You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Hello Kitty’ tag.

It’s been two years since I last went to this annual event, which traditionally closes the weeks-long National Cherry Blossom Festival. The last time I was there, the Sakura Matsuri was held on Pennsylvania Avenue right next to the Old Post Office Building (which was then undergoing renovation into the Trump International Hotel—you can see those giant blue TRUMP signs in the background of some of the photos I took during that event).

Since that time the event has been relocated. It is now held at the Navy Yards near Nationals Park. I don’t know if Donald Trump have had a hand in that festival’s relocation or not but it doesn’t matter because I don’t have to see those Trump International Hotel signs.

Like previous Sakura Matsuri festivals, this one was a celebration of all aspects of Japanese culture including anime, J-pop, J-rock, kendo, and traditional Japanese crafts. There were also a lot of cosplayers walking around. Here are the photos I took of the Sakura Matsuri.

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017
Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

After enduring the massive Blizzard of 2016 last year, I was relieved that the area where I live was mostly spared from snow this winter, with one exception. An unusually late snowstorm was coming to our area and the weather forecasters were predicting that it would dump at least six inches and maybe higher. Since there was a 50% chance that I may be snowed in for at least a day and maybe even two days, I decided to go somewhere just so I can get out of the house for a few hours before the snow arrived.

I decided to go to the Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda because I hadn’t been there in years. I basically walked around the mall just a few hours before the snow fell. Apparently a lot of people got the same idea because I found the mall to have plenty of people, which was unusual for a weekday afternoon. I took a few photos during my time there.

I stopped by Lolli & Pops and checked out the candy. I was amused by the line of Japanese imported Hello Kitty candy.

There were special chocolate Pokémon Easter eggs on sale.

Lolli & Pops had a line of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey cakes and candy.

There were three flavors of champaign-flavored gummi bears on sale. I purchased the sparkling light gummy bears and I found them to be quite tasty. I wanted to try the other two flavors but I didn’t have enough money on me.

Lolli & Pops have a variety of loose candy on sale and one could buy special jars and tins to put them in. In addition, one can bring back those same jars and tins for refills.

I also briefly checked out Build-A-Bear Workshop. Those bunnies in the windows indicated that Easter was coming soon despite the snow forecast that day.

There were actually teddy bears based on Disney’s upcoming live-action remake of its originally 1990’s animated Beauty & the Beast.

I loved the floral pattern on this teddy bear.

As I was heading out of the mall I took a photo of this tea and spice place known as Rumi. That’s because my Unitarian Universalist congregation has read poems from the Sufi mystic and one hymn our congregation frequently sings “Come, Come Wherever You Are” is based on one of Rumi’s poems. It’s kind of weird seeing his name being used as a tea and spice shop.

As for the snowstorm it dropped around four inches, which was enough to cancel schools and have many people stay home from work for one day. So I was stranded for only one day before I managed to dig my car out the day after the snowstorm went away. It was super-cold for the next few days as temperatures dipped into the low 20’s. Luckily that freezing weather was short-lived that it left our area. Right now spring is here, which means that the weather is getting increasingly warm each day.

Santa Claus

 

 

 

 

Last year I planned on going to Baltimore to celebrate my birthday at Christmas Village in Baltimore. I had to scuttle those plans because my birthday fell on a Tuesday and it turns out that the place was closed on certain Tuesdays including my birthday. (I ended up going to Tyson’s Corner instead and I still had fun last year.)

This year my birthday fell on a Thursday so I decided to go to Baltimore, just like I planned last year. I was determined to go there despite the fact that the Polar Vortex had just arrived in my area so the temperatures plunged to below freezing. (I basically wore a heavy winter coat and a hat so I was able to brave the deep freeze.)

On the way to Baltimore I stopped off at a local Jo-Ann’s Fabrics & Crafts store to check out the recent sales. I found a bundled pair of slipper socks. The original price was $9.99, which would’ve been a decent price for two pairs of thick socks. But they were on sale for half-price, which meant that I paid $5 for the bundle (or $2.50 per pair).

photo1

photo2

I took the light rail into the city. I initially went by Harborplace where I saw this ice skating rink.

photo3

photo4

Since my last visit to Harborplace, I found that the store It’s Sugar had moved from one pavilion to another. (It is now located next to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium.)

photo5

I purchased a few things for myself on my birthday. Here is this cute gingerbread man cookie I bought.

photo6

I purchased this Pez dispenser featuring Badtz-Maru, one of Hello Kitty’s friends.

