Tag Archives: Trains

A Magical Saturday 🥩✨

Today is finally over. It was an incredible, wonderful day! Christopher and I are both so exhausted we can hardly move or think straight. We had a lovely time with our friend doing all sorts of fun things, but I don’t think what we were doing mattered that much, just that we were together.

We really missed the sorts of days we’ve been having. I think we both thought at times maybe days like these were gone permanently. And, the exact way these days used to be, is in fact gone. Things change, those are memories. But I think these are even happier days and happier memories. I want to make so many more.

My day was off to a good start right from the get-go. I took my walk and came across a squirrel friend who had a big nut:

After my walk I did all my chores and changed into the outfit I prepared for today. I felt pretty cute in it.

Then I played Legend of Mana and worked on today’s warm-up while we waited for our friend to arrive to spend the day with us. Christopher also showed me a bunch of fun YouTube videos and we enjoyed that little time together.

Finally our friend was there and we headed out to a train store I’d long wanted to take Christopher to, but it was shut down for COVID until recently. I brought Heidi along today!

The train place certainly was fun, I took a lot of pictures:

They had a bunch of Thomas items but no Thomas Wood or Thomas Wooden Railway. However, these O-Gauge of James made my heart leap. I wish I could have bought either of them, I just love James so much.

But, I’ll always have my little wooden James, the first train Christopher ever bought me, on our outing to the train museum, and he will always be very special to me.

After the train store, our friend took us to a French place he knew well. It had a lovely atmosphere and the food was amazing (in particular, the cheese plate we started with) but service was rather poor. They were having a party, and it slowed things down to the point that we didn’t get our cheese plate until the 35 minute mark, maybe longer? And our main meal 15 minutes after that or so. We were so desperately hungry by then.

I forget what I ate… some sort of crépe. It was good and that’s all that matters.

After this, we went to the house to hang out a little. Christopher napped while we checked the needed ingredients for dinner. Then we woke him up and dragged him out with us to shop for what we were missing.

I helped my best with dinner, while Christopher and our friend took care of the meat –the hard part– and some other stuff. I prepared rice (poorly, Christopher had to save it) and made pretty good chimichurri.

The picaña was amazing:

Here it is served with the rice and beans:

And a final photo of it by itself (no Heidi) for good measure. It was so good, I can’t post just one!

I am WAY too full. But, my heart is also full. I feel so loved and looked after, and so happy. In a little bit I’m gonna be watching anime with Christopher while we cuddle, and then I’ll be falling asleep with these warm happy feelings. Tomorrow I’ll wake up full of energy and start the day with my walk… then the lawn… then some art. It’s a good life lately.

Mwako’s ’21 Visit 🦁 Day One

My dear friend Mwako arrived today! He’s visiting for a few days. The last time was a couple of years ago. Normally, unless something happens, I see Mwako once a year, either at a convention or when he visits here or sometimes both at once. But with Covid, it’s been a while.

It’s always a lot of fun when Mwako comes but for this visit in particular, I’ve got a lot of Little activities planned for us to do together. I’m really looking forward to that.

I was very busy all morning –chores and commissions– but here is the outfit I picked for today:

After I finished my chores, Mwako and I went grocery shopping. I hadn’t been to Walmart in a while. I saw a really cool dinosaur in the toy area which I may have to get my hands on later… 👉👈

When Christopher got home, the three of us played with our trains and watched Thomas The Tank Engine. That was a lot of fun.

At some point I left them and went to make dinner. I made teriyaki chicken rice bowls with avocado on the side. I tried to make Mwako’s area as Little-feeling as possible.

Tomorrow we will start off on our adventures. I’m sure I’ll have tons of photos to post, so look forward to that!

Naturalization Day 🇺🇸✨

Hello everyone! 👋 My weekend is wrapping up so it’s finally time to write a proper post telling all that happened since Friday morning. It was a fateful and eventful day, with big highs and big lows but overall fantastic really, when all is said and done. Let’s do this!

