Archive for the 'Traveling' Category

Tera & Co: My visit to Alaska

I just spent a week in Alaska visiting my sis and nieces, Isabella and Olivia.  I did also see Brian for one day – but he had to leave for work.

Micah couldn’t come with me this time, but I have the time to take off – and boy did I need it!!

It was less a vacation, and more about just spending some time with my nieces and helping Tera out since she was playing single mom for a week.  I definitely got to experience first hand all the joys, smiles, laughter, and fun of those two little girls.  I also got to experience all the crying, whining, feedings, changings, and disciplining too.  Whoa…not an easy job!! (And to clarify, I’ve NEVER thought it was!!)

Fortunately, it never snowed while I was there.  It was a little cold, but nothing too bad that kept us holed inside for too long. 

Isabella showing off her new outfit from Costco aka home away from home.

We also did some exercising.  I taught Isabella how to do pushups and jumping jacks (sort of). 

I picked up some new PJs for Isabella – and Olivia already had the same ones!

We went on some walks…

…and did some shopping (which isn’t easy when you’ve got two kids in tow).

Olivia was crawling like crazy.  She’s going to be walking soon…or perhaps running.  Smile

We rode bikes…

…we practiced eating all our dinner before getting any dessert…on our faces.

And since I was using a cheat Sweet Day – we made some delicious and easy pumpkin whoopie pies!

Isabella LOVED helping out.  She still remembers (a week later), that “you frost, and I put it into a sandwich”

jump zone

We had TONS of fun sliding down the long inflatable slide.  And Olivia loved crawling around the colorful carpet.

We ended our time at the most wonderful place…a HUGE chocolate fountain!

In addition to all this, there was lots of singing, watching Dora and YouTube kid’s videos, eating delicious crab dinner, and nightly dancing/jumping/wheelbarrow.  We even got a chance to Skype with Grandma and Grandpa Rooney.

Taxi drivers need to get with the times

With all my work travel, I take a lot of taxis.  And given that I’m traveling on company time and on the company dime – I have to use my corporate card for all my travel expenses…including taxi trips.

Maybe it’s just my experience, but I am constantly getting taxi drivers who are so rude when I tell them I’ll be paying with a credit card.  YES, I get it.  It’s way better for them when their riders use cash.  It’s faster, it’s under the radar, and they get their tips right away.  But sorry folks – credit/debit cards are not going away.  I often don’t even carry any cash, let alone enough for a $50+ taxi ride.

My past work trip – to Chicago and to LA – I encountered each time seriously rude taxi drivers.  The one driver in Chicago was basically refusing to accept a credit card as payment, giving me a bunch of bullshit excuses as to why he couldn’t.  All I said was “Sorry man, this is my company policy.”  After major grumbling and almost starting a fight with me, he begrudgingly accepted my card for the $14 ride.  I even said, “If this was a $60 ride, you’d have NO problem taking my company card.” 

taxi

Don’t ride in this taxi!!!

And in LA, I had a similar experience – but he was not so brazenly rude.  But when he said he only wanted cash, I said “Well, you better let me out right now because I’m only paying with a card.”  Of course, he didn’t – but I was close to getting out myself. 

Granted, there are PLENTY of drivers that I’ve had who have not giving me any troubles when I pay with a card.  And some taxis make it VERY easy for riders to do this (where you can swipe your own credit card from the backseat and input tip using a computer touch screen).   But there are enough drivers who are still thinking we should only pay with cash – and that’s just not where the financial world is trending. 

Singapore, no passport required

It’s no secret…I love Singapore.  It was Micah and my favorite place we traveled to during our year abroad.  A main driver of that love for this country/state/republic was the absolutely AMAZING food!  And as you well know, one thing we love…is AMAZING food!  Ah…a match made in Southeast Asian heaven.

A couple of weeks ago we hosted a Singapore food night.  The premise was quite easy.  Make or buy food that you’d find in Singapore – and we eat it!  Our friends Jodie and Kai (who we stayed with when we visited Singapore but also now live in Seattle), had the knowledge since they had lived there for a year.  But while there are some distinct Singapore dishes, anything Thai, Chinese, Indian, Malay, Indonesian (sorry if I left someone out), qualifies as Singaporean. 

