Saturday, December 19, 2009

Star Trek: The Exhibition

Last Saturday since it was raining, William and I went to see Star Trek: The Exhibition at the Tech Museum. We had really enjoyed the one in Las Vegas and so we were hoping it would be just as good. We were actually really disappointed because it was not worth the $25 each admission price. We were able to see over 200 artifacts from all of the Star Trek series and films but it did not include any of the special photos, nor the two rides, nor any of the IMAX films at the museum. AND you could not take any of your own photos PERIOD inside the exhibit. They had a replica of the original bridge as well as some of the sets like Picard's office, transporter room, and one of the planets. They had clothing worn by the characters, the phasers, transponders, and communicators and how these objects influenced modern technology or were not physically possible (although they did try very hard to be somewhat grounded in scientific principles). They also had the various models of the Starship Enterprise as well as the Borg cube (which was actually incredibly detailed- and my favorite object of the exhibit). I did learn some interesting things about the original series, such that Scotty left for a few years to go fight in the war and lost one of his fingers and so in the remaining movies, he was always careful to keep his hand in a fist (though they said that if you looked hard enough, you could see it sometimes). Also, the original series was canceled after two years but that the reruns produced enough Trekkies who lobbied for its return- look at the power of consumers. Gene Roddenbury created the group of the Klingons after a police officer he once knew. The other highlight of the exhibit was the gigantic timeline that located each of the series and movies (including Deep Space Nine and the latest movie) and some of the key events that had happened. I am primarily a Next Generation fan so it was very helpful to me to be able to put everything into context.

The rides looked interesting but were an additional $5 and $6 each. The $6 one actually went upside down but only allowed two people at a time and the wait time was already an hour!! The other simulator seated about 5 but we still weren't interested in paying any more money.

Overall, the exhibit was good but it was definitely NOT worth the $25 entrance fee- it is more worth about $10-15. We figured that they had jacked up the prices to capitalize on the new movie, which is probably their rationale.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Black Friday Lessons

So, I historically have never really been a big fan of Black Friday. Growing up, my family usually went Wednesday before Thanksgiving to avoid all of the insanity. But, since getting married, William really does like to go out and do shopping on that day. It usually is later on in the day so its busy, but not insane. Since we were out at Saratoga Springs, we decided that we would go at 5 am to get some of the deals since the Walmart was brand new and we thought that since it is still an up and coming area. Boy, were we SHOCKED by what we saw. The parking lot was already completely packed by the time we got there and they had roped off major sections of the store for the lines for the big deal items like the $200 laptops. They had special sales completely lining the aisles and that combined with all of the carts and everything- it was a madhouse. I felt like people were just grabbing everything and filling up their carts. We got some of the good deals that we had wanted but the worst part was the checkout lines. We each stood in 3 separate lines and it took us AN HOUR to check out. This is the view of the line- yes, it was that bad. And yes, pretty much everyone (except us) had carts OVERFLOWING with stuff. We will NEVER AGAIN go to Walmart early morning for Black Friday. Its just not worth the time, pain, and suffering to get a few "deals".

However, we will go back to places like Best Buy (good deals and lighter lines still were had) and Bed, Bath, and Beyond (20% off entire purchase coupon). And even going out later on in the day isn't bad and we were able to get a good amount of our Christmas shopping done :-) So we'll still probably participate in Black Friday just not at Walmart :-)

So, we didn't buy this as I do not need yet another stuffed animal but we thought it was just so clever- I especially like Darth Vader with the light saber

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Doubly Thankful

This year, William and I were doubly thankful on Thanksgiving. We were able to share the day with both of our families- and have TWO full Thanksgiving dinners. I'm still not quite sure how we were able to eat that much, but I definitely didn't eat very much the next day I was so full. We got together with my family at the Marriott Hotel with my beloved grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We did miss you Cynthie but are SO HAPPY about your lead role as The Ghost of Christmas Past!! We had the buffet complete with shrimp, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes- and LOTS of DESSERTS. We like to call this spread the "diabetic coma"!! It was great to be able to spend time with the extended family that I only see a few times a year. Fortunately, this meal was at noon so that we did have some recovery time in between when we ate with William's family.
My sweet mother-in-law truly outdid herself. She cooked an entire turkey (fortunately not as big as the Chernobyl 40 lb turkey she had in Russia several years ago) which was so moist and delicious, pecan sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, baked potatoes, rolls, and two kinds of pie for dessert. It was great to be able to spend time with our family- including Chris, Karen, Charles, and Stanley. One nice treat was that during dinner, we were able to talk with Corey and Bekky (whom we missed) on the phone (we can't WAIT to see them this Sunday!!!) AND we were able then to talk with Grandma and Grandpa Kunz on the phone.