❤️🤍💙 Naturalization Ceremony ❤️🤍💙

We left the house at 6:30am. The ceremony was at 8:15am, so we went to Dunkin’ Donuts to get breakfast first, since Dunkin’ was the first thing my mom and I ate when we landed on the US almost 20 years ago at 4:00am. 🍩 So on such a special occasion, of course we had to start with that. We met my mom at USCIS in Hialeah.

The ceremony, I have to say, was really lackluster. 😞 I did expect that to a degree, with COVID and all, but the masks, the social distancing, the Judge having to be there over Zoom, none of that was the issue. Even not being able to have guests there was much of an issue to me.

More than anything, it felt like this particular USCIS location didn’t give the event the gravitas it deserved. The thing that sucked most was that the USCIS employees weren’t ready, so as the Judge was talking to us, and saying all of these important things, they were talking over her. 😠 Wtf?! They were trying to get everyone’s paperwork and such and we just couldn’t hear the Judge. All stuff that should have been done before we entered that room.

Another thing was that, for all they tell you to dress to mark the dignity of the occasion, there were people with tank tops, torn jeans, visible panties (?!) which did also kinda spoil the mood for me a tad. 😒

But even that wasn’t the worst. At one point the Judge asked that we all take out our paper with the Oath of Allegiance. No one had it because they failed to give it to us! So we all repeated after the Judge as best as we could but that was so upsetting, some of the words were hard to understand. This was also the Oath with which you renounce allegiance to your country of birth. It’s a big deal and was supposed to be so solemn. And EVEN AT THIS TIME, some employees are still talking over the Judge and walking around! Give me a break.

Another bummer was that the video of Biden welcoming us didn’t play. I was looking forward to that so much. And then the Judge asked us to take out the little flags we had been given but we had been given NO FLAGS! I was so upset by this too. We did get our flags by the end, with the Naturalization Certificate, after the ceremony was over. But not on that special moment. Worse yet, we could see on the livestream that people at other locations got them properly and in time.

As we left we did get some photos outside with me holding my little flag, though, so that was nice:

Here is my Naturalization package… 😁 the flag, certificate (I edited out all sensitive info) and my voter registration and passport papers to fill out! It’s official!

Later, during the party, I got a frame from our friend Fern to put my certificate. I’ll frame it and put it on the wall this week. I got a stand for my little flag too. Displaying everything properly this week.

We were supposed to go to lunch with my mom a couple hours after, so we went to our house to relax a while until it was time. I was so excited about this lunch! But alas, it was not to be, because…

⛈️ Elliot’s Emergency Vet Visit ⛈️

Elliot got very sick, very suddenly. He must have been developing an UTI for a few days. But he was fine, eating and drinking well, playing and running like crazy. Suddenly, he began crying, dragging his front on the rug, panting heavily and desperately, trying to pee everywhere, without success. So right before we were about to leave for lunch, my mom had to go home and we ran to the vet as an emergency.

It was clear that Elliot was suffering terribly all the way. Between that, the lackluster ceremony, and the canceled long-awaited celebratory lunch, my spirits were so low. It felt like my day might be ruined. How can I be happy when my kitty is suffering.

Elliot had to have multiple medications to treat his infection, and manage his pain. We went home with a $330 bill… I didn’t even dare ask that we still have a meal out. We went home and I did my best to cheer up as I continued getting the house ready for the party, but at this point I wasn’t in the mood for partying anymore. 😔

🐱 Patriotic Kitties 🐱

As I cheered up and decorated I began to fool around. I may have gotten Kotoko and Rosemary involved:

No Elliot, because he was sick, and no Tomoyo, because I didn’t feel like being hospitalized.

🥳 The Party 🥳

I was barely ready when guests began to arrive. 😲 The first was my new friend Shelly and her boyfriend Ben. Shelly is a fellow Little whom I met online almost two years ago. We were supposed to attend Little Scouts together but that fell through because of… stuff happening in both our lives, and soon after I became so jaded on having Little friends and doing Little things, that I didn’t pursue further and you know, time just passed, and then COVID hit.

