Tag Archives: Life

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas!

14 Oct

Last weekend James and I headed to Las Vegas to party it up with AJ for his 30th birthday. It was wonderful seeing everyone again, though a little bittersweet to be reminded of what we’d lost by moving to San Francisco. (OK I promise that’s the last Debbie Downer bit from me)

Saturday

We arrived Saturday morning, dumped our bags in AJ’s room and all headed out to go ATVing in the Nevada desert.
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Predictably the motorcyclists and go-kart enthusiasts were right at the front. I’m super timid so I stayed at the back so I wouldn’t slow everyone else down. You can probably guess which category James fell into.
IMG_20141011_150142It was crazy, ridiculously hot. It reminded me of those super dry 40C days back in Australia.

Very important to stay hydrated!
IMG_20141011_143640Maybe not too hydrated. =P
1234087_10152775843695833_3108402558522289464_n1When we got back to the hotel everyone showered and got changed for dinner at Jaleo’s that night. It was super delicious, which was good because we were planning on having dinner at its even more upscale sister restaurant the next day.

We walked past the Bellagio fountains which were so breathtaking – one of my favourite parts of the weekend. I could have stayed there all night looking at the different choreographed fountain shows.
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But I couldn’t, because we’d all chipped in to reserve an outside bungalow at Drai’s night club. It was a great arrangement because instead of being jostled around on the dance floor all night we had bottle service in a private cabana. We could still hear the music and see everyone inside, but those of us who just wanted to chill out could do so next to our very own pool.

Here’s a photo I nabbed from online:
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I had way more fun than I was expecting, and I know it’s because we had the pool-chilling option. We were the only group outside so we had the whole area to ourselves and although the area was roped off the bouncers let us wander around – you could see the Vegas Strip and directly across from us were the Bellagio fountains. Later that night they started letting people outdoors so it got a bit more crowded but we still had our bungalow retreat.

I didn’t get a lot of photos. Well I did, but our cabana came with 3 bottles of vodka (subsequent bottles were $700 each!!!) so most of my photos looked like this:
IMG_20141012_013209Our servers mixed our drinks really strong (so we’d deplete our bottles faster) and I think we all got tipsy waaay quicker than we were anticipating. It’s almost admirable how slickly Las Vegas extracts money from you.

Quincy had drunk a bit much so Chi Kai bought her a bottle of water. $10!!!

Still, it was such an awesome night! The servers came round with an armful of glowsticks for us, and the boys got so excited.
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At one point James went inside and when he came back he’d managed to acquire another glowstick. Then later when he went to the bathroom he hid his two glowsticks under a cushion like a squirrel hiding an acorn.

Initially I thought this next photo was surprisingly nice given how drunk we both were. But then I kept looking and realised that James was still refusing to let go of his stupid glowstick!

IMG_20141012_022901He even brought two of them home with him. =/

I was very impressed with ourselves for staying up as late as we did. But when we left at 3:30am there were still people lining up to get in! One of the guys working there told us that apparently now there is such a thing as a “day club” – where people go after the night club closes to keep partying. Clearly I’m out of touch.

It was about 4:30am when my head hit the pillow and we’d been up almost 24 hours at that point.

Sunday

We started the day off with brunch at the Wynn. The line to get in was really long but luckily Mike, Quincy and Chi Kai had gotten there earlier and pre-queued because the rest of us took awhile to get mobilised. The Wynn is freaking gorgeous.
IMG_20141012_145403Our group was seated in the atrium, which was the furthest from the buffet but the nicest area because it was all decorated and sunlit.
IMG_20141012_122734The food was great – the group favourites were the roast beef, the thick pepper-crusted bacon, the fried chicken and the desserts (we got them all and shared them so we could taste everything). James and I had to walk a fine line because we were eating at é for an early dinner and didn’t want to be too full! I had three plates of food plus dessert, so I feel like I got my money’s worth.

