Hmm, How about some Rock Star Nail Art?

Hello friends!  How are you today?  I want to thank you for visiting my blog and continuing your support through my blogging-hiatus.  "Thanks!" and here's a big hug...

Winter has definitely arrived where I live {Atlantic Canada}.  We had tons of snow fall over the weekend and the snow is falling beautifully again as we speak (I mean as I type these words, lol ;-)  It's definitely cold outside... but short walks are very refreshing and fun; well, during such walks that different textures and views in nature can be admired.  I tried my best to capture some in the photos below with my rock star nail art.

A Red Mani with Flowers, Why Not?

Good morning to the girls and ladies!!!
I hope you are all doing well.  Today, I'd like to share with you my "Welcome Back to Nail Art" nails.  I've been on nailart (and blogging) hiatus for a while.  Life, that's what it was, lol!  Hubby gave me these flowers and I feel in love.  I thought: "Red!  why not some red nails?"  And here it is, with matching doticure flowers and leaves to make them even more cheerful!  Do you like them?

Click Read more for more photos...

Beauty After The Winter Storm

Yesterday, I decided I need some exercise so I walked to work.  For less than an hour walk plus a great view, exercise ain't so bad, right?  I just had to make sure I had the right gear:  boots, gloves, hat and hood, long coat... Nothing is sad when one is warm.

More photos here, please keep reading...

First Snow This Year

Good evening friends!
Part of my work day today is a pleasant walk along this park.  Today is also the first day of day-time snow in my city... Yes, there has been scattered snow already during the night and they are mostly gone come day light.  This time, it was a gentle pour of pellet-sized snow.

I stopped a while to say hi to these beautiful birds...

It is a cold day, I guess everyone's still getting accustomed to the cold season and many are in denial that snow is inevitable...  I, for my part, am ready for some change.  The gloomy skies and chilly winds spell somewhat a low-mood, but the snow makes for a charming, whimsical day.  Don't you think?

How is your day?


One Autumn Afternoon | Vibrant Colors of Fall

A Pinay's Diary
 Vibrant colors and golden hues
~ Autumn is a very beautiful time of year. 
Please walk with me down Jones Lake, Moncton

 One of the many delights in coming to Canada is seeing the magnificent colors of Autumn.  Back home in the Philippines, we can only admire this from books, movies or post cards and we dream of seeing it in the future, in person.  Yes, I often wondered how it would be like to see this for myself...  And what a delight it is!  Sometimes, I enjoy just letting the leaves rain on me on a very windy day.  Or I just take some time to sit and admire the view. I became very camera-happy and I snapped some decent photos.  Please come and join me on this beautiful Autumn afternoon and enjoy the colors and the views...

A Chinese Tea House in Montreal

Chinese Tea House Montreal Quebec
Chinese Tea House Montreal Quebec

A Chinese Tea House
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Fearing a terrible traffic and a hard mission to find a parking spot downtown, we used the subway trains from St Laurent to downtown Montreal.  From the station, we walked towards the Port {eventually to walk along Old Montreal and China Town}.  On the way, I spotted this Chinese named tea house.  We just finished a hearty lunch so no one was up for more food and tea.  At my pleading, my friends agreed to take a peek with me.  And my! it was beautiful.   It really lived up to it's Chinese name.   I was transported to China!  Really. {Take it from a girl who now lives in a small city in New Brunswick, lol.} 

Seriously, this shop looked like one of those tea and souvenir shops in Hong Kong where a tour group would be taken on one of their touristy stops.  Not one of those westernized Chinese novelty stores, to me everything was authentic.  I looked around in amazement... every single thing was beautiful.  The only thing lacking is a young Chinese girl in her traditional costume, demonstrating Kung Fu tea.   But I figured you could do your own tea ceremony once you order tea as it is served in tiny little Kung Fu tea sets and tray that you can play with on their beautifully carved tables.  Splendid!

