Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ben and Jerry's Free Cone Day

Every year, Ben and Jerry's has their FREE cone day and I made sure that I didn't miss out. Last year, I tried to go to free cone day, but the line was ridiculously long so we went and bought ice cream at another place. We went about 2:30 today to beat the lunch rush and after school rush, but of course, we still had a line- but only for about 10 minutes and it moved fast.
I got my favorite flavor- Cinnamon Buns- and it was soooo good. And even better that it was FREE- and a fairly generous amount.
Dyan and Nora came as well and we are going to get her started off right liking ice cream.
Rachel was kind enough mom to share her cone with Tyler- who obviously really enjoyed it
My friends finished way before me as they said that they had learned to make their eating efficient since they have to juggle another kid. Thanks for your generosity Ben and Jerry's!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Egyptian Museum

On Saturday afternoon, William and I went to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose. I stumbled upon this little gem in my hunt for fun cultural events in the bay area. Like the kids in our Sunday School class said, its great if you like Egyptian stuff.

The entrance to the museum had pillars and Egyptian statues lining the path. There's William in the background patiently waiting for me while I take a photo op.
Surrounding the museum is a set of gardens, statues, and research buildings. I like the ankh at the top of the building.
And what Egyptian museum would be complete without an obelisk
They also had an interactive game you could play called "senet". It is somewhat like Backgammon where you roll the dice to see who can make it to the end first. We just read the directions and decided that we could pass on playing it.
And then, the museum. I have had a deep love for ancient Egypt since I was in elementary school. Being the nerd that I am, I went to these summer school programs called "Beyond the Basics" at Cottonwood High where you would learn about the culture, traditions, and history of the ancient world. One year was completely focused on Egypt and I got to make a cartouche, a model of my own pyramid, make a scarab, and many other fun activities. These courses made me want to be an archaeologist- but, obviously, I chose a different career path. I am still a fan though of Egypt and so I was very excited about this museum. And I wasn't disappointed.

The first artifact I saw when walking in one of the rooms was the replica of the sarcophagus of King Tutankhamen. What I find fascinating about King Tut is that he is so famous now due to the discovery of his intact tomb. However, he was one minor pharaoh only ruling for 9 years until he was 18. That's why his tomb was still intact because it probably didn't have the riches of Ramses II who ruled for like 90 years and whose tomb was raided before it was even sealed. Somethings interesting that I learned about King Tut is that his name was changed to Tutankhamen from Tutankhaton because his father, Akhenaton, introduced monotheism to Egypt. Following his fathers death and to distance himself from that previous regime, he changed the "aton" at the end of his name. He also married his sister, (which was the practice among royalty to perpetuate the family line) who was the daughter of beautiful Queen Nefertiti.
They created a replica tomb, complete with ancient hieroglyphs on the walls- unfortunately, the photo is blurry since we weren't allowed to use flash
The museum also had several mummified bodies of both humans and animals. One was particularly interesting because several years ago, the National Geographic Mummies Road Show (who knew there was such a thing) visited the museum and analyzed their specimens. They found that the mummy was older than anticipated because its cloth wrappings had been added later. They think that the tomb had been attacked by grave robbers who removed the wrappings to get the precious amulets and that some priests re-wrapped the bodies later to keep them together. They also had a sarcophagus of a snake that had the remains in it as evidenced through x-rays.

Additionally, there were some pieces from ancient Mesopotamia such that we got to see the Code of Hammurabi- the first written legal code in the world
Doesn't it look even more dramatic with the red background. I also saw different artifacts with cuneiform on them and learned that they sometimes wrote cuneiform on the bottoms of tiles to act as treads. I also saw many of the complex seals that they had, which were amazingly on a cylinder. I had erroneously thought that they were just a flat stamp, but the ones they showed had to be rolled out on a tiny cylinder, making it very difficult to replicate.

