Friday, January 30, 2009

If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words . . . .

If a picture is worth a thousand words . . . .
this one should be worth 50,184. That's how many words are in my 186 page dissertation. This is how I feel after finishing a very ROUGH draft of my dissertation today. For the past 3 weeks, every weekday has been spent working on my dissertation. I have only gone out to go to the gym at our apartment complex. William has been so patient with me over these past few weeks as I have really been stressed out worried about finishing it, if its ok, do I need more work, etc etc. I am still not happy with my conclusion- it needs some work but I just wanted it to be DONE by my deadline of the end of the month. I am just praying that my adviser will think that it needs just minor revisions so that I will be able to graduate this upcoming May. This is the hardest thing I have ever done . . . and its still not completely done just yet. But at least (hopefully) a good portion is. Now to have a break from it . . .

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hiking Along the California Coast

We had initially thought that we would go hiking in Big Sur, but it turns out that most of the area was burned in the fire last year and it is still closed. It was sad to see all of the burned hillsides. We had to drive further down south before we came to a place that wasn't blocked off. We passed through this charming gate . . .

And out to the cliffs where William decided to see just how much I trust him

Obviously I do trust him :-) I then tried to see if he trusted me, but I am a weakling and so I was unable to truly do the trust exercise. Instead, it turned out more like something from the movie Titanic

We then hiked to another location on the coast called Jade Cliffs named because of the color of the rock (although you can't tell from the photo).

Since it had been raining the past few days, the trail down to the beach was literally mud. They had a rope to assist you down, but knowing how clumsy I can be, I chose not to go down. William descended

I was able to get this shot of William though.

We were very happy that the weather held out for us and for Bev taking such a great photo of us

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Marianne's Ice Cream

After a fun Saturday of driving down Highway 1 and hiking, we decided to stop on our way back home at Marianne's Ice Cream in Santa Cruz. This was my first time to this legendary ice cream parlor. I even tried an ice cream flavor that I had never had before- LAVENDER. Yes, they make lavender ice cream. It had a slightly flowery taste to it- other than that, I really don't know how to describe it. It tasted ok (its hard to mess up ice cream :-) but I don't think that I could have eaten a lot of it. It was better than I had anticipated though, but I stuck with the fresh banana, since William doesn't like bananas. It was so good. I'm sure that we will be back there, but since it is in Santa Cruz, we will probably be sticking to the Cold Stone down the street from our house for most ice cream "emergencies" :-)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


We spent Saturday with our friends Ben and Bev exploring the California Coast. We began our journey in Carmel-by-the-sea, a charming coastal town. This was my first visit and I am sure that we will be gong back.

I love this map of the town

And these rustic buildings and cottages lining the main street.

Everything in the town was cute- even their public bathrooms were some of the cleanest I've been to.

Our favorite store was this bakery that specializes in these delicious pretzels. William savoring his. We shared a salt and then a Parmesan- they were good and quite hearty. I was full for the rest of the afternoon.
We loved how clever this bread crocodile is- along with the gummy shark in its mouth.

We then walked down to the beach- it was a cloudy day, but we were very happy that it wasn't raining.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Elephant Seals at Piedras Blancas

On our drive down the along Highway 1, fairly close to Hearst Castle at San Simeon, we stopped at this breeding area called Piedras Blancas to see the elephant seals. The seals are only there twice a year to breed and raise their young so we were lucky that our timing was right. Hundreds of seals were on this stretch of beach. They would flip sand up on their backs to protect themselves from the effects of the sun on their skin.

This was my favorite photo, of the dad elephant seal putting his fin around the mom with the baby close by. So precious :-)

It is hilarious to watch the dad's "run" along the beach. They can move really fast, considering their large body mass, but it was only for a short distance and then they would completely flop on the ground, totally exhausted. They would rest for several minutes and then do it again. It was great entertainment. They make the most interesting sounds- the males would throw back their heads (and long noses) and let out these screams. Sadly, my camera battery was nearly dead so I wasn't able to get video.

We watched them until the sun set, with this lone seal out near the water.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

SF Dine About Town- Oak Room

We decided to enjoy San Francisco's annual dine about town again this year, but this time for lunch since they raised the prices again for dinner. We chose to go to the Oak Room at the Weston St. Francis. My parents actually used to own stock in this hotel so it was fun to finally go there after hearing about it for such a long time. We made reservations but it actually wasn't very crowded so it was nice that we weren't rushed. The 3 course price-fix menu was amazing. The salad was quite tasty- they had these pears that were red. They almost looked like a beet but had a much better taste. It was so unique- I don't know how to describe it. We then had Kobe Beef burgers with cheddar cheese. Kobe beef really tastes so much better- those specially fed cows that are massaged does make a difference. We got these really cute individual little bottles of ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard. William and I ended up making our own fry sauce on our bread plates. We had their special cheesecake for dessert, that had a dramatic presentation as shown above. The sauce was caramel with a slightly nutty taste to it and really enhanced the flavor of it. And we discovered this great parking garage- its on the corner of Sutter and Stockton street a few blocks from Union Square and it only cost us $5 for 2 hours. I have previously had parking nightmares downtown (one time I had to pay $27 for an evening to see a play in that area!!!) so I am now happy to have this frequent now.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hidden Treasures of Afghanistan