photo7

I bought myself this Guinness Luxury Dark Chocolate Truffle Bar. It was very delicious.

photo8

I took a few photos of other items in that store but I didn’t buy any of them.

photo9

photo10

After my visit to Harborplace I took a couple of photos of the Inner Harbor area at sunset.

photo11

photo12

I eventually made my way to the Christmas Village in Baltimore.

photo13

photo14

photo15

photo16

I’ve been there other years (see the photos I took in 2013, 2014, and 2015). Some of the same vendors were there this year while there were others whom I had never seen before. I also saw some empty booths but I had no idea if fewer vendors signed up or if it was because I came on a Thursday night and some of the missing vendors only worked on the weekends. I had been looking forward to eating some bratwurst with sauerkraut for dinner followed by a Belgian waffle topped with hot fudge and whipped cream for dessert. Unfortunately the waffle place wasn’t there this year, which was a big disappointment. The German food booth was still there so at least I was still able to eat the bratwurst and sauerbraten platter.

I purchased only one item. It was a pack of incense that I got from the large Käthe Wohlfahrt booth that was located at one end of the main tent. I’ve been lighting the incense each night since then so my home can smell like Christmas. (LOL!)

photo17

On my way back to the light rail stop, I saw this homeless person laying down under a thin blanket outside the Baltimore Convention Center. Usually I wouldn’t pay this person much notice other than the fact that the Polar Vortex had arrived and the temperatures were forecasted to dip under 20 degrees Fahrenheit over night. (The following morning my AccuWeather app on my smartphone registered 18 degrees Fahrenheit.) I felt that this person should really be indoors but I didn’t know where to turn since I live 30 miles south of Baltimore.

photo18

I took the above picture and frantically did Google searches on my smartphone for homeless organizations in Baltimore. I texted the photo to a couple of organizations while indicating where the person was located. For added measure I texted the photo to the Baltimore Police Department. I even uploaded this photo on my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts using people to forward this to anyone who could help bring this person in from the cold. I don’t know if my efforts helped or not other than the fact that for the next few days I did a Google search for any recent homeless deaths in Baltimore outside the Baltimore Convention Center only to turn up empty-handed. I guess this person somehow survived the Polar Vortex but I’ll never know for sure.

Once I reached the North Linthicum Light Rail Station (where my car was parked) I drove over to Glen Burnie. Last year I found out about this overdecorated house on Delmar Avenue and I saw it for the first time on Christmas Eve. This year I decided to check it out again and, yes, it is still just as heavily decorated as it was last year.

photo19

photo20

photo21

The only difference I could tell between this year and last year is the next-door neighbor’s lighted sign that said “DITTO” with an arrow pointed to the other house. (That neighbor’s house didn’t have any outdoor lights at all other than that “DITTO” sign.)

photo22

By the way the house on Delmar Avenue has its own Facebook page that you can view to get the latest news and photos about that house.

Last year I shot a bunch of still photos of that house. This year I decided to shoot a video so you can get a sense of the flashing lights (including an animated laser display that’s shown on the garage door) and the constant Christmas music.

I headed home after visiting that house so that was it for celebrating my birthday in Baltimore and Glen Burnie.

I recently checked out the grand opening of a new place in College Park, Maryland called SCETA Japan Center and, as part of the festivities, they held a Little Japan Festival. Okay, I’ll admit that it’s a far cry from a massive anime convention like Otakon but it was still a pretty nice occasion (and the fact that the weather was pleasantly sunny with low humidity helped). Here are my photos from that event, starting with the building itself.

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

There were all kinds of Japanese language books on display, including this one on hedgehogs (which brought back memories of the time when I once had a pet hedgehog named Spike).

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

Here are a few miscellaneous cute items I found throughout the building.

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

This next photo shows a backdrop that was set up for anyone to take pictures.

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

Someone saw me take that last picture and told me what it was. She then offered to take my picture with my own smartphone and I obliged despite my one skinned knee (which I obtained the day before when I fell as I was leaving the Hon Fest in Baltimore).

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

There was also a special Japanese Arts and Crafts Edition of the board game Monopoly that was written in both English and Japanese on display.

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

The last photo shows the free stickers and buttons I received that that event.

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center is dedicated to teach Japanese as well as providing information about Japanese culture and tradition. Check out the website for more information.

The week of June 21-26 was a bittersweet one for me because I had to say good-bye to two different women who are exiting from my life physically in two different ways for different reasons.

