Sunday, February 28, 2010

5 Years

I 'celebrated' my 5 year anniversary at General Mills last month. Now, when one passes a milestone year at The General, one gets to select a gift from a variety of offerings...and nothings says thank-you for sweat, blood and tears like a......


Yup. I decided to forego the "GMI-logo'd cuff links and earrings" for something more practical. Or at least seemingly more practical and I must admit I have ZERO clue what one uses a shop-vac for, but it at least seemed to provide some actual utility. It came in the mail yesterday and Nate just shook his head as Target's idea of a thank-you gift is a stuffed dog or Target pen.

So if any of you can shed some light on what one uses this contraption for, I would appreciate it. As for me, I'll keep on keeping on at work and look forward to my 10-year gift...maybe it will be a drill set, or something really fancy like a waffle machine.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A First Time For Everything

For the first time in almost 4 years of being in school, I did something AFTER class last night. This is quite the task....because when you are up and at 'em on a Spin bike by 6AM and go through an entire day's work, followed by sitting in class until 9PM, nothing calls your name stronger than pajama pants and a remote control.

BUT, it was my friend and book club co-hort, Rachel's, birthday and she is quite a rock star at Karaoke and so her part was aptly located at the local karaoking hole. And rock the mic she did along with her other party guests.

I felt like I was living on the edge...going out after class on a WORK NIGHT. Live. It. Up. Nate had a beer. I got my hand kissed by the 'everyday resident' of this bar: Stoner, and a merry time was had by all. And I didn't die at work of over-tiredness. Sure I couldn't quite pull my ass out of bed to work out this morning (or Nate's for that matter), but fun > workout.

So life lesson learned: you can have fun on a week-night after 9PM and still function like an adult. Whoopee! Look out I come!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Order has been restored...

We headed home this weekend to spend some time with the fam...which of course was dominated by cuteness from one Mr. Finnegan. I love that he is saying "What are you talking about Greta...", that he quickly learned that Thailand chocolates are called "Twinkles," and that this conversation actually happened:

Finn: Saying a bunch of stuff that Nate can't quite decipher
Nate: (silence)
Finn: "Why aren't you saying anything Nate?"
Nate: "What do you want me to say?"
Finn: (puzzled silence followed by extreme concentration) "Why don't you say something like a cow."
Nate: Mooooooooooooooooooooooo


Also on the docket for the weekend was bringing Lucy back to the great state of MN. Now Mom and Dad swear that she didn't do any death growling the entire month she was in Viroqua.

But sure as the sun rises every morning...there was Lucy at the side of our bed death growling in the middle of the night. This time with force. Like--hey you who abondoned me for a month, you are really going to get it now.. And so it goes that Lucy has taken back control of the house, and restored order to who is the boss. Nate and I don't have to argue about that anymore because Lucy cleared that up pretty quick last night.

P.S. Totally unrelated but important, I haven't forgotten about all of you chicken recipe inquirers. I'll post it soon!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Badger Bummer

Nate and I had the honor of accompanying Ms. Fiterman and Mr. Arbit, whom I have just decided to call the Fiterbit's because it is snappy and I kind of like it just like the Wongske's, to the Badger/Gopher game last night. Debra is always so kind to invite us as fellow Badger friends and fans.

This year she got us extra excited to a special "VIP" room. I was picturing gold banisters, champagne fountains, and decadent chocolate desserts spread all over the room. Now for some, what actually transpired would have seem like a let down compared to those expectations but for ME...this little VIP room was a beacon of happiness because:

1) The Badgers were playing horribly
2) Free-flowing Root Beer...

Seriously...who doesn't love Root Beer. And I am pretty sure it is way more refreshing than some stupid champagne. And let's not forget the chocolate cake-pie that had pudding in the middle. Weird yes. But kind of tasty too..and technically qualified for a decadent choclate dessert.