So, a month or so ago (I may have told this story in passing on my blog actually) a pest control truck was parked across the street from my house. I’d been looking for someone to do pest control inside our house and I saw a girl near the truck; I thought, great! I want to support a woman-led pest control business. I never see that. So I ran outside in my rainbow socks like a crazy person.

I approach the truck and ask, and this girl, who’s now in the truck with a gentleman, looks at me really intensely while explaining that they only do outdoor pest control. I go back inside and get a text from Shelly, the girl I didn’t get to meet long ago, and she’s all like, did you just ask me about pest control?? Of all the crazy coincidences, right?

Anyway, thankfully Shelly is better at remembering people from photos than I am. We began texting again but I couldn’t manage to make some spare time to meet, so I invited them to this party, and thankfully they both came and hopefully weren’t too put off by my obnoxiousness. 😅 They were both so nice.

A lot of people began to arrive soon after them. Some couldn’t make it, but people who I wasn’t expecting to see made it, and we had a great turnout. Christopher made great burgers as usual and a lot of the snacks I got were eaten.

Before I veer off from the topic above, it seems a Little-geared event may soon happen among a bunch of us, all girls, and more Middles than Littles really… I feel excited in that small, happy way about Littlespace for the first time in the longest time ever, so it’s a big plus to this party.

I wrote a lot, so I’m going to interject with some pictures here:

Something that I was NOT expecting was presents. Danny and Amanda gave me a card and fifty bucks that I had a lot of fun spending at Barnes & Noble the next day (more on that later.) My mom in law came dressed in patriotic colors and gave me a flag cookie, a $50 Amazon gift card, a beautiful bracelet with USA flag colors, and at some point I lose track of what was from her and what was from Grandma… I got a pole and a USA flag for the house, and I do mean a real proper full size all-weather flag, and I believe one was from my mom in law and the other from Grandma. There was also napkins and a tablecloth and a garden flag, and a dish towel, all USA themed, it was really all too much… I was floored.

Grandma also sent this pair of flags. I have a similar one already on the porch, so I will rotate them as they wear out:

There was a lovely note from Grandma too. My friend Jen got me some fancy liqueur and my very dear friend Kris and his lovely girlfriend Sivan got me a tic-tac-toe set. You may not think this sounds very special, and I was a bit puzzled, until I opened the actual pieces and screamed. Here it is in the library!

It’s handmade in Puerto Rico. Needless to say, they know me well…

We drank a fair bit. Christopher is such a delightful drunk.

I just get more obnoxious. For my drink, I asked Leo to pop the cork in my champagne, and he somehow broke the mouth of the bottle and cut his finger, so I gave him a Cinderella printed band-aid and filtered my champagne through a Keurig reusable pod. There were no crunchies. 😁

Here’s more drunk Christopher. This was near the end of the night. You can hear my mom in law telling him to just be quiet. Lol.

Christopher rarely drinks and for this reason I LOVE it when he does. He’s the best kind of drunk, just fun and happy. We had to carry him up the stairs though.

My mom in law took several photos, but most of this night’s photos were taken by my friend Andrea, who, by the way, came looking SUPER patriotic. She’s very good at just constantly taking random candid photos for which I am always grateful.

Here’s a selfie round-up:

Speaking of Andrea being great at capturing moments, some DDR actually happened since Christopher fixed the machine. Here he is playing with dad-to-be Leo:

Here’s both Christopher and I, happy and drunk. A wonderful night almost over.

I took this photo right before getting in bed. Getting Christopher to bed was a whole ordeal. Bert was a big help. Christopher was so happy and loopy, poorly coordinated and consequently difficult lol. As soon as he passed out after brushing his teeth, Kotoko protectively lay on him.

And that was the end of this wonderful night. One more thing I want to mention is that I got to hang out with my old friends for a long time, I mean my pre-Christopher friends, for the first time in years. Properly, I mean.

You see… a few years ago, I felt so fulfilled by Christopher and by the couple of friends that we were deeply close with at that time, that I unconsciously (or perhaps somewhat consciously) stepped away from my old friend group, I can even say I pushed my friends aside. The friendship we had with that couple truly and utterly filled my heart and the free time in my weekends. When it wasn’t that, I was so absorbed with my furry friends and my Little side/lifestyle that I felt it didn’t merge well with my old friend group. I didn’t lose touch completely, but I did by a big amount.

