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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dragon Boats!



This past weekend Aaron and I hit up the annual Dragon Boat Festival. We attended this event last year during our "falling in love" phase. We had talked about heading back this year to get another set of matching dragon tattoos, but neither of us bothered to check when the event was taking place. Well Saturday came and after eating a nice lunch of chicken burritos at Denver's D'Corazon, to celebrate my completion of this year’s teacher certification exam, we started heading home. We were debating how to spend our afternoon when we happened to pass a new billboard advertising a new radio station. We were intrigued and decided to tune in. Right as we changed our station we heard an advertisement for the dragon boat festival going on right then! We knew it was meant to be! We turned our car around and headed for the dragon boats. We were so excited!

We got to last years festival just after the dragon boat races had ended, but this year we were able to catch the action.


Ready, Set... GO!

Aaron and I really got into the festivities by playing a little dress up.

Our fav is the bottom right!

They had everything this year from self defense and an old man breaking steel with his arm...


to Polynesian dancers...


and even break dancing.


We enjoyed the magic show...


dancing dragons...


and even the fellow crowd members!


We can't wait until next year! We are thinking about signing up to be in a race!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Brotherly Love!

What is little brother to do when mom is out of town playing grandma, and dad is out of town on business???? Big sister to the rescue!

My mom left town this week to visit my sister Whitney, her husband Phil and their new baby, Kate Pemberton! Congrats sis! Kate was born on July 15 and weighed 6 lbs 14 oz. She is the first baby in the Wray fam so I figure I can brag!


So that left me in charge of Jeff! I had a blast this week hanging out with my younger brother. We stayed pretty busy as we played all over the city of Denver. First, was a trip to Eltich Gardens. We rode roller coaster after roller coaster. I was surprised at the strength of my stomach considering how last year's carnival experience led to a few close calls, if you catch my drift. I would have to say that the highlight of the day was when I GOT CUT IN HALF!!! Yes, I was asked to be in the magic show and I blindly said yes! Next thing I knew, I was laying in a box and they were about to shove a giant blade through the middle of my body. I had never been so nervous in my entire life. Don't worry, I am still alive and in one piece although, I am sad to say that after this experience I still have no idea how the trick is done. I literally just laid there. My brother who was so fascinated by the trick forgot to take a picture :(


Are you ready for the boomerang!!!


Do not drop missiles from the ferris wheel! You will be asked to leave the park (If you are still alive!)


Half pipe! I am sick just looking at it!

Our next adventure was the Rockies game! Aaron, a few of the people he home teaches, and my sister joined us for the game. After my brother complained all day that we were going to have to sit in the Rockpile (the cheap seats with no backs), he apologized after the game saying that he had tons of fun. He is now spreading a rumor that he started a wave that went around the entire park 15 times! Reality: The wave went around probably three times and it was started by someone sitting close to us;) Sorry Jeff!





This was followed by a sleepover which involved slurpees, of course! It also involved the viewing of what used to be our favorite movie, Jimmy Neutron! The next day was full of sports. We started the day with a bike ride and some tennis. Afterwards we hit up the bowling alley. "Mr. 300" didn't have that great of a game. Check out our scores! I totally beat him! This was a first so I have to brag. After bowling we played a little golf. It makes me sick that Jeff can drive a par 3 hole onto the green with a pitching wedge. I have a 60 yard advantage, and I can still only hit it 20 yards with a driver, and I am no where near the green. Golf is not my sport.



I am the one with a 105!!!
video

Check out Jeff's hole in one ;)

We had a blast reminiscing about old times. I even gave him some dating advice. Yikes! I can't believe that he is almost 16! It was great to get in some brother-sister bonding time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Japanese Inspired Evening!

Have you ever wondered how to make sushi? Well let Aaron and I (the experts) tell how it is done!

First, you need to make the sushi rice. Medium grain rice will work. Before cooking, you must clean off as much starch as possible. You do this by mixing the rice, with your hands, in a bowl of water. Next, dump out the dirty water. Then, repeat the process until the water is clear. Once the water is clear enough, poor it into a strainer and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour.





Next, heat up a rice vinegar, sugar and salt mixture. You will use this when the rice is cooked to help make the rice sticky. I don't know the exact amounts to use for this concoction. We used a recipe that we found online. First we made the recipe, and then we read the bottom of the web page that told us not to use this recipe. Apparently, the amounts of sugar and vinegar were off. Oh well, it was already made and the next step was to let it cool.