I decided to tackle what might be considered the dish of Singapore.  Chicken rice.  In Singapore, this seemingly blah-looking dish was the epitome of unpretentious awesomeness.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to reach that same level of flavor – but I certainly tried.

Meet my organic chicken.  The first organic meat I’ve ever bought.  Apparently it’s CRITICAL for the dish to get a very good, fresh-tasting chicken.

I took this pricey little chicken and followed this recipe as closely as I could.

http://steamykitchen.com/5068-hainanese-chicken-rice.html

The end result:

food4

The cooked chicken with homemade chili dipping sauce.

And the aromatic flavorful jasmine rice.  And there you go…chicken rice.

Micah made pork and chicken satay.  You can’t go to SE Asia and not eat satay, as well as not get constantly asked “satay, boss?” 

ry=400

Micah grilling it up.  The satay was super tasty!

Jodie and Kai made chili prawns – which were awesome.  In Singapore we ate chili crab…and it was such an incredible dish…and messy too.

food5

Eat the prawns, and then use the steamed buns to wipe up the spicy sauce. Yum!

Our other friends opted for the less mess version of cooking…that is, buying from a restaurant. But we weren’t complaining.  Our kitchen counters were overflowing with thai basil salad, noodles, fried pork – all delicious!

Lastly, can’t have a Singapore food night without a dessert! We opted for a classic dessert found in street carts all over Singapore.

ice cream sand

An ice cream sandwich…literally.  In Singapore they use a rainbow-colored sweet bread, but we looked all over and couldn’t find anything like it.  But white bread worked just fine. 

group pic

Kai, Rory, Jessica, Mike, me, Micah, Jodie (L to R)

We had such a fun time eating and reliving/sharing some Singapore memories.  We even got Tiger and Chang beer!

catan

And no group outing to our house is complete without some Catan action!

Now…which country should we do next?

Chicago-lovin’

This past week I spent a few days in Chicago for work.  I actually enjoy going to Chicago because I think it’s a fantastic city – and if you get to explore the town on the company-dime…even better!

Unfortunately, this recent trip I was riddled with the cough of death – which led to absolute sleep deprivation.  So even though outside was a good 80+ degrees and amazing sunny weather, I was in my hotel room either working or trying to sleep and eventually giving up and doing more work.

But…this trip was still a success!  Here are three awesome things from my Chicago trip:

1. Stumbling upon Coconut Twix at the nearby drugstore

IMAG0092

Hello lover!  Yeah, Twix is my FAVORITE candy bar and this just happens to be a new flavor.  It’s really tasty.  And, it’s not available everywhere yet (I’ve looked).  Booooo!

2. A super awesome M&M wall dispenser

IMAG0094

This thing is so cool (it happened to be hanging on the wall at the focus group facility I happened to be doing work at).  It lays flat against the wall, but turn the crank and pull the lid open a little bit, and plop, plop, plop – out come the goodies!  I was very entertained by this – and in sugar shock by the end of the night Smile

3. Delectable lunch at Wow Bao

wowbao

Wow Bao is an AWESOME chain (only found in Chicago) that has these AMAZING (and super cute) steamed bao aka bun that comes with delicious meat filling.  They are soft and pillowy, and…yum, yum, yum.  A location just happened to be right across from my hotel.  It was meant to be. (This is my second time to Wow Bao as my first time was with a trip with Micah and Tera – we were on a mission to find this place!!)

If it weren’t for the blistering cold, bitterly awful winters – I’d totally want to move to Chicago.  Who wouldn’t with all this awesome stuff they have there!!?

We’re talkin’ DAYS people!!

Hello!  Yes, finally – an update.  As you might assume from the lack of blog activity – I (Micah included) have been a busy busy bee.

With a destination wedding – there’s an endless amount to do.  And then layer on a new job – and watch out! 

But we are here in Hawaii and having a good time.  We are trying to do a mix of both relax and hang out with friends AND get wedding stuff checked off. 

Friends and family are starting to trickle in now – which is very exciting! They are here for us…and the fact that it is Hawaii Smile

Only 4 more days to go!!!  Hard to believe, but we are excited for it to finally come!!!!!!!!!!!!

