Tuesday, May 28, 2013

SambaFunk's Oakland Carnaval Explosion

Photo by Mass Confusion
Today, SambaFunk got together in a park in Oakland for another celebration of Carnaval. The weather was not as nice as yesterday in San Francisco and not everyone came, but we still had an awesome party in the park and we paraded for 2 hours through the streets of Oakland.
This is SambaFunk parade joy in one of Oakland tunnels:
We also took time to take group photos with our different sections. Yasu was part of the Obolo section of dancing SambaFunk men:
And I was part of the Bateria section of SambaFunk musicians:
I'm a little sad Carnaval is over, but I am so happy that I was so involved this year. I went to dozens of dance and drum classes and rehearsals, attended planning meetings, and I was part of the costume squad. That meant that besides helping out at the many costume workshops, I also spent a lot of time creating felt patches at home. I was proud to see so many SambaFunk dancers and drummers wearing my patches:

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Grand Parade of San Francisco's Carnaval

Photo by Mass Confusion
I joined SambaFunk more than a year ago, a couple of weeks before Carnaval 2012 in San Francisco. Ever since, I've regretted not participating in the Grand Parade. I promised myself I would not make the same mistake twice. I kept that promise and I even got Yasu to join in on all the fun, and we weren't just in the t-shirt section, no we were in full costume!
The day started early in the morning in the Mission, where we all got ready and waited to join the parade. We were the second-to-last contingent so the wait was long, but SambaFunk never has a problem entertaining themselves.

I have been so enthusiastic dancing over the last year, I way overdid it with SambaFunk classes and more. It resulted in injured knees. That really bummed me out for a long time, but there was no way I wasn't going to be in the parade this year, so I joined SambaFunk's bateria.
Photo by Starinnovative
We paraded for a long time, past hundreds of people who all looked very excited to see us. We did look pretty impressive:
Photo by Mass Confusion
I was proud to be part of one of the parade's largest contingents and to be part of this awesome group of drummers:
I learned how to play the tamborim, a little handrum, and I've been loving it! I'm so happy I joined the bateria and that Yasu decided to dance in the parade, because we will not be around for next year's Carnaval. No regrets this year! I cherish this parade experience, it was a true once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
Photo by Mass Confusion
The parade ended around 3pm. We had been on our feet since 8 am, so we were pretty tired. A lot of people went home to rest up for tomorrow's Oakland parade, but we stayed around for SambaFunk's performance at the Carnaval Festival:
Photo by Mass Confusion
This may have been my favorite moment of the day. During the parade, Yasu and all the other dancers were behind us, but during this performace we were facing them and dozens of dance-happy festival goers. We got to enjoy each other's energies and it just created such   joy!
I'm not sure how many people are in our contingent, but I guess it's more than 200. Too bad so many people had already left, when we took this end-of-the-day group photo, but there's another parade in Oakland tomorrow, so we can try again!
Photo by Mass Confusion
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take any good pictures of Yasu dancing in the parade. Actually, I never really got to see him dance the routines in the parade, since all the dancers were behind me. But I did get to see him dance freestyle, with Pat another tamborim drummer, in between the parade and the performance. This video makes me so happy:

Sunday, May 26, 2013

SambaFunk Owl Giveaway

Today is the day of the Grand Parade of San Francisco's Carnaval! And my husband and I are partaking in it! I'm drumming and he's dancing for a sambagroup called SambaFunk. We will be wearing costumes in a red-white-purple color scheme with gold accents (I'm sure photos and perhaps even videos will appear on this blog soon enough) and the owl for today's giveaway matches us so perfectly he should really be in the parade himself. 

Instead he'll be given away to one lucky winner in two weeks. To win this SambaFunky owl keychain leave me a comment (including your email address) beneath this post, and come back on June 9th to see if you won. Increase you chances by with additional entries on instagram and facebook

So now I'm off to the Carnaval Festival in the Mission to drum, drum, drum. We've been preparing for months, so I'm very excited!

P.S. Here's the winner for the Mother's Day Owl Giveaway. Congratulations Lochinvar!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Wedding photo booth madness

One of the drawbacks of living abroad is missing big family events back in my home country. Today my cousin Marjolein got married to her Danny. I was sad to have to miss it and I'm anxious to see their wedding photos. I heard the ceremony was beautiful.

At the wedding party they had a photo booth for guests and I've really been enjoying seeing those photos pop up on facebook. My favorites are the ones with my crazy little brothers and their pretty ladies. The group of shots on the right has my cousin's new husband joining in on the fun as well.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Master Yasu

In 2010 we moved to the United States so that Yasu could start a Master Program in Counseling Psychology. He finished that in December and today was his graduation ceremony!

So he got to wear that really cool gown and cap, you always see graduates wear in movies! A little photoshoot was in order:
His graduation ceremony took place at San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts, which provided a beautiful backdrop for photos.
And it's a perfect place to get your daily jumping in:
The commencement ceremony was inside the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, and it was pretty packed. Lots of people were graduating from Bachelors, Masters and Doctors Programs (all listed in a booklet) and even more people came to see people receive their degrees. Our friend Idonnah joined me in the audience.
When I received my Master's degree in 2006, I forgot to bring my camera. A friend brought an emergency low-quality digital camera in the end, which was better than nothing, but of course I regretted not bringing my own, especially since I used to bring it almost everywhere.

So today I made sure I brought my Canon camera and of course my iPhone. When Yasu was about to receive his degree I crouched right in front of the stage and had two goals. I would get a video with my iPhone and great photos with my 'real' camera. It didn't go quite as planned. I guess I kind of have a graduation-photo-curse.