So what do you do while your rice is drying and your rice vinegar is cooling? Walk down the block to the Denver Botanical Gardens, for free admission day, to check out their PlantAisa and Japanese Garden exhibits.

The Japanese Garden!

Bamboo!

In honor of... yea I can read japanese ;)

PlantAisa!


"When will my reflection show, who I am inside?" Ok, that is from Mulan and not Japanese.

Also not part of the Japanese garden... but still cool!

After the totally awesome exhibit, walk back home. Upon your return, make sure to feed your husband edamame. This is so he will not starve to death, and that he will have some energy to help you complete the sushi.


Now cook the rice. At the same time cook your salmon. It's not that we don't like King Soopers, we just don't trust their raw meat! Once the rice is complete, poor whatever mixture of rice vinegar that you feel is necessary, onto the rice. This is done while your husband fans the rice.

The next step is to lay down your nori, also known as seaweed, onto your rolling mats. Next, pile your nori with lots of sticky rice and flip over. Lay down your filler ingredients. We stuck with the basics. We made a California roll with avocado, crab, and cucumber. We also made a salmon and cream cheese roll. Once the ingredients are in place... roll it up! This is not as easy as it sounds. Once, you have completed you roll, you are done! Just cut (again not as easy as it sounds) and serve!





Finally, eat up!



We had a lot of fun making sushi. Although, you can probably tell that we really are not sushi experts, so if you do have any questions... don't ask us!

Friday, July 18, 2008

SYTYCD!

If you are familiar with the acronym of SYTYCD then you and I just might be best friends! This quite possibly could be the most ridiculous thing that I have posted about, but I am still not ashamed. Anyone who knows me well would tell you that I can get obsessed a little crazy about some things. For example, I have an undying love for Disney and one Disney princess in particular... Belle! I dreamed as a child ...(and as an adult), of one day being able to sign autographs for little children, in a beautiful yellow dress, in the most magical place on earth! So far, this dream has amounted to attending a few Halloween parties dressed in yellow polyester and to earning the chance to be the surprise guest at the birthday party of an apartment manager's daughter while in college. I think that will have to do (for now).


I also became quite enthusiastic about a show that has become the phenomenon known as American Idol! Aaron witnessed (and survived) my AI enthusiasm for the first time this year as I, week after week, squeezed his hand tightly and held my breath in an almost-about-to-pass-out manner during each results show. I worked myself into a frenzy during the finale, almost to the point of nausea, just hoping that my fav, David Cook, would win. I mean, after the Chris Daughtry disaster year, I didn't know if I would make it. Good thing Cook won this year... my faith has been restored in America!





Oh and how could I forget my Grease experience! In a show that was picking the leads of Sandy and Danny for the Broadway musical Grease, I feel in love with two of the contestants, Laura and Max. My excitement for this show was at it's best. I experienced similar side effects to the American Idol seasons. Although, the after affects of this show had a greater impact on my life. This show led to a trip to New York City to see the Broadway musical with my two favorite winners. It also led to a night of me pushing through crowd of a hundred fans in hopes of catching a glimpse at these two. This paid off, as I got to hug Max and he signed my play bill!



Yes, I am wearing a Go Max T-shirt!

Now I promise that I really don't watch much TV - I am not a fan of just vegging out... (well, not entirely true- put in a Numb3rs DVD and I am gone for hours!) But for the most part, random TV watching isn't my thing. I watch TV as an active participant, planning and anticipating my show every week, expecting that what I watch is going to captivate me.


So what show is captivating me now? What show is causing my life to be in a "Belle" like craze, okay I'll admit it, a "Belle" like obsession! With American Idol in its off season, the choice is obvious: So You Think You Can Dance!! Come Wednesday night, there I am with the TV on at 6:45 waiting for that wonderful tune "Da da da da da da dada," to ring in my ears (if you watched you would know what I am talking about.) Every moment of those two hours, from 7-9 pm, are glorious! On the rare occasion that Aaron is sitting by my side during the show, I am pretty sure that he is more entertained by me than the show. I yell at the contestants for being lame, yell at the judges for making the wrong comment, and yell when the dances are awesome! If Aaron conveniently finds something else to do on Wednesday evening... don't worry I make sure to pull up my favorite dances on YouTube after the show, and he watches! He has even learned that he should get excited about the dances I like... What a good husband! Note: That only came after his first experience of video watching when all he mumbled after one of my all-time favorite dances was, "Oh, that was good." Yikes! That didn't go over too well.