Afterwards we walked through the Venetian to look at the canals and the singing gondoliers.
IMG_4860The guys found a machine that would clean their sunglasses for $2 and so they took turns putting their sunglasses in and oohing and aahing.
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There was also an oxygen bar which Greg, James and Roula used. Apparently the oxygen didn’t really do anything, but they had a great time because one of the gadgets they were given had these adhesive pads with a handheld device that could deliver these painful electric (?) shocks. I think they were supposed to relax your muscles if you use them in moderation? James said they were legit painful – on one setting it felt like you were getting pinched, another one felt like you were getting punched, and another felt like you were being whipped.

Greg suggested they do a “trust exercise” where they each held each other’s devices. It turned out it wasn’t so much a trust exercise as the three of them just continually shocking each other.

It was supposed to be a nice, normal photo but James and Greg happened to get simultaneously shocked.
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James said that of the three of them, Roula was the most ruthless. Also apparently he could feel ghost spasms in his back for the rest of the day!

They were only supposed to get 15 minutes with the oxygen but James and Greg got to go for longer (Roula started a bit after them) because for awhile we were the only ones there and I guess they don’t want the bar to look empty. Roula was shocked so hard that she fell off her chair twice, and they were all laughing and having such a good time that a random photographer came and took photos of them!

Afterwards we had to go and get changed for dinner at é. I’ll do a big blog post about that soon because it was such an interesting meal it deserves its own post. =)
IMG_4892[1]After dinner we walked back to Treasure Island to meet up with the group and watch a Cirque du Soleil show. It was a great end to an amazing day.

Monday

Monday was our final day in Vegas. I wanted to do some of the Stratosphere rides but I think I was the only one, so I was happy enough to explore the strip with everyone else.

A Jeff Koons at the Wynn:
IMG_20141012_114921An enchanted forest, also at the Wynn:
IMG_20141013_134750The chocolate fountain at the Bellagio: IMG_20141013_134430The volcano at the Mirage:
IMG_20141013_164441A shoe at the Cosmopolitan:
IMG_20141012_202704 Frescoes and statues at Caesar’s Palace:
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And of course, a flamingo at the Flamingo:
IMG_20141013_163311(There were also real ones but the photos didn’t really turn out)

Then we got alcoholic slushies (coral crush and strawberry) and met up with Paul and AJ for lunch.
IMG_20141013_142205Afterwards we did some gambling before it was time to catch a taxi to the airport.

Everything is so over the top spectacular in Vegas and it really gives you an appreciation for how much people must lose gambling. James and I made our own contribution this weekend, but luckily managed to come out of it with a little something.
IMG_4845Don’t worry, we won’t go spending that all in one place.

Vegas shouldn’t be nearly half as enjoyable as it is – it’s super tacky, everything is expensive, there are monster lines, it’s too hot, all the tourists are wasted, it smells like cigarettes and you need to tip everyone - but it all somehow works. Everyone you meet seems to be having the time of their lives and honestly I’ve never had so much fun spending such a shitload of money!

I Left My Heart in San Fran Seattle

16 Sep

It’s been a pretty hectic few weeks. James and I spent the last few days in Seattle doing some whirlwind socialising (more blog posts on that later!), culling our possessions (argh – stuff creep despite our best intentions) and organising the final details of our move. I’ve been in a bit of a funk since moving and don’t have my blogging mojo back yet, so here’s an abbreviated, somewhat depressing, update:

The Bad

I miss Seattle and our friends. I spent the first week in San Francisco intensely homesick. That didn’t happen when we left Melbourne, which is strange because Melbourne to Seattle is a way bigger move and we were leaving close friends and family for a whole other freaking country. I don’t know why it hit me so hard this time. I actually try not to think about Seattle because then I start crying and I can’t stop.

I’m sure that eventually I’ll get used to it, but right now I’m pretty upset at the prospect of spending almost double to live in a city I don’t love as much and having to make friends all over again. I don’t want new friends – I want our friends. =( So yeah, James feels awful because he felt like he’d pressured me into moving here (which he totally didn’t) and I feel horrible for ruining what should be a really exciting time for him. James always tells me that my one job is to be happy. He’s always given me anything I’ve wanted and I can’t even manage to do this for him.

I haven’t found a replacement gym either (which I’m sure isn’t helping). I should probably start doing some bodyweight exercises so I don’t waste away into nothing. I bet I can’t even do pull-ups anymore.

