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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.

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Santa Claus

 

 

 

 

Ever since I did some serious downsizing in the wake of my husband’s sudden walkout on me five years ago, I’ve been making do with limiting most of my Christmas decorations to a coffee table in my living room. I basically celebrate something I call a Tabletop Christmas. Here’s a picture of my setup that I took in 2012 but it’s still the same this year so I have no problem with reposting it.

Christmas tree in 2012

I’ve written previous blog posts about some of my decorations that I’ve put up, which you can read about at these links below:

Angel Christmas Tree Topper

Christmas angel treetopper

Hippie Merman Ornament

Ginger Cottages Incense Burner

Behnke's Nurseries, December 14, 2012

A Small One-Piece Peruvian Nativity Set

Nativity made in Peru

A Small One-Piece Wooden Nativity Set

My new nativity scene I purchased from Valley View Farms

Two Hedgehog Ornaments That I Originally Purchased When I Owned Spike, My Late Pet Hedgehog

My new hedgehog ornaments I purchased from Valley View Farms

Befana the Witch Glass Ornament

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Ornament Resembling a Stuffed Teddy Bear in a Traditional German Outfit

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A Snowman Bell

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A Robot Nutcracker

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A Fused Glass Gingerbread Man That I Made in a Workshop

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A Fused Glass Tree-Shaped Ornament That I Made in a Workshop

Fused Glass Christmas Ornament

A Vintage Elf That I’ve Owned Long Before the Elf on the Shelf Became This Annual Big Marketing Juggernaut

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Animatronic Mickey’s Clock Shop

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Tangled Reindeer Which I Customized Myself

Rudolf the Red-Nosed Tangled Reindeer

Steampunk Snowman Which I Customized Myself

Steampunk Snowman

Macy’s Christmas Ornament Featuring a Mickey Mouse Balloon and the World Trade Center

2000 Macy's Christmas Ornament

Lace Moose Ornament

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Owl Made From a Tiny Gourd

Owl Gourd Christmas Ornament

A Delftware Style Ornament

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There’s only one other place where I also make a token observation to Christmas besides my living room coffee table. I have a wooden Santa Mickey Mouse puppet that hangs outside throughout the holiday season. That’s my only outdoor decoration I have and it’s one that I previously wrote about back in 2014.

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And now, for the first time in this blog, here’s a selfie of me wearing a Santa Mickey hat and a red Christmas sweater posting next to my Santa Mickey puppet.

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For added measure, here’s another selfie.

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This morning I went to church (Christmas fell on a Sunday this year) then I went to a local Chinese restaurant where I ate lunch at its usual special-priced weekend buffet. Here is what I got in my fortune cookie: A message that said “You will pass a difficult test that will make you happier.”

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Hmmmm. I’ll see about that. It would be cool if that fortune came true because I can use some happy times right about now.

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I decided to check out this job fair that was being held at the Beltsville Library because I’m always on the hunt for a day job to pay the bills. It turned out to be a small job fair (I saw maybe three or four tables that were staffed.) I only found one place that I decided to apply to but, as of this writing, I haven’t heard anything further from that place so I don’t know if anything will come of it.

But I liked the design of the library itself so I took a few pictures. I saw that it had a cafe, which was basically a small room that had a few tables and vending machines.

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The main focal point of this library is this very colorful fantasy-themed mural featuring a bunch of animals reading books. I found it to be quite charming.

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The wall mural ended with this stone castle facade that looked pretty cool.

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There was also this charming alligator book holder.

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The library had this large computer area.

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The library was very spacious.

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The Beltsville Library is located right next to a station of the Prince George’s County Police Department. There’s a police memorial for fallen police officers killed in the line of duty that’s outside the station’s doors.

