Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Annual family photos

For the last 2 years, our annual Koontz family photos were taken by the super amazing Kaysha Weiner. This year, unfortunately, our schedules didn't quite work out, so I grudgingly took out my 5-year old Canon and asked my friend to take it for us...after I had all my camera settings ready. 

Happy Hump Day!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

 Super thankful for preschool Thanksgiving crafts. 

And the fake finger mustache.  

*If you're looking to buy a new DSLR for Black Friday/Christmas, my absolute favorite blog has
great recommendations!*

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

the time when the tree didn't turn on...

On Sunday, 11/23, the Koontz family braved the task of getting the Christmas tree out for the holiday season. This was supposed to be a pretty easy, routine mission.

Step 1: Get the tree from the garage (Jimmy)
Step 2: Get the tree out of the box (Jimmy)
Step 3: Put the tree together (Jimmy)
Step 4: Plug in the lights (Jimmy)


Here's the before photo.

And then the after...a whole day later!!

A WHOLE DAY LATER. You see, about 20% of the lights didn't quite work. Few of them were recuperated by a little twisting and pulling, but still, a small portion of the lights wouldn't turn on. Jimmy and I were pretty frustrated but within minutes, I gave up. Who cares if all the lights aren't on? We could definitely hide them with our ridiculously glittery ornaments. Right?

Well, this is the difference between me and Jimmy. I give up. Right away. I raise my hands and walk away. I even asked if we should just get a new one (gasp)! 

Jimmy is persistent. He got out little tweezers and meticulously checked every single blub. And then double checked. And then went online and looked for options. And then got the multimeter and tried it. And then left the house and came back with this little nifty gadget.

It's basically a gun that ZAPS the life back into the lights. In Jimmy's words, it's 'magic.' And this magical $19.99 light keeper pro saved my Christmas tree. My college roomies bought this tree for me as a house warming gift, and every year I get it out, I think about our apartment we shared in La Jolla.

I'm glad we get to enjoy this tree again this year. The one from my roommates. The one that Jimmy saved. The one that I almost gave up on.

I've said this before, but I really do hope T has the same persistence that Jimmy has. He certainly has the same devotion for keeping the house clean. The whole time Jimmy was fiddling with the tree, T was right there, broom and dust pan in his hand, sweeping away every loose fake pine needle. He was determined to keep the floor clean...without being asked. Definitely did not get the 'cleaning gene' from me.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Book List

I read 3 books in the last two weeks. 2 of them were for work, and 1 on them was my choice. This is progress in the area of book-reading, considering the last thing I read was 50 Shades of Gray about 2 years ago. 

I’m currently teaching at a high school 2 days a week and my seniors are reading Siddhartha. I read Siddhartha back in college in my Adolescent Literature class (Go UCSD Tritons!). It was a difficult read back then, and it wasn’t any better the second time around. Now, terms like foreshadow, symbolism, and motif are haunting me.  12th grade English is no joke.  

On the contrary, A Lesson Before Dying, which my sophomores are reading, was much easier to finish, but the content was pretty heavy. Set in a small Cajun community in the late 1940’s, a young black man is convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The book is a tale of a teacher, who tries to impart pride to the man, who knows that death is near.

Bloom by Kelle Hampton is a memoir about celebrating beauty in the unexpected. I chose to read this book after stumbling upon her blog.  Kelle writes about her journey of becoming a mother, only to find out in the delivery room that her daughter, Nelle, has Down Syndrome. The book includes beautiful photos (she’s a photographer) and talks about the first year of Nelle’s life. I think I cried the whole way though.

Currently I'm reading these 3 books...1 for work, and 2 for leisure. I'm on roll. I might just start a book club.

All of my books are checked out from the Torrance Library. Libraries are the bomb. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

sous chef

I love cooking. I especially love it when I'm not interrupted by a certain little boy wanting to play Lego while I'm holding a piece of raw chicken. Or when I'm not being called to pull up a little boy's underwear in the middle of deep frying handmade wontons.

The last several years have been hard. I've had drumming sessions in the kitchen just so I could finish up dinner and have had Hot Wheels zooming next to me while I did my best to juggle things.

But now, things are different. Now, things are looking up for the better. I have a siiiiide kick!

T's school provides Japanese homemade hot lunches Monday through Thursday. The lunches range from his favorite - udon noodles to things I have never had before - green pepper steak with rice, or chinjao rosu. After being bugged for over 2 months, I finally remembered to ask the lunch lady for the recipe for another one of his favs - hijiki rice (brown sea vegetable over rice).

A mom at T's preschool shared the recipe for mapo tofu - a Chinese dish with tofu, ground beef, and green onions cooked in spicy chili and bean-based sauce.

He jumped at the opportunity to help make it. He helped me mince fresh ginger root and measure out the bean paste.

I also got the recipe for baked tilapia. I love how his preschool has fish on the menu!!

