Tag Archives: Friends

Games with Friends

24 Mar

One of the ways James and I have been coping with the isolation is playing games online with friends. On Saturday we played Codenames on Tabletop Simulator (I was able to link “concert”, “guitar”, Shakespeare” and “dance’ with the clue “performance” and was quite pleased with myself).

Then in the evening we played Drawful 2. We were all on the same Discord chat and James used his PS4 to stream the game on YouTube so everyone could see the prompts as we played. Aside from some lag it worked out pretty well.

For those who don’t know how Drawful works, everyone gets a prompt for a random thing to draw. Then the game will show one person’s drawing, and everyone else has to write a prompt for it. Then everyone but the drawer will guess what they think the actual prompt was. It’s fun because the drawings are almost always awful (you can’t erase!) and the original prompts are so random that almost any answer is plausible.

Our favourite answer was Kyle’s in the bottom right: Screenshot 2020-03-22 at 08.38.18The one that most people thought was the correct answer was “man yelling at tomato”. The actual correct answer was “yelling at a peach”.

James has also been playing Heroes of the Storm with friends and they’re talking about starting a DnD campaign. Meanwhile I’ve bought a Nintendo Switch for Animal Crossing (fingers crossed it ships and they’re not out of stock).

Also last night when we were playing Gloomhaven, Mouse was perched on James’ shoulder and they were both concentrating really hard on James’ hand of cards. It was so cute – I’m kicking myself for not taking a photo!

A Summer Hike

9 Mar

Last year we went on a mini hike with some friends to the Tourist Club near Mt Tam. It’s a member’s only German-style beer hall that’s open to the public a few days a year, so we thought we’d go check it out.

We parked at the trailhead and hiked to the lodge. We climbed a billion stairs on the Dipsea trail, then walked through some nice fields and forest.
MVIMG_20190825_114214I see you in the distance, fog!

The Tourist Club was charmingly tucked into the forest.
IMG_20190825_175428Even though we got there early there was already a line. We could bring our own food and snacks but they asked people to buy drinks there, which was pretty reasonable. I think they even had some pickles for sale.
IMG_20190825_174857 We got a good table and had brought some games to play so it was just a really nice, chill afternoon.

This photo was taken at close, but during the day the stage and the ground were completely covered in people.
IMG_20190825_175316Us and our precious, precious table: MVIMG_20190825_175217On the walk back the fog was definitely rolling in and it was even a bit chilly.IMG_20190825_180158 I just thought this was a nice photo. =)
IMG_20190825_180700One last group shot before the stairs and then the drive home.
MVIMG_20190825_180015

A Quick Visit Back to Seattle

24 Feb

James and I had been promising our Seattle friends that we would visit and, five years later, we finally fulfilled that promise.

We stayed with our friends who live in a gorgeous house right by the Puget Sound. They regularly go out on a boat or paddleboard and catch crabs, which is so cool.

Madeleine with her catch:
MVIMG_20190704_110928The crab cooking process:
MVIMG_20190704_115459Tada!IMG_20190704_122115The next day Greg and Harin invited us to their place to see the 4th of July fireworks show. We also got to catch up with Roula and Lachlan so that was great.

They have a fantastic view of South Lake Union:
IMG_20190704_195708 Which was great for the fireworks: IMG_20190704_223642Our final day in Seattle, Luke and Madeleine suggested we go for a hike. That’s one of the things I really miss about our Seattle group – how outdoorsy everyone was.

I’d forgotten how gorgeous the hikes are:
IMG_20190705_113205 Our lunch spot (which we shared with some flies). The lake was initially covered in fog, but cleared up partway through. The reflection of the trees in the water is so cool.IMG_20190705_121810A group shot! The lighting is a little weird because James had his phone in night mode, but you can see the fogginess of the lake and also that I’m doing my part to help carry baby accessories.
IMG_20190705_125808Walking back:
IMG_20190705_131331Other stuff we did that was not pictured: dinner with some of the old gang, and ramen and cocktails (and Rachel’s Ginger Beer!!!!) with AJ and Surabhi.

