Monday, December 28, 2015

2015 Recap

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa.

This year, I baked cupcakes and cookies and gave them to neighbors, family and friends.

The warm weather causes a Cherry Blossom to bloom in December. This is the first time I've seen something like this after living in the DC area for 14 years.

Kepi and I had a quiet and restful Christmas. We really enjoyed attending the evening service on Christmas Eve. With the unwinterlike 72-degree temperature on Christmas Day, we celebrated with a small dinner prepared by Kepi and spent the rest of the day watching Christmas movies. At this time of year when majority of the people are frantic and stressed about gifts, parties and social obligations, I prefer the quiet comfort of home and the presence as well as thoughts of people who really matter in my life.

Daisy wasn't too happy with the red bow on her head.

As 2015 comes to a close, I realize that this year has been about catching up. This is because I spent most of 2014 at the hospital. I feel that I lost so much time and felt the need to make up for it. However, I'm starting to understand that there's no such thing as lost or wasted time and that the months I've stayed at the hospital were an important and essential part in my journey to recovery and health.

As a year-in-review, 2015 was full of challenges, surprises and blessings. The following are my 2015 highlights:

  • Survived Shingles in the beginning of the year: Although I'm still suffering from residual nerve pain, I am hopeful that soon all the pain will cease to exist.
  • Earned my master's degree in International Affairs at Georgetown: Attending classes in between a full-time job and numerous blood transfusions made me think I'd never see the day I'd get my diploma. Graduation finally arrived in May and I was ecstatic and proud.
  • Traveled to Tennessee, Ireland, France and the UK: In May, Kepi and I visited Ireland where I met my Iggy Sister Odette. Then we took my parents on a road trip to visit Elvis Presley's Graceland (Memphis), stayed at the Peabody Hotel and watched the famous Duck Parade, drove to Nashville where we explored the Country Music Hall of Fame and saw a concert at the Grand Ole Opry. In November, I finally realized my dream of taking my parents to Europe. We started our trip in the UK where we toured London, Stonehenge, Oxford and the Windsor Castle. We took the train to Paris and visited Versailles, enjoyed the city of Paris on foot through the Eiffel Tower, meeting Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum, hoping to see Quasimodo at the Notredame Cathedral and wandered through the shops and Christmas Markets of Champs Elysees.
  • Visits from family and high school friends - Andrea (California), Weng (Canada) and Kristian (Philippines)
  • Mom's Health: Although Mom suffered a stroke, she's still walking and talking. This last couple of months have been filled with her medical appointments, but I'm grateful that she's still with us and she continues to improve. I pray that next year, she'll regain her normal life and routine.
Overall, 2015 was still a great year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Season Of Hope

I didn't plan to go off the grid for a long time, but life became too busy and too complicated that I couldn't find the time to formulate letters into words, words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs.

In short, life had other plans for me.

Well, yesterday was the first day of winter, but temperatures have soared into the 50s and 70s. Thanks to El Nino. Even the Cherry Blossoms are confused as they have untimely bloomed. This "warm winter" is giving people a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit as well.

It's been another tough year for Kepi and I, but each year as the Christmas season arrives, I am filled with HOPE that things will get better, and as we get closer to 2016, may it be a kinder year for all of us - for the world.

Wishing everyone a


and a


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Summer Day

Summers in DC can be brutally humid and hot, but today felt perfect.

It's nice, cool and bright.  The sun didn't feel threatening for a change and the sky looked clear. I wish every day felt like this.

I took this photo during my lunch break.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Ireland: Beauty And The Sheep

This wasn't the only sheep we met while driving through Connemara, but I thought this sheep is perfectly framed by its surroundings.

For a moment, I felt beauty and calm - at the same time, and that's truly rare.

Ireland, May 2015

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Ireland: Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore is home to a community of nuns of the Benedictine Order who came here in 1920 after their abbey in Ypres, Belgium was destroyed in World War I. Settling at Kylemore, the Benedictine Community opened a world renowned boarding school for girls and began restoring the Abbey, Gothic Church and Victorian Walled Garden to their former glory. (Source HERE.)

The Connemara Region is vast and there's just so many things to see and experience. We thought a day should be suffice to explore the area, but we had to constantly readjust our schedule and itinerary. It is doable in a day, but I'd suggest two days at least.

Our first stop for the day was the picturesque Kylemore Abbey.

Who wouldn't fall-in-love with this view? I did.

Kylemore Abbey between a mountain and Pollacapall Lough.

Gothic Church

Victorian Walled Garden

Azaleas in full bloom.

Does anyone know the name of this flower?