June 21 was the last Sunday service that our outgoing minister was taking part in before leaving her job with our Unitarian Universalist congregation due to health reasons. (She suffered a stroke on Good Friday of last year. While she managed to survive it, she became paralyzed on her left side. Our congregation tried to fill in with visiting ministers and lecturers through the rest of the spring and summer in the hopes that she would be able to resume her job by September. When her recovery was far slower than we hoped, we decided to hire an interim caretaker minister for one year in the hope that she would be fully recovered by then. But then she reached this plateau in her physical therapy and it became apparent that she would either never make a full recovery or it may take several years for her to make some kind of a recovery. In the meantime the interim caretaker minister had expressed his desire to return to retirement when his one year of service was up. Our minister decided that it would be best for everyone concerned if she would resign so she could continue to recover at her own pace without having to deal with a deadline and our congregation can look for a new minister who could handle the full duties that our outgoing minister was unable to perform because the stroke had left her with chronic fatigue.) I think it’s sad that it had to happen but I think it’s the best decision for everyone given the circumstances.

A few weeks before her last Sunday service, some members of the congregation decided to organize a memory book where people could write letters, insert drawings or photographs, or any other items that the minister would appreciate. The Sunday before that last service, I did this Zentagle doodle with a short message in the middle.

smallversionforweb

The message in the middle basically reads as follows.

Lots of memories. Too many to put on a single page. I remember the pleasant chats we had before the stroke. I also remember when I ran into you and Don [the minister’s husband] at the Black Lives Matter March in Washington, DC in December, 2014. Best wishes as you recuperate from your stroke and figuring your future career path.

I basically worked on my quick masterpiece during the annual All-Congregational Meeting that was held after Sunday service while listening to the items on the agenda.

The following Sunday I showed up for what would be the minister’s last Sunday service before she stepped down. While she did a decent job of doing the readings and the sermon, I understood why she felt the need to leave. Her left side is still paralyzed. When she first suffered the stroke, her entire left side was paralyzed. Thanks to speech therapy she was able to regain the ability to talk but, otherwise, she couldn’t move her left arm or leg. When she was at the pulpit I noticed that her left arm was tucked in a black elastic sling and she required the use of a really steady walking cane that had four legs (instead of a normal average walking cane with only one tip at the end of a long stick).

It was a sad occasion that was made more melancholy for me by the fact that my ex-husband had made one of his rare appearances at church. (His church attendance has gotten more sporadic since he left me. Not that I’m complaining because I’d prefer that he doesn’t show up because these days I can’t stand to be in the same room with him. If he was to start attending church more often, I would seriously consider quitting that congregation altogether.) I only put up with it because it was the minister’s last Sunday service because, otherwise, I would’ve walked out the minute he entered the church building. There was a lunch reception following the Sunday service. I had thought about skipping it because I really didn’t want to share the same space with my ex any longer than I had to. It turned out that when the Sunday service ended, he talked with a couple of people for a while then he left before the reception began. I was totally relieved that he left. I still have a lot of recent ugly memories of what he did to me over the last three years and it has seriously colored my attitude towards him because when I look at him, all I can think about is the way he walked out, the e-mails and texts demanding that I adhere to his own separation schedule, and how he decided that he not only had to hook up with a friend who’s struggling with severe mental illness but he had to marry her ASAP.

I’m glad my ex-husband left because I got to eat the excellent lunch (they even had enough leftovers that the organizers begged people to take the extras home so I’m able to stretch my food budget a bit further for the next few weeks) followed by cake. There were two cakes in two different flavors.

photo1

photo2

I had two small pieces of each and I found them to be very tasty.

A few days later I went to another farewell event. The good news was that the person who’s leaving is in good health and it was also an event that I didn’t have to worry about my ex-husband showing up. This event was for a woman whom I met through my support group for people who are separated or divorced.

This woman was someone who had started to attend meetings long before I did and she eventually wended her way up to volunteer facilitator. (Here’s a brief explanation for those who have never been involved in any kind of divorce recovery work. Our group begins each weekly meeting with a trained mental health professional who would lead a short discussion on a different topic dealing with a certain aspect of the separation/divorce experience ranging from dealing with anger to trying to coparent children with an ex to dating after a divorce. After that discussion, the larger group breaks into two or three smaller groups—depending on the attendance that week—where each of the small group meets with a volunteer facilitator where that facilitator reads a prepared question and we discuss that question. A volunteer facilitator is someone who initially started attending the group as a newly separated or divorced person and has decided to use his/her experience to help others. That facilitator receives special training on how to deal with an attendee in a small group session.)