William loved learning about hieroglyphics and its evolution. It is a phonetic language, but over time, many of the words shifted pronunciation to not match. He knows a lot more about it so you can ask him if you are curious. Another interesting tidbit that I learned is that the Egyptians eye makeup was more than just cosmetic but actually prevented them from developing eye infections. See- there is a logical purpose behind it too beyond just for beauty.

Included in our entrance fee was a free show at their planetarium. I thought it was a little odd that the museum had a planetarium but I thought that they might show us a few movies about the importance of astronomy in ancient Egypt, or how the sky looked during that time. However, we saw this show called "Mithraic Mysteries". So it presented this hypothesis that the Mithraics actually represented astronomy in their teachings, paintings, and rituals. To show just how exciting this movie was, the guy next to me was snoring 5 minutes into the 35 minute show. It was funny because it was pretty loud and his friends would nudge him to wake him up, but it only lasted for a few minutes until he was snoring again. William fell asleep at the end, but was discreet about it. We recommend SKIPPING this show if you go to the museum. We wondered why they had a show about a group that existed so much later than Egypt and we just found out why they would have a show like that tonight.

The Rosciurian Order is a group that believes that knowledge is power and can transform the individual. They draw on teachings throughout all time including Plato, Aristotle, gnostics, Mithraics (now makes sense), Templars, and many other ancient societies that had "mysteries", knowledge, and initiatory rights. The original founder of the Rosicurian Order in the U.S. was by Dr. Lewis. He had the U.S. order help with some excavations in Egypt and so in return for their help, they gave him and the society the ancient relics that are now in the museum. The order is still going today- you can become a member if you pay the membership dues and spend 12 years learning all of their different knowledges/truths about the world. We just really liked their museum.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Mission Accomplished- at least for William

So, William finally beat Mario Galaxy last week- all 240 levels. You had to play the whole game first as Mario and then play all of the levels again using slippery, sliding Luigi. I actually really liked watching him play because the levels are so fascinating! And they have some cool music- I especially loved the song on the "Fire" levels. I would find myself singing it- and a few of the other re-mastered catchy tunes- during the day. I have started my own game of Mario Galaxy; however, I am only at level 40. Mainly because I strongly dislike the water levels and there are several of them that I have not wanted to attempt. We will see just how much of it I get done- especially since MARIO KART is on the way being shipped to our house!!!!!! Galaxy will definitely take a back seat- especially since William and I can race together. Honestly, I've only been a fan of Nintendo- we had an old skool one and then a Super Nintendo- so I am really excited that they now have an upgraded system. Although, I don't know about the Wii Fit- its supposedly an "exercise"/pilates program. I'll have to wait and hear more reviews about it from people. I do think that it is a good move of them to try to make an attempt to fight the obesity epidemic. And to get Seniors to be able to have therapy. Who knew that would come from a video game

Thursday, April 24, 2008


One of my good friends here in SF is Dyan- we like to do cultural activities together during the week or weekends. She's my true idol because she still goes and does these things with her little girl, Nora. She is a member of these beautiful gardens called "Filoli" which I have never heard of, but am now a huge fan of them.

"Filoli" is the name of this beautiful estate in the mountains of San Francisco with stunning gardens. It was build for William Bourn, a man wealthy from the SF gold rush, and loved the estates of Europe. He named his location "Filoli" as a word made from the first 2 letters of FIght, LOve, and LIve. These words came from his favorite saying "Fight for a just course, love your fellow man, live a good life". What a great motto to live by! The main manor house was designed after one he saw in Ireland called "Muckross". He actually bought this estate in Ireland and gave it to his daughter for a wedding present.

Here is a small painting of what Muckross looked like. This painting is one of the "wallpapers" for their ballroom.
And I thought that it was so cute that they had this man playing the piano to add a bit of atmosphere to the place
They also had several safes in the house- this one for silver and another for their wine/champagne collection. Its literally the size of a BANK safe with the heavy steel doors.
The inside of the house is pretty nice, but it isn't very impressive compared to the gardens. But, the exterior of the house is very beautiful- especially the entry way
The rest of the photos are of the beautiful gardens. The second owner of the home, the Roth's, spend most of their time and effort on the gardens. It is amazing because most of the gardeners who take care of the property today are mainly volunteers.

