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Amy and Jesse got married!

 

Another New Year

 

I am not good at making and sticking to new year’s resolutions so this year I thought I’d try something different. It is my goal to appreciate nature more. This should be easy for me since I already love nature and try to enjoy it as much as possible. I would like to document it more this year.

I’ll start with New Year’s Day. Jesse and I visited Old Town Alexandria in the afternoon and got to the waterfront at sunset. The sky was so beautiful and pink. Here is a photo looking across the Potomac River at Washington, DC. You can sort of see the Capitol Building in the distance.

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Our New Stoop!

 

Our new front stoop is completed! The bricks in our old steps was disintegrating so we embarked on building a new stoop, made out of stone, in October.

We now have a wider area in which to enter the front door. We also removed the white stones that were around the house and replaced them with darker, multicolored stones.

Stoop

 

Virginia Beach Birthday Trip

 

My favorite place to be is at the beach. Any beach. As my birthday approached I thought, “Where is the place that makes me happiest?” I remembered the beach so I suggested going there to celebrate.

Jesse and I took our first vacation together in 2004 to Virginia Beach. We didn’t care as much for it as we do the Maryland and Delaware beaches so we never returned. Jesse had the idea of visiting the beach again this year. We thought we’d give it another chance. Since it is the off season we knew it would be less crowded and quieter. We stayed at a nice new hotel on the boardwalk and arrived on a day that was 81 degrees so we spent some time on the beach.

Here’s a view from the balcony of our hotel room.

boardwalk

The boardwalk in Virginia Beach is concrete. I prefer actual boards like the boardwalks in Maryland and Delaware. However, I do like the separate paved bike path that is next to the boardwalk so that walkers don’t have to navigate around bicyclists, skateboarders and rollerbladers.

There was a charity event going on the weekend were there so they had sand mountains filled with treasures for kids to dig through as part of the event. The water really was this blue that day.

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We ate a delicious lunch of crab cakes at a hotel on the boardwalk in front of a fire pit. Many of the hotels now have palm trees planted in front of them on the boardwalk and it makes the whole area look nicer.

lunch

We strolled the boardwalk at sunset and took in some beautiful views. Look at the moon!

Sunset

It was such a relaxing trip! We even slept with the sliding glass door in our room open so we could listen to the ocean at night. It is one of the most relaxing sounds. I already miss the salt air and the feeling of the sand under my feet.

 

 

Orlando

 

I had to take a quick trip to Orlando last month for work. I am not into Disney stuff so I had no interest in checking out anything Disney. However, I stayed at a hotel across the street from Downtown Disney and had to go over there for a work-related event.

There is nothing “downtown America” about Downtown Disney. Here are two pictures of some interesting sights I saw.

I loved this window display at one of the many toy stores. I always wanted to live happily ever after like Cinderella. I wonder if she got to have that life?

Cinderella

There is a hot air balloon ride you can take. The balloon has images of Dumbo on the sides. It isn’t even a real hot air balloon (as with everything Disney it is fake), and you can only go straight up for a few minutes, and then back down. I did like the contrast with the balloon and the palm trees.

Balloon

 

Maryland Renaissance Faire

 

Jesse and I were invited to attend the Maryland Renaissance Faire with some friends this weekend. We had never been to one before and we were up for the adventure.

The Faire is nestled in a wooded village in Crownsville, MD. There are lots of different food stands and buildings for artisans to sell their wares. Jesse loved looking at all of the knife and sword displays while I liked the garden art shops.

board

We found this cute covered bridge for lovers and couldn’t resist having our picture taken in it. There was a pond with water lilies in front of it but you can’t really see it in the picture.

bridge

The best part of all (in my opinion) was the chance to take a ride on either a camel or an elephant. I chose the elephant. What an experience! I wasn’t scared, but I wasn’t expecting the elephant’s back to feel so bony. I thought I would be allowed to ride it alone but they put me on it with some kids whom I didn’t know. It was still a fun ride.

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National Zoo in August

 

Washington, D.C.’s number 1 celebrity since Aug. 23, 2013, has been Bao Bao, the offspring of Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, 2 of the National Zoo’s giant pandas. I have wanted to see Bao Bao since she went on exhibit to the public in January but had not had the chance to visit the zoo until yesterday – exactly 1 week before her first birthday.

I had to wait in line for about half an hour or less to get inside the giant panda house but the wait was worth it. Bao Bao is absolutely adorable, as you can see below.

Bao

She was sleeping during my 8-minute visit but it didn’t matter to me. I was in awe of her cuteness!

