Friday, January 24, 2020

Interfusion Festival 2020: Monday

Image found here
MLK Day was the last day of the Interfusion Festival! I like how the last day is just a half day, so you still have time to get back to your routine before returning to work the next day. Plus, I was so exhausted (in a good way) from the festival that I really could only take a few more workshops!

Image found here
The first workshop of the morning was with Chandra Bliss called, "Spinal Decompression Yoga: Neck and Shoulder Nirvana." I took a similar class with her last year, and it really is a great way to end the weekend. You get to stretch out and focus on using your bones rather than your muscles to move you. This wasn't a flow yoga class; it was more like therapeutic stretching. I did feel better afterward. I wish I remembered more of the stretches!

Image found here
And finally my last workshop was another AcroYoga class with Jean-Jacques Gabriel. I really enjoyed the other class I took with him earlier during the weekend. First we did some Thai massage; I was partnered with someone who had based me in a previous AcroYoga class, so at least he was familiar. Then we learned more AcroYoga poses that would stretch us out with the help of a partner. Again, I partnered with someone from an earlier class, and she was really great to work with. I was able to base our male third a few times (not very well, but at least I could hold him up!). I will definitely continue taking classes with Jean-Jacques as long as he keeps participating in Interfusion.

Next up for 2021 is Interfusion Festival: Ascension! You know I'll be buying early bird tickets as soon as they go on sale!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Interfusion Festival 2020: Sunday

Image found here
Image found here
I started my third day at the Interfusion Festival with the WORST workshop I have EVER taken in all my four Interfusions. "Clearing Chakras & Blocks" was nothing more than a hundred or so of us sitting in the dark doing nothing! Zee Kong mostly sat on stage in silence, every once and while waving his hands down his face and torso. When he did say anything, he spoke like a surfer dude stoner, saying things like, "Well, you know, it's like...yeah...maybe know?" And I'm thinking, "No, I don't know, because you haven't actually said or done anything." He actually said things like, "Don't pay attention to what I'm doing up here," even though he was supposed to be leading a workshop! One woman was very nice about it, saying, "I am feeling anxious since I am not sure how I should participate in this workshop," and he replied, "Well, it's hard to explain what I'm doing." YOU ARE A TEACHER! Explaining things is what you are supposed to do in this role! The only time he did ask people there to participate was when he asked people what their fears were. For EVERY person who gave an answer, he without fail psychoanalyzed them with this phrase, "That probably comes from your childhood, like your mom or your dad." He's not a psychiatrist, and that's not what we were there for! The whole thing was so ridiculous that I left early and read my book until the next workshop started.

Image found here
I was supposed to take a Kundalini Yoga class afterward, but the location had changed from the old schedule, so I couldn't find it. Instead, I did some more AcroYoga, this time with Bassam Kubba from Om Factory and Mendel Romanenko. Their energy was amazing! They were so much fun, and they joked around with "commercial breaks" for New York AcroFest, which they are organizing for this summer. We did a lot of exercising beforehand just to warm up and get the blood flowing, which was great for someone like me who usually works out in the morning. Once we got into the actual Acro part, it was much harder than other classes I've taken. Trying to get into poses by jumping, or just doing star pose at all, was pretty much impossible for me. But it's always fun to try, and if you're a successful base for a flyer, that's just as much fun.

Here's an amazing video of them performing AcroYoga together a few years ago:

Image found here
Next was the workshop I was looking forward to most: "Foundations of Crystals" with Joseph Adams. I have always been curious about crystals and their supposed powers, so I was looking forward to learning more: different names of crystals and what they look like, what each one is used for, etc. Adams did give us some of that in the beginning, teaching us that crystals themselves are consciousness, they reflect/amplify our own vibrations, and they help us reach harmony with our surroundings (i.e. nature). But the class was mostly just a 30-minute nap while crystals were laying on top of your body. While I did feel like I had an out-of-body vision for just a moment (I could actually see a yoga class taking place as if I were looking down from the ceiling), that was the only interesting thing I experienced. At least I learned that moldavite is good for opening the third eye; I have a ring with that stone, so maybe I should wear it more!