Tea?  Who me?  Oh, yes please!
I imagine a lazy afternoon armed with a book or letter writing materials, I would sit there for hours...  How I envy the vast culture present in Montreal.   Although I don't think I could live with the traffic anymore.  Can I just bring this shop home along with me?  lol}

Our budget was limited so I did not buy any from the store.  Although I thought it might be a good opportunity for me to share with you this fine Chinese style tea cup and caddy I got a while ago.  Isn't it gorgeous?

Red Chinese Tea Set
Red Chinese Tea Set

"The traditional floral symbol of China, peonies are known as the flower of riches and honor.  With their lush, full, rounded bloom, peonies embody romance and prosperity and are regarded as an omen of good fortune.  Red is the symbol of happiness." ~ Teavana on the Red Peony Tea Set

More on Quebec, Canada

Tea Time Tuesdays and other fun blog-hop links:
Monday's Musings  |  Making Your Home Sing Monday  |  The Good The Random The Fun  |  Through My Lens  |  Our World Tuesday  |  Rose Chintz Cottage: Tea Time Tuesday | Roses of Inspiration  |  Oh My Heartsie Girls  |  Antiques and Tea Cups: Tuesday Cuppa Tea Tea Cup Tuesday on Martha's Favorites |   Totally Terrific Tuesday on Live Randomly SimplyA Return to Loveliness by A Delightsome Life |   Tuesday Afternoons:  A Spirit of Simplicity | Maria Elena's Tuesdays at our Home

Moon Cakes and Tea on a Rainy Autumn Day

Hopiang Ube at Hopiang Baboy / 'Kundol'
(Purple Yum and Winter Melon moon cakes)

It's been rainy all day today.  I like the rain.  It reminds me of  the Philippines.  My sister and I used to play in the rain when we were young.  There was constant rain {monsoons, really} in the city where we grew up.  We would often come home from school soaking wet.  This is expected and we were ready for it.  Our books and school stuff are wrapped in plastic and we usually have waterproof backpacks.  No rainboots thank you very much.  It will only accumulate water and will make it hard to run.  Rubber sandals are just fine.  Now, I still enjoy the rain... as long as I'm inside dry and having tea,  I'm okay {Well, a little homesick, but I'm okay}.   Age is taking it's toll, maybe.

I also have a special treat that reminds me of the Philippines today:  Pilipino style moon cakes.
Our Chinese friends the world over will soon be celebrating the Autumn Festival with their delicious moon cakes.   These cakes are significant to them and are made of different ingredients for different flavors.  A famous {and expensive} flavor is the lotus.  Special moon cakes contain salted duck eggs. 

For Pilipinos, the most common is hopiang baboy. Which means moon cake pig, literally.  I don't know, maybe because pig fat is used as oil?  It is made from kundol, winter melon.  There are also many other different flavors such as ube {purple yum} and monggo {mung beans}.  Real Pilipino hopia use pure ube or monggo versus cheaply done versions are made of flour that is only flavored and colored to look like the real thing {That's what is usually available abroad... sad... maybe I'll learn to make it one day?... maybe...}.  Whatever the case, these treats are perfect for a meryenda {afternoon snack and beverage}.

Hubby and I visited some friends in Montreal, Quebec a few days ago and they took me to a Chinese Market full of Pilipino goodness.  Me like a child in a candy store is an understatement.  I got some hopia or moon cakes for myself and as presents for my friends.  My Canadian friends weren't fans of this treat.  But for Pilipinos, these cakes plus some green tea is like a hug from home on a cool rainy day.

Isn't this pink tea cup pretty?  It's from a company called Sutherland and is made in England.  I got it from an antique shop in Moncton a long while ago.  Does it make you imagine of Cinderella's wedding gown in her latest movie?  I thought so... ;-)

This very convenient mug is from David's Tea.  I got it on sale on their last spring sale.  I like it cause it has a stainless steel filter for easy infusion of loose leaf teas and a lid to help keep the tea warm.  The mug is dishwasher safe though I elect to hand wash it anyway...