The picture looks very unappealing, I know. Darn time hours with natural light are shrinking by the minute and I'm not liking it. The bread also has a "ghost" hole from when I made ghost-shaped sandwiches for Halloween. Leftovers are the best!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Seattle: Summer of 2014 (part 2)

Our third day in Seattle was also Jimmy's 33rd birthday. He LOOOOOVVEEES breakfast (I don't really care for it), so I let him choose a place to go eat. After consulting my roommate, and spending hours on Yelp, he decided that Toulouse Petit was where he wanted to start his day.

I had the Spicy Creole Andouille Hash and it was SO SO SO good. If all breakfasts were like this, I would have no problem.

After we stuffed ourselves, he headed to the original Costco, another location chosen by the birthday boy. Here's a photo of the Costco (sample) lovers, in front of the original wall.

We then headed to the Museum of Flight, and needless to say, the boys were over the moon *haha* with all the cool planes, gadgets, and simulations.

Check out the SR-71 in the middle of the building!

Mommy and T in the Shuttle Trainer.

With a real space suit!

Practicing the crash landings.

Stepping out of the Concorde.

T with the first 747.

Little guy flying lessons.

T fell asleep on our way to the Space Needle, so we grabbed a quick, nutritious lunch at the 7-Eleven, which consisted of sodas, chips, and cookies. This was my second time up the Needle, but there's something about watching the excitement of my 3-year old that made it all worth paying $21 again.

*The line to buy the tickets was ridiculously long, especially in the sun. Jimmy, being sun-phobic as he is, busted out his cell phone and proceeded to purchase the tickets on his phone. 2 minutes later, we beat the line and had our tickets for the elevator. We just had to show the receipt from his email at our appointment time. Boom!*

The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring the City Center. We especially enjoyed the International Fountain. Unfortunately, the photo below doesn't do any justice to the grand scale of the fountain.

Birthday dinner was from Mod Pizza

For dessert, my roommate took us to A La Mode Pies, located across from the Woodland Park Zoo. It was well past 9pm, but because Seattle is totally awesome, it was still bright out. 

We took the pies across the street, where T had fun playing on this awesome structure.

By this time, it was past 9:30pm!

We ended the night at Kerry Park, where we were able to see a gorgeous view of the city.

Thank you for an amazing time! Seattle, we love you! (and we love my roommate too!)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Seattle: Summer of 2014 (part 1)

Alrighty, I'm almost caught up to speed. 

In July, we flew to Seattle to visit my college roommate. It was Jimmy and T's first time in the Emerald City. The last (and only) time I visited was in November a few years ago, when the rain poured down with no mercy and when boots and umbrellas were a must. 

This time around, I got to enjoy the beautiful weather. We rented a ridiculously massive and junky car from Rent-A-Wreck, and drove it around the city like a boss.

Our first stop was the Pike Place Market.

My friend's fiance is from Seattle, so he gave us a super comprehensive list of places to see and eat. The Ivar's clam chowder was one of them. I got the sampler with 3 different types of chowder. They were delish.

We also stopped by the original Starbucks.
The next set of photos are all from ONE DAY. I knew my roommate was amazing, but her super powers were in full force when she took us on a tour of Seattle's hotspots. One day with her included the following: Snoqualmie Falls, sandwiches at Paseo, Ballard Locks, Fremont Troll, Gasworks Park, Molly Moon's Ice cream, dinner at Pacific Fish and Chips, and a stroll at a neighborhood park.

Snoqualmie Falls is a 268 foot waterfall located between Snoqualmie and Fall City, Washington. It was a quick, scenic drive from Seattle, with an easy hiking trail that leads to the bottom of the falls.
The view was absolutely gorgeous!

Within an hour, we were at the bottom of the trail. That's including our many snack breaks for this little monkey.

You see those people near the fall? They jumped over a locked gate and climbed down a steep set of rocks. Some people had infants in their baby carriers! We didn't do any of this, of course, since we are law abiding citizens.

Lunch was at Paseo, a delicious Caribbean sandwich joint with the most amazing sandwiches EVER. Jimmy should know...he eats my homemade sandwiches for lunch everyday.

After lunch, we headed to go see the Ballard Locks. At first, I didn't quite understand the concept, but after seeing it firsthand, I realized how totally awesome this place was. Basically, the lock links Salmon Bay with Lake Union and Lake Washington. But, because the water level drastically changes, the lock makes it possible for the boats to enter and exit. It also helps prevent the fresh water mixing in with the sea water.

...and because a picture is worth a thousand words, here are some images...

We were also able to go under the lock and view the salmon ladder.

You could only view this during certain times of the year, so we were super lucky to be able to see the salmon swim upstream! Pretty cool stuff.

Afterwards, we found ourselves under the George Washington Memorial Bridge, where we hung out with the troll. I later found out that the troll is holding an actual Volkswagen Beetle, with a California license plate. Yikes!

We then headed to Gasworks Park to enjoy the beautiful day.

We also "tried" to fly a kite.

We then stopped by Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream. They had the most interesting flavors, like Earl Grey and Lavender. Kinda reminded me of ice cream places in Japan. Nevertheless, we inhaled the ice cream in record time.

We wrapped up the day by sharing a meal at the Pacific Fish and Chips.

And strolled around a park and jumped into a fountain (which, I would NEVER recommend doing...we both slipped on moss and almost got soaked!)

Whew!!! What a day!