I couldn’t believe how much Seattle has grown since we’ve been gone. There are a ton more restaurants, the light rail got extended, Amazon is even more massive, and traffic in the Belltown/SLU area is awful now.

It was just a short trip and we didn’t get to see everyone we wanted, but I guess that’s just incentive to go back (hopefully before another five years go by)!

A Long Weekend with Friends in Vegas

19 Apr

Last weekend we headed to Vegas with some of our friends. Matt flew in from Idaho Falls and Brian from Atlanta, so it was a mini reunion.

Friday

The holiday got off to a great start when James and I got upgraded on the flight over.
IMG_20190412_135709We stayed at the Cosmopolitan, which we chose because it was well-located and had great restaurants (and so we could finally use James’ Marriott points). The room was pretty swish too.
MVIMG_20190412_160113 And there was a lovely plunge bath in the bathroom:MVIMG_20190412_160150Also here is my fancy new Globetrotter luggage in the hotel closet:
MVIMG_20190412_160546It is heavier and in some ways less practical than the backpack I usually use, but I love it and it makes me feel like a fancy lady. It was a birthday gift from the cats. (My friends in Melbourne – “wow, the cats are really sophisticated shoppers”).

We met up with our friends to gamble a bit and walk around drinking.
MVIMG_20190412_184252In front of the Arc de Triomphe! IMG_20190412_192532David and Robin in the back are with us too – I think they just didn’t realise the photo was being taken.

I saw this sign on the way to dinner and made myself a promise that at some point during the trip I would come back for it.
IMG_20190412_200955We had dinner at Yardbird and met up with Brian.
MVIMG_20190412_203501Hey Brian!

Saturday

James and I had a morning swim with nobody around which was lovely.
IMG_20190415_113906Then we met up with the others to grab breakfast from Eggslut and headed to Fremont street.

We lost money at craps, and grabbed some consolation booze slushies:
IMG_20190413_141618 Fremont street was easier to walk around than the strip, and the gambling was cheaper. We enjoyed it immensely.MVIMG_20190413_142114We split up for dinner because we couldn’t agree where to go, and it’s hard to accommodate large groups on short notice. James and I grabbed some White Castle, because there aren’t any White Castles where we live, and Harold and Kumar made it look so tasty .
IMG_20190413_184253I wasn’t that impressed but James really liked it and went back for more later that night. I was, however, quite pleased with … my foot long hot dog for $2.49.MVIMG_20190413_185208After our separate dinners we joined again to see the show Absinthe. It was wonderful! Really funny and sexy and impressive!
MVIMG_20190413_214419_3 After the show we went to look at the Bellagio fountains. The boys:57099023_1193474760833153_2557348756399849472_n (1)The girls:
MVIMG_20190413_220839Around midnight we headed to the Linq High Roller. (Also, as an aside, there are a surprising number of parents dragging around their very sleepy-looking toddlers at that time).

We opted for the carriage with the open bar, and there weren’t enough of them so we had to stand in line for aaages which sucked. But our moods improved very quickly once we got a few drinks in us.
MVIMG_20190414_002630(I kept getting the bartender to make 4-6 drinks at a time, then passing them around our group. Afterwards James patted me and said I did a good job keeping people drunk)

We kept the night going at the Linq casino, where Jaimie played blackjack and Kyle, Will and David played craps. The rest of us played our own game – putting tickets and receipts in Will’s hoodie without him realising.
IMG_20190414_010504It was marvellous . You can tell that Will is happy because we’re all happy, but starting to get a bit suspicious because of all the commemorative selfies.
IMG_20190414_010626The Pixel 3 can turn photos into gifs! In this masterpiece Matt is victorious, Will is still oblivious, and James is pissing himself laughing in the background.
MVIMG_20190414_010831_exported_stabilized_7044674902544752651(When Will finally figured it out he tore off his hoodie in despair)

Later in the evening we started putting things in his jeans pockets. It also later expanded to David and Kyle, the other craps players, but Will was the most dangerous game because he was always on such high alert.

