot in Encinitas. Got some great shots of the two of us, which I used throughout the year in my digi scrapbook pages.
  • Oct 4 - Buckeyes played football against Wisconsin and we had a party at our house. I met Anne and Gilbert for the first time and liked them immediately. Sally & Brian, and AJ & Meera came too. We made chili and apple cinnamon cream cheese cake, and Anne made corn bread. Sure was fun to have friends over.
  • Oct 12 - went to the Naked Cafe in Solana Beach for breakfast. They specialize in natural and organic foods, and it was great. Walked on the beach afterwards. In late afternoon, just as the Chargers started to play a nationally televised Sunday night game, and we started making crabcakes for dinner (for the first time ever), Todd accidentally cut his finger while chopping and I had to take him to urgent care. He and his finger turned out okay after a few weeks of healing.
  • Oct 26 - went to Sally & Brian's for an authentic homemade British breakfast of Scottish egg, baked beans, potatoes, hot dog, and English muffin. What was the occasion? The Chargers played the New Orleans Saints in London. Brian's parents Terry & Susan were there too, and a good time was had by all. Until the Chargers lost.
  • Nov 1 - went to Anne & Gilbert's house for dinner & a movie.
  • Nov 15 - the start of our fantastic and unforgettable one week vacation to Big Island, Hawaii, where we relaxed, boogie-boarded, stargazed at 13,796 ft high, had lots of great food, hiked through a rainforest to get to a volcano, kayaked two miles and snorkeled at a reef, and watched the Buckeyes slap the Wolverines silly.
  • Nov 27 - spent Thanksgiving with my dad up in Diamond Bar, where we had lunch at Chino Buffet. Todd and I carted our old 32" tube TV and rather large entertainment center up there and set it up for my dad. We had fun together.
  • Nov 28 - a rare opportunity to visit some meerkats in Morongo Valley.
  • Dec 5 - Todd's parents Tim & Sylvia came to visit for an early Christmas. Tim ate Vietnamese food for the first time (no pics this time though). We went to the beach at Encinitas. We went Christmas shopping. We chatted. Fun times!
  • Dec 13 - spent a few days in Dallas with my sister Joyce and her family.
  • Dec 21 - got my very first REAL Christmas tree.
  • Dec 25 - we elfed ourselves and had Christmas dinner with Sally & her family at her house.
  • Dec 27 - attempted ice skating with an ocean view.
  • Dec 28 - went to the Chargers tailgate party, where later they beat the Broncos for the AFC West title.
  • Dec 30 - went to the Holiday Bowl.
Well, that's all for this year! Tonight we're just chillin' at home and making a pot roast for dinner. Todd & I wish you and your family the happiest New Year and best wishes for a fantastic 2009.

Holiday Bowl

Todd's company has some sort of tie-in with the Holiday Bowl, so we get free tickets every year to go. This year it's the Oregon Ducks vs Oklahoma State Cowboys. So yesterday we both left work a little bit earlier and drove down to Qualcomm Stadium (again!). But this time there was hardly any traffic driving in, and we were able to find a good parking space in the D3 section (and only $15 this time) and walk over to where Todd's work friends were tailgating. It was nice to meet them, and his company was sponsoring the tailgating. So I got to eat some chips and dip, and they grilled sausages and hamburgers, although I didn't have any, because I was saving myself for the nachos inside the stadium. We got inside the stadium a couple of minutes before the game started. This time we were well-prepared with our scarves, blanket, and gloves! Every year we go to the Holiday Bowl and every year we sit there freezing our ass off because we forget to bundle up. San Diego can get chilly at night. Before we went to our seats, we stopped by the concession stand, where there was NO line, and got my nachos and Todd's popcorn, plus a Pepsi. My nachos turned out not so good! I was disappointed in the chips. They were too thick and not to my liking. So I only ate some (where the cheesy parts were, ha ha). We sat next to Gilbert (Anne's husband) and had a fun time chatting with him. I wanted to talk to Anne about running though, so I'll wait until next time, or email her. Photobucket Photobucket We stayed for the first half, including the halftime show with fireworks, and left after that. Glad the Ducks ended up winning.

Go Chargers!

