Keep checking back for posts on our trip to Brazil and Argentina, as sorting through photos and videos certainly takes some time...thanks!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Kim & Haidee's Shower

Saturday, August 23rd 2008: at Alice's Tea Cup on East 64th Street

Congrats to Kim & Haidee! It was so nice seeing and catching up with them, the rest of the family, soon to be family, and the bridal party. Can't wait to go to each of their weddings!! Although the room was a bit cramped (ie. one pov shots), we had a fun time with the games (Q&A, items in purse, memory) and little sandwiches, cakes, and variety of teas. The bridal party definitely kicked some butt, and we were beginning to think there was a conspiracy.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Haunted Hayride

Saturday, October 20th 2007:

To continue our Halloween-themed weekend, we joined Elmer and his co-workers at the Tomahawk Lake Haunted Hayride in Sparta, New Jersey.

We bought tickets for the 8:30pm ride, but we didn't actually get to the wagon until around 9:30pm due to the extremely long line. Unknowingly, Abegail and Ariel had already gotten in line before us, since we hadn't met previously. The rest of the group arrived around 8:45pm, and we thought it would be alright for them to join us in line, but one woman made a big fuss about it, so we all went to back to the end of the line. Turns out that that woman and her family couldn't fit in the wagon before us and ended up in our wagon.

I was ready to get spooked, but since Brian and I ended up in the center, and not on the sides of the wagon, we couldn't get the full effect. But it was rather fun and amusing nonetheless. Jocelyn was quite happy in the center, not being a huge fan of all things scary. She even had her iPod on.

We couldn't take any photos with flash on the ride, and since it was pretty much darkness out there, taking non-flash photos was useless. BUT, check out the video below - no I didn't videotape the entire 30-minute ride, and it most certainly isn't visually stimulating. It's just geared for those who went on the ride that night.

Overall, I thought that the ride was done rather well, especially located in the middle of nowhere and near a lake. But they could have used more scary folk, like instead of just one or two "attacking", they could have had 5-10 people attacking all sides. That would have been pretty scary. I really felt bad for the young kids on board who just couldn't handle it. The one nearest to me had his head buried in his hands most of the time and ended up crying. His father was SO annoying - you can hear him on the video.

After the ride, we were treated to a complimentary donut and apple cider. To Brian's disappointment, the cider wasn't warm, but the donut was yummy. Ariel actually went back and swiped another one.

Since I woke up super early for the expo, we decided to head back home instead of joining the group at a diner that had karaoke - sounded like tons of fun. Hunger sneaking up on us, we went to a 24-hour diner in Fort Lee called The Plaza around midnight, where we had some delicious breakfast food. Brian had a short stack with overeasy eggs, while I had some thick French toast with overeasy eggs. While the French toast was tasty, they didn't have confectioner's sugar sprinkled on them. Our waitress was nice, having worked at the diner for 30 years.

I thought this was amusing. It was on our paper placemats:



Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Columbus Day Weekend

Saturday, October 6, 2007:

After watching the screening for New Year Baby, a beautifully candid and emotional documentary about Socheata Poeuv's family ( at the Freer Gallery in Washington for the DC APA Film Festival, I joined up with the Tull's for dinner.

Hoping to eat at Union Jack's, we headed over to the restaurant, but there were no seats available with 3 private parties hogging up the tables. We even tried to finagle our way in by answering some Philly-related questions, but the host just couldn't seat us. So we headed over to Rock Bottom instead.

Shirley Temples and tasting chocolate stout. I thought it tasted a bit like coffee.

Afterwards, we headed over to Gifford's for ice cream where, not surprisingly, there was a long line, although this was the longest I've seen it, going past the front doors. Yummy - Swiss Chocolate Cookies & Cream - using Oreos, not just cookies.

Sunday, October 7th 2007:

Off to the Mall to see the monuments and had to be in the 90's again?!

Construction gals on break - they're building homes for the solar decathlon (

Much-needed 30 SPF sunscreen for $2.50 per wipe

Listings at the Vietnam Memorial

Taking advantage of what shade we could find.

One of many vibrantly yellow carts lining the Mall. Ice cream, Pepsi and Gatorade.

At the Smithsonian Castle and entering the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden

Finally, some air-conditioned environment to cool off in - the National Air and Space Museum

Some pretty pricey fast food. We opted for some "healthier" munchies on the second floor - tuna sandwiches and chicken gyros.

Astronauts' diapers

Brian pointing at Uranus. Pluto's demotion.

Contribution by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab

Seats go that far up the nose?

At the Bethesda Metro stop

Dinner at Cafe Deluxe before picking up some chocolate chip ice cream from Häagen-Dazs and watching Knocked Up



Friday, August 31, 2007

If Three's a Crowd, What's Ten?

Thursday, August 30th 2007:

Another semi-surprise visit by some relatives for a two-day, one night visit to the nation's capital. Dinner at Tommy Joe's and then our apartment becomes a bed and breakfast for 8 additional people. Quite the handful, and not just because of how many they were. Our treasured Lladro flamenco dancer was almost broken as well as the disrespectful treatment of our new chairs among other things...but enough about that.

We surprisingly still had some open floor space in our living room to walk on after arranging everyone's sleeping area. Gotta love Aerobed.

Friday, August 31st 2007:
We go to the Natural History Museum and view the famed Hope Diamond, which I last saw when I was thirteen, before heading off to the Iwo Jima memorial, which I haven't seen and has all the U.S. - involved wars starting from the Revolutionary War through the Gulf War engraved on the base. The statue is very impressive, and having seen Flags of our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima back to back, it definitely lends an interesting perspective.

Afterwards, we go to Chinatown for a bite to eat, where the food was served within 10 minutes - amazingly fast! before we part ways.

It was a short, but rather insightful family visit.



Thursday, August 23, 2007

Eric Drops By

Tuesday, August 21st 2007:
A nice surprise, cousin Eric stops by after driving up from cousin Gina's place.

We try out our first Italian restaurant in the area, Positano, which has a great ambience, mimicking the feel and architecture of the actual town.

Wednesday, August 22nd 2007
After some delicious lunch at my visitors' lunch venue, Jaleo, we get some s'mores at the Cosi just a couple doors away. We had passed it on our way to Jaleo, and Eric had pointed it out to me, not having known about it before. Quite the yum fest, if you like s'mores (sorry Brian)



Monday, August 20, 2007

Erica & Brian's Wedding - Brian Sullivan, that is

Saturday, August 18th 2007: Long Island, NY

Just a small sample of photos from Erica and Brian's wedding day:

A fashionable lunch at McDonald's. Would have preferred Wendy's but we passed it on the other side of the road.

Thank you for clogging our arteries, that is...

At the church we reunite with friends and relatives. Congrats Kim & Dan on your engagement!

Dad as a principle sponsor.

Beautiful Erica and Ninong Manny. How many tiles are on the ceiling again?

Haidee and Robbie

En route to the Bourne Mansion, where the reception was held.

Driveway to the mansion, I'm thinking My Best Friend's Wedding and fireworks lining the driveway when the Dermot Mulroney and Cameron Diaz leave at the end of the movie...

Annette, Erica & Brian

Gorgeous views in the back, where they had a nice spread of lobsters and oysters.

First dance and proud parents, Ninang Didi & Ninong Manny

Brian, me, Tom, Anna Rae, Hoong-San, Elmer, Jen and Noel

The dancing baby...

SO CUTE!!! Old photos of Haidee, Kim and Erica...and Annette

Enjoying the chocolate fountain, Mom & Ninong Rony

Tita Julie with future son-in-law

Congratulations, Erica & Brian!



Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Pre-Season Football

Monday, August 13th 2007:

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Baltimore Ravens pre-season game at the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore - my very first pro-football game

Brian and I had quite a difficult time getting to the stadium as we tried to avoid traffic going into the city. We actually ended up pulling a Little Miss Sunshine where we are so close to our destination, yet drive by it with no direct way to get to it. We essentially circled the stadium once, ended up on the highway driving back to DC, and made a u-turn before finding the right road to get to some cheap and close parking.