P.S. Just another little trivial conversation.
You may be familiar with Pilipinos and the Philippines?  The Philippines is a cluster of little islands in Southeast Asia, and we Pilipinos are everywhere!  lol...  The name "Philippines" is in honor of the King of Spain, King Philip.  It may be logical then to call it's inhabitants, Philippinos, right?  Like those from the USA are called Americans, from Canada are called Canadians, Vietnam is Vietnamese... so forth... But it is not in the natural tongue of the Pilipinos to pronounce 'f' or 'ph' sounds nor does repeating letters for a single pronunciation make sense, hehehe...  So, Philippino to us is simply Pilipino. ;-)

Have a nice day friends! 

No Angry Fire

The Citadel, Historic Site
Halifax, Nova Scotia

To the townspeople of old Halifax, these flags used to convey messages:  For one, the name of the ship coming to port and it's cargo as well as ships that are leaving.  Family members of sailors watch these flags eagerly to signal the return of their loved ones.  It will also sound out the warning in case there is an invasion.  Thankfully, there never was.   No Angry Fire was ever shot in the Citadel of Halifax, it's formidable walls deterred would be conquerors.  All we have is a blank shot to demonstrate the artillery, for the amusement of curious tourists {like me}. 

A few days ago, I was catching up on Amazing Race Canada, I've missed a few episodes but confident that I can watch the recordings.  In one of the episodes, the contestants had to spot the site of the next clue by looking for the red-and-yellow flag.  Guess where the flag was?  Of course, on one of these flag masts at the Citadel.  For an infrequent traveler {we were in Halifax just a few weeks ago}, it is quite a nice feeling:   watching a show on TV and excitedly exclaiming, "I've been there!"  Won't you agree?

Welcome To Autumn

Low Tides in Alma, New Brunswick
Fall 2014

Today I want to share with you this photo I took in the town of Alma, New Brunswick last year... I present it to you to welcome yet another beautiful Autumn.  This place is a lovely site on the way to the Fundy National Park.  Nearby are souvenir shops, convenience stores, restaurants and a place to buy lobster.  Yum!

I think Autumn is my most favorite season; especially living around an abundance of maple trees that gives off an array of vibrant and happy colors; the weather is temperate and comfortable perfect for long hikes and picnics.  We also didn't have this change in the Philippines.  All year round, the trees and foliage are green.  Autumn reminds me of dreams that came true and aspirations that are hoped for;  of blessings received and shared;  of love and longing...

What's your favorite season?

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Unconditional Surrender | Civitavvechia, Rome

Unconditional Surrender
Civitavecchia, Rome, Italy

I caught sight of a lady on her own watching the The Kiss of the nurse and the unknown soldier;  Hm, wonder what she was thinking.  I hope that she is with someone and her wait will soon be over.  The first time I got curious about The Kiss is when I watched a movie called Letters to Juliet; such a romantic movie that was.  I've always wanted to see Times Square since...  and Italy, of course! So, when I saw this statue in Rome, I was very surprised, a little confused... and excited to photobomb the couple. They were strangers, I heard, yet the nurse allowed the kiss without reservations.  Thus dubbed, the Unconditional Surrender.

Hubby and I tried to mimic the kiss, all our photographs came out funny, real comedic.  Nothing more can be expected from a bunch of goofballs, I guess, ha ha!  I was furious that hubby and I can't get a romantic shot like they have.  Hubby said: "C'mon darling, they weren't married yet."  Was his teasing reply followed by a wink and a gentle squeeze of the hand.  Now, I realize, it's more fun to look at goofy pictures than those reserved, shy-to-smile-and-pose photos... can't help but laugh when I look at them.

Norwegian Jade
Civitavvechia Rome Port

Civitavecchia, Rome is our first Port for our Mediterranean cruise.  This is where we get on board and alight after.  On our way to the ship, this place (where the Unconditional Surrender is stationed) was busy with tourists and photographers offering to take photos for them, at a price of course.  Coming from the ship, at the end of the cruise, this place was empty.  I saw opportunities to take photos in both occasions. 