The weather was clear when we arrived at Kylemore Abbey, but by the time we were leaving, raindrops poured and the clouds came down to kiss the mountain.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ireland: Galway

We spent our first few days in Dublin, but today I will feature Galway. I still need to sort out the photos I took in Dublin. Procrastination is my enemy these days.

Off note, I've been feeling lazy since we got back from vacation. I'm in a weird phase. I'm not sure if it's the stifling summer heat or something else. The DC Metro area feels like an oven at this time of year.

Otherwise, I'm in need of some motivation. Perhaps another vacation? Oh how I wish!

Our first day in Galway was subtle and laid back. Right after we checked-in at our bed and breakfast, we parked our rental car and walked to town. The weather was also beautiful but little did we know the next day will be windy and rainy.

I'm not sure what game they were playing, but it looked like basketball on water with canoes. We watched them for a long time trying to figure out what game this was. Does anyone know this game?

The River Corrib - photo taken from the Wolfe Tone Bridge.

This is where the River Corrib meets the Atlantic Sea. This is one of my favorite photos because it captures Galway's beginnings as a small fishing village. Today, you can still watch salmon fishermen haul their catch for the day at sundown.

The sea and the weather are crucial in defining the land and people of this area of Ireland.

For Skywatch

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Ireland: Ballinskelligs Bay And Carrick Island

It's been a week since we came back from Ireland. Sadly, I got sick during the last two days of our vacation, so I've been nursing a cold since we got home. Thus explains my absence in the blogging world.

Kepi and I really enjoyed Ireland. The scenery is incredibly beautiful, but the Irish weather can be pleasantly sunny at this hour and unpredictably rainy in the next. If you do find yourself on Irish soil, it is wise to keep an umbrella or a raincoat handy at all times.

Our 11-day vacation in Ireland took us to Dublin, Galway, Killarney, Cork and the Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland. On this trip, we tried not to pack so much on our itinerary so we were able to leisurely explore the west coast of "The Emerald Isle".  Dublin is just a six-hour plane ride from Maryland, so we know we're going back to explore the rest.  

The 16th century McCarthy Stronghold or Ballinskelligs Castle watches over the beautiful Ballinskelligs bay.  The Castle is named after the McCarthys who where known chieftains of Cork and Kerry.  The place was so quiet when we got there, and if time allowed, I would have preferred to camp and spend the night there.

This photo was taken at the small rocky island of Carrick near Ballintoy in County Antrim. To get here, you have to cross the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge which spans 20 meters and is 30 meters above water and rocks.  It was so windy when we crossed the bridge. I saw a lady who needed to be escorted because she started panicking in the midst of crossing, and there were a few who turned back. The rewards of crossing this bridge are views of the unending sea, the beautiful and strong Irish Sea Pinks and other flowers that grow on the cliffs, Rathlin Island and a glimpse of Scotland.

Taken with iPhone
Ireland Trip May-June 2015

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ireland: Clonmacnoise

We visited Clonmacnoise on our way to Galway.

Clonmacnoise is in County Offaly on the River Shannon south of Athlone.  It was founded in 544 by St. Ciarán.

Taken on May 26, 2015

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Hello From Dublin!

Good morning from Dublin, Ireland!

It's our third day and we're enjoying it so far.

Yesterday, I met Odette, she's one of my Iggy sisters.  We really enjoyed her company and we're so grateful she took the time to show us Trinity College and the General Post Office. I finally got to see the Book of Kells; my theology professor would be proud of me.


The main chamber of the Old Library is the Long Room, and at nearly 65 metres in length, it is filled with 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books. When built (between 1712 and 1732) it had a flat plaster ceiling and shelving for books was on the lower level only, with an open gallery. By the 1850s these shelves had become completely full; largely as since 1801 the Library had been given the right to claim a free copy of every book published in Britain and Ireland. In 1860 the roof was raised to allow construction of the present barrel-vaulted ceiling and upper gallery bookcases.
(Source HERE)

Today, we're driving to Galway with a stop at Clonmacnoise.  I can't wait!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Graduate Finally

The past couple of weeks have been busy; I'd say good busy.

Last week, cousin A and I walked all over DC covering the White House to the National Mall and we managed to squeeze in a day visit to the Gettysburg National Park. We were so tired but happy. Nights were spent recuperating from exhaustion and sore muscles.

Although A's visit was short (two days), we got to talk a lot about our dads, they're brothers.  In the vast span of our 30s (she's 30 I'm 30ish), we've only met twice.  It's interesting how I felt close to her despite the lack thereof of us growing up as neighbors like the other cousins I'm close with. Anyway, I'm so glad we got this chance, and I'm hoping we'll make time to see each other more.

On the same week, my parents flew in from Honolulu. I was so happy to see them and of course looked forward to my island favorites - chocolate covered Macadamia nuts and my Portuguese sausages. If given the flexibility/opportunity at the moment, I'd love to go back to Hawaii and live there.

