Monday, December 17, 2007

Running in a Winter Wonderland

Last night we rounded up some friends and ran the Winterhaven 5K. Winterhaven is a neighborhood in Tucson that takes Christmas decorating to a whole new level. Every house is decked out with amazing lights, music, and all kinds of themes from Charlie Brown to the Bellagio (complete with synchronized fountains). Residents offered hot cocoa and buttered rum to runners literally dancing through the streets. Holiday attire is encouraged for the run, and as an added bonus Ben's sequined vest doubled as reflective wear.

We had a great time running, singing carols, and checking out the lights. As a reward for our fun workout, everyone came over to our place to warm up with some hot cocoa and apple pie. The birthday boy even shared his annual double-decker cookie cake.

Saturday night was my company's Christmas party, hosted at a local resort complete with a Vegas theme. And what's Vegas without Elvis and some showgirls?!

Now we just have to push through these last couple days of work and packing then it's home for the holidays!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Never Ending Semester

This fall semester has felt never-ending for both Ben and I. The first year of the PhD program is notoriously difficult and overwhelming. With the end in sight (his last two finals are on Tuesday) we celebrated by using a study break to attend a late-night screening of the 1984 classic film The Never Ending Story. The film was playing as a part of the "Cult Classic" series at an independent art house cinema in Tucson, The Loft. Our friends Katie and John joined us and we had lots of fun singing the theme song full-out (ok, maybe John and Ben were singing on the inside). Seriously, who didn't grow up wanting a luck dragon/flying dog of their very own?

The rest of the weekend involved impromptu margartitas with Erin and John (thanks for calling guys!), a book club meeting for Kara, and lots of studying for Ben. Thank goodness this never-ending semester is almost over!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Public Radio Rock Star

Last night, I met the NPR (actually PRI, but I digress) equivalent of a rock star. It's true he's never had a hit single or opened for U2, but he oozes coolness, charisma and charm in a nerdy, intelligent kind of way.

Ira Glass (although he was blissfully unaware until last night) is an important part of my life. He's my running partner, a source of interesting insights, and largely to blame for my annoying habit of starting every other sentence with "I heard this piece on NPR about...". Ira makes me both laugh out loud and cry like a baby which causes many a puzzled glance to be sent my way by those I pass on the running path.

Ira Glass is the host and producer of the public radio show This American Life. The show chooses a weekly theme and presents different stories on the theme. The themes range from the obscure ("Kid Logic") to the profound ("Heretics"). I stumbled upon the free podcast last year while desperately seeking something to distract me from the painful long runs of marathon training. Since the first episode, I've been hooked.

As the victim of the majority of my public radio obsession (which extends far beyond This American Life, don't get me started on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Fresh Air), Ben treated me to an incredible early Christmas to see Ira Glass in Phoenix last night. As amazing as the performance was, the highlight came after the show when Ira held a book signing. My heart was pounding wildly as we waited for a brief audience with the Innovator of Radio. When our turn finally arrived, Mr. Glass was gracious and charming as I nervously explained my love of the show while trying desperately not to come across as the obsessed fan that I am (I'm pretty sure I failed).

After this amazing night of culture, I'll bet we are the only two people who proceeded directly from the presence of Ira Glass to the In 'n Out drive thru window.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas...

Two weeks ago in an obscenely early holiday display, we set up and decorated our first-ever Tucson Christmas Tree. We were "real tree purists" in Pittsburgh but decided it wasn't worth the ridiculously short life-span (not to mention messy clean up) in dry Arizona. Not willing to let another treeless year go by, we decided to bite the bullet and go with the fake tree. We had lots of fun decorating and even Charlie helped!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Beachy Thanksgiving

Since our last post, it's been a whirlwind of fun around the Hoffman House.

Lovely Natalie arrived into Tucson Wednesday evening after a day of hopscotching across the country from New York. We picked her up from the airport and drove directly to San Diego for Thanksgiving at the Beach! She was a good sport about adding 6 hours of driving time onto her already long day of travel.
We stayed in a beautiful hotel in the Gaslamp District that we would highly recommend checking out if you're ever in the area (Sofia Hotel). Thursday morning we watched a little of the Macy's Parade (we couldn't bear to buck tradition completely!) before heading out to our favorite bakery with sidewalk seating for brunch and coffee (Bread & Cie). After life-changing sandwiches of brie, honey and bacon and lots of people watching we headed to Balboa park for an afternoon of exploring, relaxing, and stopping to smell the roses.
Balboa Park

Sunset on Coronado Island was next on the agenda. We enjoyed cocktails on the patio while watching the sun set over the Pacific. B-e-a-utiful! During our walk through the town of Coronado we stumbled upon the Rhino Cafe (which looked like it was part of a movie scene) advertising a Thanksgiving Special. We made reservations and returned to a fabulous traditional feast for Natalie and Ben and pasta for Kara.

The highlight of Day 2 in San Diego was La Jolla. We watched seals and sea lions sunbathing along the coast. I think even Ben would agree this is better than watching football!
Back in Tucson, we packed in the activities before Natalie's midnight departure on Sunday. We went for a long, fun, freezing hike on Mt. Lemmon (it even snowed!) during which Charlie showed off his athletic abilities.

It was sad to have the fun end with Natalie's red-eye departure, but Christmas is only 4 weeks away!

Here are the rest of the photos from Natalie's visit. Enjoy!

San Diego Pictures

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Arizona Football

So now that we started this little blog, I (Ben) feel compelled to write my first entry, and it is of course about sports. For those of you that don't know, Arizona played Oregon (the #2 team in the country) on Thursday night and pulled off the upset, 34-24. I had the pleasure of attending the game (sat at the 40 yd. line, back row of student section), but unfortunately forgot to take my camera. It was a great atmosphere, and probably the most exciting game I've been to. So, those of us in Tucson finally have something to cheer about with regard to UA football. Go Cats!

P.S. - Be sure to check out at least the last 30 seconds of the video below. I didn't rush the field, but sure enjoyed the view...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Welcome to our little blog. We thought this would be a fun way to keep our family and friends up to date on our adventures in the Wild West. You can expect to see a lot of pictures (we’ll try to limit the ones of just Charlie) and updates on the happenings of the Hoffmans. For now you can check out our favorite pictures, online obsessions, books we are reading, and of course, the cutest puppy on the planet. Enjoy!