At one point Adams said, "You don't need to know anything to succeed. You just have to want it." Of course this is absurd, but it also reminded me of this hilarious SNL skit:

Image found here
After my little nap, I needed to start moving again. Ann Kite's "5 Rhythms" was not on the original schedule, so thank goodness my friend Courtney said it was happening. I loved trying this several years ago, so I was excited to do it again. At first I wasn't sure how comfortable we would all be dancing in the middle of the day in a well-lit room (we were in a sky-lit area, which I wouldn't recommend for future festivals). But once the music got going, we all flowed into it. This is similar to ecstatic dance, and it's so freeing to just let your body move however it feels like it! I especially liked when we got to the "chaos" stage, when we were supposed to let our head and neck move while we were traveling; it's definitely a crazy, dizzying sensation! Dancing for 90 minutes is a great workout, too! It felt so good to just let go and dance it out!

Here's a video to show you what 5 Rhythms can look like:

Image found here
Next up I took another class with Kelly Marburger and Eric Sipes. But this time it was Thai massage, not AcroYoga, and I didn't realize they taught both! This was a huge class, and we ended up separating into four circles (eight I guess if you count inner and outer circles). Then we took turns doing some Thai massage techniques around the neck and shoulders of different partners. It was really relaxing, and I met a woman named Melissa who was really nice. One thing I love about Interfusion is that you get to meet so many wonderful, nice people!

Image found here
I ended my day with another Thai massage class, "Vedic Thai Yoga Bodywork: Part II." I was glad that my friend Courtney and I could partner again, since we took the first class together. I was still impressed by Dr. Debmalya Nandy as a workshop leader; both of his classes were great! During this class we focused on more of the back body, and I was so relaxed I actually fell asleep! I think my favorite part was when Courtney would step on the backs of my feet; you never think to stretch your feet!

That was my last full day of Interfusion. It went by so quickly!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Interfusion Festival 2020: Saturday

Image found here
My second full day at the Interfusion Festival was just as fun as the day before!

Image found here
I started my day at a meditation workshop with Yonah Levy. I took a similar class with him last year and really enjoyed it. He is a wonderful instructor, and his deep voice is very peaceful and serene. The workshop only lasted for 40 minutes when it should have been an hour, but I find it hard to even meditate for five minutes, so maybe that was okay. It was certainly hard to meditate with laughing yoga happening next door!

Image found here
Then my friend Courtney and I partnered up for "Vedic Thai Yoga Bodywork: Part I." This was a 90-minute Thai massage class, so it was wonderful to already have a trusted partner to work with. Dr. Debmalya Nandy was a great instructor: he gave clear, simple directions, and he had a quiet friendliness about him. I really like how Thai massage focuses on stretching with "traction," and I was so relaxed. Sometimes the pressure is a little too much for me in massage, but as the receiver, we could let the giver know how much pressure to use.

Image found here
After a quick lunch, I took a yoga class with Alena Interrupted. I took a yoga class with her last year and remembered how calming her voice was. The class was good, but probably better for beginners (I thought the yoga practice itself was pretty easy). One of her techniques is to go through flows super-slowly, which is a little different than my usual yoga practices.

Image found here
And of course I signed up for another class with Monique Darling and Peter Petersen! This one was called "Conscious Sexuality: Understanding Energetic Connection." We started with some seated qi gong, and then we used those "energy bubbles" to share different energies with partners around the room. We even pretended to use "energy ropes" to tie up a partner (I had never done that before; I didn't feel anything when I was being "tied," but it was fun to do it to the other person!). At the end we had to dance for a partner in different ways (it was almost a little too much dancing). I love to dance and think of myself as a very good dancer, so I'm never nervous for this kind of thing; I usually assume my partner will love my dance, and I will smile but inwardly cringe as my partner dances awkwardly for me. BUT my partner could really dance! I was so impressed! He said he felt like he could let out his "inner diva," which I could totally see. What a pleasant surprise!

Image found here
I didn't know what to expect from my next workshop, but "A Sense of Dance: An Exploration in Sensuosity," was quite interesting! Now I'm not sure "sensuosity" is a real word, but the first half of the class was exploring the differences between our ideas of sensuosity and sexuality (we all agreed they aren't the same thing). Marc Brewer was the main instructor, and I appreciated how well-spoken he was and how well he presented information and prompts to the group. After we discussed, we moved around the room, changing our speeds, directions, where our eyes were looking, all the while trying not to run into each other. And once we partnered up, we danced in a way that is very similar to contact improv (he never used that term, but that's really what it was). It was a fun way to move!

I was going to take a dance class afterward, but I was so tired that I just headed home. I needed to shower and paint my nails anyway. Sometimes you need a night of alone time after touching so many strangers during Interfusion!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Interfusion Festival 2020: Friday

Image found here
This was my fourth Interfusion Festival (I wrote several blog posts about my previous experiences, but there are simply too many of them to try to include here!). I look forward to it every year, and this time was no exception!

