Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sitting around

We got home from Utah safe and sound. It was fun seeing Milk11 and Gumbi while we were there, though I need to apologize to one of them (I'm sorry!) for accidentally grabbing the wrong receipt at Leatherby's. I didn't realize it until a couple of days later. I owe you a couple bucks.

I really enjoyed seeing my family again. They're lots of fun to hang out with, and I have truly adorable nephews and nieces. And my brother's house and my sister's house are both really nice (I finally got to see them, yay!), and my grandma's looking great right now, she seems to be recovering fabulously, and I got the wonderful opportunity to go through a bunch of old photos, school stuff, church stuff, etc, that my mom has saved for me for years. While going through my box of stuff, I realized that a) I have always loved reading, b) I was absolutely obsessed with ponies for several years, c) my favorite name used to be Sally, d) math and procrastination and PE have always been my weak points in school, and e) I was a funny little girl. Seriously, I will have to quote some of my old school journal entries and stories I wrote from first, second, or third grade some time in here so you can all see the weird funny way my brain worked. Also, I wasn't very good at spelling as a young child. :)

I still need to finish up a couple of birthday presents and mail them off to people. I've been pretty sick since we got home from Utah though, so have been spending inordinately large amounts of time laying on the couch or sitting on the floor trying to be not sick. So, the presents are further delayed. Along with everything else, like dishes, and laundry. On the bright side, I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow, and hopefully they will be able to tell me how to feel less sick. It's really not too bad, though.

Mike is back at his first day of work again after our lovely summer break. I hope it's going well for him. We've been researching GRE prep classes, and will hopefully decide on one soon, which will be good, even though I won't get to see him nearly as much once the class starts up.

We've been eating delicious lasagna. I loves it. I want to make rice pudding. Anybody have a good recipe?

I finally got to see the Japanese Shall We Dance? film. It's a very cute movie, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I also watched Garden State, which was a little weirder than I was expecting, though also an overall cute story (though I do wish they swore a bit less in it). Great soundtrack. We watched Ever After while at my parents' house, which remains a cute little movie. We went and saw the Simpsons movie, which I thought was alright (it was the only thing showing at the time we went to the theater, the movie I REALLY wanted to see was Stardust, which will have to wait to be seen later), some quite funny parts but mostly just like a long episode of the show. We also went with my parents to see the latest Harry Potter movie, which I really liked. It scared me at the beginning though. I haven't read any of the Harry Potter books since book 3 (I know! I'm so behind!) so watching the movies now, I don't know what's going to happen beforehand, so they're more scary than they would be otherwise. We're finally more than halfway through listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, though, so maybe I'll manage to "read" the rest of them (yay for books on tape) before the last two movies come out. The mean female teacher in the latest movie just made me want to strangle her, she frustrates me so much! Aargh! Luna is pretty cool, I understand now why so many people like her so much.

The End.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

It's a travelogue!

We are back! Or rather, I am back. Mike is in Houston for the weekend. We got back last night, he left this morning, he gets back Sunday night, and then we're leaving Monday morning to go to Utah to visit my lovely family (and see some friends maybe if anybody is around).

Hawaii was fabulous. We flew from Phoenix to Oahu (Mike and I listened to the first Harry Potter book on tape most of the way), where we had a short break before our next flight to Kauai. So, we did a whirlwind tour. Mike's parents rented a car, and we drove over to Waikiki and saw the oh-so-famous long strip of beach (which was very crowded and I didn't think it was any better than any of the other beaches we went to during the trip). We went across the street from the beach and walked through the International Marketplace, where there were a wide variety of stalls all selling approximately the same touristy-inducing things at a wide variety of prices. I got a pretty green necklace for $7 with several strands of seed beads and a flower carved out of a shell pendant on it. Mike's mom said she saw one that was almost exactly the same, except in white, at a different stall, for $30. After fifteen minutes at the marketplace, we returned the rental car, took the shuttle back to the airport, went through security again, and got to our gate with maybe fifteen minutes to sit and wait before boarding. The second flight was very short.