We truly feel so so blessed that we have such AMAZING families. We cannot begin to express our gratitude for all of the love, support, laughter, and joy that our families bring to us. Thanks for all that you have done for us!

National Cupcake Day

Happy National Cupcake Day! Don't worry- I celebrated it with two Sprinkles cupcakes :-) The eggnog and the vanilla peppermint. I've cut back on my cupcake consumption- the last time I had some was three weeks ago (yeah, not that long ago but I was going twice a week!) so it was a great treat.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cirque de la Symphonie

On Saturday night, William and I went and saw the San Francisco Symphony performance of "Cirque de la Symphonie." Since we are both big cirque fans, we were hoping that it would be good- and it was. This was the first year (at least since we have lived here) that they have done this for Christmas (or any time during the year). The theater was beautifully decorated with dozens of Christmas trees with ornaments donated by children or local organizations. Our two favorites was this star tree and the Salvation Army tree with the teddy bears.
The concert was even more amazing than the decorations. The Symphony played traditional and non-traditional (meaning ones you hear a lot around this season but do not specifically mention Christmas) songs and cirque performers choreographed routines to fit the music. There was a girl doing aerial silks, a juggler who did rings and lighted pins, a contortionist who used a bouncy ball as a prop, the aerial rope, an amazing hula-hooper (she could even spin it around her ponytail), two incredibly strong men (who finished their routine slightly early), and then the finale of a guy doing aerial silks to Ave Maria and looking like an angel. But, the most spectacular piece was the aerial hoop. The music, "Bacchanale from Samson et Dalila" by Saint-Saens, was so moving and emotional, building to a dramatic climax where the artist then was spinning so incredibly fast around the hoop. It was literally a show stopper and we felt that they should have been the finale. And we now have new favorite seats- they are in the center terrace- behind the stage, and are general seating (first come, first serve), but they provide the BEST and most intimate view of the concert. We could see all of the emotions and facial expressions of the conductor, as well as the plastic noise shields that are behind some of the performers to help diffuse the sound of the loud brass instruments. And the best part about them- they were only $18 each, including the processing fee. What an INCREDIBLE deal to see such an AMAZING show. We loved seeing Cirque to classical music and hope that the San Francisco Symphony will continue to do more performances like this.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad!

Yesterday was my dad's birthday and we celebrated with him early while we were in Utah for Thanksgiving. My dad can be a hard person to give gifts to, since there isn't much he wants, but I managed to hit a slam dunk this year with TWO great gifts.

Our family went to New Orleans over 10 years ago but it was one of our most favorite trips because of Cafe DuMonde that has the most amazing beignets- the French version of donuts. We went there several times during our short stay and they were just literally melt in your mouth. I found a mix especially from Cafe DuMonde at World Market and so I made them for my dad.

When he saw the box, he said "You kept this from our trip ten years ago!" at which I laughed and said that would be way too long of a shelf life for this, even though it is mostly made of flour. We made up the entire box which was too much for one night (we each had between 4-5) and so my parents made some on another night. They turned out really good- especially with a generous coating of powdered sugar- and perfectly golden brown thanks to our little fry daddy that heats the oil to the right temp. My parents have had this guy for years as we don't usually fry too much of our own food but when we do, this makes it so easy.

For my second gift, I gave it to my dad in a Victoria's Secret gift box as a joke since he received a $10 off birthday gift from them (addressed to him) in the mail. He has never been to that store in his life, though having 4 women in the house we all have, but we just thought it was hilarious that they would send him this special gift. My dad obviously didn't find it as funny as we did.

But he was sure happy when he saw what was inside- and look, even a half smile from him (which is a big deal since my dad doesn't like to smile in photos)- so it must have been a great gift.

Here's a close up of the gift- it is an "iconic pot" made by Jonathan Adler. My dad LOVED the show Top Design and he thought that it was neat how they introduced Jonathan Adler every week as an "iconic potter." My dad would say "I don't know what an iconic potter is, but I want to be one." He wanted one of his iconic pots but they are super expensive (hundreds of dollars) but I was able to find this much less expensive version serendipitously at Barnes and Noble.

My dad, mom, and sisters all thought this was a great gift and are still laughing about it and my dad still talks about how great it is to have his own iconic pot. Happy Birthday Dad! You deserve all the iconic pots in the world (or at least the money from them) for how hard you work!