My experience this time around had a rocky start, because I didn't know that the venue had changed! I never received any specific messaging about that! I feel like every email leading up to the festival should have started with "NEW LOCATION!" at the top of each message. And, since I am a "regular" of the festival, I would have thought I would have received a dedicated message about the change, since I clearly was used to a routine. So that was awkward arriving at the first hotel to see no one was there! Luckily the new location wasn't too far, and I only missed the first workshop. But not a good start to things!

Since I missed the Thai bodywork workshop, my first real workshop was an AcroYoga class with Kelly Marburger and Eric Sipes, both from AsanaRoots in Baltimore. Interfusion is the only place I ever practice AcroYoga (I've never been to a studio), so it was fun to play around with this again. The "throne" pose was new to me, and I was glad that I felt more and more comfortable basing as time went on. After the class, we all laid together in a "puddle" and did a big belly "ohm" together. It was great! (The video above features Kelly and Eric; skip to the 2:00 minute mark.)

Then I actually had a real lunch break! This time around, the festival offered a mix of 60-minute and 90-minute classes, with thirty-minute breaks in between. That was fantastic! It meant I had plenty of time to go to the restroom, have lunch, visit the vendors, etc. I never had to feel rushed. Bravo!

Image found here
My next workshop was probably my favorite of the entire festival. I LOVE Monique Darling and Peter Petersen (their "Foundations of Ecstasy" workshop in 2017 changed my world), so I immediately signed up for their "Intimacy Practices: The 5 Senses of Touch." This was like an ASMR video but in real life!  We all got into groups of three, and then we took turns being the receiver while the other two people engaged our five senses. For smell, tissues that had been sprayed with citrus and lavender essences were wafted across our faces. Our partners whispered in our ears for sound, and of course touch was with hands (or a rose that we were given). We were each given a piece of vegan chocolate for taste, and finally for sight, we danced for our partners so they could watch. I felt tingles all over; it felt SO good! And my male group partner was LOVING it; he was so squirmy! This workshop was such a high; I would definitely do it again!

Image found here
Next up was another AcroYoga class, but with a twist. Usually those classes are just about doing cool poses. But Jean-Jacques Gabriel uses AcroYoga as a type of therapy, almost like massage. Lifting the flyer could release tension and pressure in parts of the body, and then a healing touch could be used to help stretch and massage. I thought he was a great workshop leader, and I loved his perspective on this kind of healing art. I was paired with an older woman who had never done AcroYoga before, and she was having a hard time getting into the poses and was getting frustrated. But eventually I was able to show her some easier poses and some tips for helping to get in and out of positions, and she was finally able to fly! It's always hard to be partnered with someone new, but it was also fun and satisfying to help her get the experience she wanted.

Here is a video of Jean-Jacques doing some AcroYoga:

Image found here
Then I took a Kundalini yoga class. Daniel Rahayel was the teacher, and he was a very good public speaker and meditation guide. We focused mostly on the "breath of fire," which is a very rapid breathing technique. I never really got the hang of it; we were supposed to do it for 30 minutes, but I could barely do it for a few seconds before gasping for air! So clearly I wasn't doing it right. The class was definitely more of a mediation rather than an active yoga session, so it wasn't really what I was looking for. Maybe Kundalini yoga just isn't for me.

Image found here
I took a class last year with Timaree Schmit, so when I saw she was coming back to the festival, I knew I wanted to work with her again. Her workshops are more lecture-based, which I like; they are very educational, and you get to learn more an expert. This class was called, "The Science of Sexuality, Desire and Relationships." I did learn some new things, like the fact that the categories of "homosexual" and "heterosexual" were not written down and acknowledged in a scientific way until 1868. She also talked about the Kinsey Scale, which I had heard of but didn't know too much about. But some of what she said were repeats of last time, like her tape/dollar bill metaphors. And unfortunately, when we broke into small discussion groups, an old boomer was with me and just took up most of the time talking about his own experiences (as old, white men are wont to do). So I didn't have as good of an experience this time, but I still think she's a wonderful resource and a great person to have at Interfusion.
Whew, and that was just day one!