I was grateful that I met that woman as a volunteer facilitator when I first started attending weekly meetings because I was a total nervous wreck. My husband had abruptly walked out on me without ever indicating that he was unhappy and he had previously been caring and loving towards me until the night he left. When I listened to other people’s stories, I initially felt like a freak because other people had spoken about how their marriages had gradually broken down over a period of months or even years until one or both of the partners decide that he/she/they has/have had enough and simply break up. In some cases they had separated then reconciled only to separate again because the same problems kept on appearing. In my case, my separation was so abrupt that for a time I thought my husband had cracked under the recent stresses (stemming from his mother’s sudden death in 2010, the frequent trips to and from Phoenix so we could deal with her belongings, my hip injury in early 2011, my hip surgery later that year, the stresses of his job, and taking on a volunteer position as Church Treasures that was even more stressful on him). It took me a month before I learned the real reason why he left me and it was another woman whom I thought was a friend of mine.

But then this woman started talking about how her marriage failed and it was nearly identical to what happened to me. I can’t really elaborate further on the details of her story because of the group’s strict confidentiality rules but she admitted that she was a total nervous wreck when she first started attending the meetings and she was frequently in tears during the meetings. It took her a long time before she started to feel better about life in general and she didn’t cry as often.

I began to realize that if that woman can turn her life around from what happened to her, I can too. Thanks to her I knew that it was going to take a long time because of the abrupt way that my marriage ended but eventually I was going to turn my life around like she has.

Recently I learned that the woman, who was already retired from her job, had decided to move to Florida. The organization decided to throw a farewell party at the Greene Turtle Lounge in Columbia. I decided to attend because I really wanted to show my appreciation to her for what she said to me during the early days of my separation when I felt totally hopeless and dejected.

I hadn’t been to Columbia in a while so I decided to combine trips and go to other places on the way to and from the farewell party. I went to the Mall in Columbia briefly on the way to the party where I saw some cute items at Sears. There was a Hello Kitty/Baltimore Orioles onesie for babies.

picture1

There was also this really cool tye-dye Baltimore Orioles t-shirt as well.

picture2

When I arrived at the shopping center where the Greene Turtle Lounge was located, I saw this hamburger place located next door called Cheeburger Cheeburger which kind of surprised me. That’s because for those of us who were alive back in the 1970’s who watched Saturday Night Live, that name evoked this famous sketch starring the late John Belushi.

picture3

I finally arrived at the Greene Turtle Lounge. The area where the farewell party was held was very crowded with both current members and alumni. The next photo shows how crowded that area was.

picture4

I briefly said hello to the woman but I couldn’t say anything else because there were so many people waiting to say their good-byes to her. I managed to sit at a table (far from the main table where the woman sat) with a few people I knew from the weekly meetings where I was able to partake of some happy hour specials. (I ordered a crab pizza flatbread appetizer and a Corona beer. The appetizer was so big that I didn’t need to worry about ordering a main meal.) At one point the woman decided to leave because she had to prepare for her upcoming move. She came by our table briefly where we said out good-byes to her.

I had wanted to tell her about how her story about her own recovery from her sudden unexpected marital breakup had an impact on me because I felt that if she could recover from something traumatic and horrifying, I could too. But there were so many people there that I never got a chance to have any kind of deep conversation with her. The only consolation is that at least a lot of people attended her party so she was able to see for herself how much she meant to a lot of people and how much she will be missed once she moves to Florida.

I stayed for a while after the woman left but then the party began to thin out. While my fellow members decided to eat, drink, and socialize a bit longer, I decided to head out.

On the way home I decided to go to a store that I hadn’t been to since the death of my pet hedgehog Spike in 2013. Today’s Pet was among the pet stores that I used to regularly go to in order to purchase Spike’s hedgehog food and I used to browse at the animals currently available for sale. Today’s Pet was located just a couple of miles from the Greene Turtle Lounge so I decided to stop there on the way back for old time’s sake and I even took a few brief pictures. Here are a couple of photos of some very colorful birds.

picture5

picture6

I saw these hairless rats, which looked pretty freaky. They looked like newborn mutant infants with long tails.

picture7

There were a bunch of bunnies who were more normal looking.

picture8

Then I came across the display of hedgehogs, which brought back memories of when I first took Spike home. While there are times that I still miss Spike, I’ve decided to put off looking for a new pet for the time being due mainly to financial reasons. Even if I was to get a new pet in the future, I’d think I would go with a different animal other than a hedgehog because I still remember Spike’s less-than-friendly personality that was just as prickly as the quills on his body. I still couldn’t resist taking this one photo though.

picture9

It’s been two years since I last attended the annual Sakura Matsuri street festival that’s held in downtown Washington, DC as part of the larger National Cherry Blossom Festival. I thought about going down early in the morning so I could check out the Cherry Blossom Parade that precedes the Sakura Matsuri by starting at 10 a.m. But I was too lazy to get my act together so I could arrive that early so I basically ate breakfast and lunch at home then headed out to the Sakura Matsuri in the afternoon. (I was glad I ate my meals at home because nearly all of the food vendors had very long lines.)