We walked in in the middle of the second quarter. Doh!!

Brian's dad got seats in the lower end zone, section 109, row 35, seats 13-18. They got to the stadium nice and early. I was donning my long curly hair, but in the rush of everything and it was hot, I had to tie my locks up.

All the seats in the stadium were purple, which looked kinda cool.

They were great seats, but they would have actually been better if the Eagles' drives would have lasted longer than just a few minutes each time they ran towards us.

View from the front of our section, and Andy Reid amongst his team:

Donovan McNabb sits out this game.
The team essentially has to cut its roster in half, weedling out the worst players before the season starts, so we, or more specifically Cliff and Brian, pretty much yelled at the players whenever they played badly, which was quite often, and say stuff like, "You're cut!" or "See ya!" It was very entertaining and sad at the same time. Wish we had moments to stand up and cheer rather than jeer, since we were surrounded with Ravens fans. It was nice to see we weren't the only Eagles fans there, as there were spots of green and white here and there.

Sarah and Mike carrying our large drinks, chicken fingers/popcorn shrimp and hot dogs, while the Raven cheerleaders do their thing.

Sack anyone?

This is essentially what the whole night was like, with just a couple promising plays.

The final score: 29-3
Ravens crush the Eagles

It was rather amusing whenever the Ravens got a first down. There was a Native American type chant/sound that Brian and Cliff ragged on since it didn't seem to make any sense, but in actuallity, it was the sound of the chain link of the 10-yard tape measure moving. Still, with the sound and arms gestures, it still looked ridiculous.

Great couples think alike, or at least are consistent...



Monday, August 06, 2007

Weekend in Philly

August 4th-5th, 2007

A weekend for some repairing and fixing and celebrating:

Sarah's new ride:

an unfortunate accident:

Reminiscing and dropping an important item in the process

Birthday wishes



Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Down the Shore - 2007

July 15th - 18th 2007:

We drive to Sea Isle City directly from the Baltimore airport after Mark & Jess's wedding. Some photos from the stay:

Lucy is no longer a mythical creature...



Friday, July 06, 2007

July 4th in Our Nation's Capital

Tuesday, July 3rd 2007:

hello, hello again.

Getting some nice family face time lately. The family came down to visit us during the July 4th holiday for some good ol' patriotic sightseeing. It'll be Brian's first time seeing the monuments and memorials.

Dinner at Mon Ami Gabi, where we have some Onion Soup Au Gratin and Gazpacho Soup, Thyme-Seared Salmon with orzo, spinach, and lemon butter, Steak au Poivre with brandy peppercorn sauce, Crab Cake with vegetable remoulade roast pepper alioli and homemade chips, and Grilled Salmon Salad with orange, grapefruit, and citrus dressing. While the food was delicious, the service could use some work, at least at the table we were at.

Instead of getting dessert there, we walked around the corner to Gifford's - homemade ice cream - the equivalent of Boston's JP Licks but without all the crazy flavors and the best oreos 'n cream ever.

Elmer opted for a pretzel cone to go along with chocolate ice cream, a combination that kinda works but the cone just wasn't holding up to the heaping ice cream. Acting in our usual 10-year old ways, we made quite the spectacle outside the shop. The ice cream scoopers probably thought we were ridiculous...and rightly so.

at least he didn't get any on my hellogoodbye tee

Wednesday, July 4th 2007:

around 12noon - Off we go to the National Mall. The train is littered with red, white and blue, with Brian leading the way (well, not really, but his shirt is pretty cool for the holiday).

Throngs of people line Constitution Avenue as a parade is in progress, so we head for less denser areas, picking up some mangoes along the way.

12:44pm - At the Treasury on the 1600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue:

One of a couple staples at the back of the White House that day:

There's at least one every day.

12:47pm - Photos at the back of the White House:

Once we got to the mall section, there were security checks along the perimeter due to the high volume of people visiting the area that day.

1:50pm - The great Lincoln Memorial, with the Gettysburg Address on the left:

We grab some hot dogs and drinks at a nearby stand before heading to the Korean War Memorial - 2:44pm

Tired, anyone?

Off we go to the FDR Memorial, which is a relatively long trek from the other monuments, which is why I probably haven't had a chance to see it until now. In the background are the Jefferson Memorial and Washington Memorial, respectively - 2:55pm

Not much of a high-heel wearer, I switched to my flat flip flops which didn't feel quite as comfortable at first, but my feet eventually enjoyed the decreased pressure.

3:07pm - The FDR Memorial was rather impressive, much larger than the others, with several fountains, sections, quotes, and statues, including a visitor center, where we could experience some relief from the heat in an air-conditioned building. If only we could only dunk ourselves in the fountains...

The umbrellas came in very handy from the scorching sun...

although it looks like not everyone needed it.

3:45pm - Off we go to the Jefferson Memorial:

4:00pm - we sit for a long time, reading some of the words of Jefferson and enjoying being out of the sun. Having seen this monument several times already, mom actually stays behind, taking refuge in the trees nearby.

The sun loses its intensity as the clouds roll in as we walk back towards the metro station. Many people are finding their spots on the lawn and various areas for the show and fireworks later at night, with the speakers warning them of approaching thunderstorms and to take cover.

4:56pm - We didn't make it to the actual Washington monument since we were pretty tired.

Here is a map outlining in pink our 5+ hour travels that day:

Back in Bethesda and pretty much starving, we had planned to go to Tommy Joe's for some cheap but delicious prime rib, but unfortunately the restaurant was closed for the holiday. So we made our way to Houston's which is just a short walk from our place. We had to wait a bit in the front area before actually getting a table, where we enjoyed some Chicago-style spinach dip in the interim.

Because we couldn't eat at the other restaurant with our minds set on steak, five of us get the prime rib, while Brian opts for the salmon.

We toast to our anniversary with some Robert Alexander Shiraz that's a bit drier than we're all used to.

We share a Warm Five Nut Brownie and an Apple Walnut Cobbler to end dinner.

Back at our apartment with tired legs and dirty feet, we watch the fireworks on both our tv and outside our balcony, where there are fireworks going off on the horizon. We think that they are one and the same, but eventually we agree that our line of sight is not in the right direction of the mall.

Thursday, July 5th 2007:

Brian heads off to work as we head off to Friendship Heights and Chevy Chase to peruse the high-class stores: Barney's, Jimmy Choo's, Saks Fifth, Neiman Marcus. Elmer and Hoong-San do their "pad" checks in the department stores to make sure everything is up to par with their standards. At Neiman's, Hoong-San had to take photos of the Zegna section due to the dismal display, when a salesperson approached her, and Hoong-San immediately told her what's up so she'd back down.

The beautiful decor above and around the escalators in Neiman:

We then rushed down to the National Gallery of Art, where we unfortunately just missed a Matisse cut-out exhibit.

Off to the Main Building, and Manet's The Railway, a painting I wrote about in art history class in college.

We then drive up to Baltimore to meet up with Brian at the famous Obryki's for some good ol' Maryland crabs. For being a popular place, it definitely was in a not so touristy neighborhood as we drive around, doubting our directions until we find it. We tried saving a spot for Brian, who got a bit lost on the way, but he ended up parking further away and had to walk through the sketchy neighborhood.

To start, I get a cup of New England Clam Chowder (a must anywhere I go if it's offered), and order the Linguine Chesapeake - jumbo lump crab meat and fresh seafood in a garlic cream sauce over linguine - which turns out delicious, but a little much on top of everything else. Mom orders a Philly cheesesteak (hmm...a rather interesting choice), Dad a Filet of Fish sandwich (?), Elmer & Hoong-San share a Crab Marinara. Brian opts out of another dish. Even with all this food, our actual main dish consists of hard-shelled crabs, steamed with a "magical blend of seasonings" - rather hot and spicy so that your lips burned a bit while eating.

Our waitress seemed like she was rather miserable, but by the end she lightened up a little bit.

It was quite a messy feast that required leftovers, especially of our non-crab dishes, which came in the middle of our crab-cleaning.

We didn't get any dessert having filled ourselves with crab craziness, and then we drove in opposite directions to our respective homes.

