Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mission Inn and the Festival of Lights

Last night we took a trip out to Riverside to visit the historic Mission Inn and see their annual Festival of Lights. We had heard about how beautiful the Mission Inn is, but never had the enthusiasm to make the hour or so drive their. Well, Armilyn's uncle Jun told her how beautiful the Festival of Lights is, so we decided to take a chance. So glad we did.

The place is amazing! The Mission Inn was inspired by the California Missions and other architecture from the Spanish Colonial period. To me it's a cross between a mission and Hearst Castle. There are around 3.5 million lights used in the Festival of Lights and they are strung all through the gardens, courtyards, and exterior. As it was just the second night of the Festival, it was very crowded.

The entrance to the Mission Inn

In the lobby next to the 20 foot tree

So we spend about an hour looking around the Inn and the adjacent shopping plaza and then decide to leave. We are almost at the car, wondering what to do for dinner. We decide to go back and try one of the local restaurants, the Tamale Factory. I get the food and Armilyn and Alex sit out on the patio. Alex does his kid thing of not sitting and instead getting up and walking around, which attracts the attention of Rose, a lady sitting at a nearby table. Rose says Alex reminds her of her grandson, who was a ringbearer at a family wedding Rose attended yesterday at the Mission Inn. Turns out Rose had been staying at the Inn for the past 3 days for a wedding. Her husband was tired, but she wanted to go out and see the sights. We invited her to join us, which kind of upset Alex, who was thinking, "who is this stranger?" But he eventually warmed up to Rose.

Long story short, Rose loves horse-drawn carriages and there were a bunch operating in the area around the Inn. She offered to take us on a carriage ride. We eventually agreed as these rides weren't cheap, but Rose insisted.

Alex and I on our fancy carriage

Rose and Armilyn on the carriage

After the lovely ride, we went back inside the Inn to get some dessert. Since Rose was a guest at the hotel, she was able to get us access to the courtyard restaurant and we also got to go upstairs to see the exterior of the wedding chapel. Armilyn saw the place and immediately decided that this is where we will renew our vows next year.

Alex and Armilyn outside the chapel

Panorama view of the chapel courtyard. Click to expand
We had a wonderful dessert and a fantastic time with Rose.

post by David

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Speed of Alex

Alex is the type of kid who is pretty much on-the-go all the time. Constant drumming or singing always come from his direction. So on Thanksgiving we took a walk in HB's Central Park. It had rained the night before, but the playground slides had dried off, mostly. He got a little wet in the butt and that slowed him down considerably. But that didn't stop him from going down the slide a second time. He is very serious about his sliding, as you can see from this video. This is at FULL speed, I didn't do anything to this video:

post by David

Friday, November 28, 2008

Santa pics & David's Birthday

Happy Birthday David! Nov. 28

This picture was taken at the Derby in LA in 1995.

For David's birthday, we went to Zinc Cafe with Miki, T-kay and the kids and afterwards to Roger's Gardens for Santa pictures. A tradition we started when Alex was born - This is our fifth year!

Baby News!

No, not us! My cousin Justine and her husband Fernando are expecting! She is at 11 weeks and 3 days. Here is the little one:

So excited to become an auntie for the fifth time!

post by Armilyn

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

We want to wish all our family and friends near and far a Happy Thanksgiving. We are so thankful to have your, guidance and support. May God bless you always!

Alex's first field trip with his kindergarden class at a pumpkin patch near Westminster High School. Alex says he is thankful for Mommy, Daddy and ice cream!

Alex selecting a pumpkin for our pumpkin pie!

The rest of the pumpkin patch pictures were shot here, at the ENC in Newport Beach

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Locke in Time

Last year around this time, we went to Sacramento to visit my cousin. On our visit we went on an impromptu drive to a ghost town called Locke near Walnut Grove in Northern California. The drive there was such an adventure at the edge of the Sacramento River Delta. Imagine a dirt road, water on one side and apple orchards on the other side. Going to Locke is like going back in time. This town was built by the Chinese who came to California during the Gold Rush. Locke is the only rural Chinese village remaining in the whole of America. While Chinese districts survive in several American cities, none claim the unique ethnicity of Locke.

Alex and David walking down one of the two streets in Locke

A path between buildings leading up to the highway

Some local kids who were selling their art.

David liked the lettering style on this sign

One of a few Alfa Romeo's that belonged to a car club having a meeting in a local bar.

More pictures (not ours) of Locke.

post by Armilyn

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Artisance in Laguna Beach

Back in the summer, we decided to try and brave the crowds in downtown Laguna Beach. One of the stores we came across was Artisance. The boutique is off on a side road and not much larger than our apartment. It's owned by Angela Tesselaar who runs her design firm from the store as well. Most of the furniture and gifts have a sleek 1920-30s Deco vibe but still feel very modern. Some stuff appears to be vintage, but a lot of it is new. If you like Thomas O’Brien like I do, you'll love this place. I just wish my paycheck would allow me to love it more.

Artisance just updated their website, but back in the summer when I was googling them, I found Trever Hoehne’s website, who did all the photography. Here are a few of his amazing shots:

all pictures by Trever Hoehne. More of his Artisance pics here.

post by David

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Nix Nature Center

We only drive through Laguna Canyon once or twice a year, so when we last drove through, we saw a sign that said "Nix Nature Center" which naturally caught our eye. So today we decided to check it out.

Built in 2006, the James and Rosemary Nix Nature Center is surrounded by hiking trails and the beautiful hills of the canyon. The actual center is a cool, modern building with glass walls that overlook the nature preserve.

About to go on a hike

We even ran into Mr. Nix!

The center is free and open daily. Parking is $3.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Perks of Flying First Class

About half of my family works or has worked for an airline or some other airport-related job, including yours truly. These jobs come with occasional perks. My cousin Eric, who works for Continental in Oahu, was recently flying back from the mainland to Hawaii and was lucky enough to get seated in first class. In Eric's words, here's what happened:

I recently was fortunate enough to fly First Class from LAX-HNL on the BEST airline in the world Continental. Seated next to me was Terry O'Quinn aka John Locke from the television show LOST that airs on ABC. I'm not a big fan of the show, but Maureen (Eric's wife) is. So I thought Maureen would appreciate a picture of her leading man, me not the actor. He was gracious enough to talk to me and take a picture with me after the flight landed. He's a nice guy and maybe when the new season starts I might just start watching.

How cool is that. Armilyn and I are big LOST fans, but she said she would get a little freaked out sitting next one of the actors on a plane--you have to know the show in order to understand the reason.

post by David

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Heart of Gears

Very cool video of a heart of gears by Haruki Nakamura. Wait until just under a minute when the artist cranks up the machine.