A very important piece of paper.  We’ll be signing you soon!

Off to Hawaii we go…

…and then it’s straight to TMo!

This is my last week of relative “freedom” before I re-enter the full-time working world again (as opposed to the quite flexible and nice working-from-home schedule I’ve been doing).

On Wednesday we head to Honolulu for one day.  Then Thursday, it’s off to the Big Island.  Saturday it’s wedding time for our friend (Micah’s a groomsman).  Sunday is the Seahawks vs the Bears (early morning for us)!!!  And we head back to Honolulu in the afternoon.  Monday we fly back to Seattle and arrive late at night.  And finally, Tuesday morning – day 1 at TMobile!  It’s quite the whirlwind. 

During our very little time in Honolulu, we’ll be doing wedding-related tasks, including meeting with vendors and my wedding hair and makeup trial! 

I’m excited to start my new job, but it’s bittersweet too.  I’m back to early mornings, driving in terrible Seattle traffic, and well…working full-time.  That’s in addition to continuing my independent consulting (I promised my clients I’d stay on to completion for a long-term project), and wedding stuff.  I’m wondering how I’m going to balance it all. 

At least in the last couple of weeks, Micah and I have kicked it into high gear and have completed a number of wedding projects!  5 weeks to go!

Cool things of 2010 – No. 20

Alright…I’m definitely winding down on my list, partly because I need to get myself ready for our little NYE shin dig we are hosting…but also because this is #20!

We ate “the most delicious fruit in the world”

Really, we did.  Well, that’s according to the National Museum of Singapore – Food Gallery (what a bold statement, right?) 

This thing right here.

Do you know what this is?

It’s called a mangosteen.  You bust open the rind to reveal these white fleshy segments.  That’s the part you eat.  We HAD no choice but to try one while on our visit in Singapore.

What’s the verdict? 

Well, it is pretty damn good (hence Micah’s expression).  It’s incredibly sweet and delicious.  Is it the “most delicious?”  Hmmm.  Go try for yourself. 

Cool things of 2010 – No. 15, 16, 17, 18, & 19

I couldn’t do a proper “Cool things” listing without including the awesome countries we visited in 2010 (sorry Japan…you don’t make the cut since it was 2009).

#15.  Thailand!

We spent about one week exploring the crazy, chaotic, and awesomeness that is Thaliand.  From Bangkok to Ko Phi Phi to Railay.  It was fun adventures and absolutely fantastic feasting!  Recap here. 

#16. Australia mate!

Two weeks in the land down undah.  This trip was a mixed bag.  We both got violently (and that’s putting it nicely) ill at the start of the trip.  And everything was ridiculously expensive.  But we ended with an amazing stay on Moreton Island where we fed dolphins and lounged on the beautiful beaches.  Recap here. 

#17. Hong Kong!

So…this is where I have to admit to a breakdown in my otherwise fairly good blogging efforts.  Yeah…never blogged about our summer vacationSad smile  And it’s now been so long ago, that I can’t really muster up the energy to do it. But maybe I will…maybe.

We picked out our dinner for the night. 

But…just know that Hong Kong was amazing!  When we got there, it was ridiculously hot – but also a place where we could envision living (should we decide to go abroad again).  It became one of our top places we visited…that is, until….well, you’ll see soon. 

We traveled the world’s longest outdoor covered escalator system.

Saw the famous light show.

durian in hong kong

And ate some durian desserts (the stinky fruit)

#18. The Philippines!

Again…no recap of this 2nd leg of our summer vacation.  Bad Lisa, bad Lisa!  But the Philippines…well, it was love and hate.

Love: The outer islands…we stayed on the island of Bohol.  Keep in mind, the summer there is the low tourist season as it’s also the rainy season.  We chose this island because it was more insulated from adverse weather conditions.

We stayed on this little part of the island called Panglao in a really nice (and super cheap) resort – The La Pernela Beachfront Resort.  It was so surreal – not only was the landscape so beautiful, but the resort was COMPLETELY empty.  Micah and I had the entire place to ourselves. 

Our resort…just for the two of us.

