Monday, January 26, 2009


Ok, one last post today.

Over Christmas, we were at Heather and Ben's house hanging out, and I developed an unhealthy fascination with their bowl of nuts. Specifically, I was enthralled with trying to crack them, as I wasn't very good at it. Just imagine loud cracking noises and explosions of shell fragments going every which way. Ben was a great sport, accepting my sheepishly offered bits of 'nutmeat' without reservation.

A few weeks after we got home,
imagine our surprise when we got a package notification in our mailbox... Amazon? I didn't order anything from Amazon, did you? No...? Could this be a belated wedding gift? I have no idea...

We opened it in the elevator on the way up to our apartment, and Brian immediately keyed into the fact that it was a nutcracker! As you can see, it comes with a cool bamboo bowl (which perfectly matches one of our cutting boards) and fits neatly inside. We finally found nuts in their shells this weekend at a supermarket, and were very excited to fill it up. For some reason, I'm much better at cracking these nuts (deez nutz?), really I am!

Thanks H&B!!

Operation: NameChange - Phase III

I am super happy to report that I have made a ton of progress on Operation: NameChange! After receiving my new Social Security card in the mail, I headed to the DMV last week to get a new drivers' license. Going to the DMV is never a pleasant endeavour, but if you go early enough you can get in and out quickly enough. I went right when it opened and after about an hour, I walked out with a brand new license and a brand new identity! Ok, not so much a new identity, but at least a new name. I went next door to deal with the car title and registration, but they said there was no need to change names on those documents (at a savings of $65). Nice!

I spent a couple of hours phoning credit card companies and going to the banks, so that's all done too. I haven't changed my Canadian stuff yet, and I think I'm going to hold off on that for now. Passport Canada says it will take 4 weeks to process a new passport, but since I'm probably traveling out of the States in March, I don't want to chance it. So that'll be Phase IV, in a few months.

But, here in the US, I'm pretty officially Dr. Michelle Tien-Yee Yeh! Woot woot! Check it out:

Identifying information excluded, of course

OFT No. 17 - Visit from Val

Ok, so the last reported OFT was the river cruise, and clearly we've done many other fun things since then, but I've been lazy about posting on them! To name a few: Ashley came to visit on a job interview (how do I not have any photos of this?!), a holiday fried-food party, a Conor Oberst show, and a play at the Steppenwolf, "The Seafarer" with one of my favorites, John Mahoney. Seriously, we're not totally lame :)

Val came to town for the weekend, even though the day before she arrived we had the coldest day on record this year! But, being the proud Canadian that she is, she didn't mind a bit. We didn't have much planned other than to eat and catch up, anyway. She got in late Friday. Saturday started out with brunch at Frontera Grill with the three of us and Donald, and then she and I spent several hours doing some damage to the shops on State Street (woohoo!)

Val's general food request for the weekend was "tasty" with one specific request for deep dish pizza. So after we tired of shopping, we called Brian and he met us at Gino's East downtown. We don't eat deep dish much (for the sake of our arteries!) but it definitely hits the spot once in a while. Copious amounts of cheese, sausage, and crunchy bready crust... yum! After that, we went home and watched Wall-E (thanks for bringing it, Val!) and ate bowlfuls of ice cream with some imported crushed-up Skor bar.

Sunday we started with lunch at an Indian restaurant on Devon that was new to us, and quite yummy. We had gotten tickets to a play at the Royal George Theater for 5pm, so we headed home for a couple of hours. For some reason I really wanted to make cookies with my new cookie gun (a wedding present I haven't gotten around to using yet), so I whipped up a dough and baked off a couple of batches. Once again, no pictures, but I'll definitely take some the next time I make them, because they are pretty neat! The kitchen looks like a little cookie factory, with all the shapes lined up in rows. Maybe I'll make some next weekend when I'm feeling better, and post about it. They weren't bad for a first try, and I threw a bunch in a baggie to take with us to the play.

The play, "Don't Dress for Dinner" was pretty terrific. It is a silly relationship farce with a lot of action, laughs and miscommunications. Brian whispered to me at one point, that it was a "long episode of Frasier" - nothing but praise to my ears. We were excited to see it because it got good reviews in the Trib, and also because one of the actors was Jeffrey Donovan, who stars in a new TV show that we like (Burn Notice). Right before the end of the first act, one of the actresses slipped on some spilled sauce (the spill was part of the play, the slip was not) and it was quite hilarious. The actors fought not to break character, but in the end they all burst out laughing as the lights went out. That's what's great about live theater (and boxed chocolates) - you never know what you're gonna get!

Dinner afterward was at a Thai restaurant that we discovered a little while ago (the same one we went to with Ashley) that has some great, authentic dishes that are new to us. One of my favorites is "naem khao thawt" which is this delicious deep fried rice salad with "pressed ham." So good. Back at home, we had more ice cream (heehee) and played some Wii.

I am really bad at taking pictures these days, I keep forgetting. So the only pic I have from the whole weekend is this one:
Val and Brian playing Monkeyball "Simon Says"
Note the concentration required.
Oh! and you can see some of the cookies I made in the bottom right corner.

