Monday, April 28, 2008

Dolls, tea, falcons, tulips, and curry

What do dolls, tea, falcons, tulips, and curry have in common? They all played a large role in my Saturday.

For weeks now I've been looking forward to the Spring Doll Show in Salt Lake City Utah. The Doll show comes to the fair grounds twice a year, once in spring, and again in fall. (Here and here are the posts about last year's shows.) A building on the fair grounds fills with dolls, doll accessories, and doll clothes of all kinds. Antique dolls mix with the new craze- ball jointed dolls. Tonner and Effanbee dolls mingle with antique china and bisque dolls. But, the reason we love the doll show most of all, is the American Girl booth where you can pick up black market (or "gray market" as the collectors call it) goods for a fraction of the cost!

This year Chelsea and Connie were at my house at 8:30, so we could make it to the show at 9:00, right when the doors open. As soon as we were there we high-tailed it over to the AG booth and picked up some great finds! I spent $40 on $100 worth of AG goods. Sweet!

The rest of the doll show was quite fun too. It is wonderful to spend a few hours looking at all things doll, and chatting with other doll lovers from all over the west. I even found out Tonner is planning on coming out with a ball jointed Betsy McCall doll later this year, which is beyond awesome!

After the show we met E at the Beehive Tearoom. This tradition is so fun, we enjoy lunch and tea in the middle of downtown Salt Lake. Each year we enjoy our time at the tearoom more than before. The building just has a quiet and relaxed feel to it, very enjoyable.

Once lunch and tea time was through, E and I decided to head to Temple Square and enjoy the sunny weather (still not warm though), and the gardens. Temple Square was stunning. All the tulips were in bloom, and the gardens were gorgeous. As we walked towards the temple, we looked up at Hotel Utah hoping to see the famous peregrine falcon that calls the building home, and right there, on the South East corner was the falcon cleaning his wings.

This was really awesome to see, because peregrines are E's favorite animal, he has loved them since he was a kid, and has never seen one in the wild. Now, downtown Salt Lake City might not seem like the wild, but it is. Paregrines have learned to adapt to cities quite well, nesting on high rises and eating birds, mice and insects right in the heart of large cities. It was really fun to see.

After enjoying the gardens and watching the falcon for quite awhile, we headed into Hotel Utah. Once, Hotel Utah was the grandest and most beautiful hotel in all of Utah, but started to loose business to competition with larger rooms and more updated facilities, so they closed their doors in 1987. Since then it has been converted into a LDS church-owned building. E and I had never been into the building because of this, and we were so glad we finally did!

The lobby was unreal! Huge green marble columns reach two stories up to a huge stain glass ceiling. The gold leaf ceilings around the mezzanine and the opulent banisters were a sight to see. We even took a mini tour and learned all about the various rooms in the building. E and I love historic buildings, so we were in heaven.

After our busy morning on the town, we headed home to a quick nap and cleaning the house. Mike called and asked if we had dinner plans, and if we'd like to come over because he was going to make Thai red curry. Of course we said yes, and arrived around 8:00. Mike is a fantastic cook, and when we arrived he was sauteing salmon and toasting pine nuts. Soon he mixed all the ingredients into a huge post of red spicy curry and we sat down to a fantastic meal.

Afterwards we played games, made really horrible dirty jokes and stayed up way too late. On the way home I mentioned to E that I had never had better curry, even a restaurant can't compete with Mike.

What an awesome day.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Fun at the Italian Deli

Do you remember that E got me a cooking class for my birthday? Well last night was the class, and it kicked ass. We've done a class like this before, and loved them! They are held at our favorite Italian Deli, Tony Caputo's.

Well last night's class was Cocktail Party Finger Foods. E and I are crazy for Hors d'oeuvres, so this was a perfect class for us. We started the class by trying all sorts of antipasti, and loving each thing. Cheese wrapped in the best Italian meats, tomatoes and mozzarella sprinkled with truffle salt, crostinis with the best French meats, all served with the best wine and cocktails Salt Lake City has to offer.

Soon we started cooking, or watching Matt and Elaina cook. They made the most incredible hot dishes, tomato soup and mini paninis (they like to serve the soup in shot glasses for cocktail parties), Rockefeller oysters, the best sausage the US has to offer dipped in a homemade aioli, and very yummy bruschetta (the best we've had since being in Italy).

We ended up sitting with a woman that had traveled the world. She had lived in Paris, Sweden and Japan and was more than willing to share wonderful travel stories with E and I throughout the night.

