Tuesday, July 26, 2011

One Year of Marital Bliss

It's hard to believe that Mike and I have already been married for a year, but wouldn't you know it, July 17 has come and gone, along with our first anniversary!  When I look back over this first year, it has been the same as the previous six, in many ways.  But towards the end, there were definitely some changes.  At first, I honestly didn't feel marriage was any different from dating - except for the name change...

I think once I got past that hurdle I was able to experience the change and inexplicable security and peace that has been my life married to Mike.  It's pretty hard to explain without mushing it up, so I won't try.  Plus, some things are best kept between two love birds!

Anyway, we celebrated our anniversary very simply as we had just returned from our huge European adventure.  Our anniversary was on Sunday, and on Saturday we went to Napa and visited some of our favorite spots, as well as some new ones.  On our actual anniversary, we had a lovely brunch, went to see Harry Potter in IMAX 3D, and then enjoyed our wedding wine and cupcakes!  And, wouldn't you know, the day was made even more wonderful by the fact that our good friends, Brittney and Sasha, got engaged!!

Happy anniversary to the most wonderful husband in the world - the person who makes me smile every day, puts up with my shenanigans, cheers me up when I feel down and laughs with me when things are great - Mike Fujii.

A quick stop at one of our favorites: Domain Chandon 
My handsome hubby :)

Our handsome puppy, Taiko!!!

Lunch from Oakville Grocery!  Yummmmm!

Mystery flavor - turned out to be apricot.  Pretty good!

This is why we love Cali!

I put together an updated version of our wedding video (edited by me!) to celebrate the occasion.  Click here to check it out!StumbleUpon

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Full Circle Moments

So again, the question is: do you follow A Year in Thanks?  Click on that link right now and follow my wonderful friend, Emily.  Her blog will make your day, make you thankful for the seemingly smallest things, and is just overall a great read.

She started a new thing where she is having guest bloggers once a week.  The first was one of my very best friends Birdy (or Brittney, if you're more vanilla).  My friends and are quite the blog community!  This week, it's me!  So, hop on over and be thankful for such beautiful blogs.StumbleUpon

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A weekend for "The Birds"

Mike and I usually find ourselves with Memorial Day upon us, and not a plan to be seen!  We are big into Labor day, and other 3 dayers, but for some reason, Memorial day just appears, and we end up at home, hanging out in good ole San Jo.  Nothing really wrong with that, but we always bemoan our lack of foresight, and vow to plan something fun the following year.  This year we finally made good on our word, and took a really fun trip with a group of friends who we rarely get to hang with.

The view from the living room - WOW!
We went on VRBO, and found a really fun cabin in Bodega Bay for the 10 of us (plus 2 kiddos!)  We got there on Friday night, and stayed until Monday morning.  We had each meal assigned a cooking team and a bar tending team!  Some of the meals included: baked potato bar, taco bar, bloody mary bar, brauts and ribs - you get the picture.  There was a lot of eating happening.

We mostly stayed in, played games - including the Michael Jackson dance video game for the Wii.  Now that was a fun game.  I could have danced all night.  I loved it!  It was even more fun after the margarita bar!  It was pretty low key and just the kind of weekend I love.  Taiko was also able to come with us, which was great since we hate leaving him behind.  He is a member of the family, after all!

We did venture out one day, just the girls.  We went out to lunch, and the "famous" Tippy Hedron was there - she starred in Alfred Hitchcock's, "The Birds."  Now, famous is in quotes here because I thought it was a joke.  She had a booth set up - like the ones you see at craft fairs, and she was charging for autographs, pictures with and without her, etc.  It was all kind of sad.  This entire town billed itself as the home of the film, "The Birds"...  Maybe it's a generational thing, but I was searching for my impressed face - couldn't find it...

On the way home, we stopped in Tamales Bay for some oysters - this place was bomb!  Such a great culinary end to a weekend filled with good food, great friends and lots of "yes"ing!

