Thursday, November 29, 2012

Zoo Lights

Epic date night last weekend.  We went to Zoo Lights at the Denver Zoo through a CU Alumni Association Event.  It's a little weird being a CU alumni and student at the same time.  We saw elephants and giraffes and zebras.  And lots of fancy animated light-up animals.  They also had warm beverages and popcorn.  Which made it extra amazing, because eating popcorn is like eating salty, buttery clouds.  They had a carousel open, and we went for a ride.  I used to love the carousel at the Mall of America, because it had exciting animals.  But here, I rode on a tapir.  That's hard to beat.  Though we did miss seeing the baby (real) tapir.  

Before the Zoo, we experienced Korean BBQ for the first time at an excellent place in Westminster called "Korean BBQ."  It was quite wonderful.  Kind of like hot pot, but with a grill on the table.  And many small plates.  I love small things, especially if they are edible.

Mmmm.  I love Christmasy lights.

the Tapir ride.

We were surprised to find that Matt is smaller than a polar bear. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Mediterranean Honeymoon Highlights

After spending two weeks the Mediterranean on our honeymoon, we're convinced that taking a cruise is completely the way to go.

Bye bye, Denver! One of our friends had a flight out at a
similar time, and she graciously offered to give us a ride.

The trip began with a flight from Denver to New York, and from there it was off to the Roma Aeroporto di Fiumicino - Leonardo da Vinci.  On the flight from New York to Rome we slept about as well as could be expected thanks to our handy neon green earplugs and classy eye masks (or eye bras as one our friends likes to call them).

Upon arrival in Rome, we exited the plane on the tarmac sans jet way and were taken by bus to the airport building itself.  Due to some unfortunate timing, Ali and I got split up during this process and it wasn't clear if the buses were taking passengers to the same entry way door.  Luckily, everything panned out just fine and we did end up at the same location prior to going through customs.  It was a bit stressful, but everything after that was smooth sailing, pun intended!

We picked up our checked bags from the carousel and then the cruise staff took care of the rest.  With all of the staff members on site, it would have been nearly impossible to get lost at that point.  After a short shuttle ride through the Italian countryside we arrived at the Civitavecchia port.

Check-in was smooth and included much appreciated cookies and punch.  From there, Ali and I spent 12 fantastic days aboard the Celebrity Equinox in a veranda state room seeing the following cities:

The lovely whitewashed buildings surround the caldera.

The Hagia Sophia is a pretty amazing place!

  These ancient ruins bring a whole new meaning to the word "old".

It was crazy windy, so that's why Ali looks like Medusa.

 [ Sorry, no photos! We went to the beach and cameras can't swim.]

Herculaneum - Fewer tram stops from Naples,
 one tenth the tourists of Pompeii, and arguably 
better preserved!

Along the way, we met two cheery friends that we had dinner with nearly every evening.  One, a Facebook employee, and another a PhD candidate studying microbiology.  Wow, talk about curious coincidences!

I suppose now is also the time to say that the food was absolutely fantastic.  We thoroughly enjoyed every meal we ate, both on shore and on the ship.  Ali, the more experienced cruiser of us, can confirm that the food we had was better than any cruise she'd been on prior.

After the cruise ended, we were back in Rome for a few more days of site seeing (and food eating).  Three days seemed just about right for seeing most of the highlights in Rome, and by the end of the last day we were tuckered out and ready to come back home.

The Colosseum is much like today's modern sports 
arenas. They were so ahead of the times with their
running water, bathrooms, and shade covers.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip.  Thanks to everyone who helped to make it possible!  We wish everyone the best and hope you've enjoyed your summer as well.


Matt & Ali

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wedding Reception Notes


We had an awesome honeymoon and made it home safely.  Honeymoon posts will be coming soon.  But first, I want to post about the great reception we threw with our families last weekend in Minnesota.  We liked the idea of having a small wedding followed by a big picnic party with family and some friends in our hometown.  For better or for worse, we picked labor day weekend, as it allowed us to fly directly from Europe to Minnesota with a few days to get ready.  We shopped around for venues last winter and decided on Bryant Lake Pavilion in Eden Prairie.  It's a lovely space, close to a beach and park, and equipped with electricity and a fridge. 