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

I even dug out this Japanese imported Stitch hat that I purchased at one of the Otakon anime conventions that were held in Baltimore. I know it was before my marriage broke up because I bought it with my then-husband in mind because he was such a huge fan of the Disney movie Lilo & Stitch and Stitch was his favorite Disney character. I also remember when I modeled the hat for him and he was thrilled with it. That hat had been sitting in a drawer since my husband left but I decided that I could continue to use it because I think it’s a cute hat. Besides, it enabled me to blend in a little bit with the other people who were cosplaying. I even had several people at the festival notice my hat and telling me that they loved it. When I arrived in downtown DC, the one of the first things I did was to take a rare selfie of me wearing that hat.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Like most other years, the festival was very crowded. I still enjoyed myself as I looked around at the sights and sounds of the festival. I even took a few silly pictures while I was there. I recently started to follow the official Sonic the Hedgehog accounts on Facebook and Instagram and it was through social media I learned that there is something called Travel Tuesday where people can submit photos of a Sonic doll or stuffed animal either at an event or some famous landmark (like the Eiffel Tower). I decided to pack my articulated Sonic vinyl doll so I could take his photo for Travel Tuesday. Here are the photos that I submitted but, as of this writing, none of them have been selected for Travel Tuesday.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

I also played around a little bit with the Hatsune Miku photo app on my smartphone. I thought it was appropriate since that character originated in Japan. (Although now that I look at the pictures, I realized that I should’ve varied the girl’s pose just a little bit since she had the same facial expression and pose. Oh well.)

Hatsune Miku at the Sakura Matsuri

Hatsune Miku at the Sakura Matsuri

Hatsune Miku at the Sakura Matsuri

I basically walked around shooting pictures of cosplayers and the various items I saw on sale. I noticed a lot of ram and sheep plushies on sale this year, which makes sense since 2015 is the year that’s known alternatively as the Year of the Sheep, the Year of the Ram, or the Year of the Goat.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

I only purchased one thing at this year’s festival.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Yes, it’s chocolate gelato made by Dolci Gelati and it was very delicious!

While I heard musicians perform on the various stages throughout the festival, I only managed to capture one of the acts with my smartphone because it was one of the few times that I was even able to get close to a stage because everything was so crowded. As for the act that I captured, according to the program book, she is a pop singer from Kyoto named Jonetsu Mariko. I thought I recognized the name for some reason and the program book said that she was making a return appearance to the Sakura Matsuri. After I got home, I searched through this blog and I found out that I previously saw her at the 2010 Sakura Matsuri and I had also videotaped her that time. (She appeared under the name Jonetsu Marie and Shabondama High School.) In any case I took a still photo of her.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

I even shot a short video of her performing on stage.

That video was the only one I shot at this year’s Sakura Matsuri.

I also saw that NASCAR driver Akinori Ogata was there with his race car, just like the last time I attended the Sakura Matsuri two years ago. Once again he appeared with Eneos, which makes motor oil. Eneos also had a bean bag toss game called “Cornhole.”

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Getting on the Metro so I could go home was a bit of a hassle. The last photo shows the long line that I had to stand in just so I could enter the Federal Triangle Metro Station. I’m only lucky that I had the foresight to put enough money on my Metro SmartTrip card for a round trip so I wouldn’t have to stand in another line at the farecard machines.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

The day before the latest massive snowstorm that was big enough to shut down the entire Baltimore-Washington, DC area down, I decided to do some grocery shopping when I learned about the weather forecasts. I did the bulk of my shopping at Aldi’s but there were a few items that I still needed that Aldi’s didn’t have in stock so I went to Safeway.

What was really surreal is that the day before the snowstorm it was raining like crazy and the temperature was in the relatively warm 40’s (it sure beats the sub-freezing temperatures that we’ve been getting). I walked past this vehicle in the parking lot that had these window stickers that only fans of Doctor Who can understand.

Vinyl Stickers on a Windshield

I found these giant sized Pez dispensers on display inside the store.

Giant Pez Dispensers

To give you an idea of how big these Pez dispensers were, here is my hand next to one of them.