Got to do a lot of lounging and reading at this pool…and got some SERIOUS sun.  Tan lines that even months later I’m still trying to get rid of.

Delicious home cooked meals and fresh-blended drinks every day on our outdoor patio.

And the beautiful beach and water right at our footsteps.

We stayed for three days on the island and took an all-day island excursion…which was just ‘eh.’ 

The highlight of our excursion was seeing these little guys…tarsiers. 

CUTE!!!! And teeny tiny.

Hate: The capital, Manila.  Gross, dirty, dangerous.  We stayed only one day here, and that was quite enough.  Keep in mind…we aren’t looking for 4 star experiences…some of that dirt and grime is part of it all.  But literally, there’s nothing to do in Manila except shop.   And even shopping, you have to go through the security points at each door to make sure you don’t have bombs or guns.  It was hard to figure our way around using mass transit and after a few hours of walking the streets – we were covered in grease and grime. 

Chinatown.  The craziest, dirtiest one we’ve been too.  (Yes, I have a fascination with visiting Chinatown wherever we go)

I did score a great deal on some Haviana flip flops…about $1 US.

Hey…wait a minute.  There’s no Nordstrom in the Philippines!

We walked and walked and walked…so we could see the famous Manila Bay. 

Where there was of course, lots of clamming and fishing going on.

Oh…but wait.  That’s the area where they are clamming and fishing.  Nice.

We rode one of these to…pretty much the biggest tourist attraction of the city.

The SM Mall of Asia.  Oh…please leave your bombs at the door.

We met up with some familiar friends.

And saw some interesting items in the grocery store.

And waited in this ridiculous line at the airport.  This was to even get INTO the building.  And when we finally got in…we were apparently dropped off at the WRONG TERMINAL!  Back to the taxi.

The line at the correct terminal.  Ah…couldn’t wait to get outta there!

#19. Finally…our last stop…Singapore!

(Sorry for this long blog post…I guess it’s turning into a sort of mini-recap of our summer trip)

This was our FAVORITE country (officially a Republic and not a country), we visited…of all the places we have ever traveled

Hello Singapore!  The official mascots of the Youth Olympics being held at the time.

A few reasons why we love this place:

  • Friends: Our friends from back in Seattle were living in Singapore when we visited.  It was perfect.  We got to see them, stay with them, and get personal guided tours by them.  Easiest foreign traveling we’ve experienced.

Jodie and Kai.  Our amazing tour guides and hosts.

  • Clean: Having just come from the super filthy Manila, it was so refreshing to be in this super clean place.  Yes, the government may play a role in this – but it was sure nice.

Watch what you do…the govt is watching you.  Actually, we never once felt intimidated or fearful of doing something bad.  P.S. Durian fruit really is stinky.

  • English: Most Singaporeans speak English (as well as Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil).  Yay…we could easily get around and understand people.  Granted, sometimes the language barrier can make for a fun traveling experience…but keep in mind, this was the last leg of our two week trip.  Easy peasy was fine with us. Smile

So…it’s Singlish…but you get the point. Smile

  • Culture: Singapore is such a MASSIVE melting pot of so many cultures and countries.  They have the cleanest Chinatown I’ve ever seen, plus an Indian neighborhood, Malaysian, Indonesian, Thai, etc. etc. 

  • Attractions: Tons of things to do here.  And it goes way beyond just shopping (although they have endless malls and stores).  Lots of parks, museums, architecture, tours, and we had the added benefit of being there during the inaugural World Youth Olympics (Olympics for kids).

One of the shows at the Night Safari – they picked Micah out of the crowd and he joined the guys for some flame throwing.  So funny to watch.  Micah totally got into it.

One of THE BEST museums EVER.  The Singapore National Museum…a MUST for anyone going there. We could have stayed for hours and hours and hours.

Time to get our Chinese massage on.  OUCH!  Hurt like hell.

  • Food: This is by far one of the best things about Singapore.  The food is freaking incredible here.  Tons of choices.  And tons of new types of food – flavors and dishes I’d never seen or heard of – and tasted incredible.  Plus, the food was SOOOOOO cheap (as long as you eat at the super cool hawker stalls).  It was mind-boggling how much food you could get for just $3 or $4 US. 