I took Val to the airport on Monday morning (MLK day). It was a very short but very sweet visit, and made me hope that I can head west to LA again soon.

Love ya Val! Sending you lots of good thoughts!

A bel8ted wish

Oops, 9 days late, but 8 is great!

Happy 8th monthaversary...

P.S. I was distracted by OFT No. 17...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Operation: NameChange - Phase II

I decided to change my last name when we got married. There are a lot of reasons for and against, but I like the idea that it means Brian and I are a unified entity, and whenever our family grows (not for a long time, but eventually), we will all share the same last name. And besides, what could be better than having a last name that's like a built-in cheer?

The process, however, is not something to cheer about. Just think about all the things that are attached to your last name. Passport, social security, bank accounts, taxes, driver's license, work ID, emails, insurance, credit cards, memberships, EVERYTHING! There's a lot to do, especially because I have two countries to deal with. I have been putting it off (obviously!) but certain things have a lag period for processing/mail, etc. and I want to get it done in advance of some international travel coming up.

Phase I was getting my work ID changed, because it was the easiest thing to do. I just had to get a memo from my human resources person, which I did before the holidays.

Phase II was getting a new social security card, so I went to the local office this morning. After about half an hour, I came out with a letter promising me a new card in 2 weeks. Phase III will be my driver's license, car title and registration, which involves a dreaded trip to the DMV. After that, I think I can do things by phone or internet, so that's good!

This probably isn't all that interesting to many people (heck, I don't even want to do it!) but I think this is actually a fairly momentous change, so I'm going to document it here. Lucky you :)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Thanksgiving 2008

Me again...

I had wanted to catch up on some bjourning while we were away, but I didn't bring my laptop home (shhhhh, don't tell my work) so I barely even checked email. Have to admit, it was kind of nice. Anyway, I do want to post more regularly, maybe that'll be a new year's resolution.

Well, now that I've written about our recent Christmas trip home, let me backtrack a bit and post some pics of our Thanksgiving this year, in case you thought we didn't go all out as we normally do. Like last year, it was just three of us (us and Donald), and also like last year, it was quite a feast.

1.5 lbs of turkey per person is recommended for a good dinner and leftovers to take home. Uh... yeah... good things we got an 18lb bird :) The turkey is Brian's purview, and he does a great job, don't you think?

We also had many of our usual favorites, and a couple of new things.
Sumptuous sides: Sausage stuffing, roasted brussel sprouts
and carrots, clementine cranberry sauce, brown sugar-glazed
sweet potatoes (with marshmallows!), a gratin of greens,
horseradish mashed potatoes, and giblet gravy. Mmmmmmmmm!

After dinner, we took a break to play some wii.
No doubt discussing some tiim strategii.

Donii and Briian, ready to take down some tanks! Note
how Briian is a fairly grumpy character...

After a palate cleanser of lemon-mint sorbet, we moved onto desserts. I made butter tart bars again, and this year I tried a new dessert - chocolate pumpkin tart (thanks to Martha Stewart). It was pretty easy, and I thought it was a nice alternative to pumpkin pie.

Desserts all plated up, with cinnamon whipped cream. I had
some extra tart dough, so I made a few chocolate star 'cookies.'

The next day, as is our awesome custom, we made a terrifically yummy turkey soup. This is becoming one of my favorite parts of our Thanksgiving, as it is so good and hearty and a great way to finish off our unused greens/veggies.

Of course, we had leftovers for a few days (never a problem). I had a lot of work to do that weekend, so I definitely appreciated having a couple of days off, and not having to cook again for a few days!

What a great holiday, especially this year when we had a lot to be thankful for. I can't wait for Thanksgiving 2009.

Christmas 2008

Hi everyone! We are back in Chicago after a quick 8 days in Calgary, a lovely time seeing family and friends. We stayed at the Yeh house, and had lots of good meals with Peggy and Jerry, Donald, A-Ma, the aunts/cousins, my Dad, and Heather and Ben. As usual, I spent some quality time shopping with Heather, breakfasting with Adam, and getting beaten handily by my Dad at pool, and by everyone at poker. I did pretty well on my first couple of attempts at MahJong, though! We even went to a terrific Flames game (6-3 over the Senators, woohoo!) at the Dome.

We came back last night (New Year's Eve), in time to watch the ball drop. Here are a few pictures from our trip. Unfortunately, I forgot that I had the camera on me most of the time, so I only caught a few moments.

High-stakes poker, for jolly ranchers and, most importantly, pride.

Post-Christmas eve dinner

Donald and A-Ma

The girls

Brotherly love (man, it took me a lot of tries to get this shot!)

The aftermath of our dinosaur animation project


We usually take a longer holiday but this year we wanted to reserve some vacation days for our delayed honeymoon trip (more details later on, when we actually make some plans!) so it was short but very sweet. 2008 was nice for us, since we got to spend a fair amount of time in Canada (and for some wonderful reasons!)

We wish everyone a really terrific new year, and hope that 2009 holds wonderful things for us all!