Both of our families put in a lot of work the week of the party helping us cart around rental equipment, assemble things at the party, direct guests, and clean up afterwards.  The team effort really paid off.  One of my relatives said it was the best wedding reception he'd ever been to.  

We rented tablecloths and a popcorn machine from the local party rental company.  Food was takeout from Buca diBeppo, one of our favorite pasta joints.  Matt's mom and grandma made the flower arrangements.  All the flowers were either growing in the garden or were wildflowers picked around town. 

Matt's dad got into brewing a few years ago, and now makes some pretty tasty libations.  He brewed us some wheat beer and hard apple cider to serve at the party.  There were many extra bottles, so a lot of guests got to take a bottle home for later.

My sister helped me organize a photo arrangement in three parts.  Matt and I went through each other's childhood photos (so much fun!) and picked out some snapshots that we liked of the other person as a kid.  We printed off some pictures of the two of us from our nine years together so far.  It's appalling how many pictures of us have funny facial expressions.  The last panel of the photo arrangement consisted of wedding photos that we printed so that friends and family that weren't at the event could experience it in part.

Instead of a guestbook, we had people sign fabric squares.  I intent to make it into a quilt someday to hang on our walls.  I don't yet own a sewing machine, iron, or any quilting materials.  But those are just details.  I'll get to it.  

Probably the silliest part of the party was the photobooth we put together with accessories purchased from goodwill the day before.  My favorite was a set of dog and cat ears with attached nose (sported by yours truly below).   

All in all, it was a pretty great event, and we enjoyed seeing friends and family from Minnesota and around the country.  Thanks to everyone who came!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Off to Europe

It's our one week anniversary!  We're off on our honeymoon tomorrow, heading to Italy, Greece, and Turkey.  On a cruise boat.  Without huge backpacks.  No hostels.  That's right - we're adults now.  We are going to eat so much tasty food!

We are excited to see friends and family at our reception in September.  We get back into town on August 27th and will spend a week in Minnesota.  We're also planning to hit the state fair and the rennaisance festival while home, if anyone is interested in joining.  See you in a few.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

We did it!

We got married!  Our immediate families and grandparents who could make it came into town late last week, and we all rolled out of bed early on Saturday morning to drive up Flagstaff Mountain to Sunrise Amphitheater.  

We crafted our own self-officiated ceremony using various things we found online and adding a bit of personal touch.  The festivities began at 8:00am and we were wed shortly thereafter.  Our photographer was kind enough to offer a sneak peak at the photos from the event, so we've posted them here for everyone to enjoy.

We picked up some sunflowers at the grocery store and I tied blue raffia ribbon around them to make my own bouquet.  We didn't plan this, but they almost perfectly matched Matt's shirt.

We asked our siblings to read a few passages that we felt were representative of our take on love and relationships.
Extract from Les Miserables (Amanda)
You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving. The great acts of love are done by those who are habitually performing small acts of kindness. We pardon to the extent that we love. Love is knowing that even when you are alone, you will never be lonely again. And great happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved. Loved for ourselves. And even loved in spite of ourselves.

A conversation between Piglet & Pooh Bear (Eric and Tiff)
“Pooh” whispered Piglet.
“Yes, Piglet” replied Pooh.
“Nothing,” answered Piglet,
“I just wanted to be sure of you.”
“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.”
“It’s so much more friendly with two.”
“Pooh, promise me you won’t forget about me, ever. Not even when I am a hundred.”
Pooh thought for a little.
“How old shall I be then?”
Pooh nodded. “I promise,” he said.
“Some people care too much, I think it’s called love.”

Excerpt from The Bridge Across Forever Richard Bach (Nathan)
A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we're pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we're safe in our own paradise. Our soulmate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we're two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we've found the right person. Our soulmate is the one who makes life come to life.