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Santa Claus

This holiday season I didn’t do as much walking around observing the various Christmas shops before Christmas mainly because I was distracted by the six-week Artomatic event that was held near the New Carrollton Metro station in Hyattsville, Maryland. By the time that show ended it was close to the Christmas season. So I wasn’t able to make it to the Christmas Shop in Behnke’s Nurseries until December 26 (a.k.a. Boxing Day). I basically checked out the post-Christmas Day sales and see if there was anything I was interested in buying at a lower clearance price. I also took a few pictures as well.

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I didn’t take quite as many pictures as other years mainly because the battery died in my smartphone and I forgot to bring a recharger. I took more extensive photos of Behnke’s Christmas Shop in 2012, 2013, and 2014 so if you’re curious to see what it’s like, I suggest that you click on the links (which will each open in a new window).

On August 7 and 8 I had two straight days of pure <squee!>. August 7 was BronyCon and some general walking in Baltimore, which I have already written about. The following day I went to another cute event that was located closer to my home. There was a Doll and Teddy Bear Show that was held at the historic Marietta House Museum in Glenn Dale, Maryland.

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

I have lived in the area for many years and I have driven past the signs pointing the way to the Marietta House Museum numerous times and I have never visited the place until recently. The Marietta House Museum is the former residence of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Gabriel Duvall that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. When I first arrived, I felt like I had stepped back in time.

Doll and Teddy Bear Show Seeing the grounds reminded me of my recent visit to Sotterley Plantation in Southern Maryland. The grounds of the Marietta House are smaller in acreage than Sotterley but the entire area still looked very impressive.

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Gabriel Duvall not only lived there with his family but he also maintained his law practice in one of the smaller buildings on the property.

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

The grounds themselves are full of wooded areas, nice landscaping, and smaller buildings that were probably used for things like storage.

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

There is a family burial plot right on the property located in the backyard.

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

The main house itself is quite grand.

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

A glimpse of the window from outside only provides a subtle hint of what was going on indoors.

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Inside the house it looks like there is an upper level and a basement. However, for the Doll and Teddy Bear Show, only the ground floor was opened to the public. In fact, these three dolls seemed to greet visitors while blocking all access to the upstairs level.

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Admission was free and some of the items were available for sale. However, there were also other items on display that weren’t for sale. There was a mix of older dolls with modern dolls. I saw plenty of Barbies. I saw a few American Girl dolls (with handmade clothes for 18-inch dolls on sale). I saw plenty of porcelain dolls. I saw art dolls, ethnic dolls, small dolls, and large dolls. I also saw plenty of teddy bears as well. Some of the bears were vintage (such as Teddy Ruxpin) while others were perennial favorites (like Winnie the Pooh). All in all there were lots of things to see in such a lovely historical setting.

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

The boy doll in the next photo reminded me of a childhood photo of my father-in-law that I used to see displayed in the condo that he shared with his second wife. (I last visited that place in 2011 just six months before my husband left me for another woman. I haven’t been back since.) I found the resemblance to my own memories of that photograph to be quite eery.

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

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Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

There was a nice display of art dolls that were made by a group of tweens (between the ages of 9-11) who were taking a summer workshop in doll making. The woman who runs that workshop was selling some of those dolls for prices ranging from $130-150. I was talking for a bit with that woman and I mentioned that the nearby Makerspace 125 was running a series of monthly workshops in making art dolls and, so far, two of them were held—one in May and one in June. When I started to explain how we were making our dolls (as taught in the workshop), the woman immediately said “That’s crafting. What I’m selling is fine art dolls.” I felt put off because that woman had made a snap judgement. In addition, I had left the two art dolls I created in those workshops at home so I didn’t have anything to show. Plus she raised that whole ugly “Art vs. Craft” controversy that frequently permeates both the art world and craft world and I felt it was uncalled for.

All I know is that the next time I see the woman who runs the art doll workshops at Makerspace 125, I’ll tell her what happened at that show. It’ll be interesting to get her reaction to the judgement that her art dolls are really just “crafts.”

My encounter with that woman was the only sour part of the whole show. I quickly walked away from her after she made that comment. I have to admit that the art dolls that her tween students made in her workshop are quite nice looking.

