June 1st marked our one year on Guam and things have certainly changed in the past year! As I sit here typing, it is hard to believe how the time has flown by. When you aren't marking your days with the absence of your beloved spouse, the days seem to pass by with a greater ease and happiness.
This upcoming Monday will mark the start of my 4th week as a full-time Hyatt Regency Guam employee! My internship ended in late June and there was not too much on the horizon due to the slow economy, which left me questioning what was next... After lots of prayers and many hours spent contemplating my employment options I was offered the chance to interview for a full time position at the resort. Long story short, I was given the chance to work full-time in the sales and marketing department and I eagerly jumped at the chance. Working full time again has given way to several late nights as I work towards completing my degree, but the stress is both temporary and totally worth it! December 19th is my graduation date, so just a few short months to go before this chapter of my collegiate journey will be closed.
At the moment, John is stateside visiting his family after several long years of separation. He will be returning home tomorrow after two weeks of soaking up relatives, hometown sights, and favorite childhood foods. I sure have missed him, but I know this trip was refreshing to his spirit and will fortify him for two more years of overseas life.
In just about 9 months it will again be time to pick orders and start planning for the next move. In the meantime, we are doing well here on Guam and just plugging along and learning to adjust to island life. Although our first impressions may have been accompanied by a myriad of mixed feelings, I have had the opportunity to meet an abundance of truly spectacular people that have helped to warm my heart to our small island home.
As most of you know, I love to eat, so when I discover a place that I like, I just have to share it! I don't know what it is about Guam, but for some reason I've had a hard time finding restaurants that I'm crazy about. Well, this past week I discovered Proa in Tamuning and can say this may be a new lunch time favorite!
Everything from the featuredseafood salad to the chocolate wasabi cheesecake was deslish! The service was also top notch, although they do seem to know it because they include a 15% gratuity in the check right off the bat. Overall, I had no complaints though and this was, by far, one of the best lunches I've had on the island. If you are on island, check out Proa for a light, yet satisfying lunch and delicious desserts!
With the first week of my internship at the Hyatt behind me, I feel more excited than ever about my future career in the hospitality industry! To wrap up my first week at Hyatt I was able to attend Saturday's 'Weddings in Paradise' show in the grand ballroom. Although it was much smaller than conventions I attended back in SoCal, it was still a really great event! Since I'm not a bride-to-be and didn't have wedding stress as a factor while I strolled the booths, I was able to just enjoy the artistry of it all- the flowers, the decor, the cakes!
It was great to see my current co-workers in action on the show floor promoting the Hyatt brand! I just love getting ideas from such talented hospitality professionals who showcase their talents at event like this. The Guam HRA will be hosting an upcoming show at the Hyatt that I also can't wait to see!
After almost 10 months on Guam, it is hard to mark new seasons by weather since it is always hot and humid here, but in spite of constant elevated temperatures and tropical conditions, there seem to be other small signs that signal Spring is in the air! In the past couple weeks the sounds that greet me when I take the dogs out for their morning potty break are chicks peeping and newly born puppies yapping and grunting.
Although the chickens, roosters, and newly hatched chicks always run for their very lives whenever they see me or the dogs, one of the Boonie babies came to pay us a visit today. She was so cute even though she was completely muddy and had just finished frolicking in some rather large puddles. Both Gromit and Madu took quite an interest in her but were very gentle since it was clear she was a little unsure what to make of them and all their strange "house" smells.
March 13th marked John and my 5 year wedding anniversary, so we enjoyed it by indulging in some very low key celebrating here at the house. We've both been on pretty strict diets, so we splurged on all our favorite snacks, foods, adult beverages, and hunkered down with the newly released, Resident Evil 5! We lounged in our pajamas and took a well deserved hiatus from the gym and just decided to do "exercise" here at the house instead . LOL
Another sign of Spring is that I start my Spring session internship for school on Monday at the Guam Hyatt Regency Resort! I'm so excited not only to enter back into the professional workforce, but also to be getting so close to being done with my bachelor's degree! This weekend is officially my last weekend as just a student, since from this point forward I hope to be working with Hyatt and transition from intern into full-time employee. I enjoyed going shopping today and refreshing my wardrobe with new shoes and uniform supplements.
John has been staying plenty busy at work as he has transitioned to a new position with a larger team to manage. He's loving it though and starting to feel more and more comfortable as a CPO. Just about 10 days ago he started the P90X program and has been rockin' and rollin' with that. In fact I can hear his weights clinking in the background as I type. Between that and his BJJ classes at Purebred he seeing some great results and improving his strength.
I can already tell that summer will be upon us before we know it and we'll be marking our 1 year here on Guam!
February is here and passing quickly, and all is well here at the Lykins house! John and I both made some pretty heavy duty fitness goals for 2009 so the past month has been filled with much activity and and lots of sore muscles and sweat- all in a good way though!
Recently we had the chance to go visit the 'Spanish Steps' at Orote Point for a bit of hiking and snorkeling with friends, and it was a great trip! I must confess though, the current was pretty strong the day we went, and I'm a wimpy snorkeler, so I had a death grip on John almost the whole time. What really sent me over the edge was coming nose to nose with a curious barracuda. Although I'm sure he was just taking a peek at my awkward splashing, the mere sight of him up in my face just about sent me into orbit. I stuck to the very shallow water after that. The barracuda of course did not give chase and I'm sure lost interest in me the moment I was out of his eye line, but part of me was certain he was just out there waiting for me, so I spent the next hour or so just sitting in the shallows, looking at all the small fish and sea life that resided directly next to the shoreline. In spite of the barracuda encounter, the trip was great. Spanish Steps is a pretty unspoiled spot, so the fish and sea life are prolific!