It's definitely been a fun couple days with the family!!



Monday, July 02, 2007

Brian's Graduation Party - Part Deux

Sunday, July 1st 2007: at my parents' home

Buttery icing cake, palabok and yummy mangos

Newly engaged Elinore & Gerry

Tita Terry, Tito Manny & Tito Ed

Mom, Tito Les, Tito Erming, Tita Melba

Cousin Eric

Tito Erming, Tito Manny, Tito Romy, Tito Les & Tito Ed

Marge & Steve

Tita Effie & Tita Terry

Gerry, Eric, Hoong-San, Elmer, David & Elinore

Watching our Toyota commercial...

Our tree, planted 3 years ago...

Eric's gift of chocolate...Burdick's no less, and from Cambridge, MA

Dad in his Harvard apron (given by Midge) with his super yummy and juicy beer-soaked chicken, which we unfortunately could not eat due to our drive back to Bethesda



Sunday, June 10, 2007

Brian's Graduation Party

Saturday, June 9th 2007

the festivities continue...



Friday, June 08, 2007

Harvard Commencement, among other things...

Wednesday, June 6th 2007:

Family comes up for the big day tomorrow.

Dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Zaftigs in Coolidge Corner. Such tasty food and healthy portions - and when I mean healthy, I mean large and yummy.

Not having enough tickets for the yard nor the actual diploma ceremony, we had to plan our attack for tomorrow.

Leaving a little goodbye present at the lab. We get back to our apartment around 11:30pm, and seriously need to get some rest, for the day ahead is going to be early and long.

Thursday, June 7th 2007:

With the gates opening at 6:45am, we roll out of bed at around 5:45am, picking up the Tulls at their hotel at 6:30am. Brian is quite awake and mobile, all ready to let the day begin.

Photos in Harvard Square before separating and finding seats, while Brian and my folks head to the GSAS breakfast. When entering the gates, the security checked our bags but didn't take nor do anything to our green Tercentenary Theatre tickets. Marge made this keen observation, and I borrowed two tickets and headed out to get my parents into the yard - getting some munchies in the process.

And the march begins - with just a toll of the Memorial Church bell, the graduates with the highest degree enter with not much pomp and circumstance. Quite the anti-climatic entrance. The entire procession takes over an hour to finish before the ceremony actually begins.

View from Brian's seat and whereever Dad was positioned at this point.

I couldn't sit in one spot, so I made my way closer and closer to the stage and found where Brian sat.

Through my urging, Brian stood up during the undergraduates' conferring of degrees. Rishi, one of Brian's former labmates, is standing just behind and to the right of Brian.

Quite the large sea of graduates: 6,871 total

John Kerry and Larry Summers

Honorary Degree recipients: Bill Gates, Larry Summers, and William Felton ‘Bill’ Russell

GSAS Diploma Ceremony in Sanders Theatre

If you listen very carefully to the first few seconds of this clip, you can hear me yell "Yeaah, Brian!"

The next Harry Potters...handless Harry Potters

Going a little crazy with the tail?

One more goodbye before we go...

Brian's soon-to-be vacant desk

The obligatory John Harvard photo

5:00pm dinner at The Red House - we get first dibs on a table, which worked out quite nicely since the room eventually became packed with grads and families. Practically running on empty, I was definitely struggling to stay awake and ignore the aches my body was feeling. But it certainly was a delicious 3-hour dinner. Then we headed back to the COOP to return Brian's wizarding attire.

We stumble upon 3 wild and crazy guys as we head back to the parking garage. We ran into them just a couple weeks ago when Shiala and Joey visited.

What a LONG day, everyone was exhausted and easily fell asleep around 10pm - and I eventually went to sleep after organizing all my crap for the big move out the next day.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Happy Easter Weekend!

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

After two days photographing a couple's rehearsal dinner and wedding, I finally approached and spoke with The Office's BJ Novak (the best man) before leaving.

Sunday, April 8th, 2007

An Easter family portrait...



Monday, December 18, 2006

A New Decade: Welcome to the Thirties

Saturday, December 16, 2006: Ruby (12/16) & Brian's (12/17) 30th Birthday

(click here to view the invitation)

Thanks so much to everyone who came out to celebrate, with a special thanks to those who traveled from Jersey and NY:
Mom & Dad, Elmer & Hoong-San, Eric De La Cruz, Jackie, Maria, Geoff & Sabrina, Kim & Dan, Mark & Jess, Rafa & Simone, Eric Diebold, Jon Birge, Andrew, Jess Watkins, Loren & Jason, Sam & Emy, Jim Carey, Prakriti & Dinesh, Cleber & Carla, Tobias & Katja, Amy & Ryan, Bola, Hobie & Jen

We had a blast, and hope you all did, too. Here are some photos. Click to enlarge.

3:00pm: At Carlos Cucina Italiana

4:20pm: Walking to the MFA

7:23pm: Our evening venue: Felt

My favorite dish was the Lump Crab Cakes, and apparently having an "s" at the end does not mean more than one.

~9:30pm: With our usual lateness, we finally make it up to the 2nd floor billiards.

The first shot of the night:

~11:45pm: Dance dance dance! At the Club on the 4th Floor.

The only ten polaroids that came out, quite literally...stupid polaroid camera

Midnight - Happy Birthday, Brian!

"How much more do I have to spend?!"

Pricey champagne anyone? (Perrier Jouët, Rose, Fleur de Champagne)

"I'm bringing sexy back..." "Yep"

2:21am: Heading out to...

I - HOP! (2:52am)

That sure hit the spot...

Thanks again!

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Monday, January 02, 2006

What did you do New Year's Eve?



Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Happy 30th Elmer!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Prior to Dinner:
Brian and I drove to NYC to surprise Elmer at his surprise birthday dinner. Before getting to the restaurant, we walk around Chelsea and hit two of the MANY galleries in the area, the Hasted Hunt Gallery and the Gagosian Gallery. The Hasted Hunt gallery's current exhibit shows work by the VII Photo Agency, of which I attended their inspiring seminar a month earlier. I had seen many of the photos on display, but never in a large-print format. You could literally just look at some of these photographs for hours, even those that are very raw and disturbing. I thought that the most expensive print there would be a 30x40 print of "Rwanda" by James Nachtwey at $6,000, highly visible as you first enter the gallery, but it is Lauren Greenfield's "Chantell, Former Model" at $7,000. The gallery's opening night was actually on the first day of the seminar on Saturday, October 15th, but I chose not to go since it would be very crowded (and it was...I heard you couldn't even see the images), and went to dinner with Brian, Elmer, Hoong-San and David. To see more about the show, visit

At the Gagosian Gallery, the current exhibit is "Day is Done" by Mike Kelley, I really enjoy art installations, and this one was quite multi-media. I may have been persuaded to stay longer, but Brian and I were getting tired and had to change for dinner, which we did quite comfortably in our car hidden in the darkness of 10th Avenue.


The birthday dinner was at Matsuri

(reviews: )

where we had a yummy prix fixe family-style dinner organized by Hoong-San:

- AVOCADO & ARUGULA SALAD with sesame dressing
- YELLOWTAIL sashimi with yuzu, pepper-vinegar sauce
- SEA EEL TEMPURA served with green sea salt
- SEARED TUNA served with garlic-onion vinaigrette
- TOFU - EGGPLANT deep fried, served with soy-dashi sauce
- SEA SCALLOP seared, served cool with white miso sauce

- BLACK COD grilled with sake rice paste
- SIRLOIN STEAK grilled with ponzu-brown butter sauce
- SHRIMP TEMPURA and vegetables with dashi dipping sauce


Dinner guests included Betsy and Mike, Joanne and Gene, Sam and Cathy, Darice, Sunny, Amelia, David, Brian and I. Because it wasn't a private room, most of us just held the menus up to hide, before yelling "surprise!" As always, the video's a bit dark.

Sea scallop, avocado & arugula salad and seared tuna...

Sake Bottle #1 (aka the blue one), the first of many glasses of sake. Elmer also had a "sakenade ginger" made with sake, ginger and lemon juice.

The sea eel tempura and yellowtail sashimi...yummy

That's the sirloin steak in the foreground.