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show I viewed the rest of the show without incident. I just enjoyed all of the eye candy.

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

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Doll and Teddy Bear Show

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Doll and Teddy Bear Show

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Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

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Doll and Teddy Bear Show

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Doll and Teddy Bear Show

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Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

Doll and Teddy Bear Show

All in all I had a pretty good day viewing all kinds of cute dolls and teddy bears in such a lovely historic setting like the Marietta House Museum.

I recently took part in the yard sale which was organized by Changing Focus, whose support group meetings I have been attending since the early days after my husband abruptly walked out on me. I managed to get rid of some more unwanted clutter around my home and I managed to have fun hawking some wares to the general public. I stopped by the Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church to drop off my stuff the day before the yard sale and I took a couple of photos.

The crucifix in the next photo is one that I’ve owned since I was around 7 or 8 and I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church. (I think it may have been a First Communion present but I don’t remember for sure.) The cross is made from a very light wood (the crucifix is literally light as a feather) and the rest of the parts are made from plastic. My parents sent it to me along with other items from my old bedroom after I got married and moved in with my husband but I never hung it up on the wall like I did in my parents’ home. By that point my husband and I started attending a Unitarian Universalist church and that faith places less emphasis on crosses and crucifixes. In addition, my husband was never really crazy about crucifixes and I didn’t want to hang it up in our bedroom out of respect to him. Yet I somehow couldn’t bear to let it go so I put it in storage for a number of years. With my husband being gone and with leaving my Roman Catholic past very far behind me, I finally decided to let it go to a new home. That crucifix was sold so I’m hoping that the new owners enjoy it.

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The next photo shows the remnants of my ex-husband’s old comic book collection that he never picked up. I used some of the issues to make my comic book coasters, which I sold at the previous weekend’s Greenbelt Mini Maker Faire. I sold half of the uncut comic books at the same event. All I did was transfer the remainders to a smaller box then donated them.

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As I was leaving the church, I noticed that it was a warm sunny day with the tulips being in full bloom.

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The following day was a different story altogether. The day was very cloudy and it was cold. (I don’t think the temperature ever got beyond 50 degrees Fahrenheit.) At times the weather forecast called for rain but, fortunately, the rain held off until the evening when everything had already closed down hours earlier. Despite the lack of sun and warmth the yard sale was well attended. There were plenty of interesting stuff on sale, such as these three inflatable Christmas lawn decorations. All three of them were sold that day. Someone in the group told me that these decorations, along with other smaller Christmas ornaments and decorations, were donated by a woman who had suddenly become homeless. I don’t know what her story is but it really sounds sad.

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I found this lamp that was so kitschy that, if it weren’t for space issues in my home, I would’ve bought it for myself. On the surface it looks like someone had placed these two stuffed mother and child teddy bears next to the lamp.

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Until you looked on the back and saw that the lamp pole was fitted through a hole on top of the teddy bear’s head.

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What’s more, there was a wind-up mechanism on the back so if you wind it up, it would play music. It’s a lamp! It’s a teddy bear mother and child plushie set! It’s a wind-up music box! It’s all of them! That lamp was definitely a hoot!

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It’s a black cat candy dish. Granted it was made for Halloween but that cat really looks scary as hell and it would definitely induce nightmares.

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I saw a TiVo on sale. I can remember when those things were a big deal years ago. My late mother-in-law and her second husband were given a TiVo by one of his children for Christmas and they used it frequently to record PBS shows and Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show. I don’t really hear much about TiVo anymore so I have no idea if it is even relevant these days or if it’s one of those items that should be in a museum somewhere.