Of course, the highlight of last week was my graduation. Wohooo, I'm finally finished with my masters in international affairs. The next question is, "What am I going to do with it?" No worries, I'm figuring that out right now.  Funny but I'm more excited about getting my free time and weekends back.

Taken on May 15, 2015 at Healy Hall, Georgetown University

Excerpt from my online album, "My heart is filled with gratitude and joy. My journey has been deterred by aplastic anemia, numerous blood transfusions, a bone-marrow transplant and most recently shingles. There were days I came really close to giving up, but the support of my family and friends kept me inspired.

This day is about faith in God when nothing is certain, hope when life throws curve balls, courage when nothing makes sense, and victory over any challenges that will knock on my doorstep. Thank you to my bone marrow donor. I would not be here without you. This day is a gift and no one can take it away from me."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Washington Monument

My blog's been quiet because the real world calls.

I really enjoyed showing my cousin A around DC and a little bit of Maryland. Here's one of my favorite photos of the day.

I wonder if this even comes close to Mr. MLK's view that day when he said, "I have a dream..."

Photo taken on May 11, 2015

Thursday, May 7, 2015


At this time of year, the Hershey Gardens abound with all types and colors of Tulips.

In my previous post, I've stated why we trek here annually.  In fact, even before Kepi and I got married, we frequented this place.  I guess, Hershey Gardens will always be extra special to us.

I can't name them all, but they're all equally beautiful.

It was a warm, sunny day. Too warm for spring weather, but the Tulips seemed to enjoy and take delight in it.

For Skywatch.
Photos taken on May 3, 2015

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Celebrating Our Second Anniversary

On May 3rd, Kepi and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary.

We decided that for our yearly anniversary celebration, we'd visit the place where we got married - Hershey Gardens. There are three reasons why: (1) the place means so much to us; (2) the tulips and cherry blossoms are in bloom, just like the day we got married; and, (3) we "always" visit the Hershey chocolate factory for sweet treats.

May 3, 2015 - It was a day of gorgeous weather and beautiful blooms. This is where we held our wedding ceremony and reception.

Our souvenir photo.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

No Sweater Day

There's no need for sweaters today. The weather is perfect.

I had some business with the Philippine Embassy, but instead of hailing a cab, I decided to walk and take in the city in spring. 

This was taken at Thomas Circle, named after General George Henry Thomas.  The two buildings on the photo are - the National City Christian Church (left) and the Calvary Baptist Church (right). 

Spring goes by too fast.  Soon, this city will be stifling hot in the summer.

Taken on April 30, 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Be Still

We were about to leave the park when I saw these two people sitting and admiring the view.

I smiled at my husband and snapped this photo.

I nodded and said, "I know how they feel."

The best way to enjoy the Cherry Blossoms is to pick a spot and be still.  Once you're still, you'll feel their breathing, appreciate their beauty and admire their grace.

For Skywatch.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - Daisy

Spring is here!


I'm currently writing my research paper, so I haven't had the time to visit blogs.
I will be visiting your blogs soon.

Thank you.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Sakura And The Sky

According to the website


GENDER: Feminine
USAGE: Japanese
OTHER SCRIPTS: , 咲良 (Japanese)
PRONOUNCED: sah-koo-ṙah   [key]

Meaning & History

From Japanese "cherry blossom", though it is often written さくら using the hiragana writing system. It can also come from (saku) "blossom" and (ra) "good". (Source HERE)

I took more than a hundred photos when we visited the Cherry Blossoms.

Believe me, there's no wrong angle when the views are as beautiful as these.

It's a beautiful feeling to walk underneath these blooms.

Husband and I enjoyed this view until it got dark.

Tidal Basin
Washington, DC

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

DC's Cherry Blossoms

I love DC in the spring!

After the grip of winter thaws, all plants and trees seem to wake up from their long slumber.

When spring arrives in DC, it's like an explosion of color and life. All the sleepy bulbs and lilies start blooming then comes the most anticipated flowers of the year - the Cherry Blossoms. The Cherry Blossom trees are mostly planted around the Tidal Basin, but they are scattered around DC if you know where to look. This year, they bloomed beautifully and gracefully; they were in time for The Cherry Blossoms Festival.

This year, we visited the Cherry Blossoms twice, and we even had a picnic underneath the blooms. Good food, good friendship and beautiful surroundings.

 The National Monument

 The Jefferson Memorial at dusk

A stroll underneath a sea of flowers

Friday, April 10, 2015

Magnolias And The Sky

Last night, I heard the first rumble of thunder. My husband exclaimed, "I haven't heard that for a while!"

We were excited. Spring? Thunder? Rain? They are all here.