We arrived in Kauai, rented cars again, stopped by the new Costco to get food for the week (where they had mochi which may forever be my favorite way to eat ice cream, and Yo on the Go yogurt shakes which I consumed a lot of all week) and drove to the condo that we were staying in for the week. I was kind of grumpy from traveling all day (and not seeing the point to the whirlwind Oahu tour). Despite my grumpiness though, the condo was beautiful. There were three bedrooms, a nice kitchen and living room area, and a tiny balcony, with a trellis that had flowering tropical vines growing all over it, so that the flowers hung down right in front of our bedroom window downstairs.

I'm not entirely sure I remember the precise order of everything, and Mike has the laptop with the pictures documenting it so I can't refresh my memory of what was when, but I think I remember everything we did all week.

Thursday we went to Ke'e Beach and went snorkeling (except, I forgot my snorkel bag, so I made do with just a mask and holding my breath as long as possible). I used up my entire alloted underwater camera. There were way more fish than there were when we went scuba diving in Mexico during our honeymoon. Mike and I also went on a little hike up the mountain, and back down to a much smaller, secluded beach that was around a bend of rocks and hill from Ke'e, where we discovered a couple nude sunbathing, and so, didn't stay long before hiking back. I don't recommend hiking in wet sandy flip-flops over fallen unidentified large plant leaves and roots, as a side note. Luckily, we survived just fine. That afternoon, we went to the Princeville Spa, where I got to have my first ever facial, which was quite nice, though a bit different than I was expecting. Very relaxing though, except for the pore-cleaning part. The lady who did my facial touted Aveda products, told me I should use oil-free sunscreen as my pores were full of nicely oily sunscreen (I hadn't washed my face yet from our trip to the beach), and recommended I get a facial from a beauty school at least once a year, which I found funny.

On Friday, we went to Tunnels Beach, where Mike and his brother went scuba diving, and the rest of us snorkeled (I remembered my bag this time!). There were even more fish than there had been at Ke'e, and I had a fabulous time swimming around exploring over and alongside the big lava tunnels (I didn't go under them (too deep), though Mike got to with his scuba group), looking at the little bits of coral, and being consistently amazed that fish actually came in those colors. Seriously, hot pink and purple? Bright orange with neon blue and pink bits? It was without a doubt the best snorkeling I've ever done. In case you're wondering, I *could* have gone scuba diving, but for the last several months I was feeling nervous about it, what with trying to conceive, and being generally congested and bothered by my asthma a bit more than normal this summer, so I chose not to before Mike's dad booked it, and I am quite glad I did. Snorkeling was great, even being all congested all day like I was, which would have made diving not-so-fun.

Friday night, we went to a luau, which was fun. Surrounded by beautiful land and gardens, I got to try Kalua pork (which I liked, though it was a bit too salty for most of Mike's family), Hawaiian sweet potato (purple, quite sweet, and delicious with a bit of butter), poi (made from the taro and quite tasteless, though not a bad dip for the meat), and coconut milk gelatin.

On Saturday, we went on something called the Zip and Dip. It was out on a ranch inland a little bit. There was a series of eight ziplines, and between the seventh and eighth there was a stop for lunch and swimming in a small mountain pool fed by a little stream and waterfall. I really enjoy ziplining, it's a lot of fun, and there were some definitely long ziplines going over little river valleys. I think the tallest one was seventeen stories tall, above the ground at the bottom of the valley, and the longest one was 700 and something feet. And the fastest we were likely to go was 25mph. The harnesses were nice and sturdy, and the guides were funny, and everything was gorgeous. The scariest part was the plank bridge we had to cross over one small valley. There was a wide gap between each plank which were supported by two cables. There were another two cables about waist high to hold onto as you crossed, and then two more cables up a little higher which our carabiners were clipped to as we crossed so that the most we would fall would be a foot downwards. It really wasn't too bad, but I don't think anybody at all scared of heights would like it at all. The swimming at the pool was amazing. Everybody thought it was going to be freezing cold, but it was really quite nice. Cool, but not cold. The pool was about fifteen feet deep for most of it, surrounded by lush vegetation, and a little rock outcropping about six feet up on one side that you could jump off of into the water. There's no snakes in Hawaii, so the only things in the water were us and some fish, which were all hiding. Lunch was really good too, the guides provided it for us, turkey and I think large pepperonis? and gouda cheese and apple slices and clover sprouts to stuff into pita pockets, with orange slices to much on inbetween, and Macadamia Nut Chocolate Chip cookies to finish it off.