The Good

James loves his new job. He said he gets to use really innovative technologies an the projects he’s working on are even more interesting than they had led him to expect. He really enjoyed his time at Amazon, but he said Google is on a whole other level.

I can see how much happier he is working on something that he’s passionate about – the famous (and in no way exaggerated) Google perks are just the icing on the cake.

Moving Forward

James said that if I still hate San Francisco after 18 months he will transfer to the Seattle office. He said that my happiness is his number one priority, but his happiness is my number one priority! I really hope that I can learn to appreciate it here – I know that Seattle didn’t feel “right” to me until we moved out of corporate housing so maybe that’s the case here. We have two more months of free housing and I don’t want to give up the ability to save all that extra money even if it means being occasionally homesick and mopey.

Maybe in six months I’ll be able to look back on this post and laugh at how silly I was being. I was hoping I’d have a happier update for you guys, sorry. =(

Boring Fitness Update

2 May

I didn’t realise how much I’d been living with sore quads during winter. At the end of the snow season I spent 2 hours foam rolling my legs, another 1.5 hours later that week and I still felt like I could have done with more. Next season I’m going to be more proactive about foam rolling every week and see if that makes a difference.

With the end of the snow season I’ve had to add some cardio to my fitness routine lest I become tragically lopsided. So now I’m at:

Yoga 1-2x a week
Weights 2x a week
Hill Sprints 2x a week

Gym-wise I’m (very slowly) going up in everything except squats. Due to a combination of bulged disc, inconsistent gym and regular snowboarding I’ve dropped over 10kg from my max. =( Doing reps of 5 I’m at 130% bw for deads, 70% bw for bench and 105% bw for squat. On the plus side I’m starting to do pull-ups and weighted chin-ups (1kg! Woo!) again.

And ooh! This is my new favourite gym top:

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image from Blackmilk Clothing

I get so many compliments on it. The top says to handwash but there’s no way that was going to happen. I just chuck it in the wash on a cold, gentle cycle and hang to dry. It hasn’t exploded yet.

My favourite change this year has been getting regular massages. Because of my shitty back and neck I got a massage prescription, which seems to be how you get insurance to cover most of the cost. Like seriously, I’m paying $5 (plus tip) out of pocket. That’s insane!

I’ve also been doing a lot of green smoothies for breakfast just to make sure I get my daily quota of vegies. My current go-to mix is frozen kale, baby spinach, almonds, ginger, frozen pineapple, frozen banana and chia seeds with enough water to make it blend. Sometimes I get fancy and have some homemade almond or coconut milk ready to use.

It pretty much always looks like this.

photo (6)Now the sun is out later and the weather has gotten warmer (it was 31C yesterday!) maybe James and I will start running after work again. We’ll see. I think I’m feeling energetic because I just drank a green smoothie and now I’m cold and full of vitamins.

It’s the Moooost Wonderfuul Tiiiime of the Yeeeaaar!

25 Nov

Snow season!!

It starts at 6am like this:

And a few hours later we’re doing this!

He’s hard to see, but on the far right is Mike majestically contemplating the view. Also that orange dot is actually someone’s bright helmet. If I could re-do my gear purchases I would totally get a neon helmet to make myself more visible.

It was so beautiful this weekend! The snow was still a bit patchy in areas but it was actually pretty cool seeing the tops of trees underneath us. Also since the snow hadn’t built up at the base yet the sensors for the chairlifts were placed too high for our passes to scan – the guys had to put them in their chest pockets and I had to put mine in my glove and lift my arm.

We’ve been twice since Stevens opened. Last week was pretty disheartening – I went from tentatively trying blacks last season to falling on a green! This week was a lot better, though I think I’m at about 70% of where I was last year. I did a couple of baby jumps (maybe 2 fingers of clearance between my board and the snow lol) and ventured into the half pipe.

James is having a lot of problems with his knee so next week he’ll switch back to skiing to see if that helps. Also I’m pretty sure I’m going to lose my right toenail again this season. I took some awesome progress photos of my nail blackening then falling off and the pretty new nail that regrew in its place but whenever I showed them to James he would flinch so I deleted them. =(

But anyway, here are James and Eliot at the top of Hog Heaven. 