The above photo shows our ship on dock.  This is how most Ports of Call looks like, not too touristy yet.  A shuttle bus or a ship's tender would take us to the next city where we could begin our sight-seeing; or from there, take the train to other major tourist sites.  In Civitavecchia, a double-decker red tourist bus is already waiting to take interested tourist for a tour of Rome, therefore saving some money taking the train.

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Where's the Marble? | Pompeii, Italy

Pompeii, Italy

Imagine what grandeur this amphitheater would have had if marble covered the entire thing?  Some of the marble were replaced to show what it might have been.  "If everything were perfectly preserved because the destruction was sudden, then where are all the marbles?"  I asked the tour guide.  He answered with a shrug and these words:   "You probably seen the beautiful marble decorations in San Pietro?"  I get it...  If, in digging a well to find some water, I find beautifully preserved marble, why!  I would definitely take them home too and decorate my abode with it :-)  Won't you?

Up Next:  Sailing Back In Time  |  Adventures in the Mediterranean

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A Rich Man's Home | Pompeii Italy

A Rich Man's House
Pompeii, Naples Italy

We visited a rich man's private home in Pompeii :-)  Our tour guide must have mentioned an idea as to who or what kind of person owed this house but I can't remember.  {I should have been taking notes, eh?}

This home is representative of the tendency towards sumptuousness in the Imperial Age. Some reconstructions have been done in order to show what the original structure and design might have been.   Walls were intricately painted, the richer the brighter.  Homes did not have rugs, they have however, mosaics.  Again, the richer, the more detailed and bigger these mosaics are.  Each home have their own altar reserved for sacred service to their gods.  Genius and Lares were the household gods that are believed to observe and protect, as well as influence the happenings of the household.

In this home were found carefully packed belongings, ready for transport - silver and gold utensils - together with human remains.  It is inferred that these people were busy packing the rich man's possessions while the wrath of Vesuvius were suffocating their city.  No wonder so many died!  Sadly, it is not a thing of the past.  Many humans today exhibit the same in the face of calamity and  at the expense of their lives.  Makes us evaluate our priorities, eh?

I guess they succeeded:  The treasured possessions are in perfect shape and very valuable indeed.  They are well preserved in the Naples National Archaeological Museum for our amazement.  (If there is ever a next time, I would want to visit this museum.)  But what about their lives?  I guess they too, unfortunately, are on display as objects of astonishment.  Morbid, don't you think?

Even plant roots made well preserved cavities that made it possible to recreate the manicured gardens.  These indoor gardens are truly delightful and refreshing.  Oh! the life of the rich...

Next:  Where are all the marbles?  |  Pompeii Amphitheater

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Spa in an Ancient City | Pompeii, Italy

Pompeii Naples Italy
Baths of Pompeii, Naples Italy
Baths of Pompeii, Naples Italy

The Baths
Pompeii, Naples Italy

During our visit to Pompeii, we were only shown a small sampling of the baths.  The day was filled with exciting places to see and things to do, Pompeii was actually our last destination of the day and it's getting late.  We had to make sure the cruise ship does not leave us.  Many times we feel like contestants in the Amazing Race, not against each other but with adventure, thrill and time.  Time!  And of course, the tour company wants to leave some time for us to shop around and help with the economy. :-D  I got myself a few magnets and a book :-)

The little piece of the baths that we saw were impressive.  Complete with hot and cold rooms and a separate room for male and female, the old baths of Pompeii makes me imagine of 5 star spa these days. (Not that I've been to any of them... Would love to, though...  And you know, imagination is limitless, right?)  What makes it even more impressive is that there weren't any fancy technology at that time.  Yet, the Pompeians managed to create the temperature controlled rooms.  Floors were elevated.  Underneath were aqueducts where hot water runs through and releases heat.  I probably need to consult history books for more accurate information on that...  I remember one snippet of the tour guide's words:  "Fever is a sign that the body is fighting something.  Therefore, they've created artificial heat to help the body fight its ailments."  That's why they think baths can do miracles! (*wink*).

