Saturday, November 22, 2014

Alex Boye Live!

Have you ever heard of Alex Boye? He is a pretty great musical artist. Actually, he is phenomenal. He is of Nigerian heritage, and mixes his songs with an Africanized feel. Seriously, so much fun. Well... he came to San Diego this past week, and did a concert in Caitlin's parents house. How cool is that? 
It was a really intimate setting. And since it was at my in-laws house, we were there for the whole process. Him warming up, meeting his band, and even meeting other artists that had accompanied him.
This is Alisha Popat. She is a Kenyan artist who looked very familiar when we saw her come with Alex, but it took a minute to figure out who she was... well it turns out that she sings with Lindsey Stiring, and we have been using her song as our alarm clock for the past few years. How strange is that? She sang a little bit with Alex, and we were completely starstruck.

 Alex did two separate concerts at the house. He is Mormon, so he had a spiritual fireside type of concert, and then a super fun neighborhood concert filled with dancing and high energy singing. 
At the spiritual fireside, Clark played the piano for Alex. Pretty cool to say that he accompanied him while he sang. So amazing.

It was so amazing to have him over - and it definitely turned our house into a bunch of Boye fanatics for the next few days.  
Oh, and in case you haven't heard of Alex Boye, here is one of his great videos. But seriously, I would recommend checking out all of his videos - they are great! 

Monday, November 10, 2014

October on the Beach

One of the great things about living near the beach is the ability to go there in the off-season. October is definitely the off-season for San Diego vacationers, but the water is definitely warmer in September and early October, so of course we took advantage. Plus, Caitlin got a new swimsuit, so we had to test it out. :)
One of the great things about fall is the change of weather from warm to cold, but a great part of San Diego fall is that it is still really warm during the day and cold at night. It didn't even seem like October on the beach. And aren't there times when all you need is a good dose of sun? That is exactly how we felt before going out to the beach, and now we're 100% rejuvenated. 
Yeah, not much of a blog post, but I had some extra pictures that I needed to post so I didn't forget. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Dia de los Muertos, San Diego Style

The Day of the Dead is such a great celebration. Not only is it in remembrance of those who have gone before us, but it is combined with some of the spooky elements of Halloween and the cultural flare of Mexico. Seriously, who wouldn't love celebrating with skeletons, sugar, and reverent altars? 

For those of you who don't know, el Dia de los Muertos started 3,000 years ago when Mayan and Aztec Indians displayed skulls to show their feelings on life and death. To the Aztecs, life was a dream and death was waking up. When the Spaniards arrived in Central and South America, Catholic and Native customs were combined into el Dia de los Muertos. 

On the Day of the Dead, families create special altars for their departed loved ones, which become living scrapbooks with pictures of the deceased, flowers, and their favorite foods. These foods and offerings are placed for the deceased to enjoy, and are said to have lost their flavor because the ghosts have sucked it all out. At the Day of the Dead celebrations in San Diego, they had more than 40 public altars all around Old Town that displayed pictures of people who, from what we could tell, had mostly passed away in 2014.

We even found this tribute to Robin Williams among the altar in the cemetery. It is really interesting how this holiday is celebrated. If we put skeletons and food on graves on Memorial Day, I think a lot of people would be offended, but it is a beautiful tradition in Latin America that helps them honor their families.

Another element to the Day of the Dead are sugar skulls. Sugar art was brought to the Americas by Italian missionaries. Since Mexicans could not afford to buy expensive European decorations, they started creating their own sugar skulls as a representation of departed souls. In Old Town, there were booths set up where you could decorate your own sugar skull. It was a lot of hard work. I'm not super creative, so I felt like this totally maxed me out for the day.

All over Old Town there were skeletons and skulls used as decoration. There were live performances by people in skeleton suits and even some mariachi bands playing. For a little bit, I actually felt like I was back in Mexico. Actually, for a long part of the day I whined about how much I wanted to go back. :) Ha ha! Maybe soon we will make a trip down to Tijuana to do some Christmas shopping.

