Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Let's Get Swapping

I found this website, Gimme Your Stuff. A Cultural Exchange, a couple of weeks ago and fell in love with the idea. Basically, you post a list of stuff that you would be willing to send to someone in another country and peruse posts from others all over the world doing the same until you connect with someone to swap with. One of my favorite things to do when I go to other countries is check out the grocery stores and see what different goodies I can find. Some of my favorite snack discoveries from the past few years: Cafe Britt's Guyabitas (chocolate covered guava jelly - yum!) and Lizano salsa from Costa Rica, and Cola Cao (Spain's hot chocolate) and Zazamoros (little raspberry shaped gummy candies) from Spain.

Gimme Your Stuff

So here goes:
I'd really like to customize the package to whatever my swap partner would like but here are some ideas of what I've got for you:
  • books
  • magazines - fashion, architecture, design, travel, gossip, whatever you like.
  • any fun Las Vegas stuff
  • candy, snacks, coffees or teas
  • paper or scrapbooking supplies
  • fabric or yarn
  • postcards or photos
  • flip flops
Here's What I'd Be Thrilled to Receive:
  • A unique journal
  • candy or snacks from your part of the world
  • stationery
  • a CD of music with your favorite songs
  • jewelery
  • hot chocolate mix
Interested? Leave me a comment. I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Month in Pictures - Part 2

Pictures from October continued-

Girl's Book and Wine Club - take 2
I want it to be book club day every day! I love our meetings. This month's book was Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, the true story of Chris McCandless, a young idealist who, at 22, gave away his savings to charity, cut ties with everyone in his life and set off in search of an authentic existence. His pursuit of an authentic life turned out to be a fatal one as he met his end in the Alaskan wilderness. This book provided a lot of good discussion although we all agreed that if Chris McCandless could see us now, a girls book club discussing his life over mimosas and mini crab cakes, he would probably be pretty pissed. Our next book selection - The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

Halloween and Birthday Weekend
Where did this weekend go?? I can't believe its Monday already. Paul and I had a little too much fun on Friday night that resulted in a Saturday full of sleeping. We went to dinner and a charity event for Abby's birthday and then met up with some other friends at Cherry nightclub for our friend Marianne's birthday. We are not generally big on the club scene, but this was a blast. We had our own section with a few tables and I mixed a lot of drinks and took a ridiculous amount of pictures.

After a day of napping and eating KFC to absorb the alcohol from the night before we were ready to suit up for Marissa and Jeff's costume party. I was pretty happy with how my costume turned out. Here's some pictures from the party:

The Month in Pictures - Part 1

October is drawing to a close and I haven't been able to post as much as I'd like, but wanted to share some pictures from the main events in October.

Anniversary Dinner and Spamalot! at the Wynn
The first weekend in October Paul and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. I was looking at our wedding pictures the other day and it's hard to believe that a year has already flown by since our wedding on the lake.

Dinner at the SW Steakhouse was delicious and Spamalot kept us laughing. A word to the wise though, when in a steakhouse, you should probably get a steak. I had some so-so snapper, but Paul's ribeye was fantastic (and enough to share with me!) The atmosphere was nice too. One wall of the restaurant opens up to the outdoor pool and waterwall. It was a perfect night to let the outdoors in.

Its a little hard to see up close in the photo here but I've got my anniversary present from Paul dangling from my ears. He is so good at finding clever and thoughtful presents! I had saved a bunch of pink shells we'd picked up on the beach on our honeymoon in Costa Rica with the idea that I 'd someday make them into earrings. Well, they were too delicate and I had given up, but Paul took them to the jeweler who made our wedding rings and had them made into beautiful earrings for me for our anniversary.

Last Comic Standing Tour
I generally don't like stand-up too much, but my friend Marissa got me hooked on the Last Comic Standing show a few years ago and I've kept watching ever since. I think I like that the contestants are getting a shot at their dreams. This year my favorite was female commedienne
Amy Schumer (the tiny figure in the picture on the left). I thought she was original and hilarious in almost every case, but I was kind of disappointed in her set on tour. It was a lot of the same material she had already used on the show.

Lai's Visit
Less than three weeks after relocating to Macau, Lai missed us so much that she had to hop another 15 hour plane ride back to Vegas to visit. Actually, she is in the process of becoming a US citizen and this is the first of several visits she'll have to make over the next year as a continuing part of the naturalization process. It almost seemed like she just went on a quick vacation! It was really good to see her, even if it was just for a few days. She's almost convinced Abby and Paul and I to move across the ocean with her. I miss you Lai!

To be continued...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Ugly is the new Beautiful!

It's Halloween time!! Halloween is one of my favorite holidays of the year. Ever since I can remember I have loved to dress up and, thanks to my multitalented Mom, who, even when she was working three jobs and taking care of my sister and I just after she and my Dad divorced, always made sure that we had the best costumes on the block. I've got to see if I can scan some of the old photos because they were always incredibly detailed and simply amazing to me. I was a butterfly, Canary Yellow (Rainbow Bright's side kick) a mermaid (I had to be pulled in a wagon to go trick or treating that year because of my fins) and countless other characters I was obsessed with during my childhood.