With one piece remaining on three of the dishes, Joanne, Gene, Betsy, Mike, Sunny and Darice determine who gets what by playing "21".

...finishing the second bottle of sake called Kira was much smoother than the first, which tasted quite like rubbing alcohol.

Removing his sweater, David displays his very mod shirt.

Yummy and plentiful creme brulee with tarty pomegranates, which several folks couldn't finish and not surpirsingly offered their leftovers to the guest of honor, who gladly helped himself to the extra servings, although Darice did add a little catch with hers...Elmer had to do a shot of sake...turns out though...

everyone did a shot as well, since the third bottle was, although I thought better than the first, was quite yucky. It becoming a shot alleviated the pain of drinking it slowly.

That's Elmer's expression after throwing back his shot...

and another shot...

Most of the attendees pitched in for a group present which was a...

Canon SD-550, a very cool digital camera with a HUGE 2.5 inch screen, that...

coincidentaly Sam also has and was using during dinner. Elmer gives it a whirl...

David gives Elmer a large box wrapped in paper he designed and printed himself...

as well as the gift inside, Elmerphant, also made by David. Sooo talented!!

...and another shot...

Before departing to our next location, actually maybe a good 45 minutes or so, Sam discovered that there was a celebrity in the house. Once the news quickly traveled down the table, we looked like those moles in that "Hit-a-mole" game, popping up and down to see. Everyone, except for Brian, eventually had to go to the "bathroom" which was conveniently en route to passing this famous actor. Remember there were fourteen of us.

Looks just as good in person as on screen, and has quite a commanding presence at the table.

Brian took this video on his way out of the restaurant, hoping to catch the actor on "film". I tried my best to lighten it...

Just before leaving, I took this cropped photo of the restaurant, and with some zooming, you can kinda make out who it was.

Well, if you couldn't tell who it was, it was Keira Knightley (Bend It Like Beckham, Pirates of the Caribbean, Love Actually, Domino...) who was in town for the NY premiere of Pride and Prejudice which I've been looking forward to see, and now especially so since it's gotten rave reviews.

Actress Keira Knightley arrives for the November 10, 2005 New York premiere of her new film "Pride & Prejudice" (UPI Photo/Ezio Petersen)

Since we just mostly sat at the table, and getting there relatively early (6:30-6:45pm), we couldn't appreciate the swankiness of the place unless you got up. And having gotten up to walk to the "bathroom", I finally noticed how "hot" the spot really was.

We kept joking that Elmer should have asked her for a kiss since it was his birthday. We also came up with the idea that we should have sent her a bottle of sake, the Kira one we had, and not so discretely add the missing "e" to the name.

We're so corny.

Sometime around 10pm...

We headed over to Highline which was only a short walk away, although my feet certainly didn't think it was with my unusual wearing of high heels, where the night continued on and more guests arrived.

Very interesting decor and design...

(that's my ad shot on the right)

After attracting some attention, Elmer and David explain our (Elmer and mine) weird mannerisms.

Ever since we saw the Buck Rogers episode with a space vampire when we were younger, we would imitate the vampire as a means to tickle. After finding the photo below, I've discovered that we've been imitating him incorrectly...

(palm should face in)

bouncy ball seats...

thanking Hoong-San, the organizer

Happy 30th Birthday, Elmer! Hidy hidy hidy hidy ho!



Monday, September 19, 2005

Philadelphia Distance Run

What an amazing experience! Never did I thought that I would ever run a long distance race, let alone a half marathon. Being more of a sprinter (my nickname with my high school softball team was "Speedy Gonzales"), I never ran cross-country nor more than a mile at any one time before the age of 21.

But as I've learned through Brian, and by being quite unaware of just how far I was running when I did, running is quite a mental thing. For simplicity sake, running = jogging.
So after starting a health kick this past June 1st, I started running almost every other day about two miles on a treadmill or two and a half outside, or so I thought. Turns out that I was running about 3.5 miles outside. I couldn't believe it when Brian told me after calculating the distance on Google. He was keen on finding out his running distance since he decided to run the Philly half marathon. Knowing this, I gave it some thought and looked at running some 5k's in the area. There was going to be one in Providence on September 11th that I was thinking about. This whole running-a-race bug kicked in around the third week in August.

I had been running consistently outside instead of in the gym since the weather was pleasant in the morning, and then September 1st rolls around and it being such a huge moving day, sidewalks were covered with garbage and abandoned furniture for a couple days, including during one of my usual running days. Therefore, I decided to try running along the Charles River for a change, thinking I would run about 4.5 or 5 miles, since actually getting to the river would add to the distance. Again, I underestimated the distance and ran 6.1 miles to my amazement. I did this another two times in the next 5 days even though I hated going up and down stairs at the BU Bridge.

Trying to get a good group together, Brian had sent several reminder emails about signing up for the Philly Half Marathon to our friends. It was his last one that made me seriously consider running it as well. Just one of those, "Hmm, I think I can do it." Good thing there was an deadline extension, so I could up my distance and see how I felt. So just one week after upping my distance to 6.1, I went to Marathon Sports to get "real" running shoes since my knees started to ache a little and one of my toe nails was getting squooshed.

I don't know what my deal is with calculating distances BEFORE running, but once again, I understimated my distance. Thinking I was running 11 or so miles, I ended up running 12.5 miles that same day. Knowing that, I would have run the extra .6 miles. And what a way to break in my new shoes! It was definitely a "fun" run since I hadn't been to certain parts of the river. It was a beautiful evening, and as I was running on the south side of the Charles River, the sun was setting behind me. I made it a goal to be running on the Harvard Bridge (more like the MIT Bridge) to cross the river in time to see the sun set behind Cambridge. Gorgeous. It made running that much more enjoyable with the beautiful landscape, much more so than running around the area where we live.

So there. I more than doubled my distance in a week, at a pace of 11 minutes a mile. It's definitely not a fast pace, but I didn't feel like keeling over afterwards which was good, since I hadn't done anything like that before (well...not counting the bike-a-thon in NYC that was 47 miles), and running under a certain time wasn't my goal. Just to see how I felt and whether I could handle the distance. I registered on Sunday, September 11th, a week before the run, coincidentally the day Providence had the 5K I was thinking about running.

<full weekend write-up to follow soon>

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Wake-up call: 6:00am
Run begins: 7:45am

Runners: Eric Hoke, Brian, Ruby
Non-Runners (who casually make their way back to the hotel after 5am): Eric Diebold and Rico

PDF of course map

race photos by Action Sports

The weather was just a tad chilly before the run started, but when the sun started getting higher in the sky, it warmed up steadily. Eric was in the 1st non-elite corral, Brian in the 6th, and I was in the 8th corral, up from the 11th. I could hear the cheers when the race began, but it was more than five minutes before I actually crossed the starting line. It was kinda funny how at one point as we were nearing the starting line, everyone started to run, but then quickly stopped due to "congestion" up ahead. The course passes our hotel twice, and each time, I looked to see if anyone sat in the chair we put out on the balcony, but no one did.

The course is really quite nice and easy, being flat most of the way. Each mile marker had a timer underneath it, and when it reached an hour into it, I tried looking across the Schuylkill River to see if I could spot any runners already heading towards the finish line.

With a goal of 1:30:00, Eric finishes in an astonishing 1:27:32 (net chip time), placing him at 294 out of 8,600 runners! That's running at a pace of 6:41 per mile!!

Brian CRUSHES his goal of 2 hours, finishing at 1:43:08 (net chip time), a pace of 7:59 per mile, placing him at 1,512 out of 8,600 runners

I, too, beat my goal of 2:30:00 (I signed up with a 2:45:00 finish), finishing at 2:11:31 (net chip time), a pace of 10:02 per mile, placing me at 5,987 out of 8,600 runners.

The real kicker here is that I was running at a pace of 9:40/mile before succumbing to a most desperately needed bathroom break just after the 8.2 mile (marked by a water station), which added at least 2 minutes to my run. I had the urge to use the bathroom for several miles already before deciding that it'll only get worse if I hold it in any longer.