This day was exceptional. We are so lucky to be in San Diego, and enjoy November 1 outside with such rich Mexican traditions. I just hope that people here do not keep the tradition of noisy Christmas and New Years like they do in Mexico, 'cause I value my beauty rest. :)

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Ellen Show Halloween Special

I don't know how we got so lucky, but we managed to score tickets to the Ellen show for her Halloween special! Amazing, right? We knew we had to have great costumes, so we decided to go as the Mockingjay and Caesar Flickerman from the Hunger Games. Pretty great, right? 
We worked with Caitlin's grandma and mom to construct our costumes, which was pretty lucky since I could not have done anything without some help. Caitlin made her wings all by herself, and I think we looked pretty good. :)
We drove up to the show in the morning. We had to be there by 12:30, and once we got there we basically sat in line forever, even though we had tickets. It takes a while to get into the studio, and since the taping starts at 2:30, they don't actually let you into the door until then. 
You go through a security stamp, and then get your ticket in another line. You have to give back the ticket, but basically your number guarantees you a place in the audience. 
Once you make it into the studio, you hang out in the riff raff room, where you can shop for Ellen memorabilia and wait anxiously to get assigned to your seat. This was a lot of fun since we finally started talking to the other people waiting in line as we froze in the blasting air conditioner. 
After waiting in the riff raff room for a while, we finally made it to our seats. We were pretty close to the front, right where Ellen comes out for her monologue. If you watch this video closely you can see my bright purple hair a few times. 
We were really excited to see her guests, especially since Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) was on the show. How sweet is that? Ellen and Harry Potter! What a great day. 
And I even made it onto Ellen's Instagram page! Look real close behind the rock on the top left panel. 
It was surprising that there aren't any retakes or anything during the show taping. We actually were surprised with how quick the taping went by. And it seemed really low energy (at least Ellen seemed that way), but on the show she seems really energetic. 
The show was a lot of fun, but there are definitely things that I would have changed. I definitely would not go to the Halloween special again. It was a lot of effort to get ready, and it sort of felt like the prom, or your wedding day - a lot of energy to get ready, but not really worth the process in the end. Don't get me wrong, I really love Ellen, and will continue watching her show, but I kind of felt like it was a let down. We really enjoyed going to the taping, but definitely not the Halloween one again. 
We were also kind of sad that we didn't win anything - which sounds kind of like a spoiled kid not being happy with the money the toothfairy leaves him. But it is true. The morning show (we taped on Thursday afternoon, but there was another taping in the morning) all won tickets to the 12 Days Giveaway show, and we didn't even get a stick of gum. :( Again, I know that sounds awful, but I think since I watch the show a lot, you always see people winning things, and I was kind of hoping for some sort of fun surprise. Oh well, maybe next year we will go again if we are still in southern California. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Halloween Happenings

Halloween is one of the happiest times of the year. Seriously, what could be better than dressing up in strange costumes, carving pumpkins, and eating candy until you're sick? And I guess you could really do that any day of the year, but on Halloween it is accepted by the general masses, and even encouraged. This year we had a pretty low-key Halloween, although we tried to make it fun and eventful.
I tried to make our food more Halloweeny, so I made Caitlin a special Jack-o-Lantern quesadilla, and for family night we made pumpkin bread, Frankenstein rice krispie treats, witches hats, and Halloween muddy buddies to deliver to some friends and neighbors. 
At my work we had a costume contest, and I won the award for "Weirdest Costume" - which may have been a compliment or an insult... I'll take the former. I even won a trophy! 
In the evening, we carved pumpkins and watched Hocus Pocus, handed out candy, and ate junk food until we were ready to puke.  
Caitlin's parents were going to visit a couple of friends, so we made them wear costumes. Caitlin's mom in a witches hat, and her dad wore my wig. He's never seen the Hunger Games, so he didn't really know the character he was going as, but it was fun to get them to dress up a bit. 
Since I grew up in a rural area, we never had trick-or-treaters, so I was thrilled to have little kids come to our door and beg for candy. We couldn't wait to finish our pumpkins and put them out so all the kids would see them. Caitlin made a cyclops, Lindsey made a ghost, and I made a zombie coming out of his grave. This was the first year we ever used stencils to carve our pumpkins. It was a ton of fun, but I think next year I'll go for an original design. 
Once we finally finished our pumpkins and put them out on the porch, the kids stopped coming. Maybe they were scared away by our frightening pumpkins... or maybe it took us so long to finish them that it was past the hour of tricks or treats. I guess that is one mystery we will never solve. :) Happy Halloween everyone! Can't wait for next year!