Giant Pez Dispenser

I’ve been seeing these items appearing in more and more stores. On the surface they look like coloring books that happen to come with a small pack of Crayola crayons. But, believe it or not, they are supposed to be the latest in smartphone technology. The idea is to color the pages using the enclosed crayons, download the appropriate app on your favorite smartphone or tablet, then take pictures of each page you’ve colored using that special app. The characters that you color are supposed to come to life in your smartphone/tablet and you can take pictures of them. Additionally they are supposed to make noises and you can control them. They have the potential to either be totally innovative or a total bust.

Crayola Color Alive

Later that evening I headed over to Makerspace 125 where I sat in on a very basic introduction to Scratch Programming as part of its weekly “Taste of Tech” series. I have to say that I was pretty impressed with Scratch, especially the animation part. I basically played around with the Scratch website but I didn’t save any of the animations that I created (mainly because they really weren’t much). I did take a few photographs of the latest outputs from Makerspace 125’s 3D printer.

This Peep chick looks pretty darned close to its edible marshmallow counterpart.

Makerspace 125, March 4, 2015

And here’s one more photo of some of the 3D printouts.

Makerspace 125, March 4, 2015

The one big advantage of attending the weekly meeting of my separated/divorced persons support group on the Thursday before Valentine’s Day is a couple of goodies I got.

photo1

I got a cute Hello Kitty card that was addressed as “TO: Boopsie FROM: Sweetie Pie.” (In case you’re wondering, everyone at the meeting got a similar card with the same names on them.) The heart-shaped lollipop was a cute touch. I ate it already. The lollipop tasted okay but it was nothing spectacular. Well, it’s the thought that counts so I’m not going to complain too much about it.

photo2

Here is my bouquet (which consisted of a single red rose surrounded by baby’s breath) after I took it out of the wrapper and put it in a vase full of water.

photo3

photo4

Santa Claus

I decided to visit Valley View Farms on the day before Christmas Eve. (I guess you could call it Christmas Eve Eve. LOL!) The previous day, when I visited Homestead Gardens, it had been raining with patches of fog. When I went up to Cockeysville, it was alternating between light rain and mist and it was still wet outside. And the traffic was pretty atrocious between both the rain and the fact that Christmas was just two days away. But when I finally arrived and stepped inside, I began to forget about that horrendous commute and just marvel at the total Christmas fantasyland.

photo1

photo2

photo3

photo4

photo5

photo6

photo7

photo8

photo9

There were lots of decorated Christmas trees with each one representing a theme. Some had a theme according to color (such as all white or all gold) while others had a theme according to type of ornaments (such as all snowmen or all toys). It’s such a visual treat seeing each unique tree with a theme of its own.

photo10

photo11

photo12

photo13

photo14

photo15

photo16

photo17

photo18

photo19

photo20

photo21

photo22

photo23

Of course there were a lot of ornaments available that one can buy.

photo24

photo25

photo26

photo27

photo28

photo29

photo30

photo31

photo32

photo33

photo34

photo35

photo36

photo37

photo38

photo39

photo40

photo41

photo42

photo43

photo44

photo45

photo46

photo47

photo48

photo49

photo50

photo51

photo52

photo53

photo54

photo55

photo56

photo57

photo58

photo59

photo60

photo61

photo62

photo63

photo64

photo65

photo66

photo67

photo68

There were other types of decorations on display as well.

photo69

photo70

photo71

photo72

photo73

photo74

photo75

photo76

photo77

photo78

photo79

photo80

photo81

photo82

photo83

photo84

photo85

photo86

There was also a whole section dedicated to the Department 56 cottages.

photo87

photo88

photo89

photo90

I liked the message on this cloth dishtowel. (Or I think it’s a dishtowel.) As an artist, I’m pretty amused by that cloth. Unfortunately I have no idea if it is a dishtowel or if it’s one of those cloth banners that you hang on the wall. In any case I didn’t buy it because I have no need for another dishtowel and I don’t have space on my walls to hang anything else.

photo91

There were a few non-Christmas items on display as well, such as this banner highlighting the years when the Baltimore Orioles were World Series champions. I’ll admit that it’s frustrating that 1983 was the last time the Orioles won the World Series. The team is definitely overdue for another victory. There are times when I dream of an I-95 World Series between the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals. (I would face a dilemma on which team to root for if that ever happened. I grew up outside of Baltimore where people loved the Orioles including my family so I was raised as an Orioles fan. Yet I’m currently living closer to Washington, DC where people are definitely into the Nationals. I’m not going to think about it until it actually happens in real life. LOL!)