I positioned my iPhone video-ready on the stage and all I had to was touch it to turn the camera on at the right time. But somehow I had already turned it on, so when I thought I turned it on to film Yasu I actually turned it off again, and when I thought I turned it off I turned it on again... And I didn't notice I was filming everything else but what I wanted to film, because I was trying to work my Canon to take photos.

Well, I did manage to take some photos... Yet, I had neglected my Canon for so long (blame it on the iPhone) I really wasn't as comfortable with it anymore. I was way too slow to clearly capture Yasu receiving his degree: he was moving at turbo-speed. These fuzzies are all I got:
1. Yasu's name get called and he walks up to the front of the stage.
2. Yasu shakes the school president's hand and receives his degree.
3. Yasu quickly taking off again.

After the ceremony, when all the graduates were leaving the stage in lines, I went back up to the front to make sure I got a good photo of him on the stage. But Yasu had already left via the backstage exit and already taken his gown off! Oh, Yasu.

A phonecall later we had him back on the empty stage in his graduation outfit and we took some photobooth pictures with Idonnah:
At the reception we encountered a bunch of our friends and Yasu's fellow graduates and they were all elated and slightly crazy:
And jumpy:
After the ceremony, Jenny's wonderful parents took us all to dinner at a hidden gem of a restaurant called Scoma's for the most delicious celebratory dinner. It was great to meet Jenny's parents and boyfriend and to catch up with Jenny and Hannah. It was the perfect end to a great day.
I'm very proud of my hubbie, Master Yasu!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day Owl Giveaway

Happy Mother's Day everyone! Of course, my new owl giveaway is in the theme of Mother's Day: a mama owl with her baby owl. The baby owl is the tiniest owl I have ever made. I didn't have buttons small enough to do his eyes, so I used seedbeads.

If you want to win this cute keychain, just leave me a comment beneath this post and include your email address so I have a way to contact you if you win. If you want to increase your chances, you can get additional entries on instagram and facebook. The giveaway is open worldwide. On May 26th I randomly draw a winner.

Today I gathered 43 entries for the Dutch King Owl giveaway and drew a winner. Congratulations Joanne! Lots of people loved the King Owl, especially the Dutchies, but unfortunately, there can only be one winner per contest. So it's a good thing there will be a new contest every two weeks, so you'll have plenty of chances to win one of my owlets.

Mother's Day My Way

When I was a child, I would get up early on Mother's Day and bring my mom breakfast in bed and a gift. Both the breakfast and the gift were made by me, she always ate the breakfast (quite brave) and always treasured her present.

I love traditions and keeping them alive. Especially when they involve handmade gifts that require some extra love and effort, so the recipients can really feel how much they mean to me.

Tomorrow it's Mother's Day. My mom lives in the Netherlands and I live in the States. I can't send her homemade breakfast over the post, but I can surely send her handmade gifts.

iPhones are how we connect on a daily basis. Even though we live on different continents, we are still very much part of each other's lives, and we use iMessage, Facetime and other apps to do that. So her iPhone is important and therefore it requires protection.

My mom is obsessed with cows, she thinks they're the cutest thing ever and has a large collection of cow plushies (only some made by me) and all kinds of other cow trinkets.

So I made her an iPhone case, disguised as a cow:
Currently, NerdWallet is hosting a Mother's Day Your Way contest. They're collecting blog post entries about the best Mother's Day presents under $25. 

My handmade Cow iPhone 4 Case is defintely the best present for my mom this Mother's Day. I'm sure my mom will love it. I hope she will treasure it and show it off to her friends, like she did with all the other Mother's Day gifts I made her as a child.

I had to make sure not to post my entry for the contest too early, I didn't want to spoil the surprise for my mom. But it's past midnight in the Netherlands now, so she should be sound asleep.

Below are a few photos of my beautiful mom and I, from my last visit to the Netherlands. 

Yep, these were made using an app on our iPhones!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Long Live King Willem-Alexander

Today I got up at 5:20am. Very early. 

Last night was date night. We went to an evening baseball game. We debated staying until the end of the game, but since we had to get up early today we went home after the 8th inning. That was a good decision because that game ended up lasting a record number of 19 innings! It ended at 1:41am! Less than four hours before I woke up today.

Anyways, so we woke up really early today. Why? 

Well, we had to be at the Dutch Consulate in San Francisco at 7:00am to watch the abdication of Queen Beatrix and the investiture of King Willem-Alexander, of course!

With the new King came a rather nice but controversial King Song, that introduced a new hand gesture for the King. Three fingers in the air to make a W; a W for Willem-Alexander. See us flashing our three fingers at the Consulate:
Even though we are crazy busy this month, we are very happy we made time to attend this event. After all, it is not everyday your country gets a new king! The last Dutch king died in 1890. The ceremonies were very moving and made me realize I'm more nationalistic than I ever thought before. 

I even took some photos of the big screen. See below our King Willem-Alexander and his Queen Maxima on top, and on the bottom our future Queen Amalia and our previous Queen Beatrix.
The Dutch Consul General made a speech and provided the dozens of early-bird Dutchies with a nice breakfast and a piece of a beautiful windmill cake to celebrate this momentous day.
Oh, and this day is very special for another, not so royal but nevertheles grand, reason: today is our 9th anniversary as a couple! 9 years ago, at Emory University, Yasu and I shared our first kiss, never even imagining that we were kissing our future spouses.