Monday, January 13, 2020

20-Minute Operas at the Kennedy Center

Image found here.
I haven't seen many operas, but the idea of seeing a mini-opera at the Kennedy Center intrigued me (as did the $15 ticket). This was the eighth season of the American Opera Initiative 20-minute commissioning program. Different pairs of composers and librettists (i.e. the people who write the words to go with the music) apply to the program, and the finalists are matched up with mentors as they go through the writing process. There's "something academic about the exercise" of staying within the 20-minute limit; that timing doesn't allow for a long, unfolding story, but you still want your audience to connect and feel something.

Image found here.
While this is the eighth year of this, I only just learned about it! Clearly I have been out of the loop. The set-up is very simple: the orchestra played on stage while the actors (in casual clothes) sang, and two screens on the sides of the stage had subtitles so you could read what they were singing. This seemed a little strange because the songs were in English, but just the style of opera singing is difficult to understand at times. My first thought was, "What good is an art form that needs to be translated in its own language to be understood?" But then I thought about the notes you read about piece of art when you visit a museum. They ARE helpful and bring more meaning and understanding to the artwork.

I saw three of these mini-operas, all of which were somewhat biographical (one of the participants said, "We have to write what we know."). They also took place in the last century-ish, so it was like watching a new genre of contemporary opera. The creators did have the opportunity to meet during a workshop this past fall, which gave them the opportunity to talk, brainstorm, and give and get feedback from their mentors (and I assume each other). The creators were given notes about the singers and their voices, too. Some of them already knew a few of the actors, so that helped in inspiring the music. I also liked that there was a Q&A with the creators after the show so you could look behind-the-scenes and learn more about the creative process.

Woman of Letters (Composer: Liliya Ugay; Librettist: Sokunthary Svay

Image found here.
  • Summary: A first generation immigrant is a janitor trying to give his daughter a better life, and he brings her books to read and help educate her. In doing so, she has applied and been accepted to a program overseas. There is a struggle between wanting to support her dreams but also wanting to keep her close. 
  • Creators: Ugay and Svay actually knew each other years ago when they met through a mutual friend from Yale. They studied opera separately, bur reconnected afterward. This piece was several years in the making for the two of them. The lyrics are mostly based on Svay's childhood. Her father is an immigrant from Cambodia, and some of the lines in the songs are things he used to say; she had wanted to leave home and become a singer, so the daughter and Dara sort of play this role (The daughter wants to leave home, and Dara is already chasing her dreams of becoming an opera singer. How meta.). Even though the piece is very personal, Svay said she "wanted it to be universal" where all people could connect to the story. 
  • Cast: Samuel J. Weiser played the father, Marlen Nahhas played the daughter, and Alexandra Nowakowski plays Dara (a friend? a cousin? I was confused about her role other than her part as comedic relief.). I was impressed by both of the women singers especially. 
  • My thoughts:
    • The music felt very Disney to me, like a musical conversation. The music around the daughter made me think of the Disney princess movies, while the music for the father felt a lot like The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    • The lyrics for me were disappointing. The father is speaking (ahem, singing) in broken English, and yet he uses contractions like "I'm," which would not be common for someone who doesn't speak English well. The lyrics also include things that simply aren't poetic: there is no art-worthy way of including the word "toilets" in a song. And the words didn't fit the actor: he was singing about his janitor uniform's shirt being too big, but Weiser is a large man who in fact was wearing a shirt that was a little too tight for him that night. 
    • The most moving part of the piece was when the father tells the daughter, "I see you." It felt very much like The Joy Luck Club, when the mothers and daughters are really understanding each other for the first time. I definitely got teary-eyed!

Admissions (Composer: Michael Lanci; Librettist: Kim Davies)

Image found here.

  • Summary: Two rich parents get caught in a scandal of bribing colleges to accept their children into the schools. The piece was definitely inspired by the recent events of Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman, and other celebrities doing just that. The writing team's first ideas had been rejected, and then they wrote this piece just after the scandal broke, and it was accepted!
  • Creators: Lanci had never written music for a comedy before. Once he received the lyrics from Davies, he was inspired by Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. He purposefully made the music overly-dramatic to emphasize how trivial the complaints and comments were of the characters (for example, the daughter is talking about social media, etc.). Davies had historically written for theater and TV, which was a less collaborative process. They described this piece as an "onion unfolding," with details of the scandal coming out one by one as time passed. 
  • Cast: We see Marlen Nahhas again playing another daughter character. She is joined by Matthew Pearce as her brother, and Amanda Lynn Bottoms and William Meinert as her parents. Again, I was more impressed by the women than the men. 
  • My thoughts:
    • I like that the title has a double meaning: the admission of their children into school, but also the admission of their crimes.
    • Again, lyrics for me should be poetry. Mentioning In-N-Out Burger in a song is not poetic.
    • Meinert's character at one point is supposed to be driving a car, but his arms were stick straight right out in front of him. Is that how he drives a car in real life?
    • During the discussion, someone said that you have to find a story that needs to be told in this opera art form or genre. This story for me doesn't fall into that category.