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I saw this really lovely doll and I came close to buying her. But then I found that one of her feet is broken. (You can see it in the photo as one of the feet seems unusually twisted.) I ended up not buying her because she has no joint movements at all. I tried moving her arms and legs but they just would not budge. Plus she was made from porcelain. I once owned a porcelain doll that also had no joint mobility so she just stood there on the shelf for years gathering dust. I grew tired of dusting her so I ultimately gave her to Goodwill, American Rescue Workers, or some similar group.  At one point a man who has repaired dolls in the past was interested in buying her to refurbish her until he got a good look at her foot and he found that the foot was broken into a bunch of pieces and he couldn’t remove her show because it was glued to her foot.

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That doll ultimately ended up in a thrift shop that sent a truck to pick up all of the unsold sale items at the end of the yard sale.

The Changing Focus Yard Sale was held as part of a larger event that’s held in the spring and the fall in Crofton that’s called the Festival on the Green. The yard sale was held on the lawn of the Prince of Peace Presbyterian Church. The church itself was holding its own book sale inside the church where it sold a variety of used books, periodicals, CD’s, DVD’s, and even VHS tapes. I found a section dedicated to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. For a total of $8 anyone could get all four books in the original Twilight saga, which was a fraction of the cost of just buying the first book in a regular book store or on Amazon.com.

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I also walked over to the craft show that was held on the grounds of the Crofton Country Club. It was a relatively small show but there were a variety of nice items on sale.

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Despite the gloomy cold weather I took a photo of one of the flowering trees that was in full bloom that day.

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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

FREE TUTORIALS

27 Insanely Helpful Diagrams Every Crafty Person Needs is a great resource that has everything from what Kool-Aid flavors produces what type of dye effect on fabrics to a chart showing the best kinds of glue for the different types of projects.

How to make feathered wings.

A Super Ted Free Amigurumi Pattern, which can also be used as a base for creating an amigurumi Stitch from the Disney film Lilo & Stitch.

How to Make the Peep Chandelier You Never Knew You Needed.

29 Insanely Easy Ways to Get Ready For Easter.

Here is the chocolate Easter Bunny hack you never knew you needed.

Browse other free tutorials previously mentioned in this blog (along with pictures) right here.

MISCELLANEOUS LINKS

The disturbing trend towards employers underpaying writers and why this trend must stop.

A fascinating article that explains how October, 1973 was the beginning of the downward spiral for the American middle class, which continues to this day.

Santa Claus

For the first time in two years I decided to check on two houses across the street from each other on Good Luck Road in Lanham, Maryland that always seem to outdo the other houses in their neighborhood. I shot a video featuring those two houses back in 2010.

I went back to the two houses and I took pictures so I could compare them against the last time I took any pictures of them (which was back in 2012). First up is the house that specializes mainly in those giant inflatable balloons on the front lawn. Comparing the photos from this year and 2012, I noticed that an inflatable carousel is missing but, otherwise, the inflatables are up as usual.

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Across the street is the more decorated of the two. Not only is the lawn completely covered with some kind of a decoration but some of the lights blink on and off in synchronization with the beat of the Christmas music that is literally piped outside. (The above video shows that.) I compared this year’s photos with the ones I last took in 2012 and I think that house has gotten more decorations in the two years since.

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While I was taking those photos I noticed that there were plushes on display that I couldn’t capture with my camera because they were simple stuffed dolls with no lights so they were darker than the other outdoor lights. I wanted to see what they looked like so I decided to come back to that same house in broad daylight a couple of days later. I have to admit that even in daytime that house’s decorations make it stand out from the neighbors.

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While the inflatable balloons were deflated during the daytime, I got a really good look at the plushes and I found them to be really cute.

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I also got a better look at some of the outdoor lighted plastic statues shaped like teddy bears, Mickey Mouse, and the figures from the Nativity.

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Santa Claus

Today is not only Christmas but it’s also falls on a Throwback Thursday this year. I know I haven’t done a Throwback Thursday in a few weeks mainly because I was focused on selling things online and preparing for the holiday season in general. So, as a special treat, here is an entry focused on my own decorations that I previously highlighted in this blog.