Behold! A bunch of shit in David’s pocket, a ticket in Will’s, and a ticket tucked into Kyle’s collar:
MVIMG_20190414_013507David had the most stuff in his pants because he was the drunkest and the easiest to reverse-pickpocket. At one point the guys managed to get some ketchup and salt and pepper packets into his pockets.
Screenshot_20190419-132654When David saw that group message he checked his back pockets and, finding them free of salt and pepper, relaxed. Will never relaxed and never stopped looking for the salt and pepper he was convinced were in his pockets.

Sunday

The next morning, David finally realised he was pepperpants. It was a joyful moment that Lauren thoughtfully documented for us.57104044_313521219334497_837560335442378752_n (1)We met up for breakfast and I quickly made the guys pose for a photo.MVIMG_20190414_110753 (1)Behind the scenes – Will desperately trying to avoid James covering his face:MVIMG_20190414_110755_exported_stabilized_9174266252883273041.gifAfterwards we went to the Paris casino where James won $10 on the slot machine – hooray!

In the evening James and I went to see Penn and Teller – they were awesome. I asked James which show he preferred, and he said he liked both shows but he’s never seen magic before, so he gave the edge to P&T.

Here we are with some playing cards we had to pick from a bucket at the start of the night. IMG_20190414_203201 At the end of the show they ran everyone in the audience through a magic trick together (though James said it was just modular arithmetic and the least impressive trick they did).

The cards made a nice souvenir though, and we got them signed by Penn and Teller at the end of the night. =)
IMG_20190414_224641 It was really nice of them to stick around so everyone could get photos with them (and quite disconcerting to hear Teller speak). IMG_20190414_225615

Monday

Most people had left by Monday, but a couple of us stayed an extra night since hotels were so cheap. We met up with Matt for a breakfast buffet at Wicked Spoon.
IMG_20190415_081634 James with his loot: IMG_20190415_081842The desserts (IMO) were the highlight: IMG_20190415_081356
Unfortunately I couldn’t eat as much as I normally do since I was full from the rest of the weekend, but I really enjoyed it and would go back.

After brunch we had a morning swim.MVIMG_20190415_114317_exported_stabilized_1235102162126888304.gifI love the Pixel 3 so much. (Incidentally, people in the group would post their photos in the group chat and Jaimie said that when multiple people had taken the same photo, James/my photos were always the best. Seriously, the camera is flipping fantastic).

We showered, packed, and checked out of the hotel. We killed some time gambling while we waited to go to the airport and James continued his lucky streak on the slot machines. He picked this one because of the name and because there were cats on it that looked like Kyoto and Mouse – and won $25. =)
IMG_20190415_150604 (1)A 10 leopard win! What a great way to end the long weekend. (We also got upgraded on the flight back, so that was cool too)

One last group photo. Bye friends! I had the best time!
57258229_297476897813113_5562392255056052224_n (1)

Tiring but Fun Weekend

12 Mar

So James and I have had a few big weeks in a row. First Korea, then Austin for a few days and, last weekend when we probably really should have stayed home and chilled, we had a friend’s housewarming party on Saturday where we drank waaay too much and didn’t head home until 2am.

Then on Sunday we went to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose.
IMG_20180311_142341The Winchester Mystery House is one of those places that I’ve been meaning to go to since we moved to San Francisco. It’s this freaky mansion that was built by the widow of a gun manufacturer, who renovated the house continually to hide from the spirits of the people killed by Winchester guns.

There are doors and stairs that lead into walls, and all these random rooms that continually got built and re-built – I think the tour guide said by the end there were over 160 rooms. It was really cool seeing it but we couldn’t take photos inside. =(

The halls were all really narrow and all the people made the rooms quite crowded, and James said by the end of the tour he was getting really claustrophobic.

This is the Door to Nowhere – a door that opened straight into a drop.
IMG_20180311_142207Afterwards we went to Euro Grill for some Bosnian food. Azra (Will’s girlfriend who is Bosnian) pre-ordered some pita and borek for us – apparently it sells out quite quickly – and helped us order as well. The little sausages are called cevapi, and were James’ favourite. The food was fantastic – and so cheap!
IMG_20180311_150658Afterwards we went to a Bosnian store a couple of doors down to buy some Bosnian food – we got some red dip that we enjoyed at the Euro Grill (which I think Azra said is red peppers and eggplant?) and drinks. Azra was so happy around all her childhood food and it reminded me of how James and I are around Aussie snacks.