About two tenths of mile from the finish line, I saw Brian and Eric and ran towards them to say hello. I asked them how much further, and they said I was very close to the finish line, and so I, with a lack of better words, hauled ass. It was an amazing feeling to have the energy to pass a lot of runners on my way. The crowds were larger near the finish, and you could hear them screaming "You can do it!" and "Almost there!". They were a blur to me as I used everything I had left to push myself to the finish. If I saw a video of it, I probably looked ridiculously fast in comparison to the others, zigzagging between them. Probably made up some time from the bathroom break.

(that's me behind the woman in white)

I met up with Brian's mom, who amidst all the excitement, took that finish-line photo above of "partial" me. Thinking that Brian would finish around the 2-hour mark, she got there just a few minutes before the 2-hour mark, not knowing that Brian had finished almost 15 minutes earlier.

Having just a small sip of water at the 10.1 mile mark, I guzzled the one bottle of water we received at the finished line and was aching for more, quite literally. On top of the dehydration, my leg muscles screaming at me to do a proper after-run stretch, and I could barely stand still on the long line for food and snacks, which included orange slices, apples, bananas, peanuts, power bars and fig newtons. So luckily, there were tons of bottles back at the finish line I was able to grab for all of us.

Out of the 54 runners from Massachusetts, Eric was #5, Brian #7, and myself at #38

More than an hour after crossing the finish line (close to two for Eric and Brian), I decided to run the museum steps (a la Rocky style), and Eric joined me, or actually sprinted past me. We showed Eric Sly's footprints, a pair of All-Stars in size 9. The museum was free until noon, so Eric decided to go in while we headed back to the hotel, where our cohorts were still snoozing away.

Thanks, Mom for all the post-race photos!

After barely getting out of the hotel by the late check-out time of 1pm, we headed to Brian's parents' place for the Eagles-49er's game and for rest and relaxation before having the long drive up back to Boston. Philly cheesesteaks from Steve's Prince of Steaks hit the spot along with some M&M's and chocolate cake. Exhausted, I crashed on the couch during the 42-3 slaughter.

On our way back, we stopped off in Brian's old haunt of Hartford, CT, originally planning to have dinner at the John Harvard's there, but it being late, was probably just closing, so we went to the Hooter's nearby. Rico popped "The Dreamers" DVD in and Brian and I joined in the viewing, with the occassional peeks from Hoke, who sat in the front passenger seat.

It was around 12:30am when we finally relaxed in our comfy apartment.

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Monday, August 01, 2005

"...that's Shakespeare in the Park..."

Thursday, July 28, 2005

What a fun performance! We've been to very few outdoor theatrical performances, although we did walk by last year's Much Ado About Nothing which I've seen the movie version numerous times and is one of my favorites, and I just couldn't sit and watch without directly comparing it to the movie and concluding that the movie was much better. This year though, Hamlet is the featured play, and we decided to make a picnic out of it. The weather was gorgeous, and Elmer, Hoong-San and I arrived at the Commons early to stake out a spot for about 9 of us. Good thing we brought large blankets, but with just the three of us there saving a large area, I was getting a bit antsy as more people surrounded us. Of course, the rest of the gang showed up, and with food, no less, from Felipe's - yum! The play was done well, and although it was long, the design and execution was rather unique and interesting to keep us awake through the whole thing. Look forward to next year's!

Where's Simone?

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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Memorial Day at the Tull's in Philly

What a great weekend. It started with a thankfully uneventful drive down to philly accept for a sudden torrential downpour at the end. We got to my parents house at around 9 pm. We were really psyched to see the makeover they did to the new house since they moved, back in January. The place looks amazing now with a new family room, new landscaping and a newly cleaned and painted pool.

Friday night, Ruby, Mom, Dad, Cliff, Sarah and I, sat around in the brand new family room (with a small powderroom) that takes up where most of the 2 car garage use to be. We discussed at length the absence of the most important feature in the room: a giant television. Dad had asked me to research televisions the week before, and so I came prepared with knowledge of all the
new crazy terms that are required to navigate the current TV market including: HDTV, HDMI, DVI, DLP, LCD, D-ILA, LCoS, ATSC, composite, component, interlaced, progressive. I thought the best tv, size-wise and quality-wise for the best price was going to be one of the rear projection TVs like DLP or some variation of that. I had a specific model chosen, and had called the local Best Buy to be sure it was in stock.

During the tv debate there was a clear division on size. Mom wanted something small and definitely flat panel, something about an obnoxiously large piece of technology didn't fit in with the french country style she was going for. The others including Ruby (that's my girl) seemed to be of the opinion bigger is better. We were looking for something that would be clearly visible while floating in the pool in the backyard. We agreed to go to Best buy the next day and get a better look at the 52" monstrosity that I was recommending and that night I did a little more research on flat panel tvs.

Saturday morning we able to fully appreciate the landscaping in the front and back. Years of undergrowth had been removed to expose cool little paths that weaved in and around all the unusual trees, plants and the pool. It was more like a nature exhibit than a backyard.

Having had enough nature for the time being, we decided to postpone the outdoor art exhibit we had planned to go to, in order to get to Best Buy early. No, it's not sad.

At Best Buy we could finally see the TV I was talking about. Man, it was big. Not crazy big, though, I could definitely handle it and I think it would have fit in their room okay, but it was big enough for mom to immediately turn around and start looking elsewhere. I found conversing with the Best Buy employee rather easy as I had the new vocabulary down. We spread out and started looking at all the tvs. We settled on one that seemed an excellent combination of size, quality and price: a 42" Plasma HDTV by Panasonic. It was discounted because it was the floor model and we had an additional coupon making it an awesome deal so it turned out to be actually cheaper than the 37" model right next to it which Mom had been hoping for. It has all the latest connections on the back. In addition, I convinced them their DVD player had to be upgraded to take advantage of the HDMI connection. Everything worked out rather well, except they couldn't find screws for the stand, after 45 min of searching we left without them. best buy seems to have a policy that whatever monetary deal you get out of them they need to make up for it with your time.

After a nerve racking drive home we set up the TV and new DVD player and popped in Blade Trinity. The picture was incredible and the size worked really well for the room.

I think the flat panel choice was a real good one. Of course we couldn't get Cable to work and I still don't know why, but the Best Buy warranty will ensure the problem is taken care of, or they get a brand new model.

As we planned on seeing episode III the following day later that day we picked up Star Wars episode II and Clone wars. We were particularly amazed at how good Clone wars looked on the large screen.

Sunday morning we woke up and got to see the beginning of filling the pool, which we then continued to watch all day long. Mom and Dad had a barbecue with yummy pork, chicken, burgers, hotdogs, and sausage.

Our grandparents and Greg and Jean came over. It was a relaxing day of eating, talking, and watching the pool fill. Ruby and I got the usual questions of what are we going to do and where are we going to live. At least Pop pop reassured me that I won't have to worry about money in the future because I should be making 3 figures when I graduate. At 8:30 we went to see Star Wars Episode III. It was my parents first time, Cliff's second and our third. Everyone pretty much liked it. Although mom and dad both seemed to notice the decline in importance of Padme. From queen to senator to pregnant housewife. Barring that, I think it gets better each time I see it. Especially because I can ignore lines like "No, it's because I love YOU so much" and instead concentrate on good lines like "I have failed you Anakin" and anything said by Palpatine.

Monday morning we woke up and finally went for a walk in nearby Alverthorpe park and checked out the outdoor art exhibit at the abington art center. I hadn't been there in 15 years so it was really cool to see.

When we got back to the house, the weather was great, the pool was full, sarah went out sunning herself (as she was for most of the weekend), and it was time for us to leave. I said goodbye to the pool and television, promising I would be back soon. Then we said goodbye to the family and headed north.



Monday, May 16, 2005

Hoong-San's 30th Surprise Birthday

Yay! Another fun weekend back home in NJ/NYC.

On our way, we picked up some good ol' Italian food, meat ravioli and spaghetti bolognese, from our favorite Italian diner and then watched some tv in an otherwise empty house. Mom and Dad had gone on vacation and wouldn't be back until Sunday afternoon.

