Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Home for the Holidays

Yesterday, Nathan and I purchased our tickets home to California for Christmas! Yay! We're officially going to be in California from December 23-January 5! Longer story below...

The way this happened was definitely a "God-thing" as I call it. Nathan and I used his Delta Miles to be able to both fly roundtrip to SFO for his graduation. It was perfect. Just $10 for both of us to go to NorCal for like 5 days and enjoy time with family, etc. We weren't sure how things would work out for Christmas, but you take things as they come, you know? Anyway, we only had like a few thousand miles left in Nathan's account and none in mine. My miles from our Africa trip in 2008 still had not been posted. The delay was because of Delta's inane rules for name changing on SkyMiles accounts. They require all sorts of specific paperwork including a copy of our marriage license, etc, and I hadn't dealt with it 6 months after our trip (when they say posting back-dated miles expires). I finally sent the name change paperwork in a few weeks ago and decided that I could email them my request and explain the situation because honestly, there was NO WAY we could afford to get home for Christmas unless we could get a miles trip. What's the worst they could say!? No?

A day after my request, Delta posted my miles AND returned 29,000 miles they had removed earlier this month for "inactivity" of my account. Praise God, seriously. With a couple thousand miles from my dad, we purchased our tickets yesterday and are headed west to escape the winter this December.

Now....can God work some of that miracle wonder in the area of my employment!?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Special Friend

This is a post dedicated to a friendly turtle I met on the Upper East Side last weekend. Such a cute little guy! His name is Pumpkin and he was rescued by the man in the picture below. His story is that someone decided he was a good target for pellet gun practice. Some hikers found him in distress and brought him to animal rescue. After surgery, Pumpkin was too tame to return to the wild. This man adopted him. So cute. Oh, and Pumpkin is an endangered species of turtle....


Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Crazy Week

This past week has been a bit wild. I was chatting with my sister about my week today on the phone and realized even more how fully it was and how totally legit it was that I was so exhausted from it all. Haha. Anyway....

So, on Sunday of last week, the Boatwright Family arrived! Yay! Tara and Luther are some good friends from the Bay Area and they have a 10-month-old baby, Ruth. It was a ton of fun to be around them for a few days. Since the main goals were to have a relaxed visit, to catch up with each other, and maybe do a few touristy things away from big crowds, we really had a very chill visit. The fun included some Upper East Side fun at FAO Schwartz, Central Park, NY Pizza @ Gotham's (our new fav), a fun bike ride involving Red Mango, lots of home cookin', and Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island...just to name a few of the fun things. Nathan took a day off so that he could hang out for an extra day with us. Sweet! They left on Wednesday. I miss them already!! I posted some pix of the fun below.

On Thursday we then had our first dinner with friends that we made while in NY! Yes, we were excited. Seriously. Haha. Anyway, it took me a while to figure out what to make because I had so many ideas and yeah. So, I made chicken with a Morrocan spice rub, brown rice, and corn on the cob with honeydew melon and ice cream sandwiches for dessert! It was a great time of chatting and getting to know e/o a little better. I think we impressed them with our NJ Views. Yeah, Jersey! Turns out that one of the guys, Chris, has a sister 16 years older than him just like me and my little Christopher! So great!

Friday proved to be a complicated but fun day. After my gym time, I headed to Newark Airport to pick up on of Nathan's childhood friends who scheduled a long enough layover on her trip back to Spain for us to all enjoy dinner together. After a PATH ride, a NJ Transit Train, and the AirTrain, I was finally at the terminal. His friend Neus and her sister joined me and we headed to Union Square for a quick stop at Whole Foods (they love American chocolate chip muffins for some reason) and then dinner at Max Brenner's Cafe (a restaurant that my friend Heather introduced me to in July). It's definitely a great place to bring out of town guests! Neus and her sister LOVED it. Pix below of our fabulous desserts, etc.

Today was very chill. Relax, relax, relax. Gym time, Sox vs. Yanks game on TV, and a yum yum shrimp scampi dinner.

Hope all is well with all of you, my blog followers. Leave some comments and let me know you're there! Tomorrow brings more fun....dinner with our friend Janet's parents! Yay!

Luther's response to having his first NY Pizza.


Ruth on the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.


Boatwright Family!


Nathan and I with our Chocolate & Banana Pizza dessert!



Hardening chocolate!



Neus and her sister pre-eating the yummy dessert. So pretty! (the ladies AND the dessert!)



See, Neus...I didn't put this on facebook....haha... Yum!



