I think the last time I was in France for Easter was in 2000, yup 18 years ago. I was still in school for my MBA and it so happened that France is where we were for Easter during my Marketing in the European Union class. Obviously, a lot has changed since then. This time around, Easter in France was very family-centered where we spent a couple days catching up with Richard’s parents and his brother’s young family. The few days with family is definitely worth it now that the girls’ cousins are a tiny bit older. I’m so eager for them to make memories to last a lifetime.
We also took advantage of the less popular tourist season to visit Versailles, which is only an hour and half away from Normandy. The girls were in awe of everything, not having seen anything like Versailles before. The visit was also timely as Chiara just finished learning about the history of Versailles with her French tutor, Aurore.
Spring has definitely started when we were France. There were a few cold days in the beginning of our vacation but it was about 80 degrees the day we headed back to the US. It was a short visit but traveling with the girls has gotten so much easier now that they are older. I wonder if we can pull off frequent but short visits like that to France more often in the future…
This winter seems to drag on especially this year as we get hit with one Nor’easter after another. What’s weird though is that despite the usual winter doldrums, January and February are just a blur in my mind, perhaps because we spent most of it recovering from the holiday madness and just dealing with the usual stress of school life and activities. Nonetheless, there were birthdays in February (Chiara’s and my nieces’) that came and went. I’m glad that I at least have photos to keep memories fresh.
As with every birthdays now, I find myself musing about the quick passage of time and how I need to appreciate every single birthday that my girls celebrate at home. In a few years, this will not be my reality anymore. So when C asked to have six girls sleep over for her birthday and invite them for brunch to Sugar Factory in the city the next day, I acquiesced. While I knew it would be onerous and exhausting, I also realize that I will miss my girls’ and their friends’ giggles and laughters one day. In a few years, those joyful sounds will be nothing but echoes from a not-so-distant past. So I try to hold on and cherish what I’ve got today.
I would not have have been exposed to Beacon, NY, if not for my sister who got married there a few years ago. About an hour drive from the city as well as Northern New Jersey, Beacon is fun little town that resembles Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens Brooklyn before it became heavily populated by hipsters (no offense, but I happen to have lived in Brooklyn before the millennial invasion, just saying). An artsy bohemian town where you cannot find big box store chains, Beacon is also where the Dia Art Foundation‘s suburban outpost, Dia:Beacon can be found.
Located in an old Nabisco packaging factory, Dia:Beacon has about 160,000 square feet of exhibition space, which is ideal for a lot of large-scale art installations by artists such as Dan Flavin, Donald Judd and Richard Serra. I thought it would be a drag to take the girls here since they have limited tolerance for art museums these days but they actually enjoyed their visit perhaps because the space isn’t really your typical museum. After spending a few hours at Dia, I highly recommend walking around Beacon’s town center, which features tons of unique little shops and restaurants that you won’t find elsewhere.
I’m sorry that I’ve stayed away from this space the past several months. 2017 was a challenging year, fraught with personal loss, life transitions and so much negativity in our political environment. I spent most of the time away from here focusing on re-centering my family, counting my blessings while still going about the day-to-day. Honestly, I did not think I was going to go back to blogging. What transpired in the past few months, the struggles and the eventual death of a family friend’s son, made me feel that what I was writing about was so trivial in relation to the sadness and despair around me.
And yet, the past few weeks, I felt an inner tug that was pulling me back here, to write and take photos once more, to feel the joy in the small things and find the beauty in the everyday. I guess I also miss making personal connections here as well as making myself accountable to make the most of my life, to be present in the moment and not to get lost in the dark pathways of my past. So here I am, again, back to blogging, maybe not posting as often as before but still around.
I want to share some photos below of our holiday trip to celebrate Richard’s milestone birthday in St. Lucia. There so much about this Caribbean island that reminds me of my birthplace, the Philippines — the cuisine, the beautiful water that surrounds the island, the fruits, the topography, the vegetation. I love the St. Lucians’ easygoing friendliness and hospitality but what I truly enjoyed is the mixture of British/French culture along with that of the local island. As my oldest daughter Chiara says, “St. Lucia, I’ll be back.”
St. Lucian landmark, the Pitons
La Soufriere volcano
This is not a sponsored post, just my own personal view.
One of the highlights of my girls’ birthdays and other milestone events over the years has been the cupcakes baked by Karen Zorn from Dulce & Petit. She is a local Jersey girl who will work with you on whatever creative ideas you may have for your special occasion. I love that Karen uses high-quality ingredients and accommodates any dietary needs we may have. For Ines’ birthday celebration this past weekend, Karen worked with my request to have cupcakes that are nut and egg-free. Ines was a little hesitant about not having any chocolate in the menu but she wanted to make sure that her friend with allergies would be able to enjoy the cupcakes like the rest of her group. Over the years, Karen and I have worked on creating cupcake decorations that fit the girls’ interests du jour, which means a running-inspired theme for Ines right now.
Here are other ideas and themes that she has done for us:
…Peas in a pod for my sister’s twin baby shower
…Chiara’s grade school graduation cake
….Harry Potter theme
…First Communion Cookie Party Favor
I can’t tell you how many joyous memories are associated with each of these cupcake themes. As I was going through these photos with the girls, I cannot help but smile as we travel down memory lane and rekindle special moments together.
If you want more information on Karen and Dulce & Petit, you can visit her Facebook page. And for you urban dwellers, Karen is open to working with clients based in NYC as well. She is great to work with and always open to collaborating on affordable creative cake themes that taste delicious.