On Sunday Todd made two spice pear upside-down cakes. One for the Chargers tailgate hosted by Lee, my friend from work, and one for us, half of which we gave to our next door neighbors Fred & Annie. Photobucket We left for Qualcomm Stadium around 12:50 PM. It took a LONG time to get there because of the heavy traffic. We parked in a parking lot right outside the main entrance to the stadium. It wasn't until after we pulled in that the lady asked for $25. Ouch! Then we had to walk to the stadium and walk across the parking lot to E4, where Lee's tailgate is always at. As soon as Todd put down his cake, people started digging into it! Before we knew it, half of it was gone, and this guy was running around asking who made it because his wife wanted the recipe. Todd confessed eventually, LOL. We kicked ourselves because we forgot our tailgating chairs, again. We always forget and then we don't have a place to sit. I had some chips, layered taco dip, salad, and Lee's FAMOUS marinated and grilled chicken wings. People, you have to understand that I go to all this trouble so that I could go to Lee's tailgate, you know why? Because of the chicken wings. Seriously SO good! Photobucket Photobucket Many a people have asked him for the recipe and he refuses to share. It's just THAT good. I had five of them because I just love them so much! Photobucket It was a beautiful sunny day too. Photobucket We didn't have tickets to the game, so we left around 4:15 to go home and watch it at home. Chargers totally beat up on the Broncos 52-21 and clinched the AFC West Championship again. It was truly a miracle since they were three games behind the Broncos with three games left. Next up is Saturday's playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ice Skating with an Ocean View