I saw an advertisement for this exhibit at the Asian Museum of Art in San Francisco entitled "Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul" and it is leaving this upcoming weekend. So, last Saturday, William and I as well as most of the bay area went to the exhibit. It was super packed- so much so that the people at the gift shop said that this should have been the crowds for the last weekend. Despite the crowds, the exhibit was AMAZING. I am so glad that I got the audio tour- it helped me understand more of the history of this country since I really didn't know much about it before hand. Since it was on the Silk Road, their art became a blend of all of the different cultures- Greece, India, and China. These literally were hidden treasures- some of the curators of the national museum hid the artifacts in a bank vault so they were preserved from the Taliban and other raids. I was most impressed by the intricate gold pieces. They found a burial site with 6 different individuals completely covered in gold jewelry. The most incredible piece was this six sided golden crown that actually could be disassembled into a few pieces. When the archeologist found this piece, he knew it was a treasure and locked it in a room and when he went back later, he couldn't find it. But it turns out his assistant had just disassembled it- I can't even imagine his relief. The exhibit is traveling next to Houston and the the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC so try to make it.

The rest of the museum is quite vast- we spent nearly two hours going through it and only barely able to glance through everything. They had amazing Japanese baskets, Samurai suits, Chinese statues, as well as what all of the Chinese art symbols mean. Now I just need to make it over to that continent to see its "natural habitat" . . .

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Christmas with Both Families

We were SO LUCKY this year that we were able to spend Christmas with BOTH of our families. And the nice thing was that we were able to sleep in. We opened presents with William's family first when Chris, Karen, and Charles got back from spending the morning with her family.

I loved our Santa piles (instead of stockings) with tons of candy with Reeses for William

and this neat snow globe/ornament shaped bottle of coke- so cute!

We had a "train theme" going for Chris' family gift had a train theme to it. We got some blocks for Charles and made it in the shape of a train- well, at least as William and his dad attempted to do that.

I think that William had the most fun with the blocks.

William and Chris have a long standing tradition of creative ways of presenting their Christmas gifts (remember the diaper from last year?) Well, William wasn't able to combat that but we did make a good attempt. Chris ate nearly one of the Costco size bags of Peanut M&Ms in one night so we gave him a nearly eaten bag and then used the rest of the M&Ms to make a railroad track around the Ticket to Ride game

William had Chris go on a short treasure hunt (2 locations) before finding the gift, but Chris had a tough time finding the toy train in the pantry. However, Chris definitely had his "payback" with William sending him on a scavenger hunt to nearly 30 different locations. Here are all of the clues set out

And the gift to us was classic- William got a bag of "chocolate coal"

While I got a bag of gold coins!!! Chris and Karen sure knows where the real value lies in our family :-)

Santa knew that we LOVE sweets and gave us a wide assortment of them- caramels, cinnamon nuts, and even some Lehi Roller Miller treat mixes (which I know that our Sunday school class will love)

It was so much fun to watch little Charles play with his gifts- he especially LOVED the ribbon on the wrapping paper

So many gifts- not sure yet what to do with them- maybe next year.

But he did figure out how to ride his new Tonka truck

However, he hasn't yet figured out how to walk with it. He wouldn't move his legs- he would just stand and hold on and then fall down as the truck slid away. Just enjoy one of the functions at a time :-)

We then headed back up to my parents house in SLC to have an evening Christmas. We had Christmas dinner with my mom's special Christmas china and then opened our gifts, so it was like 7 pm when we got started but at least everyone was there (including Spankie). My dad, Sarah, and my mom filming with the video camera

Cynthia and Spankie, Yours Truly (William was taking the photo)

Besides the car GPS units that William helped my sisters set up, the highlight gift was my dad's U of U jacket (Sarah and I are outnumbered- 2 BYU to 3 Utes, but we are generally favorable to the Utes :-)

We feel so blessed that we were able to spend Christmas with our families- again, we MISSED you Corey and Bekky but we were definitely thinking about you!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Grandmother Child's 84th Birthday

My Grandmother turned 84 this year!! Look how much of her adoring family turned out to see her. Even my dad was finally able to make it since it was on a Saturday.
We celebrated at her favorite place, the Garden Cafe at the Grand America. They have such a great lunch buffet. My personal favorite of the day was the Alaskan King Crab Chowder- it was incredibly good.
My sweet grandmother still looks great- we can't wait until next year for her HUGE 85th celebration!!!!

My Holiday Puppy

Even my puppy Spankie got into the holiday spirit with the Santa hat I got her, complete with paw prints on it

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Our Very Belated Holiday Photo

I was VERY slow on getting out our Christmas card photos and cards but isn't it better to be late than never. We took these photos at the Grand America Hotel Lobby, the place where we had our wedding reception a year and a half ago.


I had never been to Cabella's the giant outdoor sporting good store- and museum as I like to call it. We went with William's parents Christmas Eve morning to enjoy some of the wonders of the store. Here's the aquarium- I couldn't believe just how many fish were there. And even an albino catfish

They have a giant mountain with a waterfall and a pond inside of the store, with animals dotting the mountain


You definitely won't mistake William for a deer since he has these lights

I even got a big moose hug

William and his dad enjoyed trying out Cabella's Big Game Hunter video game (little did dad know that we had already bought the game for him for Christmas)

And surprisingly, they have AMAZING fudge. I know that it seems weird to buy fudge from a sporting good store but it was so good. We waited for 20 minutes to get some and the line was even longer when we left. All of the kinds that we tried were great- we particularly liked the dulce de leche. I would even put the chocolate walnut up there with the Disneyland fudge- its that good. They also have great cinnamon pecans. This is definitely not your average store.