When we left the store owner ran after us with some chocolates and gave them to us – Azra said he was saying “gifts for new customers! Gifts for new customers!” So cute. =)

We stopped by to visit some of Azra’s relatives and then headed back to San Francisco, where we stayed to play some board games and drink cocktails. Azra, you are a terrible influence!!

We got home around 9:30pm and pretty much went straight to bed. Tonight we’re meeting up with friends at our usual Monday bar, so all I’ve done today is drink water and do some light housework.

Comedy Clusterfest!

30 Jun

This was the inaugural year of Comedy Clusterfest, a 3 (well, 2.5) day, partially-outdoor comedy festival in San Francisco. The headliners were Kevin Hart (Friday), Bill Burr (Saturday), and Jerry Seinfeld (Sunday), as well as other well-known comedians like Hannibal Buress, Sarah Silveman, Fred Armisen, T.J. Miller and Pete Davidson.

James and I got early bird tickets for $200 each – expensive, but pretty good value given how many shows we saw. We saw all the headliners, discovered a lot of new comedians, got some swag, and overall had a great time.

There was an outdoors South Park exhibit you could take photos in:
IMG_20170602_173546

And a real life Paddy’s Pub (where you could order Milk Steak and Rum Ham):
IMG_20170602_173914The only thing we didn’t get to see was the Seinfeld replica apartment, which looked really cool but had lines of 1.5-2 hours.

We mainly stuck to the Bill Graham auditorium, which had back to back comedy sets all weekend and was the best place to camp out if you wanted to enjoy yourself without having to wait in line all day. Here are the seats we got on Friday.
IMG_20170602_174950People had cottoned onto the Bill Graham strategy by the second day, so our seats were not quite as awesome (though still pretty good – front row mezzanine). The auditorium was packed all Saturday and Sunday – standing room only for Tig Notaro and Hannibal Buress.
IMG_20170603_150923We also discovered the Papa Johns Mystery Box game, where you chose a door to win random prizes, the best ones being $5-10 vouchers you could spend on food and drinks at the festival.
IMG_20170603_184931There was a guy inside manually dropping prizes in the compartments. When it was my turn he dangled a souvenir Clusterfest tote bag in front of me, then dropped two $5 vouchers instead.

Papa Johns Box Guy: There you go! That’s a better prize isn’t it?
Me: Actually, I would take the bag …
Papa Johns Box Guy: Oh. Well you can have the bag as well then.

=D

Between us, James and I got $25 or $30 in vouchers, so that was really cool. =) We gave one to Patrick (who only got $5, so James felt obliged to share the wealth) and spent the rest on a coffee for James and booze the next day.

The evening headliners were all outside at the Colossal Stage, which was a bit of a problem because it was super cold every night – pretty much all the comedians complained about it.

The second night for Bill Burr, our group split up with some of us standing further away and James, Patrick and I braving the crush nearer the stage. It was a pretty stressful experience getting jostled around and we were debating whether to head back to our friends when one of the event organisers started randomly picking people from the crowd to sit in the chairs up front.
IMG_20170603_230239The three of us could not stop grinning afterwards. =D OMG it was such a better view and experience in the seats.

We were pretty lucky overall that weekend, and got good seats for all the shows we were interested in. Including second row centre seats for the packed Bill Burr and Jerry Seinfeld Q&A on Sunday (the highlight of the festival for me). Which also ended up being second row centre seats for the Hannibal Buress set that made James double over and tear up from laughing so hard. And second row centre seats for watching Pete Davidson absolutely bomb when he repeated a set he’d done the previous day.

Sorry it’s super blurry, but right after James took the photo they started clamping down hard on photos so we didn’t get a chance to re-take it.
IMG_20170604_142153(Margarita courtesy of Papa John’s)

We also got coveted seats for the Seinfeld evening show at the Colossal Stage, but that one was a huge mess. The organisers fucked up and wouldn’t let in the people who had lined up because they weren’t clearing out the people who were already there for the previous act (which was protocol every other night and the festival’s official policy). Instead they let in a bunch of randoms who lied and said that they already had seats. I know they lied because people at festivals always lie, and also because after 50 people blew by us, James went up and they let him go through (and the organiser was like “yeah I remember you”). =/

So James and I ended up getting seats for Seinfeld, but it was bittersweet because our friends didn’t get in. =( Seinfeld was really funny – it was really impressive seeing him live, especially after hearing him talk about the craft of comedy at the Q&A earlier that day.