James replaced his old orange jacket with a new grey one from Burton. It helps mitigate the ugliness of his pants but also makes it harder to identify him, cos his pants kind of blur into a khaki green from a distance (James: because of my speed)

Afterwards we all went to a place called Bubba’s Road House for dinner. OMG soooo much tastyfood. My plate had tri tips, ribs, sausage, potato salad, coleslaw and a corn muffin for just $15. I didn’t get a photo of it but as soon as my massive plate arrived I knew I couldn’t finish it all and started prioritising the stuff that wouldn’t re-heat well. So James’ lunch today is basically a big stack of meat.

Also I found this on the menu!

I initially lol’d at the Ching & Chong platter, but after a second viewing eeeew at the dumplings with sweet chili and teriyaki sauce. Why would anyone order Asian food at a BBQ place?

Apparently they have 10% off with a Stevens Pass lift ticket, which we didn’t know about but hopefully can use in the future! $15 + tip for dinner and lunch the next day is nothing to be sneezed at.

Post-snowboarding meals are such a perfect way to end the day. Madeleine said that you can never have a non-snowboarding meal at those restaurants – she said that she ruined a couple of post-surfing restaurants for herself because she went on a normal day and realised the food only tasted so good because she was hungry and exhausted. I suspect that is probably excellent advice.

There are already rumblings about going again next Sunday. I can’t wait! I hope my toenail holds out because I am so hungry for improvement this year.

Just A Boring Update

14 Nov

James picked up one of these when Amazon re-stocked on launch day:

image from Amazon

He even forked out for 1-day shipping so he could get it in time for the weekend. Until then he’ll be playing the new X-Com expansion. He plays in iron man mode where you can’t reload and always names his most promising female character after me – he gave me a medal to prevent me from panicking (“Kyoto’s Medal of Bravery”). He also gave himself a sniper medal (“Mouse’s Cross-Furs”), which totally makes me smirk cos it reminds me of his fake cat-themed golf game, Putt Putt Purr.

Also I’m conscious that I haven’t been doing a lot of blog updating! I’ve been writing a lot and also trying a lot of new recipes. Last night I made a salad with pomegranate seeds (de-seeding the pomegranate made me look like I’d been in a knife fight). This week I also marinated some pork shoulder to make lechon asado for a bastardised cuban sandwich.

(I took a bite before I remembered to take a photo) I had to juice so many frigging lemons, limes and oranges for the marinade that tomorrow I’m going to buy some more pork and re-use it. If there are no more blog updates I have died from salmonella.

Hmm, what else is new? I got my hair cut really short for the first time like … ever! Here is a quick photo I took in my bum clothes for Cat when she wanted to see my new hair – sorry about the crazy-eyes, I always feel awkward looking straight into the iPhone camera:

I think it will look super cute with winter scarves and now I don’t need to do plaited pigtails when I go snowboarding. 

Speaking of snowboarding, I’m optimistic that the Washington season will start before Thanksgiving. James has temporarily given up running so his knee will be in good shape, but that dedication is nothing compared to Mike, who traded in his car for a more snow-friendly model.

It feels like the year has gone by so fast. It’s been getting dark really early now – the sun sets at 4:30pm! We’re definitely getting into stew and soup weather. James has been working longer than usual hours in the ramp-up to Christmas. Oh, and he got promoted to team lead. =) He’s also been doing a lot of interview loops to try and get priority for international recruiting trips (goal: Australia!)

We’ve both been super busy and I’m sure it’s just going to get even more jam-packed when snowboard season starts. Who am I kidding – it’s going to start this weekend once the PS4 arrives. =)

 

A Mysterious Microsoft Box Appears! Dispenses Free Stuff!

18 May

This afternoon something weird appeared near Amazon.

James described it as a “free stuff dispenser”. It was at Harrison and Boren (one of the guys refused to use it on principle because it had displaced the Thai truck’s regular spot). You can see little squares on the front of the box and if you opened the doors there would be a random freebie inside.

I had an appointment and by the time I made it out there at 2:30pm it was gone (or else I was unco and couldn’t find it). Sadness!