Does it seem like I am a little too focused on said VIP room? Well...that is because it was probably the highlight of the night given that the Badgers played like a tier 2 High School team last night and it was painful to watch. How painful you ask...I really don't think you can describe it any better than this:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cooking Light: Episode 4

As we slowly fade back to real life, the realiziation that we need our we don't starve came into focus. And since we are both trying to pack lunches and dinners for the nights we have class...a dinner that delivered leftovers was a must.

And if we must have leftovers...I am REALLY happy it is this: Chicken with Bacon and Cider Sauce.

You basically fry up 3 slices of bacon, take the bacon out and saute the chicken in the oil from the 3 slices of bacon. Once you cook the chicken you put the bacon back in the pan, add some chicken broth and apple cider vinegar, and reduce it down to an amazingly delicious sauce.

It was super easy--done in a flash (like 20 minutes) and has been feeding us (ok...Nate) for the entire week.

Any recipe that can make frozen chicken super juicy gets an A+ in my book.Message me if you are looking for the recipe and I'll send it to you!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Listmania: The Greatest Hits...Lost in Tranlsation

Ok, so I am sure you are all getting REALLY sick of hearing about Thailand, but you will have to bear with me through one more post...BUT it isn't about all of the fun things we did, but rather the most hilarious things we saw in Thailand that were a combination of signs lost in translation and one funny little man.

1) Overly literal restaurant names:

2) Overly DESCRIPTIVE Bar Names 

3) Pringle flavors only true Thai's would enjoy
4) Japanese candy that entices you with images of hamburgers and naming similar to that of a body part which will later be working to excrete it.

5) Interesting use of imagery to substitute for a letter:

6) Childish Humor at every turn


7) Some spelling errors lead to GROSS errors in interpretation:

8) Hidden surprises are never usually a good thing in your meal...but maybe a "Super Surprise" is different.

9) Subliminal messaging? Eat Caramel Corn--will have positive life style? Hmm...

10) The Pancake this isn't a hilarious lost in translation type deal, but I couldn't NOT mention this guy as we went to visit him every night we were in Koh Samui to get his delicious crepes that were $.75. He was hilarious....he had quite the routine/performance that went into every single little crepe. It included extremely precise movements to slather butter, flip the crepes, cut the crepes and present the crepes. I had a video but it didn't turn out very well so this picture will have to suffice:

And with's back to your regularly scheduled program....

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Messed Up

It's official. I am seriously messed up with jet lag.

I wasn't really expecting it since we adjusted to well on the way over to Thailand, but holy smokes has it been a rough go of it this week.

I have YET to function after 8PM, even though I am literally falling asleep every night at 8 or 9 (when Nate forces me to try to stay up). Which means of course I am up at the butt crack of dawn every morning. And even when I manage to sleep in to a normal time I am STILL tired at 8PM.

And this isn't the oh I feel tired but can stay up sort of tired. This is the eyelids close immediately, drifting off to sleep only to be woken up by a freight train type of tired.

So this whole week has been work and sleep, with very little else cool going on, or getting done. Period. Except of course school, which goes until 9PM which therefore comes DANGEROUSLY close to overlapping with sleep.

Anyway, the point is this weekend is all about sleeping in short bursts in the middle of the day so I have a fighting chance of actually starting to stay awake long enough to do something enjoyable at night like watch TV, read a book, work-out, eat food...pretty much anything.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Final Days

In the final days of soaking up all the sun possible in Koh Samui, we did a full-day excursion complete with snorkeling, kayaking, more hiking, and plenty of beach time.

Snorkeling was good. I got kind of freaked out by all of the sea urchins and had to keep coming up and double-check with Nate that they don't attack.

It took multiple like 'shocks' for me to finally ask Nate if he was getting stung, and he nodded yes, and we HIGH-TAILED it out of the water. Apparently there were multiple little jelly-fish. Just as we got out of the water, Nate saw a Portugese Man of War...yikes!

