Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Beautiful Longwood Christmas

A couple of weekends ago, Kepi and I drove to Pennsylvania to visit Longwood Gardens. Every season, they decorate the gardens with different themes, but I'm most particularly in-loved with their Christmas set up. This year is spectacular. If you don't like Christmas or Christmas trees, be forewarned that this post is filled with Christmas tree photos and I don't how how many times I'd say Christmas.

A Christmas tree in one of the tree houses.

This Christmas tree is in the confectionery exhibit. I never through I'd love the bluish glow from this tree.

Another Christmas tree surrounded with white and red Poinsettias.

Christmas ornaments

The cutest photo bomber ever in her puffy red dress.

The main Christmas exhibit is the icing of the cake.

Of course, we took a photo with one of the taller Christmas trees.

Here's wishing you all a wonderful Christmas!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Magicians and High School Friends

Last week was awesome!

Kepi and I went to see "The Illusionists: Magic of the Holidays" at the National Theatre. This is my second birthday gift for him. The show was entertaining, mind boggling, jaw dropping, lots of laughter and sometimes squirming because some of the stunts involved a live Scorpion inside the mouth and another was buried alive under a ton of gravel (I think this was a version of the Houdini escape). Overall, Kepi and I had a blast. I was also chosen to take part in one of the card tricks.

The stage before the show.

That's me in a green sweater enjoying my five minutes of fame. I was picked to assist/observe Steve Valentine's card trick. I still can't figure out how I picked the same card over and over, or how the card went inside the TicTac container.
I get to keep the main card used in the trick initialed by Steve Valentine (SV). Very cool!

In my last post, I wrote about hosting Christmas lunch with my high school classmates. It went fabulous! We had a lot of laughter and so much stories to go around. We were also able to video call two of our classmates who are living in New York and in Arkansas, so the house was super noisy and loud with excitement and giggles. For a few hours, we were transported back to our carefree high school days.

I decided to just have it catered, and I'm happy I did because the pork lechon was really good.

Beautiful dessert tray comprised of sticky rice, cassava cake, and assortment of rice cakes. These pastries/cakes are usually served on Christmas and other special occasions in the Philippines.

A feast on our dining table.
A table full of friends, sharing a chat over food and coffee. 

A photo by the fireplace.

And after the party subsided and everyone went home, I took upon myself to finish up wrapping these presents I bought for my parents and brother. These beauties will be mailed to Hawaii so I wish them well in their long journey. One of my favorites this Christmas season is wrapping presents and writing Christmas cards.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Prelude To Christmas 2019

Slowly, Washington, DC is beginning to look like Christmas.

It's also that time when the weather is at a strange phase. You have to gauge the temperature if you need a thick coat or a regular coat for the day. Or, you'll end up sweating in a thick coat or shivering in a regular coat. Go figure! I've learned a long time ago to dress in layers and just take off the layers to adjust to the fluctuating DC temps. Funny thing about layers? You'll end up coming home with a bunch of clothes when it gets too warm. You can't win in this situation.

Anyway, below are a few photos I've taken during my morning and lunch walks. I've been trying to get my 10,000 steps each day, so I spend at least 30 minutes of my lunch hour walking/exploring. Twelve years of working in this city and I've barely scratched the surface. I'd like to think that there's more to DC than politics and lobbyists. I really hope I'm right.

A few steps from my office is the DC Center's gigantic Christmas Tree. I pass through here every morning from the train station to my office.

City Center is known for its 35 world class shops. I just stroll and window shop here. It's pretty with their Christmas decorations. In front of Louis Vuitton is the other expensive bag - Hermes. There are special police guards patrolling the area throughout the day (see the person in blue vest staring at me as I was taking this photo).

Two giant Nutcrackers guarding the entrance to Old Ebbitt Grill, Washington's oldest saloon.

I took this photo at the Christmas Market near Chinatown.

We've decorated the house. As I've mentioned in my previous post, I'm having a Christmas lunch with a few of my high school classmates this Saturday, so it's just timely to get the house ready for guests and the holidays.

The fireplace is ready for Christmas. I can't wait to get the fire going ,warm up with a cup of tea, and cuddle with a good book. Too bad I haven't been reading a lot this year, so I am looking forward to my Christmas break.

It melts my heart when I see this sight in the mornings. Daisy snuggled beside the Christmas Tree.

Taken on the evening we decorated the tree. Daisy and I just sat down on the floor and stared at the tree because we're both crazy for Christmas Trees.