E and I had a wonderful time, and now we know how to make the best Rockefeller oysters known to man, so come on over and insist that we make them for you!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Eight more days

Eight more days till my trip to Grand Cayman... I am sooooo ready!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Update on all things life

E and I have been going though some major life changes as of late, which have left us tired, stressed, and excited for the next step.

Here is what is going on:

E started his new job at a local development company last week. So far he is feeling overwhelmed with the tasks at hand, excited to get started, and quite tired because now he needs to wake up at 6:00 to get to work on time.

Because E is not working at home any longer, this has also changed my life quite a bit. I no longer go home for lunch and a power nap with my hubby. Before we would make a homemade lunch each day and relax together before we both went back to work. Now it is harder for me to go home and eat alone, and for E is takes quite a bit of time to pack a lunch in the morning, which means we've been going out for lunch more and more, and I'm not getting my lunch-time-snuggles, which is quite a shame.

Also, Dave and Penny (my aunt and uncle who co-own the condo with E and I) are in town to clean out the garage and move all of their belonging into storage. Dave and Penny moved to London five years ago and are now thinking that they won't move back. Because E and I want to sell the condo and find a house, Dave and Penny need to move all of their stuff to a storage unit, so the condo is ready to sell. This is scary for a few reasons, one- owning a house and house-hunting is like what real live adults do, not kids that are pretending to be grown-up. Two- the market is in the toilet (I'm sure if you noticed) and so selling now it not ideal (but we will get to the reasons we want to sell later...) And three- we hate to sell what was a real estate investment for my aunt and uncle in such a crap market, however, there are reasons to this madness.

So, the reasons you ask? E and I have been talking more and more about starting a family. We've been married for almost two years, and together for almost ten (yes, I said ten!). I am not getting any younger, and I told E years ago that I would like to have a baby in my arms by the time I am 28. The condo is too small to start a family in. Besides, who wants to move to a house with a baby? We decided it would be best to buy a house before we start trying.

Plus, E and I are avid travelers, and this year we decided to take a less-exotic trip in the hopes of buying a house too. Don't worry, once I'm pregnant, the plans for travel will not slow down.

So why E's change of heart about starting a family? If you remember, not too long ago, E was completely opposed to the idea, saying he "wasn't ready". Well, over the last few months, he's completely changed his tune, maybe because I stopped pressing him. (Note- now that I'm posting this, don't start asking questions like "when are going to start trying?" or saying things like "I can't wait to be a aunt" (you know who you are!!!) because this will only push E back into his shell and we will be back to where we began). Anyway, while camping last weekend E said to me at one point "baby, we really need to have kids soon," which was so sweet.

So, to finish off this post of updates, here is a photo from a party last night at my grandma's house. My grandma is thrilled to have Dave and Penny back in town, she misses them so much when they are away, and it is always fun to hang out with family.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Really cool optical illusion

I can't figure out how to post this directly to my blog, so you'll have to check out the link, but it is well worth it.

Here are the directions: Stare at the dot for 30 seconds. Then, without moving your eyes, move the mouse over the image. The image will look like it's in color until you move your eyes.

Here is the link: Optical illusion

Monday, April 14, 2008

Utah rocks

E and I are back from a weekend in the Utah rocks, the red rocks of Canyonlands National Park. We decided to take a little trip away from home before E started his new job (he started today), and Canyonlands fit the bill. The weather was going to be perfect, if not a little cold at night, and the nine years E and I have been together, just the two of us have never gone camping alone.

I took Friday off, and we were on our way by 8:00. The drive from Salt Lake to Canyonlands is exactly five hours, so after stopping for lunch, bathroom, and gas we got there around 2:30. We found a campsite right outside the park nestled against red cliffs and set away in juniper trees. Unpacking and setting up camp was a delight, because the skies were blue and clear.

Soon we decided to go into the park and take our first mini hike. We chose the Pothole Point, the very easy 0.6 mile loop on top of a slickrock mesa. By the time we were done with the hike, we were cold. There was some wind, and it was already beginning to get late in the day.

E and I headed back to camp to start on dinner. Both of us were wearing lots of layers, because as soon as the sun set, we were quite chilly. E made the most amazing chicken pot pie in the dutch oven for dinner. First he cooked chicken, onions, garlic and veggies in olive oil, then he added cream of chicken soup, a can of condensed milk, and a Pillsbury croissant crust. We both loved it.