Saturday night was date night, so Mike and I got to go to dinner at a restaurant of our choosing by ourselves. We decided on a place called Saffron, where I got to try authentic-tasting Tortilla de Patatas, and Paella. I also had phyllo-wrapped baked brie with blueberry sauce which was delicious as well, and we had some very lovely creme brulee for dessert.

On Sunday, we went in the morning to the Fern Grotto, which I was slightly disappointed with. Yes, it was pretty, but I thought the stuff we'd seen already in the trip was much prettier, and it was really crowded. In the afternoon, Mike and I, his brother, and his brother's wife, all went on a helicopter tour around the island. It was completely amazing. The helicopter pilot was a little crazy, and made some pretty sharp turns, got really near the ground and cliff walls, and talked a lot. The helicopter, so you know, had no doors on it. Mike and I sat in the back. I took loads and loads of pictures of the amazing amazing scenery around the whole island, and in between taking pictures, I closed my eyes really tightly and tried not to need an "aloha bag" (a.k.a. barf bag), as I got really, really queasy with all the quick turns where looking out my side of the helicopter meant I was looking right down at the ground as the whole thing tipped in whatever direction it was turned. It was windy on the north side of the island, which made things worse, also. Luckily, I avoided throwing up, barely, still got to see most of the sights, and had overall a fabulous time (though I did make everybody sit around in the car for half an hour afterward with the air on while I chewed some nice minty gum and waited for my stomach to settle).

On Monday, Mike, his brother, and dad, got a surfing lesson. Mike's mom spent the whole time taking pictures of them, while my sister-in-law and I sat on the beach relaxing. Once they were done surfing, I got to boogie-board for about fifteen minutes, which was Fabulous. I haven't gotten to do that in such a long time. I love it. The waves were perfect for it too, and I managed to get a lot of nice long rides in, filling my swimsuit with sand at the end every time as the surf washed over me, and getting my legs nice and red from the waves pounding at them as I waded back out. Really, though, I absolutely love it, and was a bit sad when everybody else decided they were tired and ready to go home. That evening we drove around to the south end of the island (which takes a long time with traffic), stopped by one of the infamous ABC stores, dropped off the underwater cameras at Walmart to get developed, went and saw the Spouting Horn (lava rocks protruding out into the ocean, which has pounded caves down below some of them in just such a way as to make a small geyserish phenomenon at a couple of them every single time a large wave comes in), and ate dinner at a restaurant right on the beach with a gorgeous view of the setting sun.

Tuesday, there was nothing planned for the day, so I of course had several things that I desperately wanted to go do. First, the guy who owns the condo we were all staying in told us about a little hike down to a cave by the beach where there were often turtles or seals resting. I cannot pass up a chance to see turtles. So, Mike and I ventured off. Unfortunately, his directions started by telling us the trail head started between buildings two and three of a particular complex. We found a trail there, which we followed, though it really was not much of a trail, alongside a cliff, and after getting scratched and scraped and sliding precariously on our butts down some dirt, we decided it couldn't possibly be the right trail and was much too dangerous to continue, so we turned around. On our way back, we found a fork in our little precarious trail, which continued down a much easier path, and eventually met up with quite a nice, much wider and well-traveled dirt path which a lot of people were hiking. We followed it down to a bunch of lava rocks, decided that it wasn't the right trail either, and Mike went to make his way back to his parents who were waiting at the complex at the top, while I went to see what it was all these people were going to see. I got just far enough to discover that it was the other thing I wanted to do that day, turned around, and made my way back up. Mike and I were a bit put out that neither of these were the right trail, as we really wanted to find the cave, so we explored around the complex a bit more and discovered, finally, the correct trail, starting between buildings 1 and 2.