One of hundreds of hawker stalls (aka big outdoor covered food courts) in Singapore.  The ONLY way to go.

Stingray.  SOOOO good.

One of Singapore’s most famous dishes: chicken and rice.  Looks bland as hell, but it’s one of the MOST delicious things I’ve ever eaten. 

These dumplings…also one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten.  Trust me!

Fried stinky tofu…one of the WORST things I’ve ever eaten…but a Chinese favorite.

Chili crab…uh-mazing!!!!!!!!!!

If you think all we did was eat…well, that’s true.  But eating is such a HUGE part of this culture, so what better way to experience the real Singapore? Smile  I could go on and on about our love for Singapore.  I’d definitely go back…and I’d definitely consider living there too, although real estate is ridiculously-priced.

Oh yeah, I turned 30 there too!  And to help me celebrate, this magician showed off his semi-decent skills.

Frosty fun on our Alaskan adventure…and frozen fingers too

We went to Alaska for Christmas!!!  We had such a great time!  Naturally, as dictated by the geography and climate of the region – it was freaking cold!

When we were telling our friends about spending Christmas in Alaska, it reminded me very much of this part in the movie The Proposal.  I love this part. 

We flew up on Thursday and Brian picked us up at the airport in Anchorage.  As soon as we stepped off the plane, we were greeted with cold, thick air and beautiful snowy landscapes.

polar bears

Of course, we needed to get some pics with the native wildlife roaming the airport.

 

Isabella was already in bed by the time we got to the house.  But the next morning, she was all smiles.  It hardly took her any time at all to warm up to us (which is drastically different than a few months ago).

Isabella (19 months) and Aunty Lisa.

 

It was so fun playing with her and watching how much she has grown.  She’s ridiculously smart and is in the “copy” stage – so we had to watch our mouths for sure.  (She did pick up “darn it” from me – and easily incorporated it into her vocabulary.) Smile

On Friday, Christmas Eve, we drove out to a reindeer farm.  As we were nearing the farm, we kept seeing the thermometer reading keep dropping and dropping.  It was somewhere near –12 degrees (F) at the farm.  HOLY CRAP!  That’s definitely the coldest weather I’ve been in, let alone, walked around in.

We prepared as best we could with multiple layers, scarves, gloves, hats, and those handwarmers that you shake up.  But it doesn’t take long before you feel the freeze!

reindeerfarm

There was this moose there.  A very friendly moose with one antler.  He liked to give little moose kisses.

 

Time to meet the reindeer!

FYI: Reindeer are essentially the same as caribou.  But of the domesticated variety.  And unlike deer, both males and females grow antlers.  Also, during the winter months, all the males lose their antlers.  So, all those flying reindeer helping Santa spread cheer throughout the world…they are females! Smile

 

After our little reindeer lesson inside the cabin, we each headed out with a little jar full of reindeer food.  And then, cue the reindeer! 

The farm had about 120 reindeer.  They breed them up there and many of them get shipped off…and made into reindeer sausage.

Micah is feeding Comet…wait, that’s Cupid…er..Vixen!

Once they know you’ve got the food, they have a tendency to swarm.  They won’t bite you, but watch out – I don’t think it would feel so nice to be poked in the eye by an antler.

Isabella got to ride one.  I think she was probably too cold to realize how awesome it was!! 

By this time, my fingers were about to fall off.  But I managed to take a picture of Micah and I – complete with my frozen hair strands, and frozen nose boogers.

The reindeer farm was probably the highlight of our Alaskan adventure.  Seriously, it was too cold to do much else.  Instead, we stayed inside the house and did lots of lounging, movie watching, Isabella-entertaining, and eating!!!  We not only had a delicious crab dinner, but a very yummy prime rib dinner too.  Soooooo delish!!

Doing some exploring of touristy Anchorage shops.

And you can’t forget about Christmas!  I didn’t have any Christmas morning pics on my camera, but it was really fun watching Isabella open her presents.  She actually got the hang of it too…and was ripping and tearing wrapping paper.  And customary for a child that age, she was OVERWHELMED with all the new toys, books, etc.  But she definitely had fun playing with them all. 