The clock tower complete with weather vane
The arched entry way to the one of the gardens- it reminds me of one of the gardens in "The Secret Garden".
We came at a great time- most of the flowers and tulips were in bloom, although I just missed the cherry blossoms. Dyan went two weeks before and said that they were stunning.
Another gate and manicured path- it is amazing how immaculate the gardens are.

The tulips were so vivid and I just love the purple wisteria

A sea of wisteria

And they even have adorable outdoor furniture to sit on
I loved this tree- it was so magestic
Doesn't it feel so romantic- especially with the ivy climbing up the walls

And the reds were so vivid and vibrant

The sun dial-

They called this area containing a semi-circle of pillars the "High Place" because it was at the far end of the garden and you had to ascend a few stairs to get there

The view looking down from the high place
The manor house supposedly had something like 17 chimneys.

And this was so picturesque- I took the photos of 2 sets of mother and daughters

Dyan and her adorable little girl Nora who was too fascinated by all the flowers to look at me. And then a random mother and her daughter who had just had knee surgery the week before and was walking around amazingly well!
We also had lunch at the little cafe where we had this AMAZING artichoke bisque soup. It was so delicious- it was a good thing we got there when we did because a few minutes later, they were all out of that soup.

I have included a few more photos of just flowers in a slide show because they were so stunning. It really just made me so happy to be enjoying a beautiful day in a beautiful environment. I want to go back again when the roses are in bloom

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

SF Cherry Blossom Festival

On Saturday, in between the museum and the Rainforest Cafe, we stumbled upon the San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival in Japantown. I had heard about it before, but had forgotten it was this weekend. Since William served his mission in Japan, he was very excited at the prospect of going.

Near the center of town, they have this neat tower where there were they had the major performances.
The most interesting part about the festival is that there are no actual cherry blossoms- just a bunch of these artificial ones. I guess it just has to do with the tradition of welcoming spring.
At the main stage, they had performances by different Japanese performing groups. William wasn't quite sure what they were doing with the sticks

Then, there was a group of teenage girls from Japan who performed Taiko where they beat the large drums. William said that this is fairly unusual since it is mainly men who perform. I think its just a great example of gender equality.

They had a bunch of traditional Japanese festival foods like fried octopus (takoyaki) and this pancake filled with bean curd. The lines were very long for these, as well as bbq ribs. They also had things like hamburgers and popcorn. And, then they had the Safeway booths where they had random free samples of Oreos, pickles, and chips. We chose to get the free stuff.

They also had vendors selling different Japanese and non-Japanese wears. They also had people doing free chiropractic back consultations. I thought that their advertisement or enticement to come and check it out was interesting- a big plastic spine.
Besides the vendors specially there for the festival, there are also a bunch of permanent specialty shops inside a little mall. I liked the bridge that they have as a decorative staircase
They also have the special sushi restaurants where you sit at a bar and choose which entree you want as it comes by you on a conveyor belt. William says that in Japan, they also have more elaborate ones, like a water stream.

But, William's favorite part of the trip was going to the Japanese grocery store. They have a few Japanese items at Safeway, but not nearly as many as he would like. He got his favorite drink- Strawberry Calpico, the wrappers to make inari sushi, Cha Han- a special seasoning to make fried rice, Panko- Japanese style bread crumbs, and a couple other items. William does a great job of making these items- I just think it is funny that he really doesn't like sushi all that much. We made Tonkatsu (or chicken katsu) for the Elders and they actually really liked it, mainly because it is a lightly breaded chicken breast with a special bbq sauce.

All in all, it was a successful day at the cherry blossom festival even though we didn't see any real cherry blossoms. And heard a performing group singing American songs. I would love to go and see the cherry blossoms in DC and also in Japan someday.