James got a t-shirt advertising Bing jobs. Probably not really the sort of thing he can wear around the office. =P He likes to wear baggy t-shirts at home though.

AJ got a hoodie with the same logo so here is the back.

Chi Kai got a ping pong ball gun (he didn’t want it so James appropriated it for the cats) and some sort of torch/USB thingy.

The cats are quite fond of the ping pong balls – their favourite is the yellow one for some reason – but I’m scared we’re going to step on one of them in the middle of the night and die. The gun thingy is pretty lame – it’s maybe 5 times the effort of actually throwing the ball so I just chucked it out.

So yeah, that was the Microsoft free stuff dispenser. The loot wasn’t great, but it was so exciting when James was SMSing me with updates about what each person got. I’m a sucker for mysterious present-giving boxes!

A Traditional Chinese New Year (We Snowboarded and Ate Mexican Food)

11 Feb

Back in Melbourne James and I used to spend CNY with my extended family – we would play mahjong and then go out for an overpriced Chinese banquet (which Howie says is a rookie mistake – his family used to own a Chinese restaurant and he says it’s the worst day of the year to go).

We were invited to a CNY celebration in the International District but already had plans to go snowboarding that day.

Here are Mike and James on the back side of Stevens Pass. You have to take a few chairlifts to get there but it’s less crowded than the front side and the blues are steeper and longer. After doing the blues on the back side all morning, James and I summoned enough courage to try a couple of short blacks on the front side. One of them was easier than the blues and the other was terrifying to look down (I’ll get a photo next time) but once I realised that I could point my board down and not die, it was fun!

We have plans to go to Crystal this Friday with Chuck and Caroline, and hopefully again on Saturday with our regular snowboarding group to a yet-to-be-determined mountain. Easy access to the snow is one of the best things about living in Seattle.

Oh that reminds me, you know how in Australia we say “going to the snow”? That’s not a phrase here. Apparently it sounds weird to them, like saying “I’m going to the road”. 

James also informed me that Americans also don’t say “keen on” to mean “interested in”, as in “I’m quite keen on fishing this weekend”. He said there were some new guys at work who didn’t understand some of his phrases and it turns out his colleagues have just been pretending to understand him because they were all like “yeah actually we have no idea what you’re saying either”. Poor James; he thought he was communicating but all this time people have just been nodding and smiling.

But anyway, after our day of snowboarding we had dinner at a Mexican restaurant called La Palmera. It was located in what seemed to be an office building, which was weird, but once you got inside it was like any other restaurant.

Do you know what I love about Mexican restaurants? Free chips and salsa! On the menu they said that they would charge for refills but they automatically refilled our chips while we waited and didn’t charge us.

James and I both ordered the jumbo margaritas.  They were so full that I had trouble lifting them with one hand when we toasted to the (Chinese) new year. But aside from their hugeness the margaritas weren’t anything special.

The food portions were pretty big – although maybe they only seemed big because I was already stuffed full of chips. I ordered a carnitas burrito. Again it wasn’t anything to write home about. It was enormous though, so I got about 2/3 of the way through before I was stuffed.

James got tacos al carbon. You can see his napkin in the back to get a sense of how big the plate was.

James finished his margarita pretty quickly and ordered what I think was called a coronita (a corona margarita). Yes it looks exactly how you would imagine.

He said it was absolutely foul; the only OK part was the beginning which was mainly margarita and as the corona gradually mixed in it got gross. He was glad he tried it though, cos he said that he would have always wondered.

Because of all the booze the meal ended up being really expensive! After tip it was something like $75 for the two of us, which is one of the most expensive meals we’ve had since we got here, and massively expensive for Mexican food. There are heaps of other Mexican restaurants where I’ve been really happy with the food for half the price. So we ended up paying heaps for a fairly average meal. Boo!

But at least we were full (stuffed, even) and the food came out fast. My cousins told me that for their CNY meal they didn’t order enough (6 banquet meals plus 2 dishes for a 10 person table – noobs!) and it took awhile to arrive so everyone was still hungry afterwards. Plus they paid more (and didn’t get alcohol) so I guess all in all we made out alright.

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