Since this Christmas was just me and Todd, I booked a 4-star hotel for a very reasonable price on Priceline. So on Friday, we were set to check-in to the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines. I worked on a scrap page in the morning. Then we went to lunch @ China Fun in Carmel Mountain Ranch. Hmm, I just realized I had Chinese food for lunch two days in a row. But, I AM Chinese, so I guess that's okay. And I like it. Anyways, after China Fun we walked across the parking lot to Borders. Because I needed some life inspiration. I love picking up new magazines at Borders, because invariably, that's where I get some new inspiration for my life. So I picked up the latest issues of Runners World, Knit 1, and Shop Smart (by Consumer Reports, but targeted towards women).
  • Runners World - I wanted to feel inspired to run again. I haven't felt inspired for a long time and haven't had a running goal in a while. I started training for the AFC Half Marathon in April last year but got derailed when I had a panic attack while running in May. Since then I haven't followed a training program or signed up for a race. I've run a marathon before but ironically have never run a half marathon, and I'm thinking 2009 is the year for me to do this. I love picking up this magazine because the articles and ads inspire me to re-commit myself to my running regimen. I also have a tendency to romaticize the idea of running at the beach with the wind in my face, running for a long time with good pace and running pain-free. But sometimes I step outside and my shins hurt, or I don't feel like I have the stamina. So I need a lot of re-invigoration and re-affirmation of why I love to run. So I'm thinking of joining a running group this year to help me with my goals. My friend Anne is part of a group, so I might check that out. I have a few days to research the local training groups before they start out in January.
  • Knit 1 - I used to be an avid knitter and made all kinds of scarves and ponchos and purses. But that was a few years ago and I'm so out of it now. I have a collection of yarn just sitting in my craft room. I guess I feel like getting back into it, so I thought picking up this magazine would help with that. But the knits in here are way too complicated for me. Plus, if I had to pick up one other hard-core activity this year (digi-scrapping already being one of them), I would do the running over knitting, since that will go towards my weight-loss goal too. I really need to shed the 12-15 lbs that I've put on over the last two years.
  • Shop Smart - well, I love a good bargain and love the read about ways to get a good bargain! I try to never pay full-price and have been pretty successful at saving money. So picking this mag up inspires me to keep it up, plus learn new ways to save money on things.
So I packed these magazines up into my backpack, along with my overnight stuff, and we headed over to the Hilton. I've gotta say, I'm less than impressed. First of all, I don't know what the standard practice is for hotels who accept Priceline, but we got the crappiest room of the house. It's like they said, "they paid lower and more reasonable rooms through Priceline, so let's just stick them in the worst-view room possible." The hotel was nearly empty, so there was no reason to stick us in a room with almost no view. I guess they don't want us back! Secondly, we parked in their garage and there were no signs whatsoever about how much parking they charge, so we assumed it was free. No such luck. They asked us at check-in if we parked our car, and we said yes. So guess how much it is for parking for one day at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines? $20 buckaroos. Ouch! Have you ever noticed that the more pricey the hotel is, the less they give you for free? Wireless internet is free at the Holiday Inn Express, but not at the Hilton! Not only did they not even have wireless internet in the rooms (only wired), but they also charge an arm and a leg to use it. No thanks. Oh, for room service, they charge an extra 21% + $3 on top of what you order, plus taxes and fees. Double ouch! So while the bathroom was large and nice, the bed was fluffier than economy hotels, and there was a bigger flat panel TV, I still felt a little jipped. After checking in, we went out to dinner at Il Fornaio in Del Mar. We had a really nice leisurely dinner there, with good service. First we shared a caesar-like salad (Insalata del Fornaio): Photobucket Then Todd's meal of pasta, sausages,and tomato cream sauce showed up and he was excited: Photobucket My scallop risotto with asparagus: Photobucket And for dessert, crepes filled with apples and grappa infused pastry cream; vanilla gelato and caramel sauce : Photobucket After dinner we picked up a couple of snacks and cokes at the nearby Harvest Market and went back to the hotel. We watched lots of football (bowl games) and Dog Whisperer on the National Geographic channel. It was a fun and relaxing evening. The next day (Sat) we woke up and it was super-sunny out! Yay! We watched "Flip This House" on A&E (which I've never watched before) while showering and getting ready to check out. We were leisurely and checked out around 11 am. We went to the pool area with the ocean view and took a few photos: Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Then we left the Hilton and went over to a Starbucks in La Jolla to get a chai latte and some pastries for breakfast. We ate these because we were planning on going to the Hotel Del Coronado's outdoor ice skating rink and skate with an ocean view. And the matinee session was from 11 am - 1 pm, so we would be eating a later lunch. But when we got there, we discovered that the skating rink was a lot smaller than we thought it would be, and it was already PACKED with people. You could hardly skate at all! We decided to forego it since it was gonna cost us $20 each to walk/skate around in a small circle. But there really was an ocean view from the skating rink and we took some photos. Maybe we'll go on a weekday next time so it's less crowded. Todd in front of the famous landmark dome: Photobucket Skating rink: Photobucket Photobucket Other views of the hotel: Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Even without the ice skating, it was a really terrific day to visit the Hotel Del Coronado and experience the holiday decorations there. We walked up Orange Avenue and ate lunch at the Burger Lounge, which was reviewed in San Diego Magazine as one of the best burgers in SD. We had never been there, but the burger really was very good there. They use grass-fed free-range cattle from Kansas. We shared everything, including a burger: Photobucket chicken fingers Photobucket french fries/onion rings: Photobucket and a bottle of root beer: Photobucket After lunch we walked back to the car and drove home. I felt so full and warm that I dozed off in the car. Todd made a chicken stew for dinner. Then we watched our first ever blue-ray movie, "Wall-E', on our brand-new Playstation 3 that Santa brought us. Then I read my Runner's World magazine until I fell asleep, dreaming of running a marathon again.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas... Christmas