photo92

Before I decided to drive back home, I decided to brave the misting rain and take a photo of the sign in the back.

photo93

Despite the numerous pretty ornaments, I managed to stick with buying just one ornament, which can be seen in the last photograph below. It was one that I found for $6. It resembles the Delftware that originated in the Netherlands and it even looks Dutch. However, I saw a “Made in China” sticker, which was why I was able to buy something like this at a very low price. What I really like about this ornament is the flat base so I could place it under the Christmas tree if I end up with having more ornaments than tree space in the future.

photo94

Seven months ago I devoted a blog post full of miscellaneous photos I downloaded from my smartphone in order to clear out the disk space. Recently I did a similar purge of more photos from my smartphone.

Back in late March one of the stores I visited sold a line of Disney-inspired makeup complete with totally cute versions of Mickey Mouse and his friends.

Disney Make-Up

This next photo reminded me of a running joke I used to have with my husband. A few years ago we learned through a friend of an existence of a line of alcoholic beverage called Arrogant Bastard Ale. My husband used to present himself as a total smartass to me and to many of our friends and I used to joke that with his smartass attitude, I should buy him a bottle of Arrogant Bastard Ale as a gift. However, I checked in many liquor stores and none of the ones in my area carried that brand. Fast forward a few years and my husband ended up divorcing me. I happened to walk in a store on my own earlier this year and I finally found a bottle of Arrogant Bastard Ale on sale. It figures that I can now find Arrogant Bastard Ale after my divorce from my husband became final. <Sigh!>

Arrogant Bastard Ale

Many of the grocery stores in my area have a bakery that includes fresh baked goods. Of all the supermarkets, I have to say that Giant is the one that has the best looking cookies. I tried some of these cookies and, while they are tasty, there are other less-decorated cookies whose taste I prefer. But these cookies do look pretty and cute.

Decorated Cookies
Decorated Cookies

The front window of one of the local clothing stores in my area dressed up one of its mannequins in the most butt-ugly patriotic outfit I’ve ever seen.

Patriotic Outfit

The Food Network used to run this reality show called The Ace of Cakes which was one of the few reality shows I watched on a regular basis. The show profiled a Baltimore-based bakery called Charm City Cakes, which specializes in making unique one-of-a-kind cakes that are truly works of art. I was really sad when the show was cancelled. A few months ago I was shopping at Safeway when I saw that the owner of Charm City Cakes, Duff Goldman, has come out with a line of Chef Duff boxed cakes where anyone can attempt to make a cool looking cake in the comfort of his/her own kitchen.

Chef Duff's Cake Mixes

One day I decided to go to downtown Washington, DC so I parked my car in a Metro station parking lot near this Hello Kitty car.

Hello Kitty Car

The local nursery, Behnke’s, has this really cool looking landscaping project on its grounds that’s designed to show off one of the creative things you can do with purchasing tall grasses from them.

Cool Landscape
Cool Landscape
Cool Landscape

Earlier this spring I saw this really pretty butterfly on one of the concrete steps outside of my home.

Butterfly

Around the same time as I took that butterly photo, I was working on starting a garden when I decided to go to one of the local nurseries, Homestead Gardens. This particular nursery is located in Davidsonville, which is full of family-owned farms. Homestead Gardens had some chicks on sale for anyone interested in raising chickens.

Chicks at Homestead Gardens
Chicks at Homestead Gardens
Chicks at Homestead Gardens
Chicks at Homestead Gardens
Chicks at Homestead Gardens
Chicks at Homestead Gardens

A few months ago a new non-profit STEM technology center called Club 125 opened in my area. The unofficial mascot is Sam, who definitely feels at home there.

Sam the Dog
Sam the Dog
Sam the Dog

Somtimes another dog named Geisha visits at Club 125 and it results in Sam and Geisha playing with each other.

Two Playing Dogs

Occasionally the dogs go too far in their playing so they have to be sent to a time-out area that’s blocked off with a child gate.

Sam and Geisha

Eventually the dogs are allowed to leave the time-out area and they settle down together looking like they are going to be calm and laid-back friends.

Sam and Geisha

Then, again, maybe not.

Sam and Geisha
Sam and Geisha
Sam and Geisha

But there’s more to Club 125 than just dogs and science geek-oriented activities. I happened to drop by one Sunday afternoon while a Japanese language class was in progress.

Japanese Language Class

One summer morning I saw three ducks relaxing in the grass.