The boys doing their MJ dance - it was a King's Cup round!

I love how Mike takes his food prep so seriously - creating the perfect bite here...


Monday, May 9, 2011

La vita e meglio con la pasta

Yes, it's true. Life is better with pasta!  In preparation for our European vacation - which is happening 1 week from TODAY! - we prepared a homemade pasta meal!  Pasta alla vongole - a la Bon Appetit magazine.  It had an Italian theme this month, and we just couldn't say no!

The prep was fun, and the eating was even better.  What a great way to gear up for our trip!  Viva Italia!



Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Giving Thanks

Have you read Emily Rose's blog?  No? (smack, hit, punch upside the head).  Why????  It's amazing.  In all seriousness, though...

She blogged about a wedding she attended this weekend where the couple used the same reading she and her husband did when they got married, almost two years ago.  I remember her amazing wedding, which reminded me of ours - again, to use her sentiments - not in a selfish way.  But because witnessing and experiencing the love of others makes you value you and cherish your own more.

And so, I was then reminded of our own wedding vows and promises. Ours was an Apache Marriage Blessing, and some wise words from the man who knows it all - Dr. Seuss...


Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be the shelter for each other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be the warmth for the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before. Go now to your dwelling place to enter into the days of your life together. And may your days be good and long upon the earth.
Treat yourselves and each other with respect, and remind yourselves often of what brought you together. Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves.  When frustration, difficulty and fear assail your relationship – as they threaten all relationships at one time or another - remember to focus on what is right between you, not only the part which seems wrong. In this way, you can ride out the storms when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives - remembering that even if you lose sight of it for a moment, the sun is still there. And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight. 

And - in the words of everybody's favorite childhood author...

Congratulations!  Today is your day.  You’re off to Great Places!  You’re off and away!  And will you succeed?  Yes!  You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)  Kid, you’ll move mountains!  So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!  Today is your day!  Your mountain is waiting.  So…get on your way!

I remember my father reading this to me, and then, a mere 25 years later, our dearest friend incorporating it into our marriage ceremony.  Life is circular in so many ways.  Celebrate love, wise words and marriage.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Fujii Weekend of Yes

This is one of those weekends where I get a taste of what normal people might do on a weekend - people who don't have work to do literally every single day.  This was one for the books people, and truly evidence of living my New Year's resolution.  You have to follow the goals you set for yourself - mine just happen to involve doing more fun things, eating good food, and enjoying more good company.  Pretty darn tough.

This weekend was full of amazing things, and all of them things that nourished my soul.  Friday started out in the afternoon with "Firebirds at the Firehouse" - something the administration puts together for us at school, to help us unwind, etc.  I have never gone to one, and this Friday, on a whim, I decided would be the day.  My friend Alyssa joined me, and we arrived to two tall towers of beer, and some yummy appetizers on the table.  I enjoyed hanging with people outside of FHS, and not talking a whole lot about FHS, either.  My good friend who is a dean, is the champion of asking random "get to know you on a weird personal level" questions and he had some doozies.  We randomly discovered that he and I were the only two people at the table who took two showers a day, every day, and only used shampoo at night.  Pretty high quality information.  It was fun, and a very relaxing start to the weekend.  While there, I received a text from my husband that his Saturday Master's class had been canceled.  I knew it would be a great weekend!

Saturday we woke up with the whole day in front of us - we had only anticipated having 1/2 of the day to do something fun, but his class being canceled opened so many doors!  We decided first and foremost, to honor a promise we had made earlier in the week, which was to go to the gym more often.  We signed up for a membership to 24 hour fitness in December 2009, and last spring I think was the last time we went.  Yikes....don't tell anyone.  A five month spree.  Hmmmm....  So anyway, we went to the gym.  We also went last Saturday, but were so freaking sore for the rest of the WEEK (yes, the whole week, I kid you not) that Saturday was the first time our bodies could handle going back for more!  