Night Trip (Composer: Carlos Simon; Librettist: Sandra Seaton)

Image found here.

  • Summary: In 1958, two uncles pick up their 16-year-old niece to take her from Chicago to Tennessee; her mother has given them money for the trip. When they stop for gas, a crooked cop engages with them and takes their money, rattling the family and the girl's dreams.
  • Creators: Seaton had written plays before, but she always loved opera music and would listen to the radio on Saturdays to hear the operas performed at The Met. She feels that, "opera gives you the freedom to just let go." She wrote the lyrics to relay the true story of an incident that happened to her Aunt Mary. Simon said, "Her words were packed with emotion...I used her words for guidance," when composing the music for this piece. He was also inspired by Gospel music, since the family was headed to Tennessee. When describing the piece, Simon said, "Each moment is revelatory," and it combines several musical styles and is quite intricate.
  • Cast: Rehanna Thelwell played the niece, opposite Joshua Conyers and Joshua Blue as her uncles. Matthew Pearce was the bigoted gas station attendant, and Samson McCrady played the police officer. 
  • My thoughts:
    • This piece had less dialogue, which I thought was better. In my opinion, opera lends itself more to soliloquy rather than conversation.
    • The actors were able to include a southern accent in their singing to reflect the origins of their characters, which I thought was very fitting to the piece. 
    • Conyers' driving was a lot more realistic looking!
    • While the creators at first had doubts about the line, "Leave that girl alone!" when one of the uncles is protecting his niece, it is by far the most powerful line of the entire show. 
    • What hit me hardest about this piece is that, while we specifically are told that the story takes place in 1958, this easily could be 2020. It is frightening that this sort of hatred and racism still exists, and this period piece is actually a story of the present. 

I'm not sure if opera is really for me, but I can appreciate the hard work that all parties put into these pieces to bring them to life!

*You can read more about this show in The Washington Post here.

*DC Theatre Scene's review is here. I actually met the writer at the event! It sounds like she and I had similar views (but her writing is much better than mine!).

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Christmas Vacation, Part II

The day after I flew back from California (read about that trip here), I returned to BWI around 5:00 a.m. for a flight to Boston. I still had several days before I had to return to work, so why not spend a little winter in New England?

Here are the highlights from my trip:

Day 1
Image found here
I took the Dartmouth Coach from Boston Logan up to Hanover. The drive up was fast and easy, and we got to watch Back to the Future, which I'm not sure I had ever seen all the way through (This may be an unpopular opinion, but I prefer Teen Wolf.).

Dartmouth Hall
As soon as we drove into Hanover, I felt giddy. I remember being on the bus after my first-year trip, and one of the upperclassmen said, "Welcome home." I truly did in that moment, and I had the same feeling on this trip, too. How could I not be ecstatic to be back on campus?

A sorority sister who is originally from NH (but now lives abroad) was visiting her family, so she and I had the chance to meet for lunch. Much of Hanover's Main Street is the same as when we were in school, but some businesses have changed. The Dartmouth Bookstore is gone, as is Canoe Club. And we had lunch at a new place called the Skinny Pancake. We tried the hash purples and some of the crepes. So good!
Baker Library (and Rauner Library next to it)
Once she headed home, I hung around town for a few hours. I did some shopping (bought some more Dartmouth gear at the Dartmouth Co-op and Traditionally Trendy, obviously), and I tried to stop by the library, but it was closed (which makes sense, since the only students on campus now are part of the ski team). Then I went to the Nugget to watch Bombshell; so disturbing as a woman to watch.

So...pretty much if you're a woman who wants to work in movies or TV, you WILL be sexually harassed. Image found here
Just as the movie was over, another Theta sister arrived on campus to pick me up! She and her boyfriend (along with their little dog Clio) drove me from Hanover to my family's lake house about 90 minutes north. Such good friends!