After snorkeling we headed to a beautiful beach, took in the scenery and headed on a "little" hike that included a ton of very steep stairs...and climbing through some narrow spots.

The view was worth it.

So, we are officially back in the States. First order of business was to SHOVEL...(awesome), and now we are both elbow deep in studying. Nate has an accounting exam tomorrow night, and I have a paper due.
Can anyone say CRASH LANDING back into reality?

But I wouldn't trade travel for was a great trip. One I don't think we ever dreamed we would take. I highly recommend Thailand to anyone considering an adventerous vacation combined with a little beach relaxation.

Now...can anyone tell me where I can get a massage for $6 in Minneapols??

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Dia de los Adventuras

In true Wongske and Hanson style, we decided to continue the tradition of Dia De Los Adventuras: Thailand stylle. So, what does a day of adventure with this foursome include:

1) Rental Car. Very important for aiding the impulse of the day. You can't quite do that with a tour group. Although with a tour group when this happens it isn't quite so stressful:

2) Picking a direction to drive. Clockwise or counter clockwise. Always a big decision. This decision facilitates which activities you do first, which is important because the adventures usually last all day.

3) Stopping by random beaches to see them in all of their beauty.

4) New for Thailand: Waterfall Trekking. This is where things start to get interesting. We decide to take on the hike to see "Waterfall 2" (yes, that was literally its name). This was not a standard, tourist friendly nature hike. This was rock jumping, up-hill climbing, nature infested hiking.

I say nature infested because about a third of the way up we ran into this friendly little guy:

This is the biggest spider I have ever seen in my entire life, and hope it is the only spider this big I ever encounter. Needless to say, after seeing 'it', I began sweating...profusely. Through my layer of bug lotion, sun-tan lotion and dress. Top the panicky sweat on top of the 'jungle-fever-humidity' and as Katie says I was a "sweaty mess." 
It was worth the view, the story and experience. Plus, if we hadn't trekked through the jungle Ryan wouldn't have been able to do this:
After all of the hiking, and sweating, nothing tasted better than a Coca Cola from the bottle and this lost in translation sign:

5) There was a seaside temple that took forever to find. I don't want to completely blame it on the changeover from girls navigating to boys navigating...but we didn't have any issues when the maps were in the back...I'm just saying...
6) We also stopped to see the Grand Mother and Father rocks. I am going to go ahead and let the pictures to the explaining for how these rocks got their name...

Even the immature humor of these rocks couldn't keep our spirits up when we went back to our car and it wouldn't start. It was the breaking point, but everyone kept their cool and we figured it out. And we decided we really needed a break in some air conditioning.

7) Which led us to a Tesco Grocery Store. The first blast of cold air made us feel like new women immediately. Look at these smiles.
The smiles only got bigger when we got our hands on this for 25 Baht (less than $1):

8) Next came dinner, and as the boys settled in for some post-dinner drinks, Katie and I headed out to walk the beach and found out that on this particular beach you can walk out FOREVER because the water was so shallow. I literally felt like I could walk off the edge of the world. It was so dark, and starry and warm. It might just be one of my favorite things from this whole vacation. The pictures just don't do it justice:

After all of this everyone walked away with all of their appendages in tact, there were no poisenous bug bites, and almost none of us got a funky rash (nate...). Then as we were leaving for dinner from our little villa, I missed a set of stairs and BAM! Ouchee city. Good thing Nurse Wong was on the job...

It was definitely a full day, but also a fun and memorable day. 
P.S. I predict many nightmares of gigantic spiders in my future.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Island Life

Stepping off the plane into Ko Samui, one notices the air feels...dense. Hot and Humid. After two flights from Chiang Mai to arrive to island paradise, we were all feeling a little grimey, and it was like our hotel was reading our minds because as we stepped into our transport van, the resort dude handed out ice-cold, lightly scented towels and cold waters. It was pure heaven.