There are definitely some kinks to iron out, but we had a blast at the festival. If they do it next year with a similarly stacked lineup I would totally go again. I would also bring a much thicker jacket or a blanket for the evening show because brrr.

2 Days at Universal and Harry Potter World

16 Jun

OK so our next stop was Universal!

In an auspicious start to this part of our holiday, James made a special friend in our hotel elevator on the first night.IMG_20170503_190151 (1)We stayed at one of the Universal hotels, which came with express passes and early entry for both days. Highly recommended!

The main reason we were excited for early entry was because of Harry Potter world. Brian said that last time he went to Universal with his family he couldn’t even get in – they’d stopped letting people into Harry Potter world because it was too crowded.

And it was amazing. So immersive and detailed – James doesn’t even like Harry Potter and even he had a great time wandering around experiencing everything.

Like Hogwarts!
IMG_20170505_065831 In the background you can see one of the Universal employees – she was walking up to offer to take the photo for us, which was super nice. =) And here it is!IMG_20170505_065848We went on the Hogwarts ride once on the first day and once on the second day – we pretty much walked straight through both times, so didn’t get a chance to take many photos inside.

There was a greenhouse, a couple of rooms with talking/moving portraits, the sorting hat, a giant dining room with a dragon skeleton, and probably a bunch of stuff that I’m forgetting now. The lead-up to the ride was better than the ride itself IMO.IMG_20170505_070217Then outside the castle there was Hogsmeade.
IMG_20170505_065716 You could visit Honeydukes! IMG_20170505_073002We also tried butterbeer, which was delicious. Protip: the frozen butterbeer is much better than the regular.

James and I got a photo with the Hogwarts train conductor.
IMG_20170504_093913Here we are waiting for the train to take us to Diagon Alley (some of us were more excited than others).00012IMG_00012_BURST20170504100657And inside the train:
IMG_20170504_100945In the other park you could visit places like Gringotts bank, the Knight Bus (with a shrunken head that had a conversation with us), that joke shop that the Weasley brothers started, and that hardcore forbidden alley that only bad wizards went to.

You may or may not be able to tell that I have only a passing recollection of the books.

Here James is on the bus:
IMG_20170505_081943_1And this was a money exchange where you could buy wizard currency and talk to a goblin: IMG_20170505_082521The coolest (or at least the most photogenic) attraction was the dragon that sits on top of the Gringotts bank. Every so often it would roar and shoot flames out of its mouth.
IMG_20170505_082754Apparently I missed the memo that we were going to be making stupid faces. thought we were taking a nice group picture.
IMG_20170504_102017There were lots of little stores where you could buy souvenirs, but set up like they were actual stores in the Harry Potter universe. Even for non-fans it’s great, so for actual fans it must be mind-blowing.

I enjoyed Universal a lot more than I thought I would! It did lean heavily on the “wear 3D glasses while you sit in a vehicle” type of ride that I’m not all that keen on, but there were lots of other fun rides to make up for it.
IMG_20170504_150515(That one was actually not as bad as it looked!)

We also really liked the Simpsons part of Universal. You could eat at Krusty Burger and drink Duff beer at Moe’s Tavern. The guys said that the Duff beer was quite terrible, but they still drank it for the experience.
IMG_20170504_182328A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.
IMG_20170504_182513Universal was definitely a lot more relaxed than Disney. We had express passes for everything, so (aside from Harry Potter world) we didn’t have to be strategic about when we went on rides, and there were way fewer crowds.

So yeah, that was our holiday! It was great seeing Brian again – some of the best times we had that week were at dinner, just laughing and drinking and catching up. We’re going to try and figure out another group trip later this year (only with Matt added because we all miss Matt).

And then … the Five Horsemen shall ride again!