Thursday, January 30, 2014

Updates before I snooze

Gosh. This blog has been put on the back burner for a hundred reasons. Some day I'm gonna look back and regret for not being more diligent in blogging about my life in USA.

Anyway, quick updates:

1) A SALE! Yay!

Ever since I took on that part-time job, I haven't been creating anything! I will make a point to get back at it after Chinese New Year. More unique items and original creations. Thanks for the encouragement, buyer from MA!

(Oh, and I bumped into a fellow Etsy seller at the post office. She was doing her first international mail and we chatted a little. It felt great to meet fellow craft lovers.)

(Post-script: Received positive feedback from buyer after shipping off the item. Very touched.... :))

2) WLXH 大驾光临, 又回家了。

I had so much fun this time round, mainly because there was no need to queue up to use the toilet and I had plenty of rest as a result. (Thanks Jo, for offering your house!) I did fall sick though - something that happens a lot when I have visitors. But I recovered quickly because the girls were quite understanding, and they went out to tour the city by themselves so that I could nap.

We also did something different this trip. We cycled at Yosemite and Napa Valley! The former was a leisure ride. It was so awesome because we had the whole valley to ourselves! Winter is apparently a lull period for Yosemite.

The latter tested our stamina and patience the most because it was a 14-mile (22-km) long ride. XH gave me a murderous look at the end of it, because I kept telling her: "Almost there! Almost there!" Whoops... Bad Grace! And I do admit it would be much prettier in spring/summer. In winter the vineyards are rather bare.

We also went to Big Sur for the first time. Love the sea view and the picturesque Bixby Bridge. Quite worth the 30-min drive from Monterey. The road was surprisingly easy to drive, so it's safe to bring my folks there in May.

[Note: Remind me not to commit the mistake of driving to Point Reyes with my parents again. My dad will disown me for driving too fast on the narrow winding roads, and for trying to plunge the car off the cliff. That is, according to him.]

Alright. That's all for now folks! Snooze time. Tomorrow is the eve of Chinese New Year and we have a guest!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Of marriage magic, new tires and 49ers...

Three major things this past week:

We celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary!

Time flies and I cannot believe we have been married for 4 years. The good thing is, I still feel that we are dating every day. I don't know how we managed to do that, I just thank God for the magic.

So what did we do? We had a SG time zone celebration at home, where I cooked the usual steak and then tried two new recipes. First, creamy curried cauliflower soup from here. And then a dessert, adapted from what I've tasted at Wendy's for our girls' brunch - baked apple bits + dried apricots + lemon zest with crumbs.  A big thank you to Panda, who is always ready to try whatever I cook.

Oh, and I bought a balcony table and chair set so that we can eat breakfast at the balcony! Alas, it rained the night before so Wendy became my first 'balcony customer' a day later.

For US time zone celebration, we had 小肥羊 at downtown San Mateo. I love steamboat and the spicy soup base was so good, I ate till I was bursting at the seams! Honestly, the quality and quantity of food are well-worth the price. We only paid $65 for two pax!

Speaking of the budget life, Turbo also went for an 'overhaul' this week. After going through his regular servicing, the workshop advised us to change his tires and get a new battery. But it would cost us close to a grand! *horrified* After some research on Panda's part (with me feeling super heart pain over the potential cost), he managed to find a workshop at Redwood City - America's Tire Company - which brought the cost of tire change down to $585.  In the end, all the work caused us around $750. Phew!

(I forgot to take a photo of Turbo having his tires changed. Boy, I felt like an anxious mom looking through the workshop window as he was being worked on.)

And finally... we understood what American football is all about. Thanks to the Leows!

Panda and I stumbled upon St John's Bar and Grill at Sunnyvale, which supposedly served the best burgers in Silicon Valley. I don't know about the burgers (at half-price on Saturdays) but their garlic fries were good, especially with dips like curry ketchup, chipotle ketchup, honey mustard...

Anyway, Kansas City was playing against Indiana on that day, and we were hooked on that sports atmosphere in the pub. When the Leows invited us to watch 49ers vs Green Bay Packers at their place the next day, Panda jumped at the opportunity. It was such a great idea because we had Len explaining the whole mystery to us! No more just men piling on top of one another, with no sight of the ball in place!

I don't know if this sounds bimbotic, but I'm so glad I finally get what the sport is all about. I can now say with conviction, go 49ers!

Now, to do the same with baseball... *gingerly looking at the orange SF Giants visor in one corner of my wardrobe*

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Mount Rose ski trip!



I would like to dedicate this song to Mount Rose, the place where the FC family had an epic ski trip to end year 2013! Ok, I confess that Panda and I totally tagged along for this one - we had no plans to travel in December other than that home trip. But when the FCians said they were driving up to Mount Rose and Reno to ski... how could I resist!!

Since we are on a budget life here, there's no way we could afford too many nights of hotel stay. The gang was planning on a 4D3N trip, which was too much for us. So after much discussion with Panda, the finance director, we decided to attempt the impossible. Drive up to Mount Rose at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning to join the gang, ski the whole day, stay one night at Reno, ski the next day, then leave the gang and drive back before it turns dark. Woah. Pushing our bodies' limits.

In the end, the plan turned out really well because I got too excited the night before and couldn't sleep much. We woke up at 3am, decided to change and have breakfast at McDonald's (except that it was too early for the breakfast menu). Then it was onwards to Mount Rose, stopping only once to buy Starbucks as we got nearer to Lake Tahoe.

If there ever is a thing called 'sleepily excited', this is it:

And then 4.5 hours later, we arrived! We even got there before the rest of the gang! Woohoo!

I, being uber excited, bounced off almost immediately to rent my skis and practised on the bunny slopes before taking the ski lift up to Ponderosa. The thrill of zig-zagging down a run, especially the first time where you don't know how steep it would be, was electrifying. I loved the adrenaline rush!

Then the gang arrived around 11am, after a hearty breakfast. (Apparently, the buffet breakfast at Peppermill Resorts, where we were supposed to be staying, was reallllly good!) After renting their skis, they joined the beginners class with little Z following them. Over the two days, they moved from beginners class to next-step class, and we took the ski lift up to do the green slopes over and over again. They liked it!! I'm so happy to find skiing buddies!!

Although it was only a short 2D1N for us, I was really having the time of my life, skiing two days in a row. Panda, the ever patient husband, said he had a great time napping in the car too while waiting for me. He was awarded "The Best Husband" award by the gang - LOL! Well, thank you for carrying my shoes around, and for helping me get food and water! My feet was blister-less this time because of "The Best Husband".

We started the return journey at 4.30pm, when the slopes closed for the day. It was perfect timing as the sun was setting and we could see how beautiful Lake Tahoe is.

One of the things I'd miss when I go back for good this year, would be the amazing road trip scenery!

(Post-script: I forgot to mention that Mount Rose's package - ski lesson, equipment rentals, lift pass - easily costs half the price of that of NorthStar and Heavenly. That's what made it so awesome! The only thing for parents with kids is, there's no sledding allowed! We did see a small area for kids to play with snow about 5-min drive away. )