The right trail was only marginally better than the two wrong trails we'd taken, but we managed to scramble down it, hop off some lava rocks into waist deep water, and climb up onto the sand bank at the entrance of the cave. There weren't any turtles or seals, but the cave was really cool, it led out into another tiny cove on its far end, where there was no sandbank, so the water surged in and out, protected from surf by a nice bit of coral and lava and sand that was out a little ways in the water. There was a ton of washed up dead pieces of coral in the cave, and a big piece of driftwood under the water, and I felt like I was in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Very cool. After getting some more pictures, we hiked back up and met Mike's parents again at the top, and then drove over to the real head of the nice dirt trail we'd stumbled across that led to the wrong spot.

The dirt trail led to the Queen's Bath. Mike's parents came with us, and we hiked down it without too much difficulty. There's a really nice little waterfall and pool partway down, all fresh water, so we climbed in and took some pictures. Then we continued down the path, across a bunch of lava boulders at the bottom, and to the Bath. Queen's Bath is a large pool in the lava rock. The seawater splashes up on one side and pours water into it, so you can't go during high surf conditions or you might get swept out to sea. Also, you can't go when the water's really low, or there won't be much water in the pool. Luckily for us, the surf and tide conditions were just right, and it was nicely full yet not overly full. I didn't feel up to much swimming (I was wearing my glasses) so I sat on a little bench of rock that was maybe eight inches under the surface of the water. It was like I was sitting in a saltwater aquarium. Lots of fish kept coming and swimming around me on the rock bench, eating algae off of it, swimming under my legs, over my legs, and all around me. Most of them were little silver fish, but there were several of the more colorful fish that we'd seen at Ke'e and Tunnels, too. I loved it. Having tropical fish swimming around me is one of the coolest things ever.

After we hiked back up (stopping at the waterfall again to rinse off a bit), Mike and I took off alone together and went on a shopping expedition. Lots of cute/cool stuff in the stores. I picked up a few souvenirs, and then we met back up with Mike's family for dinner at the best sushi place on the island. They indeed had very tasty sushi, though I wasn't quite as impressed with the huge hot pot of fishy things that I ordered for my main meal.

Yesterday was quick packing, then back to the airport, 20-minute plane ride back to Oahu, then the long flight again back to the mainland. Having finished off the first Harry Potter book during the week, Mike and I started listening to the second one yesterday, and got about 2/3rds of the way through by the time we had landed back in Phoenix. The guy who reads the books is really quite entertaining to listen to.

So, it was a fabulous trip to Kauai, and though I wouldn't have minded a little more time to just relax, all the things we did were really fun and amazing and I'm really lucky I got to do all of them as I doubt I'll ever get another chance. The ocean around the island is gorgeous and not too cold. It rained hard almost every single night, but we only got some light drizzles and the occasional showers during the day, despite the hurricane that passed by not-too-far-away near the end of our trip. I managed to only get the mildest of sunburns, and am looking forward to only minor peeling later. Mike got moderately pink on our very last full day, however, and we got to steal his mom's aloe vera lotion.

Aloha, and Mahalo nui loa for reading.

(I'll either post again while we're in Utah, or once we're home again. There may be some news in a couple weeks, we'll have to see what happens though. If anybody wants to hang out while we're in Utah, email me and let me know so I can make plans for it before planning out everything I'll be doing with my family!)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

*Reload* *Reload* *Reload*

So, I made my first "sale" of one of my cat hats a few days ago. I place the word "sale" in quotes, because I haven't actually gotten paid for it yet. As such, I have been hitting Refresh on my PayPal account incessantly the past several days. Yesterday I mailed off the hat, and emailed off an invoice to the person who ordered it, so we'll see if she ends up paying me or not. I really hope she does. If not, well, somebody got a free hat. I need to change my stated policy in my store so that it tells possible purchasers that they will not receive their goods until I receive my money from them.