Well now that you know about this show... you have to watch it! And vote for Katee, she is my favorite. Although, Chelsea is a close runner up. Below are my three favorite dances from the show this year so far. You have to check them out!!! And feel free to check back every Thursday for the next few weeks, as I might add some more!




Tuesday, July 15, 2008

We Are Grateful For Forgetful Friends!

Aaron and I have been married for 5 months... actually 5 months today! We thought that the time for the receiving of gifts had come and was now long gone. Well I don't know what it was about this past week but we got 5 more cards in the mail with some nice surprises inside and an actual wedding gift! A friend of ours gave us an ice cream maker... but that's not all. She felt guilty for getting the present to us so late that she also gave us her favorite recipe and all of the ingredients to make it. (Thanks Lanee!)


This was only half of all the ingredients!

This was the perfect gift for us because I am pretty sure our freezer consists of 75% ice cream and the other 25% is just chicken and meatballs. We love ice cream! With the ingredients ready to go, of course, we had to try our hand. So with fond memories of delicious hand-churned goodness in mind, we started.

Round 1
The only thing we didn't have was ice. So while Aaron headed to the store to pick up 20 lbs of ice, I started mixing the ingredients. The first few minutes started out great, but when I went to get a measuring cup from the drawer I cut my finger on our ultra-sharp vegetable peeler, which shocked me and caused me to spill the vanilla all over the floor. Oh no!



Still in shock from this oh so tragic experience, I grabbed a towel and wrapped it around my finger. After a few minutes I realized that I didn't want to get my nice towel all bloody(too late). I threw it on the counter and went on a hunt for some band-aids. Aaron returned to find a mess in the kitchen, a bloody towel, and his wife no where to be found. It's fair to say that he was a little concerned. Aaron soon found me scavenging the bathroom cupboards for band-aids. I then had to explain the ridiculous situation. Well we bandaged me up, several times actually... no matter how much pressure I put on that finger it bled through 5 band-aids in a matter of 30 minutes.

We got back on track smashing and blending and mixing and salivating as we dreamed of smooth, rich, delicious strawberry and banana ice cream.



Everything was ready to go except... where were we going to make this ice cream? We had ice that would melt so we needed a space that could get wet and contain water. We figured we had two options... 1. outside but it was getting kind of dark or 2. we could use the bathtub! So we opted for the bathtub! I wonder about us sometimes :)



The instructions said that we needed to let the ice cream mix for about 25-40 minutes and that it would stop when it was complete. Well about an hour later it was still mixing away. We decided that we would take a peek inside to see what was going on. To our surprise it was still as liquid as ever and was in no way the consistency of fluffy mashed potatoes as the instruction manual had described. It had made little progress in an hour even though it was surrounded by ice and we had followed the directions exactly. I think the problem was that the ice we were using was too big and kept causing the can to stop turning so we had to keep stopping and adjusting the can. We were bummed and exhausted, so we stuck it in the freezer anyway and waited for the outcome.



I know that you cannot tell by this picture but after hours of freezer time, it was hard around the edges and still sloppy in the middle. Discouraged, but determined, we decided to put it in the fridge to re-liquify so we could try again.

Round 2
Not sure how this would turn out... we bought more ice and headed once again to mixing place (tub).


Although unsure of the outcome, we were optimistic that it would work. And... it did! After 30 minutes of mixing and icing (with smaller ice cubes this time) we had a much better consistency so we threw it in the freezer once more. The next day, and several days since, we have enjoyed this delicious summer treat! Yum! Mission accomplished.
Who knew that twice-frozen ice cream would taste so good?



Here's Lanee's recipe if you want to give it a try:
The Best Fresh Fruit Ice Cream Maker Ice Cream Ever!!
4 eggs, well beaten (use only clean grade A uncracked eggs)
6 cups Half & half cream
2 14 oz. cans Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (not evaporated milk)
1+ Tablespoon pure vanilla
4-6 cups mashed fresh fruit (strawberries, bananas, raspberries, nectarines, blueberries, peaches, etc. I usually do 4 c. strawberries, 2 c. bananas)
1/4 cup raspberry or strawberry syrup
Few drops food coloring
In ice cream freezer container, combine all ingredients and mix well. Freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Return leftovers to freezer.
The more fruit the better this ice cream is! This recipe makes about 4 quarts ice cream.