I'm Way Behind

So, this 19 year old girl is the youngest person ever to become a university professor. She finished all of her schooling, including a masters degree along with her PhD by the time she was 19. Yeah, I'm way behind since I am nearly 28. Maybe this will motivate me to work harder and faster to finish my PhD sooner . . . .

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Living the Good Life

I'm one lucky girl. William brought home dinner, is making homemade ice cream for us, and is letting me watch the BBC version of Northanger Abbey- a Jane Austen flick. I {HEART} my husband

Monday, April 21, 2008

Massachusetts Memories: Marathon Monday

How's that for alliteration :-) So, it is an official holiday today in Boston called Patriot's Day or Marathon Monday. On this day, many of the schools and businesses (except Brandeis- they are lucky that Passover happens this time) get the day off. I ran a half marathon a few years ago and I have ZERO desire to ever run a marathon. But, I do love to support friends who decide to run in it. It is much more exciting when you have people you know and can cheer them on. Last year, my dear friend Janae achieved her dream and ran the marathon- and I actually got to see her and cheer her on!!! Unfortunately, my camera was too slow to capture her. It is so incredible to see so many people running. When I went to Boston College, I used to watch at the top of "Heartbreak Hill"- the steepest part of the marathon where after that, most of the rest is downhill. I remember some college kids watched the marathon and cheered the loudest for people who had their names or other items on themselves. It really touched my heart to see everyone come together like that.

The Patriot's Day aspect starts even days before with different re-enactments leading up to the Battle of Lexington. I went to one of these with my Snack Pack (aka. Ryan Keller) back in April of 2006 of the capture of Paul Revere.

We headed out to the Battle Road between Lexington and Concord where the group picked him up- complete with soldiers and fife and drums.
And one year, I even made it to the Lexington Battle Green EARLY in the morning (like 5:30) to see the re-enactment of the battle. It was really amazing- this is pre-digital camera days so I don't have any photos. I remember several people coming with me, including Michelle Munson, Melissa Spencer, Maryanne Condie, and a couple of others. It was pretty cold, but we ended getting a great spot where they all came out and then retreated. The funniest part is that people bring LADDERS and stand on them to watch the battle. Also, people sat out on roof tops to watch it. There was even a foggy mist out on the field when they came out to fight in all of their garb. In all my years in Boston, I only did this once because my first 2 years I didn't have a car and then I had class at Brandeis and last year it got rained out.

Ahh- the Boston memories of this day. At least William and I went and did something fun tonight and saw the Forbidden Kingdom :-)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Rainforest Cafe

A Stults Girl family favorite is the super touristy, but so fun RAINFOREST CAFE. We go when we are in Las Vegas and out at Disneyland. William has never been there and since there is one on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco AND I had a coupon for a FREE Volcano dessert, we made a trip.

It is the best being a Safari Club member because we were able to get priority seating and only had to wait 5 minutes when the wait was 35-40. We actually got to sit right next to this gorilla-
and a large group of teenagers going to PROM. Yeah, the girls were dressed up in their fancy prom dresses and a few of the guys in tuxes (they at least had collared shirts and ties on). As much as I love the Rainforest Cafe, I don't picture it as a place to go to dinner before the prom. A lot of other patrons felt the same way because they kept asking them if they were going to prom.

Our favorite things are their crab dip and the Volcano dessert. Unfortunately, we got a few other items to eat and they were ok, but not as good as the others. Next time, we'll probably get 2 or 3 crab dips and the dessert and call it good.

I'm so sad because when we initially started going to Rainforest, they would bring the Volcano out with an actual sparkler. Now, they just have a crazy silvery thing but at least you can take it home. William thought it is so embarrassing that they yell "Vol-ca-n-ooo" as they bring it to your table. He was wanting to give them a bigger tip if they didn't say that. But come on- its all part of the fun. This little boy at the table across from us would yell it out with the staff when they would bring it out.

Can you find where William is hiding?

Don't I have such a handsome husband ;-)
What's white, black and red?

I think that I have a pretty cute tail. As you can see, we had a WILD time :-)