So much good fruit!!
Then we went to our favorite store (Costco) and picked up some beautiful summer berries, and veggies for the week.  I made a kick ass fruit salad of grapes, strawberries and blueberries.  I can't wait to dive in.  The only thing it needs is maybe a bit of pineapple, which I may have to go back and add.  I love summer and all of the berries it brings.  I could seriously live off of fruit salad.  So good.  We also used some of said fruit to make sangria.  We made this a few weeks ago when we visited some friends, and we knew it would become a summer staple for us.  Check out the recipe here - it's so refreshing, and such a perfect companion on a warm summer night with friends.

Letting the ocean roll over him!
When we got home, we decided to take Taiko (the world's more awesome dog) to Fort Funston, so that he could go swimming and wear himself out.  This place is so great - our friends, the Rose's introduced it to us, and we have been meaning to go back for some time now.  I love that Taiko can be off leash, and that it's a good walk for us as well.  The waves are pretty rough, but since our dog is so badass, he totally owned every retrieval of the ball and had no problem powering right through.  Mike and I were also pleasantly surprised at how mature Taiko is now, and that he actually listens and acknowledges the fact that we are calling his name.  The last time we went to Fort Funston, he didn't give a Funston about us calling after him.  He was free and on a mission to ignore us and be a hedonist.  He has grown out of that, thankfully, and minds us fairly well.  This is also coming off of a morning where Mike started working on a new trick with him - crawling.  He is such a smart guy!  
My two favorite guys

This kid's ready to play!
Clear skies!
We also took advantage of being in the city, and connected with our wonderful friends, the Roses.  We usually have a pretty difficult time finding parking when we go see them.  They live in the Haight, and in a pretty active and fun part of it.  So, there are always events going on.  But, wouldn't you know, we found a perfect spot a block from their house.  It was an impromptu gathering, but so great and relaxed.  They have been working on revamping their backyard, and we were able to sit down, and enjoy it with the puppies running around (Taiko mostly trying to lay down and rest since he was already tired from the beach!).  We had yummy snacks and enjoyed our sangria that had been marinating for a few hours.  The weather was PERFECT, and a short visit with amazing friends was just what the doctor ordered.  

Taiko - pooped after his day at the beach!

Sunday morning started with bellini's - and a bit of work.  I had to say yes to SOME work, or I wouldn't have my head on straight for Monday.  We enjoyed the sunshine and hanging out with the pup before we got ready for the BEST part of the weekend.
Taiko - still pooped the next day...

We have known for a few months now, that our wonderful and dear friend, Riki, would be proposing to his equally wonderful and dear girlfriend, Gina.  They have been together for years now, and are a match made in perfection.  She's been working in India for a year, and today he went to pick her up at the airport, armed with a beautiful ring, their families and of course - champagne.  We were lucky enough to be waiting for all of them at Gina's favorite restaurant, Fresca, for a surprise celebration.

We arrived early to have drinks at the Noe Valley Tavern with some longtime friends, and got to walk around the neighborhood a bit beforehand.  What a cute area.  Lots of cute shops and eateries.  I of course, scouted out a cupcake place in the neighborhood - and you can read more about my MayDay tasting on my other blog, Cupcakin'.  

Once we made it to the restaurant, it was a great hours-long celebration.  Their families took some beautiful pictures of the entire event, and so we got to relive it and hear the wonderful story.  The look of surprise on her face was priceless, and I'm so glad that they have it captured for forever.  It brought me (and Mike) back to our own wonderful engagement day which happened almost two years ago now!  We were able to capture it on film, and we watch it every now and again to remember what an amazing moment it was!

The food was AH-MAZE-ING.  So good. Crab, shrimp and cream cheese wantons - enough said.  What a special night.  While it's always mind blowing and fun when great things happen to you, it is pretty freaking incredible when something this exciting happens to your close friends.  To be in that space where there was so much happiness, celebration and just pure enjoyment of life - THAT my friends, was a weekend ended with perfection.  