Daisy is getting old; she's now 18. Her vet says that she's doing well for her age, but she's been sick a lot. This week, she's suffering from another ear infection. She's also been sleeping a lot, and I really miss the days when she had more energy. However, I do understand that dogs have a short lifespan, and Daisy has brought so much happiness to me and my family. She's given us her love unconditionally. Now that she's old, she needs all the love and care she deserves. I got your back buddy.

How about you? Are you ready for Christmas yet? I'd like to think I am but deep within I'm not.

Friday, November 29, 2019

A Weekend Getaway at Piney Point, MD

A couple of weeks ago, Kepi and I drove to Piney Point for a weekend getaway. The weekend trip was my gift for his birthday. Although it was a bit windy and cold out there, it felt good to unplug and getaway from our routine.

Piney Point lighthouse and lighthouse keeper's house.

Seagull at the boardwalk.

Birthday boy enjoying the view.

Our hotel had a nice view of the Patuxent River.

The boardwalk at Solomon's Island.

Piney Point lighthouse at sunset.

Kepi and I waited for the sunset. It was beautiful!

For our Thanksgiving, we chose to keep it no fuss, quiet and simple. We opted to have dinner at a restaurant and enjoyed a sumptuous buffet serving of turkey, beef and ham. It wasn't great, but it was good. We may not go back to that restaurant next year.

It is Black Friday, and yes, I've done a bit of shopping today. It is mostly for the house and simple gifts to family and friends.

Next weekend, I will be hosting a small lunch with my high school classmates and friends. I still need to get things ready and set things up, but I am very excited to spend time with my friends. We're all so busy throughout the year that we barely have time to see each other. The Christmas season seems to bring us together. I think that's what this season is all about.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Where Are You Christmas?

Where are you Christmas?

It seems a long time ago that I'd feel complete exuberance as soon as September first arrives. The -ber months would usher that Christmas feeling and warmth. If I'm not mistaken, I lost that feeling about six years ago. To those who are not familiar with my story, I was very sick for a long time and started my bone-marrow transplant journey during the holidays of 2013. Imagine getting an infusion on New Year's Day. My transplant was followed by years of being sick and recovery, then my husband's ordeal with three brain tumor related surgeries. Ever since, I am struggling to find that Christmas feeling, and I do miss it.

Just a few samples of the Christmas cards I have at the moment.
One project I do annually to get into the holiday spirit is send Christmas cards to family and friends. It's my way of spreading Christmas cheer. Although the Christmas cheer is elusive to me at the moment, I do hope that these cards may bring smile and happiness to all recipients.

I really love these Christmas Tree cards.
I've also started playing Christmas carols at home and at work. My coworkers tease me that it's too early to be playing these songs, but I just laugh them off. Nothing beats listening to those familiar Christmas carols I grew up with.

Here's Dizzy keeping me company while I sort and write Christmas cards.
In addition, I'm already planning how to decorate the house, and I have started my Christmas gift list. My gift list has little shopping involved as I mostly bake cookies, pastries and breads for family and friends. Baking makes the house smell heavenly, so that's a perk too.

How do you get into the Christmas spirit?

Friday, November 1, 2019

Missing The Blogging World

It hit me today. I've missed blogging.

I've been away for more than a year. Simply because I lack the inspiration to write and the words that used to flow so easily felt forced and insincere. Being an emotional writer, I felt that words were failing to reflect what I truly felt. Sometimes words are not enough to express all the feelings in the world. Or, perhaps my chemo brain is winning the better part of me. On numerous occasions I've struggled to remember and enunciate words and sometimes, I'd get tongue tied in the middle of a conversation and would feel frustrated for the inability to conjure certain words that evade my memory. The struggle is real!

Work has been inevitably stressful. The banking industry is an unforgiving beast; it's a beast after all. I have to admit that within two years of working here, I am struggling to keep up with the "go go" banker mentality. I am like an old car, sputtering and running on fumes. I don't think I need to elaborate on that. Makes me think how the heck did I end up here!

It's autumn and I love it. Yesterday was Halloween and today is All Saint's Day. Since I live in a dual world, I'll celebrate both. All Soul's Day would be a more personal reflection and remembering/praying for all my love ones that have passed on to the next life. I've already made my little offering for them. For Halloween, it's about dressing up Mama Daisy and handing out sweets to the neighborhood kids last night. This year, kids had to cut short their candy run because of thunderstorms and windy weather forecast. Well, more candy for me.

Daisy dressed as a Bumblebee.
It's a short update. Hopefully I can sustain this drive to start writing again.

Belated Happy Halloween to my American family/friends and a meaningful Undas to my Filipino family/ friends.