After the dessert...nothing left! Catalonians love chocolate! Energy!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

First Minor League Visit: the Staten Island Yankees

Tonight was a Stanford Young Alumni event at the Staten Island Yankees. The SI Yanks are one of the Yankees feeder teams, so even though it was totally WRONG to step foot in that stadium, we decided it was a NY experience and we'd cheer for the Auburn DoubleDays (a Blue Jays feeder team). It ended up being kinda hilarious. We first took the SI ferry to get there and then found the group section. Turns out only about 10 people from the group showed up and we had to akwardly figure out who was with Stanford and who wasn't. (for some reason we all kinda thought there'd be some Stanford Alumni Rep with a nerdy sign or something...not quite.) Haha. Here are a few things I learned about minor league games (to be fair, it's really just about the Yanks minors):

1) Attendance: Very Low. It might have been "sold out" but half the stadium was empty and it was a TINY stadium.

2) Games: Lots. And by games, I mean games in between EVERY inning. There was a Lemonheads competition to see which baby had the best pucker after drinking lemon juice; there was a family race where the families had to walk together on long skiis; there was a "Tired" out race where two guys ran around the bases wearing inflatable tires (3 of them) around their bodies; there was a 70's dance off between two guys; the mascots traded off doing dances; there was the obligatory race on the screen b/t the ferry boats (I picked green...but orange one...eek!); etc. I'm not exaggerating here.

3) Food: Bizzare. They have two huge all you can eat sections but they only involve hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, and crazy long lines. Turns out that half the stadium buys an all you can eat ticket. I say bizzare just because that was the majority of available food, and they ran out of ketchup (a sin!).

4) Bathrooms: Few. I didn't even end up using one. (shocker!)

5) Action: Very little.

Okay, enough of that. All in all, it was fun and seriously, the last inning was awesome when the DoubleDays almost came back to win it....and then didn't. The fireworks show at the end was AMAZING! A legit show! Here are a couple pix from our phones.







Here's a little video of the fireworks...and my slightly embarrassing dancing:


video

River Cruise w/ Arup

Last night was really fun. Nathan and I have gone to a couple mixer things in the city with a couple different groups, and last night was really the first fun one. It was with an engineering group that a bunch of Arup ppl are part of so it was a boat full of engineers. Yeah, before you judge, engineers can really knock the drinks back. So hilarious. Like really. They even brought booze in their bags. Outta control. (smart, though. cheaper.) The cruise was called the BMW cruise because the yacht went up the East River under the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg Bridges. It then turned around and went up to the Statue of Liberty, up the Hudson a bit, and then back to the dock. All in all, it was a decent cruise and the weather actually got better later in the evening. I got to meet a couple of Nate's co-workers that I think are really cool. One of them took some pix that included me and Nate. Not necessarily the best shots but shows some of the fun.

Just getting on the yacht.


The boat started moving so we took dinner to the table.


My new friend, Wendy! She's so cute! That's Manhattan in the background.


Nate & I (kinda an awkward shot) with Lady Liberty.


An attempt at doing a Asian tourist shot. Also slightly awk.






Tuesday, August 11, 2009

La Paz, Bolivia: April

I figure since I'm back in the blogging routine, I should do updates of the months that I missed on the blog. I'm not going to backdate b/c at this point, that might be a bit silly. So, here's a brief Bolivia update.

Easter weekend, Nathan and I met up with my parents, sister Abigail, and my brother Christopher in Miami, FL to head down to Bolivia, South America. Ten years ago this November, my family of six traveled down to Bolivia together to adopt my little brother. He was born in March 1999 and was being cared for in a Spanish orphanage until we arrived and got custody of him in November 1999. That was my junior year of high school, and it's hard to believe that was already 10 years ago! Eeeeek! (Side Note: My mom and Abigail actually stayed in Bolivia for 5 weeks because of the laws surrounding adoption! My dad and Natalie were there for 4 weeks. Emily and I were there for 10 days.)

Anyway, this trip was the first time my brother had been back to his country since we adopted him and flew back to California. He was thrilled to be going back and seeing all the things we told him about his whole life. The plan was to do tourism, visit a couple organizations that we are involved in supporting. It was pretty awesome to be able to go back. I first went to La Paz, Bolivia in 1998 on a mission trip with a small organization, working in an orphanage and doing outreach to the homeless and street children. How cool that 11 years after that I'm back with my family and my husband to celebrate my brother's life!

I had a great time bonding with my family, touring around La Paz and its outskirts (Lake Titicaca, the La Paz Zoo, etc.), seeing one of the Compassion International locations and my family's sponsored child, getting to know Kaya International and their work (and the awesome boys that they've rescued from the streets), and in general just Bolivia culture. The sad story is my video camera got stolen during the trip, and also Abigail left before the trip was completely over...we missed her. =(

Here are a few pix of the trip. They're a bit out of order, so bear with me:

Me & Chris



Christopher after an Easter Egg Hunt that I brought with me (in my carry on!) for Easter AM



La Paz, Bolivia


Christopher playing with a baby that's now in "his" room at the Children's home.