I had to get up super early on Saturday since I was finally going to officially change my last name to Tull. So the first step was changing the driver's license. The lines at the DMV are usually dreadful, so I aimed to get to the place by 7:15am, it being open at 8am. Well, getting there even earlier than I planned at around 7am, I ended up being the third person in line. Not too bad. And the only reason the other two people were there was that they thought it opened at 7am. (So, I overestimated the situation a bit.) I finally got my new license, with a screwed up signature since I forgot I had to sign it and hadn't practiced signing my new name.

I couldn't really function all that well, having woken up super early, so naturally, I fell asleep again.

Elmer had sent everyone very well-designed invitations, detailing the delicious 9-course menu and time we all had to be at the restaurant (called Megu located in Tribeca), which was 7:30pm. Brian and I drove into the city around 4pm and found parking in pretty much the best spot you could find, right in front of the restaurant. At Elmer's request, we had to bring in flower arrangements he set aside for us at home, so parking there made transporting them quite easy.

To pass time, Brian and I walk around Tribeca, Soho and the village. It was forecasted to rain, and luckily it was sunny and didn't end up raining at all. Lots of people out and about, enjoying the weather. I was determined to find a vintage Star Wars shirt to wear on Thursday for the release, but unfortunately just stumbled upon ones that weren't to my liking. Up by NYU, we hurried back down to Tribeca just after 7pm and arrived back at the restaurant around 7:30pm to find Teddy waiting for us.

Okay, so I was wearing my usual black jeans, all-stars, and a t-shirt, relying on Elmer's dress code approval of wear whatever you want. Outside the restaurant, there's a red carpet AND a velvet rope with a tall man dressed all in black standing out front. Hmm...I did bring nice shoes and a different top just in case, but I decided to side with comfort and stick with my all-stars, considering I may be doing a little bit of running around, and just change my top. The tall man didn't seemed bothered with my attire as I entered so, awesome, no need to change.

Amelia was next to show up, followed by David, Joanne and Gene (Congratulations! I never did say it that night.) It was 7:50pm at this point.

Elmer left me a message about 5 minutes earlier saying that they are on their way. Well, that's seven down with five more left to arrive. We all went to the private VIP Juraku Lounge Elmer had reserved and waited restlessly for the others to show up. By 8:10pm, Sunny, Darice, Emily, Sam and Kathy had arrived. Thank goodness Elmer and Hoong-San were running late. They didn't get there until around 8:30pm.

Here's Hoong-San's reaction on video:

Our dinner menu included:

- fresh edamame on branches (from which David, Elmer, Brian and I each removed and kept our own green ice cube...quite reminiscent of our wedding)

- Japanese Yuzu caesar salad
- spicy Zaru Tofu stew (one of my favorite dishes of the night...soooo good)
- Tatsuta-fried Chicken in a Jubako box (yum...KFC...)
- Bincho-tan charcoal grill skewers (all I have to say is tender Kobe beef...)
- silver cod Hosho Yaki in Yuan Miso with Shimeji mushrooms (memories of Nobu...but with yummy strange-looking mushrooms)
- Kalbi of Kobe beef grilled on a river stone (fun and interactive, cooked to your liking, with your very own lard, or as we would prefer, Lard Lite, for non-stick purposes)

- sushi (fresh wasabi grounded on shark skin, usually provided by the waiter, but having fascinated several of us, was a task we took upon ourselves...the waiter left us long before we noticed, abandoning the root and skin)

- Montagne de Fraises (with the added bonus of sparklers, provided a la myself)

The food was deee-licious, accompanied with a fruity drink called "Harmony" that David and Amelia both had as well. After dinner, we took a tour of the restaurant and admired the decor, including a great mirror illusion near the bathrooms and a kimono room.

Then we headed to a familiar place...BINY for karaoke...

Other friends of Hoong-San and Elmer joined us there as many impressed us with their vocal stylings. The hardcore ones turned out to be Jinny, Hoong-San and Gene. And out of nowhere near the end of the night, not having sung anything up to this point, Harry whips out a to-the-tee rendition of "Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi. Old school 80's dancing was provided by Teddy along with the comedic quirks of Fran.

There was an earlier debaucle of the originally reserved room not having the karaoke machine work, so we all had to squeeze into a smaller room. Because of that, I think, we were offered a round of free shots. Ten of us decided to go with the flow. But as the group dwindled and it got later and later, there were no shots to be seen. Good thing there was just enough of us still there when they finally brought them, just minutes before we left the place. Fruity jolly rancher shots.

One of the memorable moments that ended the night was when after Brian and I sang "What's My Age Again" and some random music continued to play in the background, Teddy did his own solo acappella version of "Somebody" by Depeche Mode. FAN-tastic. He and I seemed to be the only ones who knew all the words, and it was a good thing a mic wasn't near me.

It was around 3:30am when we all headed in our respective directions. On the way back to the car, we saw a tiny car get pulled over that I think had 7 or 8 passengers, with two in the front passenger seat. It was funny to see it happen, because since the car was so small, it was hard to miss that there were way too many people in it. Driving back, our shuffled mp3 CD entertained us with alternative power pop, swing and rap.

Happy 30th Birthday, Hoong-San!! Hope you enjoyed the night as much as we did!



Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Dad's Birthday in NYC

Another cool weekend back home in NYC/NJ.

Friday, April 22, 2005
After a "wonderful" bus ride from Boston, Brian and I met up with Elmer, Hoong-San and Mom for all you can eat sushi at Kinoko. Soooooo goooood! After all the times we've had sushi, this was the first time I've tried the hand rolls (We ended up ordering 18 of those, with Elmer leading with 5 - no surprise). Not bad. Like Brian said, it's like a sushi taco.

Filled to the gills, we headed back home to surprise my dad that we came to visit for the weekend and celebrate his birthday.

I had originally planned to finally change my name on my license, but Elmer told me I had to have "6 point-documentation" which wasn't on the website I saw, so the idea of getting up super early to get to the DMV was scrapped. I guess it was a good thing since the next day would be jam packed with activities.

Saturday, April 23, 2005
Woke up to a brunch of eggs benedict and panini - filled with one of my favorite spreads, Nutella - courtesy of Mom (it's so good to come back home for such yummy treats). After running a few errands and waiting for Elmer to wake up from a food coma, we headed to NYC to go to an exhibit. Elmer did take us on a small detour to another exhibit first - "Artists for Tsunami Relief" where photographers donated work for auction and the proceeds goes to AmeriCares. There were some really interesting images, and not so. Many of the pieces were sold, and those that weren't still had their bidding sheets. There was one that had a minimum bid of $12,000, and the highest bid listed was at $8,500. On a side note, I was really surprised at how many of the prints had dents in them. I would think they would be more careful.

We then went to the "Ashes and Snow" exhibit by Gregory Colbert. Beautiful, magical, serene, and breathtaking are just a few words to describe it. Go check it out if you can. It ends June 6th.

Then we headed to Chelsea Piers for some bowling action. Mind you, none of us bowled in quite some time, but we had a blast. Here are some highlights of the last couple frames.

We had to wait for our chance to bowl, so Elmer, Hoong-San, Brian and I went to the arcade to play some games, but right after we changed some money into tokens, our turn to bowl came up. So after bowling, we went to play our tokens. After we tried some driving and shooting games, Hoong-San wanted to give "Dance Revolution" a whirl...

FUN! Thank goodness there wasn't such a huge crowd, but I guess I wouldn't have noticed, since you try to concentrate so much during the game.

We walked over to Chelsea Market, passing a group of tango dancers smooshed in one small corner, and had some treats at Amy's Bread - quiche, cinnamon challah, brownie, almond brioche toast, and walnut twists. Not quite the protein-packed meal we could and probably should have gone for, because everyone was feeling a bit tired and sluggish soon after.

We went back home for a quick stopover to drop off some things and have a bathroom break, during which Hoong-San decided to take a very quick nap, kinda like a 3-minute nap. Because our next stop would also be a surprise for Dad, Mom decided to park a couple blocks from the theater. We were going to see "Crazy for You" by at the John Harms Theater in Englewood, a new favorite place for Dad. On our walk, we made a must-needed stop at Starbucks for a mocha frappaccino (it didn't help me for I ended up dozing a couple times). Everyone enjoyed the show, humming, singing, and whistling "I Got Rhythm" while exiting the theater.