Whenever I say that, it reminds me of the line in one of my favorite movies, "Better Off Dead", when Ricky's mom thought Monique the French exchange student didn't speak any English... so funny! If you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend it. Or any movie starring John Cusack & directed by Savage Steve Holland from the 80's. Tuesday was the last day of the week that I went into the office, so I brought these treats with me to give to some of my friends at work. I used stuff from "Jingle Baby" by Kristin Cronin-Barrow & Meghan Mullens and made up some treat bag toppers. I made the design mostly white so I can save some ink on my printer at home. (Yes, I R smartie!) They turned out pretty cute, if I do say so myself. Photobucket Some of my co-workers even thought I made the chocolate myself, but I'm not THAT domestic. Them are peppermint bark, raspberry bark, & caramel chocolate from Williams-Sonoma and Target, and Peppermint Joe Joe's from Trader Joe's. I decided that I just could not live with myself eating a few tins of these delicious but fattening candies, so I gave most of them away. On the actual day of Christmas on Thursday, Todd and I pulled a "Christmas Story" and had Chinese food for lunch. We called around and found out that China Max was open, so off we went to have some dim sum, dumplings, and General Tso's Chicken. I googled around about the tradition of Chinese food on Christmas Day, and found out that it started out with Jewish people. Most of them don't celebrate Christmas, so they eat out at Chinese places because some of them are open on Christmas, and the tradition continued. Well, I'm not Jewish, but I am Chinese, so I like this tradition just fine! Photobucket Todd eating General Tso's Chicken Photobucket Some shrimp & chives dumplings... yum yum! After lunch I pulled out the tripod and decided that we needed a photo of us in front of our REAL tree... Photobucket Sally and her family invited us over to their place for Christmas dinner, since it was just me and Todd. We got there around 4:15, and hung out and ate appetizers. They put out a nice spread of cheese and crackers. They also made homemade apple cider and mulled wine on the stove. We chatted with Sally, Brian, Sally's mom Zora, and Brian's parents Susan and Terry while everyone helped with dinner. Photobucket I was pretty darn excited when they put out the peel & eat shrimp and cocktail sauce! Looked like Sally was excited too. Photobucket Sally & Zora getting their grub... Dinner was a greens salad: Photobucket Marinaded green beans and beet: Photobucket Along with bread, mashed potatoes, and roast beef: Photobucket Sally also made a pumpkin cheesecake for dessert, but I forgot to take a pic. After dinner we opened up gifts. We were not expecting any gifts but Sally & Susan gave us stuffs! Todd with the loot before opening... Photobucket Sally opening a giftcard from Susan & Terry: Photobucket Todd opening gifts: Photobucket We got some cool teas, homemade soap & fruit preserves, little candles, a knitted stocking made by Susan, some candy... Photobucket We gave Sally & Brian s gift package of teas, biscotti, cookies, chocolate, etc. Photobucket Sally gave me THREE 12x12 scrapbook page frames! Yahoo! Photobucket Then we watched "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" with Chevy Chase. Brian ordered it Pay Per View, because he used to love it. However, he admitted later that it wasn't as funny as he remembered it. I personally like "Elf" way better, but that's just me. We had a great time with everyone and went home full and happy, and full of Christmas spirit.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Monday, December 22, 2008

A little late to the game...

but we got a Christmas tree! It's actually my very first REAL tree, believe it or not. A douglas fir. Yesterday Todd & I went to get our hair cuts. We get our hair cuts from the same hair-lady. We used to get cuts from our guy Jay, but he's retired from hair styling and is in grad school. I'm very happy for him, but very sad for me, because I don't like this lady's haircuts at all. Jay used to be very meticulous about layering, angling, and texturizing my hair. He would spend 40 minutes on my haircut. And after he was done, you couldn't tell that I had my haircut. My hair would look great, but there were no telltale signs of chopping or layering. Well, this lady just chops. Every time I get a haircut from her, I look like my hair got CHOPPED and the layers aren't texturized, so they're very... CHOPPY. I miss Jay so much! :( Anyways, after my haircut, Todd and I walked over to Trader Joe's to pick up some mochi ice cream. Oh, if you've never had mochi ice cream, you have to try it! It's this dallop of ice cream covered in a dough covering, so you can hold the ice cream while eating it. Photobucket Anyways, we got the mochi ice cream, and saw some Peppermint Joe Joe's that we had to get. Evil evil. They're like, chocolate covered oreos with peppermint flavored centers. So when we got back into the car, Todd said, "What's that smell?" and I said, "Smells like pine!" I turned around and there it was. A 6 ft douglas fir pine Christmas tree. I was so excited! I've never had a real tree before. When we got home we prepared the stand and put the tree into it. Gah! I had no idea what a mess real trees can be! The pine needles fell everywhere. After some weeping and knashing of teeth, we got the tree up and lit and decorated. Photobucket Still bound-up by strings... Photobucket Decorated! Photobucket Photobucket Some homemade paper ornaments that I made last year... Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Lit up. Well, it's pretty cool to have my first real tree! But... I think we're going to get a pre-lit fakie next year.

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