Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ciao 2013! Aloha 2014!

A few hours from now, a brand new year begins.

What can I say, 2013 was a difficult year. Yes, I used "was" because I am so ready to leave this year behind.  It seems auspicious that my treatment begins on January 1st signaling that 2014 would be a year of hope and healing. I pray that 2014 will be a kinder, more generous and fulfilling year.

I don't specifically hate this year, but it is a year that I cried the most and spent a lot of time in hospitals. However, I will try to find the good things about it because the good things "always" outweigh the bad.
  • I got married - May 3rd
  • I came to know the courageous part of me
  • Got closer to God, family and friends
  • Sold my first home at Vision
  • Paid off my credit cards
  • Bought a new home with my husband
  • Felt the support of family and friends
  • Found the support of coworkers and my firm
  • Met a kind, understanding transplant doctor
  • Took several road trips - Niagara Falls Canada, New York, New Jersey, VA Beach etc.
Thank you 2013 for all the blessings you have brought and the lessons you have taught.

Wishing everyone a blessed 2014! Thank you so much for the love and support.


Monday, December 30, 2013

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

Waiting For Christmas

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more! (Dr. Seuss)

I thought I'd be spending the holidays getting chemo, but thank God I spent Thanksgiving with family in Atlantic City and will be spending Christmas at home with my husband and parents.  When my doctor said we'd have to move my bone-marrow transplant to January, I was a bit disappointed but then I also felt happy that I could still spend our first Christmas at our new home and still get to decorate and prepare for Christmas.

The Christmas Tree was the first that went up, as we thought we'd decorate early due to my unpredictable schedule. We got a new 6.5 feet tree this time. We still have my smaller tree that we used for the past 5 Christmases, but we might donate that to a thrift shop soon.

Our Christmas Tree this year.

This is our decoration on the fireplace.

Each ornament, except the edible chocolates and round ornaments, represents a country we visited or an event in our lives.

Peace candles and the Nativity Scene.

 Our red "Parol" or Filipino Christmas Lantern.

 The red one is facing the entrance street. I feel so happy whenever we light them up at night.

 This is the gold colored Parol.

 I love this gold color and I'm thinking of getting a silver one too.

 We got this from one of the Christmas Tree shops in the neighborhood. It's made of real pine branches, pine cones and holly. It's quite heavy - about 3 lbs.

 It smells really good and it's a welcoming sight to anyone who comes to the door.

Although I don't feel well these days, Christmas has been a great diversion to my upcoming treatment. It's tough not to get negative thoughts at times, but I'm glad that I have a supportive husband and a family whose love is overwhelming.

With the decorations and the lights, let's not forget that Christmas is all about the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Mosque-Cathedral Of Cordoba, Spain

We were supposed to visit the Rock of Gibraltar, but we were so glad we went to see the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, also called the Mezquita or the Great Mosque of Cordoba, instead. This place is a historical marvel and a real treasure for the people of Andalusia. A must see for history lovers and for anyone who visits Cordoba. The Mezquita is a medieval Islamic mosque and was later converted to a Catholic cathedral.

What was amazing in this structure is that, a Christian cathedral was built in the middle of it, and surrounding the cathedral is the presence of Moorish architecture and beauty. Christianity and Islam occupying one space.

 Imagine standing underneath these beautiful columns that withstood time and history. For me it was a historic moment.

Through the pages of history, we find out that a Cathedral was built right in the center of the mosque.

 The cathedral is quite impressive in design.

  Lavish in decoration.

 We also explored the villages surrounding the Mezquita. This area is in the La Juderia or Jewish Quarter. I love these hanging potted plants on the wall.

 A garden and fountains outside the Mezquita.

 A building with windows adorned with moorish design and architecture.

 Facade of the Mezquita.

 The tower entrance to the Mezquita.

 The beautiful halls of the Mezquita.

 According to our guide, there are more than 856 columns of jasperonyxmarble, and granite.

My travel buddy and husband, Kepi.

 The famous alternating red and white voussoirs of the arches were inspired by those in the Dome of the Rock.

 Inscription on one of the columns.

 If you walk around the Mezquita, you'll find these signatures on some of the columns. Our tour leader said that they belong to those who built the columns.

Facade outside the Mezquita.

 This is the mihrab, which is part of the masqura or prayer room for the ruler. The mihrab faces the direction of Mecca.

 I think this is the ceiling in the maqsura or prayer space reserved for the ruler. It looks a-m-a-z-i-n-g!

This is the ceiling in the cathedral.

A UNESCO world heritage site and definitely a must see if you're in Spain!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pastries I Enjoyed In Seville

This post is about the daily freshly baked pastries we enjoyed while visiting Seville. As I have written in the past, I always follow my taste buds when I travel. I also tend to plan my trips around food. Food is a great GPS.

 These pastries are from the local bakery we frequented while we were in Seville. They're topped with caramelized sugar.

When traveling, I tend to get excited with three things - cuisine, baked goods and sweets.

Every single pastry was an object of curiosity. The shop owner was amused with me taking photos and he was very accommodating and let me roam around the bakery to snap photos.

The beauty of a rustic bread. While taking photos, I wondered how this and that bread was made, what are the ingredients and who would be the lucky person taking them home today.

 I love how the shop owner wrapped our pastries in paper then tied a ribbon for easy carrying. He does this for every customer. It's like bringing home a gift every time we visited his shop.

 Topped with caramelized sugar and sprinkled with almonds. This reminded me of Puerto Rico's pan de mallorca except the caramelized sugar and nuts.

The taste is so similar to a Monay, a Filipino pastry. It's dense and perfect for my morning cup of coffee and milk.

For me, Seville brought the quiet and comfort I was looking for in a vacation. There wasn't a lot of tourists when we visited. We didn't miss the crowd and noise of Barcelona. Although at times, the cathedral would chime every hour, there was real quiet in between. We walked and felt welcomed everywhere. People in Seville were a lot nicer and unassuming. They were hospitable and real.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

Our Train To Seville And The Lovely Hotel Abanico

We left Barcelona at about 6 AM for Seville. We purchased turista-class tickets as the only difference between turista-class and second-class was 30 Euros. So we said, "Why not!"

It was a good decision. Our train ride was quiet and relaxing. We were the only ones in the car all the way to Seville.

 Seats were comfy and clean.

 Empty and so quiet.

 Although the movies were in Spanish, we managed to watched and still put together the story of "Snow White and the Huntsman."

 Gotta have my soda and some pork rinds for the ride.

 Arriving at Sevilla-Santa Justa - the ride was about 6-7 hours.

 Hotel Abanico - a hotel that really embodies the beauty, character and hospitality of Seville. The workers there treated us so well and they were genuinely accommodating. I love that their coffee room is open for 24 hours.

 As usual when in Europe, don't expect a double bed but instead, two twin beds put together.

The bathroom is nice and just what we needed.

 These lamps were adorable.

 There were potted Poinsettias everywhere.

 Christian paintings/art adorned some walls and there were antique collections around the hotel.

 It didn't feel like a hotel at all. This is the hotel lobby.

Here's the lovely mirror in our room and a welcome bathroom kit when we arrived.

From Hotel Abanico, we walked to all the historical sites. We chose this hotel for its location but we were amazed that the hotel itself is a destination worth experiencing.