From Left: Matty, Riki (Groom To Be), Gina (Bride To Be) Paul, Husband
So, in the style of a new friend, Caroline, here's how to have a great weekend:

Have drinks with colleagues
Nourish your body
Play with your dog
Grow in the sun
Eat good food with better friends
Celebrate an engagement.

Such perfection, in fact, that I sit here, at home, on Monday, at 11:42 a.m.  Didn't go to work.  My body was so amped up and over relaxed, that, ironically, I needed a day off.  And, I said yes to that.

Friday, April 22, 2011

So Far in the Year of Yes...

Clearly my year hasn't included updating this blog much!  Yikes!  Truth be told, its switch in focus (from getting married to married life) is a bit difficult to follow and document.  I mean, who wants to read a blog of mush about how fabulous married life is?

But, I can update on my year of yes.  If you recall, it was my NY resolution to say yes to more fulfilling and rewarding things and NO to working all of the time.  The work of a teacher is never ending, seriously, so if all I did was say yes to work, I would be working 24/7.  And, ultimately, I would not be a very effective teacher if all I did was worry about teaching!

Earlier this year, Mike and I booked a trip to Kauai on a whim, and we just returned from the blissful excursion on Wednesday.  It was short, but sweet.  Mike is a CPA and so, ended his tax season on Friday (even though tax day really wasn't until Monday the 18th this year).  We left on Sunday morning, and had to return Wednesday, because he started a new quarter of his Masters in Tax class at SJSU.  But, something is better than nothing, right?

Opaeka'a Falls
The view on the other side...

We arrived around 10:30, and so had the entire day in front of us!  We went to our hotel to drop our stuff, and then we were off!  We hadn't really done a ton of research on what to do, or where to go, simply because we didn't have the time before. But when you go to Hawaii, you really don't need to have much of a plan!  Mike is really big on trying the 'local' fare, and always wants to sample authentic cuisine.  So our first goal was to have some yummy Hawaiian food.  We went to a place not far from our hotel, and had some grilled mahi mahi, BBQ and of course, mac salad and rice.  Yum-O.  Then, we drove back towards the airport to look around and visit Opaeka'a Falls, which we had seen a sign for on our way in.  It was a small overlook on one side, and on the other side, a view of a canyon and all the lush and incredible greenery.  Saying yes never looked so good!

The sunset on the first night! (post-whale)
That night, we decided to grab a cocktail, and read out on the beach.  We are currently reading The Art of Racing in the Rain, and it is a tear jerker for sure.  We brought the book out and as we were approaching our seats, a whale breached the surface.  And by breached, in this case, I mean that there was probably only 2 feet of this huge whale still in the water!  The rest of him was fully out of the water, and our jaws were fully on the ground.  It was not too far from shore, and I felt like I was watching the Discovery Channel!  It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. We quickly grabbed our seats, and enjoyed two more sightings, though none were as big as that initial showing.  Off in the distance we continued to see spouts, and we felt so lucky to have seen such an amazing sight!  Who needs a whaling cruise when you can walk out on the beach and have a front row seat!  We were trying to get pictures of it, but at a certain point, I remembered the wise words of one of my besties who recently blogged about photographing v. enjoying the experience.  I stopped trying to capture it, and focused on really seeing it for the first time around.