In my adult years, although I don't have my Mom's prowess for the sewing machine, I still feel like I've got to carry on her legacy of creativity and make a fabulous costume, even if I do put it together with hot glue and hand sewing. This year I have decided to dress as my TV heroine, "Ugly" Betty Suarez. Today I am off for Nevada Day so I am going to finish off the costumes for Paul and I for Marissa and Jeff's party tomorrow night. I'm going as Betty wearing her lovely Guadalajara! poncho. Here's some pictures of what I had finished as of last night:

Here's my recreation of Betty's fabulously tacky "B" necklace. I made the B out of some FIMO clay that you bake in the oven. I'm not sure why I never discovered the stuff before, but I want to make everything out of clay now. Here's a fun fact for history buffs about the real necklace Betty wears in the show: it is a replica of one that Anne Boleyn wore.

And here is the beginning of my Guadalajara logo for the poncho. I thought the sequins were a nice touch to add to the tackiness. I attached them to some felt with tacky glue and I am sewing them down too.

So now I am off the Joann's to find some last minute crafty stuff to finish off the costume today. If I could only come up with a good way to make some faux braces...Ugly- here I come!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Spanish Song of the Week

The last two weeks have been so crazy at work. Crazy. I've got a new modular class (less than 3 credits so its taught on a modified semester schedule) that I am teaching that started this week. It is an experimental class with all different English proficiency levels and each student gets individualized instruction.

And do you know how many students I have? 22. Ay Dios Mio! This will be an interesting rest of the semester! Right now I am so exhausted I can barely type or put together an intelligible sentence so I will post something I was working on last week, my new favorite video that Paul came across surfing around YouTube:

"Ya No Se Que Hacer Conmigo" by Cuarteto de Nos

I can't stop watching this video. When it gets to the end I just push play again and get mesmerized watching all of the new Spanish words whizzing across the screen. I get so excited when I find a new Spanish speaking group to listen to. Well, I suppose technically El Cuarteto de Nos is not exactly new. The Uruguyan quartet has been performing together nearly as long as I have been alive, but they are new to me and I love them. If you like this video they have another inventive video, "Yendo la casa de Damian," that you can find on YouTube too.

For all of your Spanish speakers or learners, here are the lyrics and my attempt at translation into English. This is a great video if you are learning because all of the words are displayed in the background so you have multi-sensory input for your learning.
*I am not finished with my translation yet, but I'll do an update hopefully later this week.

"Ya no se que hacer conmigo”

Ya tuve que ir obligado a misa
ya toqué en el piano “Para Elisa”
ya aprendí a falsear mi sonrisa
ya caminé por la cornisa
ya cambié de lugar mi cama
ya hice comedia ya hice drama
fui concreto y me fui por las ramas
ya me hice el bueno y tuve mala fama
ya fui ético y fui errático
ya fui escéptico y fui fanático
ya fui abúlico fui metódico
ya fui púdico fui caótico
ya leí Arthur Conan Doyle
ya me pasé de nafta a gasoil
ya leí a Bretón y a Mollier
ya dormí en colchón y en sommier
ya me cambié el pelo de color
ya estuve en contra y estuve a favor
lo que me daba placer ahora me da dolor
ya estuve del otro lado del mostrador


Y oigo una voz que dice sin razón
vos siempre cambiando ya no cambias más
y yo estoy cada vez más igual
ya no sé que hacer conmigo
ya planté café en Nicaragua
ya me fuí a probar suerte a USA
ya jugué a la ruleta rusa
ya creí en los marcianos
ya fui ovolacto, vegetariano, sano
fui quieto y fui gitano
ya estuve tranqui, estuve hasta las manos
hice el curso de mitología pero de mi los dioses se reían
orfedrería la salvé raspando
y ritmología aquí la estoy aplicando
ya probé, ya fumé, ya tomé, ya dejé
ya fimé, ya viajé, ya pegué, ya sufrí, ya eludí
ya huí, ya asumí, ya me fui, ya volvi, ya fingí, ya mentí
y entre tantas falsedades
muchas de mis mentiras ya son verdades
hice fácil las adversidades
y me compliqué en las mil edades

Y oigo una voz que dice con razón
vos siempre cambiando ya no cambias más
y yo estoy cada vez más igual
ya no sé que hacer conmigo

Ya me hice un lifting, me puse un piercing
fui a ver al Dream Team y no hubo feeling
me tatué al Che en una nalga
arriba de mami para que no se salga
ya me reí y me importa un bledo
de cosas y gente que ahora me dan miedo
ayuné por causas al pedo
ya me empaché con pollo al spiedo
ya fui al sicólogo, fui al teólogo
fui al astrólogo, fui al enólogo
ya fui alcohólico y fui lambeta
ya fui anónimo y ya hice dieta
ya lancé piedras y escupitajos
al lugar donde ahora trabajo
y mi legajo cuenta el estrajo
que me porté bien y que armé relajo.