Lounging in our matching faux-Snuggies playing some Settlers of Catan. 

We flew back to Seattle on Monday afternoon.  It was sad to say goodbye, but we were welcomed with rainy mid-40 degree weather – and it felt warm!

The next time we go back to Alaska…it’ll need to be during the summer.  Micah and I couldn’t hack it up there in the tundra!

Vegas getaway

Ah, I finally have a chance to post about our Vegas trip.  It was 5 days/4 nights of non-stop laughter, fun, pranks, gambling, sunning, surprises, and picture taking.  There ended up being 14 of us total – and we all had a blast!

Day 1: Thursday night

We check into our hotel – MGM Grand – late..really late.  But we were all set to go out for dinner anyway.  I changed into my white dress since the dress code had stated “ladies wear white.”  SURPRISE!  I soon realized I was the only one wearing white.  It was a surprise engagement party for Micah and I. 

Our friends gave Micah a kickass blue tuxedo t-shirt.  And I of course had to wear a veil.

All the other girls are wearing bridesmaid dresses from previous weddings they’ve been in.  It was awesome!

 

Since it was 2am – and a Thursday night – the only thing still open in our hotel was…Mickey Ds!  So…Mickey Ds it was!

Reception dinner – catering provided by McDonalds. 🙂

 

Day 2: Friday

Morning: Surprisingly, a few peeps in the gang wanted to workout.  So Coach Lisa took them through a BodyRock workout right in our room.

Don’t be fooled.  Tarah might be smiling – but this workout had everyone drenched in sweat after the 12 minutes were up.

 

Afternoon:  Pool time! 

Boo!!  At first, the pool was closed due to some cloudy weather.

So we explored the strip for awhile – and ran into Hello Kitty.  Ah, it felt a little like Korea.

 

The weather finally turned hot and sunny, so from the gambling tables to the pool we headed!

 

Night:  Friday night – the boy and girls were on their own.  The boys all ate a ridiculous amount of chicken wings at Hooters…and called it an early night.  Not the girls!  We decided that I should wear the veil again and sort of consider it a bachelorette party (which only helps in scoring free drinks and not waiting line).  So we all got dolled up in our “Foxy Brown” attire – and hit the town.

Ready for a fun-filled, crazy night with the girls! 

Day 3: Saturday

The day time was all about COLLEGE FOOTBALL!!  It was my first time placing sports bets at a casino.  The games really become MUCH more intriguing when you have a little money on the line. 🙂

Place your bets!

  In the end, I won $20, lost $40.  Micah was about the same too.

Woo hoo!  I bet on my beloved Cougs…and came out a winner.  Although, WSU did lose the game in the end.

 

Once night time arrived – it was time for our Vegas Strip Crawl.  (Basically, head from bar to bar, hotel to hotel, and have a drink at each place).  I think only one person in our group managed to do this successfully.  I threw in the towel early…but played some Blackjack at a few different places along the way and won some cash!

Had SUCH a fun night.  We were out til 4am!

   

Day 4: Sunday

Our friends Aaron and Regina decided to renew their wedding vows while we were all in Vegas.  It was so fun! 

Congratulations 3-yearly weds!

  

This is Regina.  Also a bridesmaid in our wedding.   

 

And at night – we all went to the old part of Vegas and gambled, walked the strip, and ate delicious oxtail soup at Micah’s favorite joint.

 

The old part of Vegas is really cool and a much different vibe than the “strip.”  I loved it here.  Cheap gambling, cheap drinks, and a fun atmosphere.

 

Eating some late night oxtail soup at the California Hotel.  Seriously, the best thing I ate in Vegas that whole weekend.  It was awesome.

 

And of course we had to wake up all our friends at 3am – and shower them with all the nudie cards that are handed out EVERYWHERE along the strip.

  

Day 5: Sunday

Time to go home!  But not after a few hours of delays and sitting in the plane on the runway—and not going anywhere for over an hour. 

Viva las Vegas!!!!

We had such a fantastic time.  No one got sick – food or otherwise. 🙂 No lost wallets or cell phones.  I’m ready to plan for next year! 🙂


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