Ducks
Ducks

I was on a Metro train a few months ago when I saw this ad for a new establishment that was in the process of opening in Bethesda called Max Brenner Chocolate Bar. As you can guess from the name, this place specializes in chocolate.

Washington DC Metro Subway Ad

Here’s an ad I saw on the side of a shopping mall directory for the website ThatsNotCool.com.

Shopping Mall Directory Ad

The Annapolis comic book shop Third Eye Comics decided to put up this giant tent in the back parking lot in conjunction with the huge San Diego Comic Con that was taking place across the country that same weekend. The Third Eye Comics tent had a clearance sale on older comic books and action figures.

Third Eye Comics, Annapolis, Maryland
Third Eye Comics, Annapolis, Maryland

One day in a parking lot I found this really amusing bumper sticker.

Bumper Sticker

Did you know that, in addition to chocolate candy, Hershey’s also makes cereal? I didn’t either until one day when I made this trip to the local Safeway.

Hershey's Cookies & Cream Cereal

I saw this birthday tribute to Jack Daniels on display at Old Line Fine Wine, Spirits & Bistro.

Birthday Tribute to Jack Daniels

Here is the beginning of a sunset featuring a blue sky, the moon, and a bunch of clouds with just a tiny hint of pink in them.

The Beginning of a Sunset

I saw this live turkey on display at the Greenbelt Farmers Market in Greenbelt, Maryland last month.

Turkey

I visited one of those Spirit of Halloween stores that usually sets up temporary space in an empty store space in many local malls and shopping centers throughout the United States. The one I visited is currently located at the Free State Mall in Bowie, Maryland but, since tomorrow is Halloween, this store will pack up and leave soon. In addition to selling costumes, masks, and makeup, The Spirit of Halloween also sells these state of the art animatronics that were really awesome to see in person but I didn’t buy one because 1) I’m currently living on a tight budget and 2) those animatronics are a bit too much for a divorced woman living in a small townhouse with no children.

Spirit of Halloween
Halloween Decoration
Halloween Decoration
Halloween Decoration

Here’s a nice sunset shot that I took in Crofton, Maryland before I headed over to my weekly support group meeting for people who are separated or divorced.

Sunset

One day I found this spider weaving its web outside my home.

Spider
Spider
Spider

I found this faded poster of actor George Takei (best known as Sulu on the original 1960’s Star Trek series) hanging in the window of the local Social Security office.

George Takei Poster

The next few photos are of the fused glass arts and crafts of Tina Van Pelt of Profusions of Glass. She had me take a few reference photos of her booth at the Fall Harvest Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland for reference since I was going to sell some of her items at the Acorns A Go-Go Groovy Vegan Fest (which was to be held a couple of weeks later) since she was going to be out of town that same weekend. The glass items really photographed well with the smartphone camera.

Fused Glass
Fused Glass
Fused Glass
Fused Glass
Fused Glass
Fused Glass
Fused Glass

Did you know that this month is “Ministry Appreciation Month”? I didn’t either until I saw these cards in the Hallmark aisle at a local CVS.

Hallmark Card Display

Here’s an ad I saw recently in a Metro station in downtown Washington, DC.

DC Metro Ad

The next few photos are the ones I took the day I went to the weekly Riverdale Park Farmers Market. I walked around the downtown area of Riverdale Park, Maryland and I even took a photo of the band that performed during the Farmers Market.

Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Riverdale Park, Maryland

The next couple of photos are ones that I took during a recent visit to All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, DC.

All Souls Unitarian Church
All Souls Unitarian Church

One day, when I was returning from an appointment with my therapist, I happened to see a herd of deer grazing along the side of the road in the late afternoon sun.

Deer
Deer
Deer
Deer

I found some interesting art decorating a tattoo parlor in Annapolis.

Tattoo Parlor
Tattoo Parlor
Tattoo Parlor

Now that I’ve cleared space on my smartphone by deleting photos, I’m going to end this entry with my first attempt at a selfie photo. I took it last Friday in the women’s bathroom at a dance that was put on by my support group for people who are separated or divorced. Since tomorrow is Halloween and I am disguised as a My Little Pony character named Rainbow Dash, I’m going to post it here. I’m wearing a Rainbow Dash hoodie (complete with ears, a multicolored mane, and even wings on the back) that I purchased at Amazon.com, a Rainbow Dash mask that I purchased and downloaded from the Etsy shop Hungry Panda Supplies, and a skull cameo necklace that I purchased at a craft show from Lithia’s Creations.

Rainbow Dash
Rainbow Dash

Previous Entries

Categories