Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Windmills! Kinderdijk, The Netherlands

We arrived in The Netherlands June of last year (2007) and since then it has been a quite nice experience. I always wanted to travel around the world (who doesn't dreamt of it huh) and my husband's job is a tool for making it come true. The day we arrived here I have been ecstatic of the nice people and how they maintain cleanliness around them. They love to garden and would even scrub and brush the pavement (how is that!). We don't have our own permanent place to stay yet when we arrived so as a result we stayed in a hotel, company paid. Every time we take our breakfast I always dropped by at the counter checking what's new and look for something to read on. I noticed that there are a lot of brochure to choose from on different destination in Holland (other name of The Netherlands). While rummaging, I saw a brochure for a windmill destination which Holland is most known for. The destination is Kinderdijk...aboout 2hour drive from the city we are in. I told my hubby about it and he said that I'll just keep the brochure so we can refer it again and maybe one of these days we can visit the windmill village. We got our place after almost a month in the hotel, our household good arrives and all are set and we are heading to the windwill village. It was raining when we had the boat excursion going to the windmill village but it was all worth it. You can either drive to Kinderdijk or take an excursion boat thru Rotterdam port area. There was no entrance fee going in to the village but if you want to get inside to their windmill exhibit (built in 1738) there's a 3euro fee (we did that). When I arrived to the village I am astounded because I usually see them on tv's and movies now I am here....According to statisctis there are still more than 1.000 mills. Nowhere in the world you will find as many windmills as near (the Dutch village) Kinderdijk. Around 1740 no less than 19 sturdy mills were built here. They have been well preserved to the present day. In 1997 the mills of Kinderdijk were put on the World Heritage List of UNESCO.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Whatta MALL! Galeries Lafayette in Paris, France

This is Galeries Lafayette in Paris, France an active shopping district near the Opera, which recently opened the Saint-Lazare train station fed by a continuous flow of travellers from, Paris’s suburbs and the Provinces. We went to Paris last month (March 2008) to celebrate our 3rd year wedding anniversary and happened to drop by in this big mall after seeing the Opera edifice. I have never seen a mall like Galeries Lafayette or should I say I haven't traveled enough (yet) to see such mall like the one in Paris. I have been to Minneapolis but never saw the biggest mall in the United States; Mall of America as they call it. Paris is an epitome of fashion and it stood still especially roaming around this great mall.
Me and Amber at Galeries Lafayette
a busy narrow streets in Paris (taken from Galeries Lafayette crossing bridge)
What a glowing mall indeed!
The Glass Dome
Cosmetic Merchants on the first floor
The main mall is so nice with 5 floors, balconies and glass dome. Inspired by a neo-Byzantine style, the 33-meter high glass dome comprises of 10 painted windows encapsulated in rich metallic frames and decorated in a sculpted floral motif. The banisters of the lower floors adorned with leaflet were signed by Louis Majorelle who also graced the store with the escalator ramp. If you get tired roaming around there's always benches around the mall where you have the time to think "to buy or not to buy". Impulse buyers? don't go to this mall, it will surely broke your wallet. A golden light was used to create a more intimate environment and to set the merchandise a glow. The store has 96 departments, adding to the traditional offerings such innovations as haberdashery, photography, lighting, furniture, travel goods, toys and tableware. On its higher floors, the store offered a tearoom, a library and a hairdressing salon for its cherished clients to unwind or just to escape from the pressures of the city. From the rooftop terrace, one could see all of Paris, with an unobstructed sight of Eiffel Tower. Shopaholic? then don't forget to put this in your itinerary if you will plan to go to Paris and experience a Parisian life for a moment. It was great!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Take a shot mom, I'm ready

My daughter loves flower. Everytime she saw a flower she would come to it and trying to touch. My husband and I always remind her not to pick flowers, she does put that into her mind though. This is a picture I took of her while we were strolling around NATO headquarters in The Netherlands. She was so amazed with the tulips they are growing their that when I asked her to pose with the flowers she smiled and make funny faces for me to take with no doubt. She loves camera too, so it is not hard to capture a moment with her. I just had so much fun with my daughter.

It's time to shield!

Summertime is almost here! Although it's still in the season of spring I can feel the summer heat now. When we had our afternoon walk today around our neighborhood with my husband and my daughter and I feel the heat penetrating my skin; made me remember to put some sunscreen the next time I go out to shield me from the UV rays. My husband and daughter needed it most because they got lighter skin which is more prone to skin damage which for the worst scenario will lead to skin cancer if not prevented. So, a few minutes ago I checked my drawer looking for sunscreen. I found a few different kind of sunscreen we got. My husband usually store a Banana Boat SPF 30 but I can't find it anymore; I guess I will get him a new one before we will head to Italy we will be there until summer. My daughter got the Coppertone WaterBabies SPF 45 when she's soaking in the beach and Banana Boat Kids SPF 30 they are both tear-free. I got the Neutrogena Age Shield SPF 45 with Helioplex™ which has the most effective UVA-blocking technology available. This broad-spectrum sunblock defends skin against UVA and UVB rays. Waterproof and sweatproof, it contains Anti-Oxidant Vitamins A, C and E to combat environmental damage. And for my face Aveeno moisturizer with SPF 15 but I realized that I needed and wanted to have a higher SPF than just having SPF 15 so I got myself another sunscreen which is also Aveeno Continuous Protection SPF 30. I like Aveeno on my face because they are oil-free, hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic. The sun gives off ultraviolet radiation that we divide into categories based on the wavelength. UVC - 100 to 290 nm, UVB - 290 to 320 nm, UVA - 320 to 400 nm which means UVB and UVA is the major contributing factor for skin damage that is why most sunscreen/sunblock says "UVA and UVB Protection". UVB is most intense between the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 pm when the sunlight is brightest. It is also more intense in the summer months accounting for 70% of a person's yearly UVB dose. While UVB does not penetrate glass UVA penetrates deeper into the skin and works more efficiently. The intensity of UVA radiation is more constant than UVB without the variations during the day and throughout the year. UVA is also not filtered by glass. The most damaging effects are wrinkles, lowered immunity against infection, aging skin disorders, and cancer. However, we still do not fully understand the process but it could be a contributing factor. So when you go out again under the sun wear a hat, a sunglass or bring an umbrella and don't forget to shield your skin with sun protection agents.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sundried Tomato