A new season is beautifully unfolding.

 The Magnolia trees are in full bloom at Lafayette Square.

 Large, beautiful flowers.

Magnolias and the sky.
Taken on April 8, 2014

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Magnolias At Lafayette Square

I moved to the DC area in the Fall of 2001. I've just realized that I've been living here for almost 14 years, and it has become near and dear to my heart. After all, this is the place where I finished my undergrad and soon my graduate studies this May. It's the place where I fell-in-love, broke my heart, fell-in-love again and met my husband, Kepi. In fact, our first date was at the National Mall.

I know that when people, locals and tourists, talk about DC, they associate it with politics, dirty lobbyists, government shutdowns and a pathetic dating scene. But I wish to digress and show what I love about DC, the DC I know, the DC that ordinary people like me see and experience everyday. Whether it's a bad commute at the DC Metro, a relaxing lunch at the park or a day spent enjoying the blooms that dominate the area in spring time. DC's charm can sometimes be overshadowed by the incessant squabble between Democrats and Republicans, but at the end of the day, the city and its numerous monuments silently stand watch as history is made each day, not by the big shots, but by the ordinary, nameless people who keep the city running.

Today, I'll feature Lafayette Square which is named in honor of General Lafayette of France.

 This is a popular place to have lunch, relax, catch up with friends and even yoga classes.

 Magnolia flowers are large, beautiful and stunning.

 In early spring, the air around the Square is permeated with the sweet scent of blooming Magnolia flowers. I'd purposely walk around here during lunch time, and when the temperature is warm enough, I'd eat my lunch underneath these blooms.

 A statue of General Lafayette and his Patriots.

A different angle of General Lafayette's statue.

It was drizzling when I took this photo.

Do you see The White House?

The Washington Monument from a distance.

Lafayette Square is a seven-acre public park located directly north of the White House on H Street between 15th and 17th Streets, NW. The Square and the surrounding structures were designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1970. Originally planned as part of the pleasure grounds surrounding the Executive Mansion, the area was called "President's Park". The Square was separated from the White House grounds in 1804 when President Jefferson had Pennsylvania cut through. In 1824, the Square was officially named in honor of General Lafayette of France. (Source here.)

It's tourist season here. I know people are flocking to the Tidal Basin for the Cherry Blossoms but do not overlook the other flowering trees in DC. The Magnolias at Lafayette Square are stunningly beautiful. Another plus is that it is in front of The White House.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Spring Is Here!

The warm weather started this recent Easter weekend. Although we still have the possibility of getting frost until April 19th, that didn't stop us from tackling some garden projects.

Kepi and I worked on the little garden around our mailbox and started on a new garden on the side of the house. I got the idea for the side garden from Better Homes and Gardens, so I'm really hoping it will really look close to the illustration below.


The challenging task is hunting for the specific plants needed. Really, I'm quite excited with this garden project. I have also started my seedlings for the vegetable garden, so our yard will be busy for the spring and summer seasons.

Well, Daisy went for a bath and grooming a week ago. The pet salon gave her a bandana and I just thought she looked adorable.

 Looks like Daisy got a cape from the salon. This photo makes me chuckle every time I look at it.

Are you ready to cuddle?

For now, I have two weeks left of grad school and a research paper to finish, so I have to keep pushing though.

What are your plans or projects for the spring or summer?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Night Sky

A calm, beautiful night.

Healy Hall, Georgetown University Campus
District of Columbia

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Stand Right And Walk On The Left

I can't believe it's April! DC is gearing up for tourist season.

The Cherry Blossoms are getting ready to bloom and the current 2015 peak bloom forecasts are: April 11-14 (according to the National Park Service) and April 9-13 (according to the Washington Post Capital Weather Gang). I would recommend going between April 10 or 11, and weekday afternoons are less crowded. I have covered the Cherry Blossoms yearly except last year due to my transplant. My photos for 2010 are here and 2011 photos are here.

If you'll be in DC for the Cherry Blossom Festival, make sure you get your Metro map. Remember when you're using Metro escalators, stand right and walk on the left. Washingtonian commuters use the left for walking.

Pink Cherry Blossom stickers on DC trash cans. 

Lilies are no longer hibernating.

Today, it's calm in the office, so I have time to take a break, eat a bowl of Captain Crunch and savor my Avocado. But as I stare at my bowl of Avocado, I am reminded of my childhood in the province. We had an Avocado tree in the backyard, and it was a delight when we'd harvest the fruits. We either ate them or gave them away.

To this day, I still eat Avocados with milk powder and a sprinkling of sugar - just how my Dad taught me. Simple and sprinkled with happy childhood memories. How do you eat your Avocado?

I think that spring is truly here! I am excited!