It's so much more friendly with two!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Tomorrow's the day

We're getting married tomorrow! The 10 wedding guests have made it safely to Boulder.  Some of us had a fun day in Estes Park with ice cream for lunch :)

See you on the other side.  Hooray!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chapter 4: Colorado

I took a year off between undergrad and grad school to study in Beijing, travel Nepal and India, and do a lab visit in Zurich.  Before I left, Matt and I had decided to move to Boulder, CO together in the summer of 2009.  So we jammed all our stuff in a 12 ft. trailer and drove our life out to Colorado.  Matt had started work a few weeks earlier in Longmont.  We already had a good friend living in Boulder, with whom we had family dinner every week until he moved away.  

Things are pretty good here.  Restaurants are great.  People are fun and outdoorsy.  Boulder is small but big enough.  We try to get outside exploring with relative frequency.  We ran our first marathon together in fall 2009.  I got hooked on road cycling, which is a perfect sport for Boulder.  So many hills to climb.  Both of us started tele-skiing full time for more of a challenge, and we discovered the joys of Vail on a powder day.  

Matt went full-time 7 months ago in a small mobile software development company he helped found and now works from our 700 sq-ft apartment.  Grad school has its ups and downs, but is generally good.  

 Yay Colorado!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Wedding Photos

I've asked one of my friends and teammates, Jesse (Rufio) to do the photography at our wedding.  This will be his first wedding, but he a really talented artist and an awesome guy.  Here's his website:  He's also half-asian, but I'm not excited about asian people or halfsies.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Chapter 3: College Years

I started college at the University of Minnesota a year after Matt.  We both lived in Middlebrook Hall on the west campus.  My random roommate, Jamie, ended up being super awesome, and we lived with her years 3 and 4 too.  During those years, Ali started playing frisbee and got excited about microbiology and technical maps, Matt learned about business and engaged in tech projects, and both of us explored, grew, and learned.  Four years later, I left with a bachelors and Matt with a masters.

Twice-a-year ski trips to Colorado with friends and family were a highlight.

In the summer of 2006, Matt, Jamie, and I spent a month travelling around Europe.

In my senior year, I applied to graduate schools in Boulder, Seattle, and the Bay Area (all places with job prospects for Matt and skiing nearby).  I settled on CU in Boulder, and we decided to move out together.  But first, I deferred admission for a year and went to China.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Guestbook Quilt

Quilting seems really awesome to me.  Not that I know how to use a sewing machine, or have any experience with textiles.  But I really like patterned fabrics and the thought of arranging them in a mathematically-organized manner.  So I think that instead of a guestbook at the reception, we'll do a wedding quilt.  I really like this one from Cute and Delicious.  (And she had her wedding in a natural history museum!)

Reception Flowers

Matt's mom and grandma have kindly agreed to help with flower arrangements at the reception.  We got the visit the garden when we were home in MN in May and saw the beds where the flowers were planted.  Betty Jo sent us a picture of an example arrangement last week.  I like glass jars.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Reception Planning

I'm home in Minnesota for a cousin's wedding this weekend.  I went with my parents to go visit the reception site at Bryant Lake Park to count tables and plan rentals and where everything will go (I won't be back to MN until the week before the reception).  It's a nice park pavilion next to the beach.  There are walking trails, a playground, and a disc golf course on-site.  There are also come lawn spaces nearby that we can hopefully use for Bocce/Cowboy Golf/Croquet.  We're planning to get Buca catering for a midday meal and will have games, popcorn (!), and Fred's homemade cider.  All in all, we plan to have it be a fun and low-key event.  Like a grad party for graduating into married life.  ("Everything is going to be so different!"  Yeah, whatever.)

