Monday, August 31, 2009

Fires

The fires are so bad right now and as of this morning, the one near us was only 5 % contained. These pictures were taken by a friend of mine either yesterday or today and I think last night. I haven't ventured out to take any yet. This is the view looking North from the end of our street. I'll try and take some of my own later today and night if there still a good view.
Mount Wilson is being threatened right now, which is where all of the TV antennas are located as well as antennas for the emergency system out here. The firefighters have cleared the area of brush and put lots of fire retardant down, but it still may not be enough.
We're doing fine. The air is a bit smokey, but could be worse. The wind isn't bad and is moving most of the smoke east, which helps us a lot. Pray for an end to these soon! Many people have been evacuated (some are staying within our community) and many of our community members have friends who have been taken to the hospital with respiratory problems. This area hasn't burned in about 60 years, so it's definitely overdue and is a nautral process, but it's still scary for a lot of people.














































Thursday, August 27, 2009

Farewell, John and Amanda!

We bid farewell to our closest friends this past Tuesday. We met John and Amanda while we lived off campus; we were neighbors for about a month before we moved 2 blocks away. But, our friendship continued and developed even after moving. Amanda became my walking buddy and we went to the Rose Bowl to walk 2-3 mornings each week. I'm really going to miss that time! We also took cooking classes together at Hipcooks, and enjoyed having meals together. John and Noel loved to toss the frisbee together as well as talk about music.
John is transferring to a seminary in Toronto and is training to become an Episcopal priest. Since they are both from Alabama, they have never experienced a real winter. They're in for a real treat!

After packing, loading up the truck, and cleaning, we headed to 21 Choices for a late night, last yummy frozen yogurt treat. I'm sure glad it wasn't our last time to 21 Choices!
They stayed the last night at our apartment. Amanda's sister was able to join us for breakfast before John and Amanda headed out of town.
Noel and John are finalizing the packing. Lucky for us, John and Amanda will be driving through Michigan and will drop off the keyboard we borrowed from my grandparents for the past 4 years. It was only supposed to be a 3 year loan since we didn't know we'd be staying here longer than that. We're happy to have a way to return it!
Bye friends! We will really miss you!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Meat or no Meat

I have chosen a vegetarian lifestyle because of my personal conviction that raising mass amounts of meat is not good for the environment, our bodies, the global food crisis, animal rights, and more. I don't consider myself a liberal, a radical, or anything of that sort. I consider myself convicted of being a good steward of the earth. I know that looks different for each person, but my fear is that many of us make decisions out of ignorance. If people are aware about how mass meat consumption is affecting our world and still continue to make the same choices, that is totally fine with me. At least the choice is no longer made due to ignorance.

As large countries try to become "more like America", overall meat consumption is growing at a rate that can not be sustained on our earth.



A friend sent me the link to this Time article, which I encourage everyone to take the time to read: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1917458-1,00.html

Also, our friends, Andrew and Jen, recently posted this information on their blog (I hope they don't mind that I stole it!):


Last week, the Washington Post summarized a number of recent reports indicating that one of the best things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint or greenhouse gas pollution is to reduce your meat consumption. Here are some quick highlights:
-A Carnegie Melon study found that the average American would benefit the planet more by being vegetarian one day per week than by switching to a totally local diet (heck, why not do both?).
-A University of Chicago study found that switching to a vegan diet would have a bigger impact than trading your gas guzzler for a Prius.
-The head of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, recommended that people give up meat one day a week to take pressure off the atmosphere.
-According to a 2006 United Nations report, livestock accounts for 18 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
Although we've reported similar studies in Organic Bytes over the years, it's refreshing to see a mainstream media outlet finally bring attention to the topic. Americans seem okay being told they should recycle, drive less, and weatherize their homes, but something short-circuits when you ask them to reduce their meat consumption.
The OCA article
The Washington Post article

These facts are astounding and shouldn't be ignored. What if we all agreed to have just 1 day a week where we didn't eat meat? We could support each other, share recipes, start a movement, etc. I think a lot of people immediately wonder, "what would I eat?". Let me assure you, there are LOTS of good options starting with a very basic like grilled cheese and tomato soup!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hawaii...the best vacation ever!

Noel and I had the most fantastic vacation ever. We went to Hawaii to visit our friends, Dani and Michelle, and to celebrate our 5 year anniversary. Hawaii was the perfect balance of activity and relaxation, natural beauty and tourist stuff, and time with friends and time alone. From the minute we stepped off the plane, Dani and Michelle treated us like royalty. They met us with beautiful leis and had a whole week of fun planned for us.


After briefly stopping at Michelle's mom's house, we headed out to Hanuma Bay to go snorkeling. What a great introduction to Hawaii! We saw TONS of different fish, big and small, as well as 2 large sea turtles. The water was warm, beautiful, and clear. I can't imagine swimming in any other ocean after being here.

Getting ready to head out into the bay.



After snorkeling, we headed out for a short hike. The view at the top was beautiful. We loved how windy it always was. We saw "Rabbit Island" (the island in the background) and enjoyed nearly blowing away.