Day 2

We woke up to a beautiful sunny morning, and we discovered that the next door neighbors had shoveled off part of the lake to make a rink! So we took our skates over there and got on the ice! The neighbors were super-nice and even had skates my friend's boyfriend could borrow. It was so much fun being out there!

My friends left early, but I wasn't alone for long. The neighbors invited me to come over for a party that night. It ended up being three couples and their college-aged children, and then me, right in the middle of the age range. We spent the evening playing games like Jumbo Jenga and Left, Right, Center; dinner was a big pasta meal. It was all good fun, and it was wonderful to meet and hang out with such nice people!

Day 3

The only time I left the house this day was to visit my uncle and his wife, who live just about a half hour away. We spent the afternoon watching Rush (the serious version of Talladega Nights) and Forget Paris (the B-side version of When Harry Met Sally...). My uncle made pasta, and I had eaten lasagna for lunch, so I was really over pasta already! But any food I don't have to cook is good.

Day 4

My uncle taught me how to cross-country ski at Bretton Woods! I had never done it before, but I was excited to try it. I was most impressed by how comfortable the boots are. Nothing like downhill ski or snowboarding boots! And cross-country skiing is such good exercise: you really work up a sweat, so you don't need all those heavy layers. I had a great time! You still get to be outside doing a fun activity, but nothing hurts and you don't have the fear of breaking something. I'm thinking next season I might need to buy my own set of skis!

My new friends came up from Boston to celebrate the New Year and their 9th wedding anniversary!
This was new year's eve, so after relaxing at home for a few hours, I headed out to the New Year's Eve Gala at the Mountain View Grand Resort. I refused to spend the evening alone, and the Mount Washington Hotel's party was only for guests. So I was really happy when I came across this event! And even though I went by myself, I quickly made new friends with the other people at my table. There was a lot of food (at a buffet I always over-indulge), and while we didn't dance, it was fun watching everyone else. And then at midnight there was a fireworks show! It was strange watching fireworks from inside because you couldn't hear them (since usually it's 4th of July and you're outdoors). But the show was great: it went on for about ten minutes, and there were tons of fireworks. It was like the 4th of July finale the entire time!

The view from the house. All that snow is a lake!
It was so nice to be up in New Hampshire, even if it was just for a few days. My family calls our lake house our "happy place," and for me it always will be. When I wasn't out and about, I was perfectly happy to read a book or watch some Netflix; I can do those things at home, but it just feels different when you're on vacation. Now it's time for new adventures in 2020!

Friday, December 27, 2019

California Christmas Vacation

This year for the holidays, we went to southern California. My sister lives in Los Angeles, and my grandparents live in Laguna Niguel. My grandparents cancelled at the last minute coming east for last year's Christmas, so this year we came to them.

I was with my sister and her boyfriend for a few days before the rest of our family flew in. Other than seeing "Love Actually Live" (read that blog post here), we mostly hung out at their apartment watching Christmas movies like Elf, Home Alone, The Santa Clause, and the new Netflix animated film Klaus. But we did go out for ice cream to Wanderlust; I saw the owner of the shop featured in a Try Guys video (here), and since it was only about 20 minutes away, we just had to try it! I tried a hazelnut flavor, and my sister got the ube flavor.

My sister and I also did a lot of baking:

Chocolate peppermint cake. SO good!
My sister insisted that we do fancy cookie decorating. I'm surprised how nice they look!

My parents rented an AirBNB in Carlsbad for the whole family, so we headed there on Monday. It was really nice! It was perfect for just hanging out as a family. We walked around the town of Carlsbad as well, doing a wine tasting at the Witch Creek Winery tasting room (which features Sleepy Tiger Wines, related to Sleepy Tiger Coffee), walking around checking out all the cute shops (I bought a pair of snakeskin-printed jeggings from Blues and Shoes), and eating gelato at Gelato Love (the chocolate banana flavor and eggnog flavor were really good!). We also walked along the beach in Carlsbad and visited Hosp Grove Park to get some nature time in. It felt so good to get outside and be in the sunshine. had predicted rain for the time I was there, but it mostly only rained at night, which meant we could get outside during the day.

Our Hanukkah bush!
My sister's boyfriend with our itty-bitty Christmas tree.
There was a lot of cool wall art in Carlsbad:

On our last day in California, my parents and I stayed in Dana Point. We had a picnic of our Christmas leftovers by the beach before walking along the coast and doing some more shopping.

I'm flying home today. Sad to see this trip end, but I'm off to New Hampshire tomorrow for Vacation Part II! Stay tuned for that blog post!