As the pot pie cooked we headed up the red rocks behind us to watch the sunset. The sky was just perfect, and the orange glow made the rocks sparkle. Each time I snapped a photo I couldn't believe how orange everything looked. I quickly set up my new tripod and took a group photo before the sun dipped too low in the sky.
E and I enjoy the sunset with Violet and Traveling Inky.
After dinner was cleaned up we made a little campfire, shivered around it for a couple hours, and finally called it a night and went to bed. Damn was it cold. I got snuggled down into my sleeping bag, and only woke up a few times, but E said he was freezing all night. The next day we found out that the low was an awesome 27.4 degrees. Nice and frigid!

The next morning we woke up and I made a tasty breakfast of camper's hash - grilled onions, potatoes, bell peepers, mixed with bacon, scrambled eggs and cheese - yum! We even had ice cold OJ and hot tea.

Once breakfast was done E and I set off towards Chesler Park. Chesler Park is the most photographed area of The Needles region of Canyonlands because it is absolutely stunning. The needles of sandstone soar hundreds of feet into the air enclosing a large meadow of dessert grasses and trees. Each spire, or needle, is striped, with both white and red rock, taking turns along the huge column of rock.

The hike into Chesler Park was stunning. Over and under hundreds of sandstone canyons, and in the distance to the west, snow capped mountains, and in the distance to the east, the needles as far as the eye can see. The weather was PERFECT for hiking, I have never in my life had better hiking weather. The air was a little cool (60s), but the sky was clear. While hiking I never felt too hot or too cold, I was in Southern Utah heaven.
Once we hiked the three miles to Chesler Park E and I found a nice big rock to eat lunch and have a mini nap on. After our break we headed into the area a little more, and ended up exploring another mile or so. Each vista was jaw-droopingly beautiful. I took hundreds of photos, but knew that photos would not do this place justice.
As late afternoon approached, E and I decided to turn around and hike the four miles back to the car. On the way out, the trail was quite, so quite that we stopped to listen to the stillness a few times. By the time we got back to the car our feet and legs were tired from the demanding day.
Once back in camp we relaxed and started a fire. Or should I say tried to start a fire. We had purchased fire wood in Salt Lake, and all of it was quite large and damp. We also didn't have any kindling, so making the fire was quite tough. When we had all but given up, the fire started full force, and we were able to roast our hot dogs and marshmallows.

Luckily Saturday night was a lot warmer than Friday had been, and sitting around the fire and staying out late was not nearly as teeth chatteringly cold. The sky was amazing, I love to watch the stars in the desert.

On Sunday morning we woke up after a good and warmer night of sleep. I took some photos of the dolls (Violet and Inky) while E made German Pancakes for breakfast. As soon as we were about ready to sit down he discovered that the recipe went wrong, and he had mixed the eggs and butter with the powdered sugar instead of the flour. He was so bummed that he screwed up the recipe that he didn't want to try the yummy sweet omelet like-thing that it ended up being.

After the semi-failed breakfast we relaxed and packed up camp. Soon we were on our way back into the park so we could take another mini hike before we headed home. We hiked Cave Springs, which is fun because there are two ladders on the trail. Plus, the hiking weather was again, perfect.

After a few more photo stops (Newspaper Rock, Wilson Arch, Canyonlands sign) E and I headed home, very tired and happy.

And today he started his new job!

(Funny side note- I took Violet and her traveling friend Inky with me to Canyonlands. The first day at the visitors center the ranger asked them if they would like to become Junior Rangers. They had to do three things, and fill out a book telling about why they loved National Parks. I decided to go for it, and it was quite fun. The last day we went back to pick up the Jr. Ranger badges and both dolls had to repeat a pledge, tell what they liked about the park, etc., it was very silly indeed.)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

And Ron, Hermione, and Crookshanks

Remember this post that I made just a few weeks ago where I showed off my awesome embroidery skills and presented you Harry Potter?

Well I've continued to work on this project, on and off for the last few weeks and finally finished a few other pieces. Now I have Ron and Hermione to go along with Harry, I have a potions bottle, books, some wands, Hedwig, Crookshanks, and Scabbers (who sits on Ron's shoulder). I plan on adding a broomstick, Fawkes, a dragon, and maybe Hogwarts.

But for now, here are Ron, Hermione, and Crookshanks (Ron is my favorite by the way, don't tell the others)-

Monday, April 07, 2008

Birthday blowout bananza

Wow. Just wow. I've had a full birthday blowout.

On Thursday I woke up to birthday wishes from my hubby. Our plan was to open presents at lunch, and of course, lunch was my choice, so I chose sushi! E picked me up around noon with some gifts in the back of his car, all wrapped and waiting. We went to Tsunami and got three awesome sushi rolls. I was in heaven!