She was nestled high atop a rock while her mom, Mei Xiang, ate on the floor.

Mei MeiBao

Her father, Tian Tian, had finished eating and was eager to get outside.

Tian

The giant pandas are my favorite animals at the zoo, followed closely by the cheetahs, lions and tigers. The lion family looked like they were enjoying the weather. The fence around the public’s viewing spot is new and annoying for those who are trying to get a clear picture of the cats.

cats

We discovered a new kind of cat in the small mammal house – a sand cat. We only saw her or him for a few seconds because it darted in and out of hiding but it was so cute! This small cat looks like a domestic housecat but it lives in the desert.

sandcat

Here is what a sand cat looks like when it allows you to take its picture.

Jesse said his favorite animal at the zoo is a the sand cat followed by the meerkats. They were hiding from us at first but we stuck around the small mammal house for a bit and they eventually came out. They are fun to watch as they burrow in the sand and run around their home. I couldn’t get a picture of one from the front.

meerkat

We enjoyed the beautiful weather and watching the people and animals. Here we are in front of the waterfall that is near the Great Cats exhibit.

waterfall

 

 

 

 

Ocean Beach, San Diego

 

In January Jesse had to take a quick business trip to San Diego so I tagged along. I had only 1 day to spend at a beach so I asked the hotel concierge which was the closest, most enjoyable beach. I had been to San Diego before and knew that La Jolla has the most gorgeous beaches, but I didn’t have a car and it would have cost too much to take a taxi to La Jolla. Besides, I wanted to see something new. So when the concierge said Mission Beach was closest but he recommended Ocean Beach because of the vibe, I said I’d rather go there. I’m glad I did.

Ocean Beach is heavily populated with hippies, and I saw so many people with dreadlocks that day! The main drag, below, is dotted with antique stores and fish taco stands.

OceanBeach

However, my first stop, as always when I am near a beach, is the water. I went out onto the pier and watched the surfers for a bit.

Pier

I then headed back to the main strand to shop. I had  a delicious fish taco while I sat on the beach and watched more surfers.

Beach

My favorite sign that I saw that day:

SurfingOnly

Surfers take their sport seriously in San Diego! I’ve been to San Diego twice and Los Angeles once and I have seen more surfers in San Diego than on the beaches in LA. I was surprised at the number I saw surfing during the day on a weekday in January. That number grew after 5 p.m. when I guess more people got off work and headed to the beach.

The temperature was in the high 60s that day so I didn’t get in the water; just got my feet wet as I walked along the beach and collected seashells and meditated. I had gorgeous views all around.

Palmtrees

Cliffs

It was a nice, long day. I really love San Diego, and would love to vacation there every year. Heck, I’d like to LIVE there!

SunsetSurfer

 

 

Around the House

 

Last year we didn’t plant a vegetable garden and I ended up missing having a garden so this year we planted a few tomato plants, peppers and edamame. We were late to plant them but soon we will have some ripe tomatoes.

We made our big investment in flowers. We planted Iceland poppies, superbells, a day lily, lavender and various annuals in pots in the front of our house. I love the wiry poppies!

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We placed 3 concrete planters in the back yard next to the shed and filled them with blueberries (on the right), a sand cherry tree in the middle and various pretty flowers and grass in the one on the left.

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Our July 4th holiday weekend was spent painting our bedroom. The previous color was a blue/hyacinth color that I liked but we selected this new, much more vibrant purple color. We both love it! It really looks great with our white furniture, curtains and artwork.

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May-June

 

It has been too long since we’ve blogged.

We are enjoying the rather mild summer we’ve had so far. Always a highlight of the summer is Jesse’s birthday. Here is a picture of this year’s birthday cupcakes.

cupcakes

We had a quick visit with Jesse’s mom in May. She came to Delaware/Northern Maryland to visit some relatives so we drove to Elkton, MD the one day to meet with her and her family at his cousin Norma’s house. Norma has a cool, REALLY old house (parts of it date to the 1700s) and it was nice to see the additions since we last visited. Here’s Jesse with his mom outside Norma’s house.

jm

 

St. Patrick’s Day Snow

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

We received about 5″ of snow today. I can’t remember getting snow on St. Patrick’s Day before. We’re hoping this is the final snowfall of the season. We haven’t gotten a lot of snow this winter, but rather many small snowfalls that ended up making clearing and navigating through the snow annoying.

We’re hoping the luck of the Irish was with you all day and will stay with you (and us) for the rest of the year!