Ever since my husband left me for that mentally ill friend of ours, I’ve done some massive downsizing of Christmas decorations. I gave away 3/4 of them to the American Rescue Workers. I even purchased a small tabletop artificial tree with lights already installed on them. I took this photo back in 2012 but this year’s setup is pretty similar.

Christmas tree in 2012

Next up is this Hippie Merman ornament that I previously wrote about on December 21, 2010. I made a short video consisting mainly of slideshows with some music I composed by combining a bunch of loops together in GarageBand. I still have this ornament and he is currently gracing my small tabletop Christmas tree as of this writing.

Here’s a cottage-shaped decoration that also functions as an incense burner. It’s made in the U.S. by a company called Ginger Cottages.

Behnke's Nurseries, December 14, 2012

Behnke's Nurseries, December 14, 2012

I also currently have two very small nativity scenes underneath my small Christmas tree. One just features Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus.

My new nativity scene I purchased from Valley View Farms

The other was made in Peru and it features an entire nativity scene (featuring a sheep and llama) inside of a cow-shaped structure.

Nativity made in Peru

Nativity made in Peru

Nativity made in Peru

I previously wrote about all three on December 17, 2012.

My new hedgehog ornaments I purchased from Valley View Farms

I have two hedgehog ornaments that I originally purchased when I still owned Spike the Hedgehog and I wrote about them on December 13, 2012. Spike has been dead for over a year but I still have these two ornaments hanging in my tree.

Topping my Christmas tree is this doll-like angel that I originally wrote about on December 11, 2012.

Christmas angel treetopper

Christmas angel treetopper

I’ve owned this vintage elf long before The Elf on the Shelf became this huge marketing juggernaut. I wrote about this guy and his modern counterpart on December 29, 2013.

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Here are a few more ornaments that I purchased last year and I wrote about on December 24, 2013.

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Here is a robot nutcracker that I purchased last year because it looked unusual and funky. I wrote about this one on December 23, 2013.

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Here’s a fused glass gingerbread man ornament that I created in a workshop that was given by a friend of mine last year. I wrote about this one on December 18, 2013 and he’s hanging in my Christmas tree this year.

Christmas-Ornament,-December-16,-2013

I have my Mickey’s Clock Shop, which I purchased years ago. It was considered to be a state-of-the-art animatronic decoration at the time (although there have been more technologically advanced Christmas decorations released since then that makes this one seem quaint by comparison). I have it up this year and it still works. Here is a video I shot for a post that I wrote on January 6, 2014.

Here’s a reindeer that I customized from a Rose Art Color Blank by doing mainly Zentagles that I first wrote about on December 14, 2011.

Rudolf the Red-Nosed Tangled Reindeer

Here’s a steampunk snowman that I customized from a Rose Art Color Blank and I first wrote about on December 22, 2012.

Steampunk Snowman

Here’s a lace moose ornament that I purchased earlier this month and wrote about on December 19, 2014.

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Here’s an owl ornament that’s made from a tiny gourd that I also purchased earlier this month. I wrote about this one on December 10, 2014.

Owl Gourd Christmas Ornament

Owl Gourd Christmas Ornament

Well, anyway, that’s pretty much it for past photos and videos of my Christmas decorations. The one big advantage with downsizing is that all of my Christmas decorations fit neatly into one box. There are separate boxes for the Christmas tree and Mickey’s Clock Shop but that’s no big deal compared to the old days when I used to have three boxes filled with just Christmas ornaments along with two smaller boxes for Christmas plushes and Beanie Babies. I’ve gotten rid of all of the Christmas plushes/Beanie Babies and two of the Christmas ornament boxes after my husband left. Thanks to my downsizing, I can have everything up and decorated in two or three hours and I can take them down really fast in about an hour or so. I’m really happy about that. I have people in my local area who really go overboard with the Christmas decorating (especially on their front property) so if I really want to see a lot of Christmas glitz, all I have to do is get in my car and make a few short trips.

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