Hanging out at the North Shore. We enjoyed swimming and relaxing here.
We passed several shrimp farms on our way back from the North Shore. This "truck" serves some incredibly fresh and delicious shrimp. If we weren't with locals, we wouldn't have ever known to stop here. It looks a little strange and questionable. But, it is delicious! This was only one of many things that we were so thankful Dani and Michelle knew about. It was so fun to be more like a local than a tourist.

Buttery, garlicky shrimp.

Noel trying his hand at the ukulele. It's common to see people just walking down the street playing the ukulele. We met up with a few other Fuller friends one night who also live in Hawaii and they gave Noel a brief lesson.

We stopped at the Dole pineapple factory on our way to the North Shore and enjoyed eating some fresh pineapple and pineapple ice cream.


Neither of us knew how pineapple grew until we visited the factory. It was really neat to see! How did you think pineapple grew?



Enjoying some fresh pizza after a day at the beach and hiking.


I loved being in the ocean and exploring all the different beaches. I told Noel I wished I could be a fish and swim all day every day. I also wish I could go body boarding every weekend. It was SO fun! We don't have pictures of it because it was raining that day and we were all in the ocean (no one to take the picture), but it's basically like surfing, but on a smaller board on your stomach. There are always great waves at Bellows Beach and I was fortunate enough to catch several of them!...and get pummeled by a few. :)

Shaved ice is really popular in Hawaii. We went to one of the most famous shaved ice places. You can get either ice cream or azuki beans underneath the ice. I tried the beans and they were delicious! They are really sweet. I'm definitely going to try my hand at cooking them at home. Michelle always teases me saying that I must be part Japanese since I like so many Japanese things.


The four of us outside Michelle's mom's house.

From the top of the Pali lookout, we saw Noel's future place of employment...First Presbyterian Church of Hawaii. Just kidding. :) Though it is fun to think about!

After staying with Dani and Michelle for a couple of nights, we stayed in a hotel in Waikiki for 3 nights. We were on the 36th floor, which had a fantastic view. We loved the Pacific Beach Hotel!

Waikiki is the place to surf. There are people there all day, just hanging out in the ocean, waiting for waves. The water is shallow, which I guess is good for surfing. Also, you can rent a board or pay for a lesson there. Maybe next time we'll try this out!

I think this is called a banyan tree. It's really incredible! It's made up of mostly vines, that grow close together and form a trunk.
The tall building in the back is the part of the hotel we stayed in. There are 37 floors and we were on floor 36. So fun!

Dani and Michelle took us to a local favorite sushi place called Genki. We've seen sushi places with the conveyor belt, but this one was much better.
Unfortunately, Michelle cut her hand pretty badly on a glass just before coming here. She probably should've gotten stitches, but made her own bandage instead.

Noel is deciding which plate to grab. At then end of eating, the server just adds up the total based on how many plates you have and what color they are. Each color is a different price. It's a fun way to be able to try lots of different things for a really good price!

Enjoying some Japanese delights!

We went to a water park one day, which was lots of fun! We raced down some of the slides, screamed a lot on the slides, and had the most gourmet picnic lunch packed by Michelle.

After a long day at the water park, we headed to the beach for the sunset. Noel and Michelle ended up tying in a great game of Scrabble!

We fell in love with this local ice cream place, Bubbies. They are famous for their mochi ice cream, which we indulged in 3 times during our stay. They have more flavors of mochi ice cream than I have ever seen. It was so delicious! I call Bubbies the "21 Choices of Hawaii". We tried chocolate peanut butter, azuki bean, watermelon, strawberry dark chocolate chip, guava, mint chocolate, raspberry, and more! I REALLY want to learn how to make it and have been searching for recipes. I found a few for plain mochi and will have to experiment with getting the flavors into it. I'll wait for Michelle to return to CA to help me with that. She and Dani are moving back in less than a month!

Noel hanging out on the balcony of our hotel.
We had some funny injuries while we were there. The first day, I knocked my knee on the reef while snorkeling and got a bruise. I also got hit by the body board and got another bruise. Then, I hit my head on the inside of a tube slide at the water park. I still have a scab! Finally, the last day, Noel got stung by a bee on his knuckle. His finger is still swollen and he can't get his wedding ring on. We laughed a lot about our "injuries".

When having dinner with our other friends from Fuller, Guy and Lori, Lori told us that her dad worked in Waikiki and would take us out on a canoe for free! This was incredibly fun! We paddled out quite far into the ocean, turned around, and caught huge waves that we rode all the way into shore! It was basically like surfing in a canoe. We were able to go out on 2 separate occasions and caught 3 waves each time. The ride was very thrilling!

We recommend that everyone take a vacation to Oahu at some point in their lives. It was the most incredible place we've ever been and we really hope to be able to return some day.

We are also so excited that Dani and Michelle are moving back to Pasadena in less than a month! Michelle's coming back to Fuller to finish her PhD in psychology after taking a leave of absence. We are so excited to have them around again as they were great friends to us ever since we moved here.