Neither John nor I are football fans, but luckily there are enough sports nuts in the Navy that John got the day off to watch the game since it was "Superbowl Monday"here due to the time difference. I volunteered that day for the USO Superbowl party, so John tagged along and played some Nintendo until I finished my shift. Later that week I went to Zumba certification workshop, which was a blast, and then on Friday John and I ran one of the little 5K fun runs they do monthly on the base. I was so proud of myself because it was the first 5K I have run straight through without even a short walk break. Now I'm just focusing on shaving some minutes off my time and building up my endurance so that I can start training for a 10K. I'm going to start with a personal trainer next month, so I can't wait for that! Although it was kind of a sad moment, John and I both turned off our World of Warcraft accounts, but have since filled up our time with lots of fitness focused activities.
This weekend is Valentine's Day, but no big plans for us. We may go for a hike or a beach run, but with the economy in such a horrible state, I have a hard time going out on splurging on frivolous stuff simply in the name of a Hallmark holiday. Every day is Valentine's Day when you are married to the man you love more than anything, so we'll be happy to let the 14th pass without much fanfare. We will however, be thinking of our friends and family back home and sending much love their way!!
The holiday season was such a blur of fun, family, and food that I can't believe the first month of 2009 is almost gone! 2009 has gotten off to a pretty fabulous start for us, and both John and I are looking forward to a great year! We had family here for 2 weeks over the holidays, and it was such a blast! Definitely some of our best days in Guam to date! We spent 2 weeks snorkeling, hiking, sight seeing, playing games, watching movies, and eating all of our favorite foods and even trying some new ones! It was just awesome!
Both John and I were back to work and school, respectively, on January 12th and have been busy with activity since then. I'm getting ready to start winding down with school in just a matter of months now and ramping up for entering into full-time work again- this time with a bachelor's degree under my belt. Woohoo!! I've taken on some special projects at the USO that have also kept me busy, so the time has certainly flown by since my last blog entry! We have a trip to Saipan planned in February, so I'm really looking forward to that little mini-vacation!
We hope that everyone is doing well and that 2009 has gotten off to a good start for all of you!
If you are like me, you love holiday baking! This activity, however, doesn't have to be the downfall of your diet or plan to stay trim over the holidays. Here are some tips that have worked for me this holiday season:
1. Plan ahead for your baking! Start your day off with some physical activity and chop fresh veggies and fruits to snack on while baking. Treat yourself to some exotic, tropical fruits that you may not always buy since this will feel like a treat in itself!
2. Don't bake hungry! The smell of brownies, cookies, and candies will be a lot more tempting if your tummy is rumbling. Eat a nice, healthy breakfast and plan healthy snacks throughout your baking day rather than snacking on your confections.
3. Drink lots of water! If you are spending long hours on your feet in the kitchen with a hot oven, you may become dehydrated without knowing it. Often times dehydration is mistaken for hunger. Keep some water handy and be sure to have an 8 ounce glass been each batch of baked goods.
4. Remember that even little tastes count! Although licking the beaters or having a taste of batter throughout the cooking process may seem harmless, over a whole day of baking these little tastes add up to big calories! Have a designated taster at your house that will give you feedback if you need it. Spouses, children, and holiday visitors are usually more than willing to lend their taste-buds!
5. Have a plan for your baked goods! Sometimes just the baking process is too much fun to resist, but filling your house with tempting treats may sabotage your weight loss efforts. Hand made baked goods are wonderful Christmas gifts for neighbors, friends, your children's teachers, and various other folks you encounter regularly. Find an outlet for your baking and spread the holiday cheer!
6. Don't beat yourself up if you slip up a little! If you just can't resist eating some of your creations, don't let the guilt overwhelm you. Simply make time to fit in an extra workout or do a little extra cardio during your next workout. But whatever you do, don't try to "fix" your slip up by skipping meals!
It wasn't long after my first trip to Gef'Pago cultural village in Inarajan that I decided I wanted to attempt making fresh coconut candy and try my hand at coconut shell crafts. I thought since these items were so common around Guam that acquiring the right tools for the job would be a piece of cake- boy was I wrong!! While getting a machete was an easy task, finding a gkra-dtai was not. After about 3 months of searching, my wild goose chase ended at Dededo flea market!
Essentially, a gkra-dtai is a small wooden stool with a stainless steel coconut grater affixed to the end. Once your mature coconut has been drained of its water and broken in half, the serrated end of the grater is then placed inside the coconut shell. Using a twisting motion to scrape out the meat you can neatly make your own fresh grated coconut to use in home cooking. In Thailand and the Philippines this is the traditional way of grating fresh coconut.
I feel lucky to have even found the wooden stool since only two vendors at the flea market were selling stainless coconut graters and out of those two only one had the bench. The bench was the only one of its kind at the vendor's stall and was buried under some other tools. I was so intent on finally getting what I had been searching for over the past few months that as soon has I had it in my crosshairs I made a bee line for it immediately and snatched it up at lighting speed! I'm so excited to start using all my new coconut tools; I've got my machete, my coconut husking stick, and now grating equipment!