Y oigo una voz que dice sin razón
vos siempre cambiando ya no cambias más
y yo estoy cada vez más igual
ya no sé que hacer conmigo

Y oigo una voz que dice con razón
vos siempre cambiando ya no cambias más
y yo estoy cada vez más igual
ya no sé que hacer conmigo

Jessica's English Translation
I already went to mass out of obligation
I already played "Para Elisa" on the piano
I already learned to fake a smile
I already walked through the cornice
I already changed the location of my bed I did comedy, I did drama I've already been clear and I've beat around the bush
I've pretended to be good and had a bad reputation
I've been ethical and erratic
I was skeptical and fanatical
I was apathetic and methodical
I was modest and chaotic
I already read Arthur Conan Doyle
And I passed the NAFTA gas oil
I already read Breton and Mollier
I already slept on a cushion and on a sommier (not sure about this word - might be French?)
I already changed my hair color
I was already against and already for
What used to give me pleasure now only gives me pain
I was already on the other side of the counter

And I hear a voice that says without reason
You're always changing yourself, don't change anymore
And every time I'm just more the same
I don't know what to do with myself

I already drowned in a glass of water
I planted coffee in Nicaragua
I already went to try my luck in the USA
And already played Russian Roulette
I already believed in martians
I was a vegan, vegetarian, healthy not sure on this one either, do we have a word ovolacto?
I was quiet and I was a gypsy
I was calm and I was manic
I took a mythology course but the gods laughed at me
I already experimented, smoked, drank and quit
I already signed, traveled, hit, suffered, eluded
I ran away, I assumed, I went away, I came back, I pretended and lied
And among so many falsehoods
Many of my lies are still true
I made easy

***To Be Continued

Monday, October 15, 2007

Signs of Spain

I am feeling a little nostalgic for Spain at the moment so I decided to look through our massive amount of photographs and find all of the random signs we encountered along the Camino this summer. Here are some signs we saw and Paul's and my guesses at what they might mean.

Squid??? Huh??

If you must hover, please don't do it over the vehicles.
Moonwalking on Cars Strictly Prohibited

Caution: Break Dancing Ahead

No big hands here!

Dancing puppets ahead

This was painted on a wall on the side of the road. It says "Love Is Not the Shit"

Leave me a comment if you've got an idea for a better caption!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Let the Training Begin

Maybe I should have considered a 5k or 1 mile run before the half marathon. I went to the gym on Friday totally determined to start "small"and breeze through 3 miles of running with no problem. Ha ha ha. I finished 3 miles all right, but it took some time... like an hour. Damn!

My friends Ashley and Marissa who run marathons as often as I eat ice cream like to tell me that anyone can run a marathon or any kind of race if they try. I'll give them that. I like to think that with enough effort and determination, people can pull off some extraordinary feats. However, I also think that it is a human tendency to believe that the tasks we are personally good at are easier than others.

Each of us is biologically predisposed to be better at certain types of tasks. For example, Paul is constantly inventing things and thinking about how to make the world and everything around him better. I happen to be freakishly good at remembering people's names when I meet them. I also love and am good at making friends and learning languages. Marissa and Ashley, among other things, are really good at running. This is not to say that no effort or perseverance is involved in any of these tasks, but they are abilities that come more naturally to us.

While I may be able to discuss the effects of the media on body image in Spanish and tell you the name of every person I have met since the fifth grade, I will probably never be a great runner. I started to think about this and I couldn't help but wonder (here comes my Carrie Bradshaw moment), should we stick to developing our natural abilities and leave the hard stuff to someone else or should we put on our running shoes and run against the wind towards something further outside of our reach?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

LV Half Marathon

I can't believe I am actually going to do it, but I picked out a new challenge for myself. I officially signed up for he Las Vegas Half Marathon last Sunday. Its December 2, so I have a few months to train, but I have never ever even thought of doing something like this before. Wish me luck!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Looking forward to the weekend...

Want to know what the two greatest things about this weekend are?

First of all, when I wake up tomorrow morning I don't have to rush around like a mad woman trying to do my last minute packing and then jump into the car and drive for 5 hours. Or even drive to the airport to catch a flight. After four solid weekends of traveling, this weekend I am staying home. I feel more relaxed just thinking about it. Here's my plan for tomorrow morning: sleep in, cook bacon and eggs, watch bad TV and under no circumstances will I vacate my pajamas until at least noon.

And second, Sunday will mark Paul's and my 1 year anniversary. I can't believe how quickly the time has flown by. It seems like just last week that all of our friends and family were in town getting ready for our crawfish boil rehersal dinner and I was freaking out trying to coordinate with the caterer and the florist and hair and make-up person. And finally the ceremony arrived, I saw Paul standing up by the lake waiting for me to walk down the aisle in my pretty white dress and all was calm and right once again.

To celebrate, we are going to see Spamalot, a Monty Python twist on Camelot (which I have been dying to see and for some reason is the only show I haven't somehow managed to get free tickets to) and have dinner at the new steakhouse at the Wynn hotel.

Here's a little wedding slideshow from this time last year to commemorate the occasion. The professional wedding pictures are courtesy of the fabulous J&J Photography here is Vegas.

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