Then, we settled into our private villas (which are quite possibly the nicest "rooms" I have ever stayed in in my life for $200 a night)...and headed to the beach. Here is where we all got a really quick lesson in the power of the sun. We all got a healthy dose of Vitamin D in about 10 minutes. And then they brought around more towels...does it get any better?

Also, said heat also inhibits a lot of beach chair reading, as we are spending most of the time wading around in the perfectly cooled pool. Nate is also giving Ryan swimming lessons each day which is quite enjoyable.
Ryan tried his hand at wind surfing, and made significant progress over the boys' attempts in Cozumel. Nate has been doing a lot of open-water swimming in the ocean to prep for Triathlon season!

And we have been especially excited about the food on the island. There has been lots of seafood consumed, especially by Ryan. We ventured away from Thai the first time last night and tried Mexican. We were all craving salsa and chips given the tropical feel...can't say they have that quite nailed down yet, but it handled the craving.

We were worried that the affordable massages would go away once we hit the beach, but alas the $6 hour-long Thai massage still exists, but now exists with an amazing view too!
We had, most likely, our grossest translation fail during this massage, when Ryan started asking about the clubs and the lady given him the massage was telling him about the 'transvestite' population in Chaweng--also the clubbing district. As Ryan helped his masseur out with the word for "transvestite" Nate says:

"I prefer Lady Boy"

Meaning..he prefers that TERM. (Do you see where the misinterpretation is coming in here?)

Everyone starts CRACKING up, and the lady keeps saying "you prefer lady boy" and starts laughing. She then proceeds to tell a story I can only presume is hilarious in Thai, but involves her imitating a 'lady boy' with a really low voice and looking at Nate.

I finally had to step in and say "No, he doesn't. I'm his lady." and then they all cracked up even more.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Temple of Surprises

I'm pretty sure that "Temple of Surprises" isn't the exact translation for what may end up being my favorite temple in Thailand, but it should be.

We approached this temple thinking it was just this (and I use that term loosely):

Definitely beautiful, right? Well, typically we would walk up to the temple, go inside and leave. And something just beckoned us to walk around the side of this temple, and check out the sight that we would have missed:

That wasn't the only surprise either. When we walked around this temple, there were five stone elephants, a golden Buddha, and some monks that had been mummified. Sweet.
And to think we almost missed it all....

Elephant Trekking!

**Disclaimer..I had this blog all typed up and ready to push publish last night and with one quick slip of the finger on this tiny little micro keyboard and POOF! Gone was all my photo work, witty quips, and so on. So forgive me if this post is a little lackluster....As Nate would say: blogging isn't a novelty act.**

We set out on a full day excursion away from the hustle and bustle of Chiang Mai into the mountainous region and the Mae Tang River for elephant Trekking and Whitewater Rafting. We got a SWEET video from the agency that did the adventures since we couldn't take our cameras rafting, so I'll post that video when we get back to the states (Ekern fam--think Dominican Republic....).

The day couldn't have been better. It was a perfect location and setting, perfect guide to get us (most specifically me) through our apprehension of rafting for the first time, and seriously cute elephants.

When we originally looked for elephant adventures, Katie and I were both concerned about finding a place that the elephants were well cared for. For the most part, this one fit the bill (minus our guides occasional swat of the bamboo swatch). We thought that maybe they enjoyed getting to take people because then the elephants got to go across the river and cool off (?). Maybe...who's with us? if you aren't buying the river as a bonus for hauling our butts around, how about the fact that half way through the trek there just 'happened' to be a little hut with a tiny little man selling bananas that we could feed to the elephants. 

Here was our elephant asking really nicely for a banana:


This was my personal favorite part...right up until I started getting slobbered on from how fast the elephant whipped his trunk up and down.

After the trek, we headed further up the mountain for our rafting adventure. I am happy to say we all survived, we didn't tip, and none of us came away with any weird bacteria, rashes, etc.