And, E, as always, gave me the most wonderful thoughtful gifts. I had mentioned to him weeks earlier that I need a new travel journal for our trip to Grand Cayman, because old journals are full. E took this tip to heart and found me the most beautiful journal in the world. It is red leather with smooth creamy paper. But the best part is the Italian marbleized paper edges. E really thought about this gift, he said at first he was going to get lined paper, but decided on un-lined because I like to draw and sketch. He is right of course, and the journal is perfect.
He also gave me and AWESOME cooking class at our favorite Italian deli! In late April both E and I will attend a "Finger foods and cocktails" cooking course. Isn't that just perfect? Appetizers and cocktails are often my favorite part of the meal, so I'm stoked.

And he gave me a miniature dutch oven for Hazel (my pioneer doll). It is really cute, and just the right size for Hazel to cook a large feast in, or it is perfect for us to heat up a sauce in. I love it.

That night, after I was finished at work E and I headed to my Mom's and Chuck's house for a home tour. My mom is doing a major remodel, and we've gone over a couple of times to see the work in progress. Now the kitchen floor is down (the rest of the kitchen is still empty) and the upstairs bathroom is nearing complete.

After the house tour we headed downtown for dinner at the Dodo. I ordered a yummy salad and filet mignon. We had a great time chatting, eating, drinking and ordering HUGE desserts. And my mom and Chuck gave me the new hiking shoes I was hoping for!

After the huge dinner and dessert we went up to E's house to open more presents. I was going to wait until Friday for gifts from E's family, but I was too excited!

Here is what I got from them-
Connie and Steve- Julie's picnic set, Ruby Ballet outfit, and Dollie Dressmaker outfit (all doll things) and cute lip glosses.
David- Harry Potter mug (yes!) and REI gift card
Chelsea- Such a cute Carpatina outfit for Lei Mei
Doll clothes, not baby clothes. ;)
Friday was my mother-in-law Connie's birthday, so that night we met downtown at a Thai restaurant. We gave Connie gifts, ordered Sake and a lot of food and had a great night. After dinner was over we headed back up to E's family's house to have an awesome chocolate tart for dessert. Yummy!

Then on Saturday the birthday festivities continued. E and I had a lazy day and visited Red Butte Garden where the daffodils were blooming. That night we went over to my Grandma's for a celebration with her! Wow, it is amazing how fun all of this is.

My Grandma had gone all-out, like she always does, and cooked up crab cakes for an appetizer at her house. E and I sat down with her and chatted while eating tasty snacks, amazing crap cakes, and sipping margaritas. Soon it was time for presents from my Grandma! I got an amazing little travel tripod that I am so thrilled about! I can't wait to use it on everyday photos, but also on our trip! And I got some money to use when E and I buy a new house.

Photos using my new tripod.
After cocktail hour, we hopped in the car and headed up to Snake Creek Grill (we went there earlier this year, in this post). My Grandma had never been to this restaurant, and E and I were so impressed from the last time, we decided to go back. The drive to Heber was beautiful, but it is amazing how much snow is still in the mountains.

Dinner was fantastic! We ordered spicy onion rings (like we did before), the most amazing pistachio encrusted halibut, and the really yummy gingersnap ice cream sandwich. All three of us had such a good time. We talked about house hunting, starting a family, and such.

After so much fun in just a few days, we were tired. On Sunday E and I didn't do much, but we did plan a dinner party with the guys. The guys all wanted to wish me a happy birthday, and the weather was perfect for a BBQ. Around 6:00 seven friends came over and we grilled hamburgers and onions and had a very intense game of Pictionary. The girl team won (yea girls!), and Mike got funnier and funnier as the night went on. At one point he had to draw "thank you" and before long, we were all rolling on the floor with laughter. Here are some photos to enjoy-

Logan is at the board and everyone looks on.
Mike is the most fun to watch draw, because if you don't guess it, he gets really mad, and it ends up being really funny.
E tries to get his team to guess "bucking bronco" which they didn't guess in time.
I try to draw the word "complete". How do you draw complete? We didn't get it.
Mike tries to draw "thank you" and his team doesn't get it. After the time is called he gets really buggy eyes when he gets mad at his team. Nobody has hurt feelings, instead we all barley can breath from all the laughing.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Sweet video of Rumpus

Rumpy is our sweet kitty who loves love and loves head kisses. The other day he was being extra lovey with E, so I shot a quick video. Rumpus will do this head butting thing for hours, if you let him.

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