This woman was overjoyed to see Chris & started crying at this point. She worked at the Children's Home when Christopher was there 10 years ago.




Some kids from Kaya, rescued from the streets of La Paz. Christopher is certainly a Bolivian, eh?



Some indigenous women, or Cholas. The hats they were are wearing are characteristic of the Bolivian people. These Cholas are selling goods in a big market called the Cholas Market.




Christopher with a little boy in the Children's Home.




Christopher playing with Luis, a boy from La Paz that my family sponsors through Compassion.



Lake Titicaca with a view of Peru in the background.



Abigail and Chris at the Lake.


Dinner with some of the Kaya kids. Please note the huge, genuine smile (hard to get in a posing photo with him) on Christopher's face. This is the sign of a happy kid: playing with Bolivians his age, soccer after dinner, and teaching the kids how to play Yahtzee! Especially the soccer part. Haha!


A view of the gorgeous Mt. Illimani taken from the airplane home at sunrise. The indigenous have a lot of beliefs surrounding this mountain.



For more pictures, check out our Phanfare Site (if you don't have the password, just ask me for it)! The Bolivian album posted is Chris' Perspective; he was the photographer.

Weekend Fun, Chase Style

Nathan and I really enjoyed this past weekend. We try to do at least one fun adventure a weekend if we can. Of course, it's us, so we aren't always doing the typical "tourist" or "NYer" kind of thing. By that I mean, we're not big foodies (trying to save the $$) and we're not big shoppers (same reason). So, I work hard to find things to do that are free and fun. This weekend was no exception.

After sleeping in on Saturday, we decided to head to the beach. We didn't want to go to the major tourist section of Coney Island, so instead we stayed on the more local part of the beach called Brighton Beach. It was packed, but not too overwhelming. We were surrounded by Eastern Europeans. I didn't hear any English speakers for over an hour of being there. So crazy! I loved it. I packed a lunch and snacks for us (in a cooler that Nathan found for free. Haha!). Nate went out and got a couple towels because we only had bath ones. Anyway, all in all, after about a 30 minute subway ride, we were on the shore, soaking in the sun. Yay! Here are a couple pix of us on the beach.




Then, we came home and Nathan offered to cook for me. After deciding that we both were in the mood for something different than the usual, Nathan headed to Whole Foods to buy ingredients to make pulled pork tacos...AKA carnitas of some kind. When he got back, we looked more closely at the recipe realizing that it actually called for cooking the pork for TWO HOURS. We made it anyway (tried to play RISK while waiting for different things to be ready), eating at midnight. It was the best meal we ever made. So good. Seriously spicey (thanks to the Chipotle chili's in the meat). We're Definitely making it again. Oh, and Nathan made a mango guacamole that was so good. Here's a picture of the meal complete with the black bean side.



We woke up early after the crazy dinner fun to go on a bike ride around the island of Manhattan. We've wanted to do this ride for a while, but didn't set aside the time for it. I reserved my bike with the Downtown Alliance for Sunday morning because all the other slots were full. So, we biked for 4 hours and went about 28 miles. It was an adventure for sure since a bunch of the NYC Greenway isn't finished yet so we had to go on random city streets and such. Anyway, it was a lot of fun, especially rounding the top of the island and going down the West side finally. Below is a picture of Nathan when we were by the new Yankees stadium. What a fun weekend!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Views from our Balcony

Just some fun shots taken from the balcony at various times of day. We love lower Manhattan. It's beautiful down here. Any shots of the river are facing New Jersey. Any shots of the city, are mainly the financial district. The ones of the street below are the park areas on our street.












Friday, August 7, 2009

Before: After

The long awaited post of apartment pix. Nathan and I have now lived in the city for over 4 months. I can safely say that we're not only starting to feel more at home, but very much settled. Now that the last of the boxes (that conveniently hide in the corners) have been sorted, I took some shots of the place so you can all enjoy our little home. Enjoy!

Bedroom, Mid-Move In:

Bedroom, After:
(View from Closet)


(View from Far Corner)

(View from Balcony through the door is the small hallway with bathroom to the left, kitchen to the right)


Balcony:

(Complete w/ our discounted IKEA furniture! View facing the Financial District...Ground Zero would be just to the left of that tall black building)


Kitchen, Mid-Move In:
Kitchen, After:


Living Room/Dining Area/Etc, Before Move-In:


Living Room/Dining Area/Etc, After:
(Living Room)


(View of Living/Dining Room through the kitchen)


(View of Kitchen from the Dining area...there are two bar stools at the counter space)


The End. We have some lovely pix taken from out balcony that I'll post later. For now, that should be enough to satisfy my friends that keep buggin' me about these. Haha.