Well, rain was forecasted for the day, and it finally arrived as we left the theater, so parking more than two blocks away didn't turn out to be a good idea. But Elmer stepped up and got the car while the rest of us waited inside. The Thai restaurant nearby closed at 11pm, and it was minutes before then when we all finally got in the car. So what to do for dinner...

Somehow we ended up back in NYC. I guess Elmer and Hoong-San felt there wasn't a good restaurant open late near home in Jersey. We made our way to the lower east side to Congee Village, where the food was filling and the price was right. We ended up having the House Special Chicken, Sauteed Filet Beef with Chinese Broccoli, Chinese Green with Garlic, Seafood Chow Fun Noodles, and Rice Congee with something called a "Century Egg". I must say that the egg tasted like liver, which doesn't rank very high on my food scale, so it threw me off a bit. Everything else was tasty but ended up being rather salty, so I gobbled up the relatively mild noodles. The Seattle/Sacramento game was on a huge screen near our table, and we hung around after dinner and watched the last couple minutes of the game (actually, Mom had been watching the whole time, occasionally making noises throughout dinner, rooting for the SuperSonics). They ended up winning 87-82, quite to the dismay of some of the staff at the restaurant who ended up watching the last 30 seconds of the game.

We did plan to go on to karaoke, but well, it was pretty late, everyone was tired (almost everyone...), and Dad was still recovering from a cold, so we decided it was best to go back home.

Sunday, April 24, 2005
Sometime during our drive back home, we must have run over something, because the car ended up having a flat tire. Thank goodness it didn't cause problems the night before while it was raining late at night. What a nightmare that would have been. We found out as we drove to church, as Elmer noticed an unfamiliar sound as he drove half a block.

We had our traditional dim sum lunch at Silver Pond and finished with a chocolate mousse-filled cake at home.

Brian and I gave Dad the "Finding Neverland" DVD (what a lovely movie), an Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong CD singing Gershwin (what a coincidence "Crazy for You" was Gershwin!), and a framed photo of this:

(from Mom's birthday...see August 2004)

Brian and I then headed back to into NYC to catch a bus, which luckily left a half hour later than we thought since the A train was making ALL the local stops due to construction.

p.s. HS - "third nut" =D lol



Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Mom's Surprise Birthday in Philly

Saturday, March 19, 2005



Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Elmer & Hoong-San get engaged!


Elmer finally popped the big question on Tuesday evening. I knew the day would eventually come, and I am so happy it's now official.

Congratulations you two!!! You're MFEO! "'s like a little clue."



Monday, January 03, 2005

Happy New Year 2005

coming soon!



Monday, December 27, 2004

Merry Christmas 2004

coming soon!



Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Holiday Postcard



Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Thanksgiving weekend

We've been doing lots of traveling lately, and with Elmer and Hoong-San on vacation in Singapore and Bali ("...high will call you, 'Come to me, come to me...'"), we decided to stay put in our new abode and celebrate Thanksgiving up here. We invited my parents up to join us, and they happily said yes, even though they had an option to stay in the Jersey area. So aside from trying to make our place look respectable, there were many things we had to do, including finding a table for the kitchen. We left pretty much everything we had to do for Wednesday.

** Wednesday, November 24th **
What a gray and rainy day it turned out to be. I went in for a half-day's work before meeting up with Brian to have lunch with Charles and Pieter, who were in the area visiting Pieter's family for the holidays. Brian had to do a lot of running around even before we met up - wrapping our thank you present for Charles, going to school to clean up a mess in the lab, and walking all the way back since the buses were running slow.

We all met at a restaurant in Brookline called Zaftigs, which you never leave hungry since the servings are usually more than adequate. I tried a different style of eggs benedict, one with salmon and spinach, while Brian had his favorite banana stuffed french toast. Charles and Pieter went on lighter fare since they would be having a large dinner that night. It was really great seeing them since we hadn't seen them since the wedding. When we gave our thank you present, Charles was so sweet and gracious that he got teary-eyed. But Brian and I were the thankful ones, especially with all the hard and beautiful work he did with our wedding. (While on our honeymoon in Barcelona, we picked up a Lladro figurine of a young flamenco dancer for Charles. We got the same one for ourselves, too.) We had a fun time reminiscing about the wedding and talking about the honeymoon, the trip to India, and Thanksgiving chaos at the Devlin's.

After we said our goodbyes, there was a good drizzle coming down, and Brian and I went on our search for a kitchen table, since we sold our larger table that wouldn't have fit our new, smaller kitchen. Even though Dad said he would bring a table with him, we still needed a workspace for cooking. We found a cute, a bit expensive set on Harvard Avenue, not too far from where we lived. There was another possible choice at another store, but I thought that this one was built better. Just like our old one, but smaller and with drop leafs. We couldn't get the goods delivered since it was the day before Thanksgiving and the delivery guy had the day off, so Brian wheeled the table home with a cart, while I awkwardly carried the two unfoldable chairs in the drizzling weather. It felt so good when we got home... aah. One thing done.

I guess we really took our time resting from transporting the furniture, cleaning up the apartment, and having dinner, for when I started looking at recipes online, it was after 9pm. And we still had to go grocery shopping. We presumed that the grocery store would be open on Thanksgiving, like it was back home, but we found out that it wasn't, and it was already after 11pm! Eek! Luckily, my mom would be bringing up a cooked turkey, so we didn't have to worry about anything for that. But still, the grocery closed at midnight, so we had to get our butts there fast.

What a nightmare! Of course several of the ingredients would be sold's the night before Thanksgiving!! pretty much the biggest cooking holiday of the year. The shelves where flour, brown sugar, crisco(! - not that we were getting any), and baking powder once were, were completely cleaned out. Thyme, fresh basil...nothing.We weren't the only poor souls looking for some of those ingredients, as we past others who looked just as disappointed as we did. Well, we made due with what we could find, leaving the supermarket after midnight, and when we got back, I found out that an Asian supermarket near us would be open tomorrow, so thank goodness for that.

** Thursday, November 25th **
The folks would be arriving around noon, so I got up early to buy those extra ingredients. When they got here, they brought lots of goodies including the cooked turkey, stuffing, a Balthazar's apple pie and ingredients for a squash dish. They also brought frozen shrimp that never ended up being cooked that day.

So in light of the new additions, the menu would be as follows:
- Starters: tomato soup, spinach with pomegranates and mandarin oranges
- Main Course: turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, roasted acorn squash
- Dessert: apple pie, chocolate chip cookies, ice cream
- Drinks: grape sparkling cider, oj

Because our favorite sushi place had closed down earlier in the year (so sad, we knew the owner, and I even photographed him and the restaurant), we went to our new one just a couple blocks away from our new home. Of course, we opted for a light lunch, so not the usual plethora of sushi. I ordered a miso ramen soup that ended up being quite filling.

We relaxed a bit before starting the somewhat daunting task at hand. It didn't turn out so bad since the hardest/longest cooking process was taken cared of. We had planned to bake our own apple pie, but why bother when there was one already. Being co-host and acting as the "executive chef," I handled the starters and helped supervise the other dishes, while my mom provided support, an extra pair of hands, and cooked her acorn squash. The soup was a new recipe I found, and it being my first shot at it, it took painfully long to finish especially since the prep time took a while, with which my mom helped. I discovered that I had a strong aversion to the smell of fresh basil for long periods of time, which I would be using to make a pesto sauce. Good thing I enjoy how it tastes, so the "torture" was worth it.

As "sous chef," Brian took charge of making cookies and the mashed potatoes, the two dishes that were made following the recipe exactly. No skimming of fat here. A couple sticks of butter here, a couple there...thank goodness it's only for one night, uh, scratch doubt there will be leftovers galore. Never having used a silpat before, Brian was very skeptical of its ability but was soon amazed after the first batch of cookies slid off easily.