Matt and I are planning to get photos taken for the invitation cards in the next month, so invitation should be out relatively soon.  We're approaching the 3 month pre-reception mark, which is 2 months pre-wedding.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Cruise Updates

We've been tracking the price of our cruise, and the price of veranda rooms with a balcony dropped to be the same price as interior rooms.  So we're going to have a balcony!  Breakfast on the balcony.  The privilege of being able to be outside without having to look at or talk to strangers.  A constant interactive view of the Mediterranean.  The next level of rooms has a pillow menu, but we're not quite that fancy yet.

Matt's never been on a cruise, so we've been looking into different aspects of it a lot recently.  There's a lawn on the top story.  They have tea time on at sea days. (I really love tea time.  Especially if there are small sandwiches involved.)  And a cirque du soleil-type show.  And a two-story library. (!)  We're especially excited to travel to different destinations without having to pack our bags every time (We have officially decided that we're over hostels and backpacking trips).

Tomorrow (T -3 months to the wedding), we're picking up our rings.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Matt has been talking about Whole Food's Berry Chantilly Cake for about 6 months. We even attempted an imitation at home. I only got the hint about 1 month ago when I asked if he wanted pie at the wedding, and he replied indignantly, "CAKE!" I'm definitely more of a pie person than a cake person, so I was a little hesitant about the cake thing. This cake has a buttery/cream frosting that's not too sweet (his usual qualm with cakes) and berries in and on it. We had a sample at Whole Foods once about a year ago, and were quite impressed.

Matt's been wanting to get this cake to try it, and after calling Whole Foods several times to set up a tasting with no result, we decided to just go buy one at some point. Last Friday, we had five friends over for dinner, and Matt decided that we weren't going to have more help than that. So we went ant got one. And since the 8" round was only $5 more than the 6" round, we got a big one. Luckily, I was the only pie-person at the table, and our friends loved it.

Matt loved it too. But unfortunately, we still have half a cake left after our friends left, and Matt ended up eating most of it. By Tuesday, he asked me to take it to work and dispose of it there.

The conclusion. It's pretty good. But it's still just cake. . .

We visited and booked our wedding venue last weekend. Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Wedding Bands

We went shopping for wedding bands today. The question of which metal to buy has been discussed for some time. We like palladium. It's like platinum but cheaper, like white gold but stronger. Maybe we're just nerdy and like the thought of wearing an eclectic element. Matt isn't particular about whether or not we get matching bands, but I want to feel like we're on the same team. A coordinated team. Here's the style we're looking at:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Chapter 2: The First Year

The next year was my last year of high school and Matt's first year at the U of M. He lived in a crappy dorm room in Frontier Hall with two good friends and an amateur rapper, who at one point managed to spray spaghettios across everyone's computer monitors. It was a pretty busy year for both of us. We went to prom together in April, Matt in my dad's tux and bowtie, and me in the dress I'd worn the year before.

Prom 2004

Matt also was exposed to the large togetherness that is the Baker/Ling clan, and started becoming a regular at my family's events. The entire extended family on both sides lives nearby, so gatherings are full of bubbly family members. Matt's family is dispersed around the country, so this was a bit of a shock to him.

At my cousin Carin's wedding

We organized another trip with the Venture Crew in the summer. This time, we went for a backpack trip in the Gore Range wilderness in Summit County, CO. I managed to convince some of my most excellent band friends to tag along, and my dad came as chaperone.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Chapter 1: Glacier National Park

We met on a trip to Glacier National Park (though we had known of each other since being on math team in 7th grade). It was with a group called venture crew, which is a co-ed subsidiary of Boy Scouts of America. My friend Tayler was one of the only girls going on the trip, so she asked me to come along. The trip involved two 22-hour train rides and a three day raft trip, so we all got to know each other pretty well.

(What a nerd.)

I don't remember the details of how we first started spending time together on that trip, though I do recall surreptitiously burying ants together in the sand. Something about our bizarre senses of humor somehow clicked.

The whole happy group

At one point towards the end of the trip, one of the kids asked, "Are you guys, like, in love or something?" Everyone laughed it off, but it turns out he was more observant than we thought.

On the train ride home