Next:  A Visit to a Rich Man's House | Pompeii

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Click. Breathe. Imagine. Repeat | Pompeii, Italy

Corinthian Columns
Pompeii, Naples Italy

The first sight we see as soon as we enter the walls of Pompeii are these Corinthian Columns.  I cannot hide my excitement, we are visiting an ancient world to relive its glory.  It was nice to set aside self consciousness for a while and just go right in the middle of the field, raise your arm and slowly turn 360 degrees,  look at the things around and breathe it all in.  Right away we were impressed at the fine engineering of the ancient Romans. Who knew history could be so interesting?  I'm in a different world...

Click, click, click.  Pictures on every angle.  BreatheLook around, imagine.  Breathe again... Walk to the next site... Repeat.  My mind took the best 'shots' during those times when I stopped a while to take time and appreciate where I am and what surrounds me.  Those were also the best moments I could recall and talk about vividly.  The same moments that lets me appreciate all the photos I have right now.  Breathe.

Our tour guide told us much about many things.  It was fueling my imagination at that time, my mind was creating my own movie-clips, like I was watching it all happen.  Frankly, I know I won't remember much of what's said (height, width, depth, names... dates... oh my!).  So at the end of the tour, I bought one of those Souvenir books.  So glad I did.  At the end of the day, we browsed the book and proudly say: "Oh I've seen that..."  "and that..."  and sometimes "how come you did not show me that?"  (*hint. hint.* :-D )

Another hint:  Am I ever glad I wore comfortable shoes. {That is a prerequisite to visiting Europe, I think... We did alooooooot of walking.  Add in some power bars too and a handy bottle of water.}

Next:  Baths

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Cafe De Nattes | Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia

Cafe de Nattes Sidi Bou Said Tunisia

Cafe de Nattes Sidi Bou Said Tunisia

Cafe de Nattes
Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia

Dark clouds and scattered rain showers greeted us in Sidi Bou Said.  Though the wet atmosphere did not dampen the touristy spirit in anyone, it did call for something warm and soothing.  Our tour guide kept telling us about the mint tea that we shouldn't miss.  It became a little quest in my sightseeing: "Where do we get that mint tea?"   I thought it would be free from the tour-company.  Of course not.  There, at the top of the hill is a very nice looking cafe.  "Oh I don't mind that at all."

We climb up the steps of an uneven staircase and was greeted by a... well, different scene from what we usually see in our common (western, franchised) coffee shops.  Some would turn around and leave, not trusting the strange place. {Where is your sense of adventure? :p}  My first thought was "opium wars!" (Silly, I know).  A very long, intricately designed pipe, connected by a long tube to an equally unique apparatus was shared among 'friends.' Curious.  I see the smoke but I don't smell it. The place was peaceful besides the normal friendly chattering, the air was easy to breathe.  It is a tourist spot, a popular one indeed... What harm could there be?

Cafe de Nattes Sidi Bou Said Tunisia

It turned out to be very pleasant.  We took our shoes off, and sat on the elevated mats.  The tables were low, perfect height for sitting at ground level.  There was a certain thrill in watching the people and observing the decorations.  Everything around us tells us that we are in a different place.  At one corner, two gentlemen were busy in front of a stove with a huge pot of steaming-something and a metal kettle.  They were busy making tea: a dark concoction of mint and green tea leaves, delightfully sweetened and garnished with pine nuts.  We wanted some soothing warmth and we had it.

I tried to replicate this tea but something was always missing.  Could be the type of mint used... or could it be the touristy air of Sidi Bou Said and the sense of adventure?

Cafe de Nattes Sidi Bou Said Tunisia

Sidi Bou Said is a town in Northern Tunisia known for its extensive use of blue and white colors ~ White buildings with blue windows and doors.  More photos and adventures coming up...

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