The view on our way!
The next day, we had scheduled a Zip Lining adventure in the North Shore.  Mike and I discovered our love of zipping on our honeymoon in the DR.  We have been two times since, and are kind of addicted.  It offers such a unique view of any site, and in Kauai and the DR, we were able to get off the beach and into the thick of the island and see some amazing stuff!  This zip experience was different from the others we have enjoyed in that you actually had to run to start and launch yourself, and  run up a ramp to stop yourself as well.  It took a while to get used to, but we got the hang of it!  The last zip was the best - it was 1,200 feet, and a tandem, so we got to race!  Mike came out of nowhere and beat me in the last 50 feet or so - such crap :)  Before we ended our tour, we got to have a picnic lunch at a swim hole with fresh water that was a nice refresher after a few hours in the hot and humid sun!  It was an all around amazing experience.    And, strangely, our entire zipping group was from the Bay, and one of the two tour guides a graduate of Chico State.
Looks strangely familiar - like our 'chariot' in the Dominican Republic
All suited up!
The first zip!  Check out those launch ramps.
Backwards launch.  
The suspension bridge - very cool! (except for the lady who was deathly afraid of heights, and who was also, inexplicably, on our tour...)
I'm a pro.
Did I mention that the zip place was also a working cattle farm?
Swimming hole!
After zipping, we headed out to the Kilauea Lighthouse, on a recommendation from our guides.  It is the northernmost point of the state, and is also a bird refuge for many birds who migrate to and from Alaska several times a month.  Since it is a sanctuary, the birds can safely nest on the ground.  Then, on another recommendation, we went to Kilauea Video and Ice Cream.  SO GOOD.  If you go to Kauai, you MUST go to this ice cream shop (and rent a VHS tape too, if you are so inclined.)  It was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.  I got coconut strawberry ice cream, and Mike got the Hawaiian banana split flavor.  Both were extremely creamy, delicious and refreshing!

Our day at the beach :)
The next day we spent at the beach, and then headed to a luau!  This was one experience that I really was craving, as I had never been to one, and it would be such a great cultural treat.  We knew we wanted to go, it was just a matter of which one.  We were walking back from the store, and wouldn't you know, there was a huge tour bus, completely filled with an advertisement/photograph of a luau.  It was a sign. We booked it as soon as we got back to the hotel!  We had such a great time, and for me, it was easily the highlight of the trip.  The Kalamaku Luau was on a plantation, and they had a rum tasting room, dancers to usher us in, a lei greeting (although I had already gotten a special lei for myself - so I was doubly lei'd...) and various vendors to visit while we waited for the show.  They also had a train ride with historical background information about the plantation, but we didn't get there early enough!

We started out in the rum tasting room (of course).  They poured a dark and light rum, and advised only to let it touch your lips to really appreciate the taste.  (and also, they would be making a mai tai at the end, so the more rum you had left, the better your mai tai...).  Then we made our way inside, and got lei'd and had our photo taken with some of the dancers.  I didn't mind the complete touristness of this, because I was SO excited to be there.  The dining room was huge, and our table was really close to the stage.  We were sitting with six other people (most of whom were from the Bay).  While we were waiting, we visited the bar frequently, and also shopped around the different vendors.  We bought some Hawaiian spices - and will be BBQing tonight so come on over!  I got a beautiful flower for my hair, just to complete the Hawaiian tourist experience.

The show was amazing - it had a complete storyline, and beautiful dancing.  One of the guys looked like this actor from General Hospital (which I don't watch but did when my mom used to.  He was seriously a dead ringer, except for the actual actor I was thinking of would be about 60 by now, and this guy definitely was not).  There was a fire thrower and great music - I think that I am going to exercise to luau music from now on.  Talk about tunes that get you going!  I would also like to learn how to make my hips move independent from the rest of my body...

Wednesday, our last day, our flight got delayed by three hours, and so we got to enjoy a bit more of the island!  We visited Wailua Falls, which were so beautiful.  The natural beauty of Kauai is out of this world.  Mike and I frequently commented how it felt like somewhere that wasn't America - you just don't see this much natural landscape many places.  It was so great.  Then we headed down to Poi'Pu, and drove around for a bit there.  We were very thankful for our delayed flight!

Now, we are back on the mainland, and focusing on our next trip in the year of yes - a 3 week European  excursion!  I am on spring break this week, and trying to focus on 'yessing' on a smaller scale as well.  I am not checking my work email (for the most part), not working, exercising, and hanging out with the best dog out there, Taiko.StumbleUpon

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