We're going to Hawaii on Wednesday! I'm super-excited, but I also have so very much to do! So I'm a bit nervous about getting it all done before we go. My new swimsuits I got from Savers need a little bit of modifying so they fit me modestly (straps need to be shortened on one and side seams taken in on the top of the other). I need to fix the strap on my beach hat so it's not just hanging off randomly. I have to figure out what on earth I'm going to do about shoes (I really wish I had some of those really nice watershoes they've been selling in stores the past few years rather than my hot pink slip-on pair that are really ugly and don't quite fit well that are mostly mesh that the water doesn't drain out of properly and sand gets stuck in easily and that are no good for walking around in). I'll probably just take a pair of old tennis shoes, and a pair of newer tennis shoes...debating my old slightly small hiking boots, probably won't bring them. Have to do a bunch of laundry so I can pack nice clean clothes. I need to use up our perishable foodstuffs and put everything I don't use in the freezer. I need to find subs for Primary. Plus, cleaning. One of the many things my mom always told us when we went on vacations is that you don't want to leave a dirty house. Much, much nicer to come home to a sparkly clean house. We got some new/used furniture (for free! yay!) from a friend yesterday, including a new computer desk for Mike that he can put his computer, the laptop, and his server all on simultaneously so doesn't need two desks anymore so our computer room is much more open and lovely now. We also got a small cabinet and bookshelf, at least one of which is going to go in my craft room. I haven't cleaned my craft room since the huge mess that it became when I was costuming though, so we'll see if I get that done tomorrow (and the bookcase put away in it) or not.

We had quite the adventure moving the new furniture to our townhome yesterday. In addition to the furniture (the desk was moved earlier in the day mostly), our friend also gave us a really, really old grill that needs a wee bit of help in looking presentable, but still works. It, along with lots of furniture, ended up in the back of our truck, but we had forgotten to bring our net or any of our ropes, so were unable to really properly secure anything. My DH was driving really slowly and carefully, but we did have to make one left turn on the way home. The grill, you see, was on the right side of the truck. There were two left-turn lanes, and we were in the far-left one. I was sitting in the back of the cab of the truck, watching the stuff in the bed, as we took the turn pretty slowly. The road was kind of bumpy though, and between one thing and another, I guess the grill was just too top-heavy for it's own good, and I watched in horror as the grill started to rock back and forth a few times.

I watched the rocking grill, I watched the car next to us in the other lane, and I saw a horrible picture in my head of the grill falling off and smashing through their windows and causing serious damage and injury. Yet, all I could say to Mike was, "Aaaah! The grill! The grill!" He slowed down a bit, and the other car sped up a bit, and our grill smashed over into the road as soon as the other vehicle was safely out of the way. Finally, I was able to inform my husband, "The grill fell out of the truck!" He pulled over, halted the traffic that was about to be oncoming, and pulled it out of the road while I watched still stuck in the back of the cab. After he went back into the street and got the metal gratings that had fallen out of the grill, he finally came and let me out, and we surveyed the damage. Amazingly enough, only the lid and handle got smashed up, and the rest of the grill still looks, well, old and a bit beat-up, but the same as when we put it in the truck to begin with. So, we finagled it back into the bed of the truck, and brought it home, leaving a few chunks of charcoal behind us in the street. We only grill with the lid open anyway (the few times we do grill), so no big loss with the broken lid.

I've got lots of presents to make for people. Maybe I'll bring something crafty to work on while we're in Hawaii. I'll have to reorganize my purse to make room for whatever it is. Hooray for big purses.

I've decided that, next time we move, since we will undoubtedly be moving to a much smaller apartment than our current home, I want to just sell most all of our furniture, and buy new stuff from Ikea wherever we end up living. We have too much furniture anyway for anywhere smaller than here. For the space we've got currently, it's perfect. Plus, most of it was given to us. Some of it's a little beat up though (still in great condition, but not looking the absolute greatest really) so who knows if anybody would want to buy it. But, the Ikea catalogue sure is tantalizing. Such gorgeous colors and patterns.

I may or may not post again in the next three weeks. Good luck to everybody with school starting up again, and congratulations to all my friends who are expecting!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Crisis Averted

I had an existential quarter-life crisis today. Luckily, Veng was home and was able to talk me through it and help me make plans and goals and realize that I am, in fact, good at various things.

Also, I made my first sale today! I'm super-excited. Will go mail it off tomorrow.