Before modern canning methods were available, Italians dried tomatoes on their roofs for use in winter when fresh tomatoes were not an option. Nowadays, sun-dried tomatoes (pomodori secchi in Italian) are not as popular in Italy as they are in America, where they are mostly relegated to antipasto or as a flavor-booster for sauce. But as for me, I come to know more about sun dried tomatoes being here in Europe. I used to know sun dried tomatoes only on spaghetti sauce but not from a sumptuous jar soaking in olive oil and sometimes with sunflower oil too. The thought of dried tomatoes does not bring to mind a gourmet meal to me. However, a relatively small amount of sun-dried tomatoes gives a gourmet touch and a burst of flavor to a variety of recipes. I used it on my pasta, pizza or salad. These dried, concentrated vessels of flavor have enjoyed a popularity boost in the United States in the past couple of decades, initially as a gourmet item but fast becoming a favorite of home cooks. I love to eat sun dried tomatoes right from the jar, it is like lunch to me. An appetizer sometimes.
Next month we will be in Italy for 7weeks for a work related purposes. I will bring home lots of sun dried tomatoes. I am so excited seeing Italy too!

Busch Gardens-Williamsburg, Virginia USA

The Griffon
Getting in to the park
Lochness Monster

Before we left for the Netherlands we went to visit my brother in law's family in Virginia. While we were there we visited the most coveted amusement park in Viriginia, Busch Gardens (Europe) again. It was my second time there, the first one was when we had our honeymoon (April 2005, I was 2weeks pregnant with my first baby at that time). My mother in law and my brother in law's family was there with us too; we really had fun all together. We only visit the park for a day though but it was all worth it and really wears you out.

Amber at Busch Gardens
Amber on a Merry Go Round ride
Amber and Vince
Amber and cousin Tony on a Ladybug ride
Amber and Daddy Vince again

I am sailing!
Amber frolickin at the Land of the Dragons
Daddy Vince watchin' Amber
My daughter looks sleepy
Amber and cousin Tony enjoying their Ladybug ride

Busch Gardens Europe, is a 17th-century charm combines with 21st-century technology to create the ultimate family experience. Voted the "World's Most Beautiful Theme Park”, Busch Gardens boasts more than 50 thrilling rides (includes the Lochness Monster which was the first ride we took) and attractions, ten main stage shows to name one which I did watched was the 20 minute production of "Secret of Castle O' Sullivan as told by its young heir, a wide variety of award-winning cuisine and world-class shops.And, there are more reasons than ever to visit Busch Gardens. Now Open, Busch Gardens newest roller coaster "Griffon" sends riders through an extraordinary journey 205 feet up and 90 degrees straight down at more than 70 mph but we didn't try to get on it because of the long line at that time and there are other rides we want to get on too- and that's just the beginning of the family adventure we had that time in Virginia, the rest is history to be kept. If you want visit Virginia, visit Busch Gardens Europe. They also have Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida which theme is Africa. I would like to visit that amusement park someday too. For more information regarding Busch Gardens, Va this is their official website http://www.buschgardens.com/bgw/default.aspx check out their newest rides and attraction.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum has been the home of America's music since 1967. In keeping with the cultural significance of the music and the heroic achievements of those who form its membership, the Museum opened in a $37 million landmark, new building in May 2001. This monumental edifice is located at the entertainment center of Nashville, Tennessee. I had my own experience inside the museum and it was great. I love the vast collection they have especially the 800 stage costumes worn by country music stars (like the legendary Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Faith Hill, Keith Urban, Shaina Twain, etc. ) and instrument collections they got (used by Willie Nelson and Glen Campbell). Every now and then they got featured exhibits.

Amber and Vince posing with the records

Amber at lost
Stage costumes display

Stage costumes

I'm a Keith Urban fan! yahoooo!

Elvis Presley's Cadillac car
Elvis Presley's Gold Piano

Outside the Museum
During our visit it was Ray Charles' biographical exhibition which provides an overview of his remarkable career with special emphasis on his country music influences and his contributions to the growth and ennoblement of the genre. This major exhibition opened on March 10, 2006 and is on display for a near two-year run. The exhibition includes artifacts, instruments, costumes, photographs, computer interactives and moving images to tell a country music story about an impoverished blind child who grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry and became known as the “genius of soul,” ultimately redefining American popular music. By recording, in his own inimitable style, the works of country songwriters, Charles brought many new fans to the genre. If you happen to visit Nashville, Tennessee dont forget to visit this incredible museum. It's worth it. For more info visit their website for tickets and events http://www.countrymusichalloffame.com/site/