Aside from assembling the table, Dad was in charge of the turkey. Poor turkey (for more reasons than one). The skin had wrinkled and lost its golden color due to the condensation formed on the foil covering it from the drive up. After heating it again, some of the color returned, and although it wasn't the best looking turkey, the taste was what mattered most.

We ended up using many of our wedding gifts which we were proud to do since we had rarely used them up until then, including our lovely Martha green KitchenAid and fancy silverware. Not having a separate dining room, we arranged our living room to accomodate both our new dining table and food station. Finding Nemo provided us with background entertainment as well as some room decor since we hadn't spend much time decorating the apartment yet.

Everything was scrumptuous, and without fail, we had leftovers although not as much as usual since we didn't go totally overboard this time which was good.

** Friday, November 26th **

We didn't join the "day after Thanksgiving" shopping frenzy but instead just wandered casually in Coolidge Corner, stopping at the GAP to possibly find a new wool coat for Brian. I ended up buying a white down coat that turned out to be a good purchase at the time since it got bitterly cold and I conveniently put it on when we were in Downtown Crossing. After buying some excellent wool socks for both Brian and myself at Filene's (they're really quite warm and comfy) we made a quick stop at Wendy's before heading to the movies to watch Alexander, which had some really great sequences and showed the inability to age Angelina Jolie some thirty or so years - great character though.

** Saturday, November 27th **

Like we didn't have enough indulgence on Thanksgiving, all four of us went to Cafe Fleuri for their absolutely sinful Chocolate Bar...for lunch?

"It's a try-all-you-like buffet that includes a wondrous assortment of light and dark chocolate mousses, cakes, tortes, eclairs, crepes, ice cream, cookies, pies, and more."

Yes, we kinda overdid ourselves with this one.

First off, we get seated pretty darn far from the actual buffet tables, so I asked if we could get moved closer, and there was a table just waiting for us. It was amusing to see that there was a big party of kids at a table near us as well as kids in general at other tables. Boy, are these kids going to be bouncing around for a while. There were LOTS of choices, and it turned out that my favorite dish was the s'mores, with the chocolate croissant bread pudding coming in a very close second. All of the dishes were so rich, we had to pace ourselves so we had room to try all the dishes we wanted. They even had a low carb, sugar free chocolate desserts table. I tried just one of the small fingerfood desserts from that table and then never went back. By the end though, with still a couple additional servings of s'mores, I had to have desserts with chocolate as a secondary ingredient or with out it entirely, like a fruit tart, because it just just too much. Everyone else was already resting and feeling the chocolate seep throughout their bodies while I was still working on my last serving. Oh, I could still taste the s'mores...mmm mmm good.

We then worked off the food walking around Faneuil Hall and Haymarket, where we picked up several avocados. Ah, more fattiness, but at least it's considered "good" fat.

What a weekend...



Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Rita & Walt's Wedding

coming soon, but here's my favorite photo of the night:



Monday, October 25, 2004

Trip to India

coming soon!



Sunday, September 12, 2004

Mom and Dad visit us, too!

coming soon!



Monday, September 06, 2004

Elmer & Hoong-San make a quick stop in Allston

coming soon!



Sunday, August 15, 2004

Celebrating Mom's Birthday in NYC - August 14, 2004

What a fun night this was! especially after a day of running around doing errands back in NJ, such as buying really cheap magazine holders at IKEA, getting Brian fitted for his tux for Karl and Tonya's wedding, and finally picking up proofs from our wedding.

Elmer and Hoong-San did a very nice job coordinating everything. After nixing the Indian restaurant idea (in prep for our trip to India in October), they made reservations at Birdland, where the food is as tasty as the jazz. The reservations were early so we didn't end up stuffing ourselves when the Lee Konitz Trio took to the stage at 9pm.

Mom, Brian and I awaiting the Lee Konitz Trio at Birdland

Elmer, Hoong-San and Dad waiting for the main course to arrive

After a fantastic set, we all headed off for some more music AND dancing at Swing 46 which luckily was only a couple blocks away since it was raining. The live band rocked as they performed a good mix of swing and fox trot.

Elmer and Hoong-San doing the jitterbug

The fox trot was wasted on Brian and me since we could never quite get the "swing" of it. But Mom and Dad took full advantage of it.

Mom and Dad looking so suave

Brian thought the place reminded him of the scene in "Swingers" where Mike (Jon Favreau) whips out his swing skills with Heather Graham. Even the booth we sat in looked similar. There was a whole range of dancers there, from beginners to the competitive. Some of them even wore 50's style clothes, although it didn't fare well with some of them. Speaking of which, I had my own wardrobe malfunction. Wearing a loosely cinched tube top is not the best thing, especially twirling and moving around so quickly. So after its falling off somewhat, from the announcement of my family watching, I had to wear my hoodie, which I didn't enjoy since it felt like 100 degrees in the dance area.

Elmer taking Mom for a spin

Brian and I putting our lessons to good use

after a couple of drinks and a couple hours of dancing

I think we left close to 1am and headed back home to Jersey where we ate cake and ice cream and gave our mom her gifts, a book by Dean Koontz and really kinda random Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2 dvds.



Sunday, August 08, 2004

Celebrating Dad's Birthday at the Jersey Shore

We took a very long, multi-leg trip down the shore for the weekend of August 6th. Here is how we traveled:

- from home, we took a T to South Station
- from South Station, we took a commuter rail to Providence, RI
- from Providence, we took a 7:55pm flight to Philly, arriving after 9pm
- from the Philly airport, we took a subway to the Greyhound terminal in Center City
- from the terminal, we took a bus to Atlantic City (and we missed the bus we wanted by just a few minutes, so we had to wait another hour before we could get going...)
- picked up by parents to go to shore house

Even with the horrific shore and just weekend traffic in general, I wonder if we could have just taken a bus to NYC and then to AC in less or about the same amount of time...but needless to say, when we got back to the house, everyone was fast asleep. Brian and I stayed up a little while longer to look at some wedding photos (once we started, we couldn't stop) before retiring to the pull-out couch, near where Sarah and Kevin were sleeping.

The next day, we met up with Cliff down in our familiar haunt of Sea Isle City, where we hit the usual spots, such as the promenade and arcade, and then stopped off at a not-so-usual place, the Pizza Putt with miniature golf on the roof, and had a bite to eat. We picked up some fudge and chocolate covered pretzels as well as some ice cream from Yum Yums, the place that brings back a fond memory of a kid named Zack and his unfortunate incident. We then headed back to the house for some Bocce...

Bravely playing Bocce (that's pronounced"botchy") ball in mosquito AND beehive territory, the teams were like this (we didn't actually have the team names used below):

The A-Team: Ruby, Cliff, and Joe, Sr.
Team B (for Brian, I guess): Brian, Kevin, and Joe, Jr. (replaced later by Mike)

What a surprisingly fun game! It being my first time, I did rather least in the beginning. The A-Team eventually succumbed to a 1-2 defeat, due to a final winning throw/roll by Brian.

We had a wonderful steak dinner with the absolutely most scrumptuous lump crab cakes ever, from Bobby Chez's Margate location. They're bigger than the size of a tennis ball that was slightly flattened, filled only with fresh crab meat, no imitation. Truly fantastic.

I couldn't contain myself every time our card was opened. It was such a ridiculous sound. The imitating parrot was also such a riot that it rarely stayed in one place. After we sang "Happy Birthday," the neighbors next door had guests over and also sang "Happy Birthday." Soon a debate on whether someone should go visit them was necessary ensued. After the dinner and cake, we laughed ourselves to tears, watching Dave Chappelle specials on On Demand. And for the late late show, Sarah and I watch Phone Booth before heading to bed.

When it was FINALLY warm enough to go to the beach (the past few days, even before we got there, had been rather cool /overcast), we could only enjoy just a couple hours of sun since everyone would be heading back to Philly. We had lunch outside at a nearby restaurant, where I ordered yummy linguine with clam sauce, and it seemed that I was another step further away from the healthy food regiment I had just a couple months ago. We drove back to Philly with just a little time to relax before heading off to catch our 8:30pm direct flight back to Boston.