Staying up too late lately

I have nothing to say about staying up too late lately, other than that I have been doing so, and I always dislike it the next morning when I feel like crap, no matter how much sleep I actually got. It's fun to hang out with people, though, especially considering that they're going to be starting school again soon and we won't be able to hang out with them as much.

I made some darn tasty lasagna today. Irish style, with bechamel (thick white sauce?) instead of ricotta. I got the recipe from The Humble Housewife. Very delicious. I think I want to cut down on the amount of meat in the tomato sauce (so it will be healthier), and only make half as much tomato sauce, because I ended up with a lot of extra. Also, lean meat is good (I didn't use lean meat, and didn't take the time to drain the fat...going to skim the leftover tomato sauce in the morning). Anyway, it was very tasty, and I think if you're wiser with your meat choices than I, it would be healthier than normal meaty American lasagna (you could undoubtedly make a Vegetarian version of this fairly easily).

I started trying to teach myself how to weave, using a piece of cardboard and some yarn from my stash. It's pretty fun, but I really wish I had a real loom, as my cardboard is bending and causing weird tension problems.

We go to Hawaii in one week. I am excited, but nervous simultaneously (not because of flying or anything, but because I have a lot to do before we go, we have no money, and I'm really hoping things go smoothly being with Veng's family for another week; I am going to try hard to be very patient and have a good attitude no matter what so that we can have a good trip).

I harvested most of my tomatoes a few days ago, and ripped out my dying plants. I need to plan out my garden better next year so all my plants get sufficient light. Some of them got hidden by others this year and died as a result. The spider mites on my tomatoes disappeared, but they were replaced by weird ashy looking trilobite-ish gray crumbly things that are obviously the remains of some insect or other that I doubt is good for my tomatoes. I also have one green pepper growing again, which will give us a grand total of two from that plant. The herbs are still growing great, though I neglected to pinch off the blooms on my basil a month or so ago so parts of it are getting woody and not-so-tasty anymore. Actually, not all my herbs are doing well, the ones from seeds are all dead now. Not enough established root structure to survive the crazy heat, I don't think.

I got to run outside in my first real Arizona monsoon a couple days ago. It was POURING. Lots and lots of rain. Huge huge puddles. I was slightly worried for a bit that it might flood our basement if it kept up, but the rain only lasted for an hour or two, really. We took advantage of it raining and made gingersnaps and vegetable soup, which was very satisfactory. Having it rain so much was really fun. It happens so rarely here. It is monsoon season though, so we've been getting lots of little sprinkly showers lately. Not that the water sticks around long, but the additional humidity is great. I may never understand people who dislike humidity and much prefer dry heat. I am the opposite and despise dry heat and quite enjoy more humid places.

We finished watching Full Metal Alchemist today (and the movie as well). It was quite good, but I was disappointed with the ending. Of both the series and the movie. Not nearly girly enough for me. Winry! Winry, dang it! Feeling sorely deprived of girliness and romance, I grabbed Volume 8 of Marmalde Boy and read it to make up for it a bit.

Our Primary class has been a bit difficult the past few weeks. I think things are going to get better soon though, especially with school starting again, maybe the girls will come, and maybe the boys will remember their good school behavior. Or maybe they'll be antsy and wanting an outlet since they have to behave all the time at school. :) We'll see, I guess.

Lots of discussions lately about plans for the future and what we want to do with our lives. Small progressions.

I've been trying hard lately to the whole depression thing. I am reminded of how useful doing stuff is for feeling better about life. Also, sunshine. Also, having clean clothes I can put on in the morning makes me more likely to do things during the day than wearing my jammies all day. ;)

Speaking of clean clothes, I made my own laundry detergent the other day. I just used a bar of soap I had laying around, and some borax and washing soda. I don't think the soap I used works very well, but my clothes are coming out okay, and if I get some decent soap, this will be a good cheaper alternative to normal detergents.

Made a deal with the hubby that I will do all the dishes if he puts them away so I have places to put the rinsed dishes (or washed dishes, we've been handwashing things a lot lately).

I need to eat fewer sweets so that I stop craving them all the time. I also ought to exercise probably. And sleep. And stop starting new craft projects before I finish all my old ones. And earn some money.