Now, other than seeing one of our old friends sometimes (since I had a terrible and very painful falling out with the other) that “couple” friendship is gone and it left a huge gaping hole. There’s no more hanging out every weekend, no more meeting up to cook a meal at our place or going to an art walk or a thrift sale. It took a long time to get used to that. But I didn’t feel like just trying to rekindle old friendships either. I was left quite jaded and afraid by that experience and a similar one that followed. No longer in pain, but tired by it, just jaded.

Now a lot of time has passed since the last truly painful, traumatizing stuff. Two plus years. Other bad stuff happened but it’s more easily brushed off. And I saw my old OLD friends again. Almost all of them came. They didn’t have to, you know. None of them forgot me. They all came to celebrate me and treated me as if I’d been part of the group in the same way the last five years (which I have not been.)

I felt more comfortable and more like myself among them than I ever did before. Like the old me and the new me came together and I’m comfortable again. And now I better see how precious friendships are. I was so careless with them.

Our MAD anime group had its share of drama but most of us have always gotten along and sorted out conflicts. I knew that before but didn’t realize its value. My friends are all very different but they are good people and I’m really lucky to be back among them after I kind of discarded them temporarily. Maybe I thought I didn’t need them but that is not true. No friendship should ever be taken for granted. We get less in a lifetime than we think, and I was and am lucky to have them.

We have the next MAD meetup planned, at our place! I haven’t hosted one in years, so I’m really excited. It’s on June 12th.

Sorry to get so verbose… let’s move on to Saturday!

🌈 Saturday 🌈

Since I didn’t get a nice meal with my mom, my mom in law treated me to the same place I wanted to go to for Saturday’s lunch (The Tavern). I brought Beanie along for this one:

I had crab cakes, teriyaki brussel sprouts and cole slaw. I wanted to have crème brûlée for dessert but in the end I was just too full.

After this we went to the book store. I saw this cute book but I didn’t buy it, I got a picture though:

It KILLED me that we ran into Thomas stuff, and they had Harold, Edward AND Cranky!! I didn’t dare ask Christopher for any of it… 😖 He’s been spending way too much because of me. But seeing this stuff in person and not getting it was kinda killer, haha… at least I got a photo:

It was Cranky I wanted most of all. 😭 But now, for what I DID buy. I got this Sesame Street tote:

It’s big and very thick and fits my iPad:

I also got a couple of dinosaur books and a li’l t-rex friend:

These books may be for little kids, but I want them for character design tips and ideas. The illustrations are amazing, and the quick facts are super useful:

Later we went to Brandsmart. We didn’t buy anything, it was just to look. Brandsmart always feels larger than life to me:

After that we went to Phở 79 for dinner, and then home. Before bedtime we played Rummikub and Mille Bornes. I had patriotic cakes with my new dino friend:

I went to bed very tired and happy. It was a wonderful day.

🎀 Sunday 🎀

Sunday was a quieter affair. I got up, had my coffee and got ready to head out on my walk. I wanted to check the Pride section at Target. Speaking of, my pansexual pride bandana did come in, at least, which you can see in the photo above.

It was a rainy day, everything gray and dull and wet. My outfit really stood out (and I’m not even holding my dinosaur umbrella here):

Before I went out though, my mom in law helped us install our brand new flag!

❤️🤍💙 Installing The Flag ❤️🤍💙

Honestly, they did all the hard work. But I made sure the flag didn’t touch the ground.

Placing the pole!

We had to get at least one photo of me next to it:

Here’s the way the flag looks from the door, and from the street:

Here it is waving in all its glory! A waving flag makes a beautiful sound. I never paid attention to it until now.

At dusk we brought the flag in. We won’t actually take it out again until Thursday, as that is when we will be installing a light so it’s not in the dark at night.

I think that’s everything. A very busy week looms ahead, with cleaning-up to do, overdue warm-ups, immigration paperwork for my mom, answering lots and LOTS of congratulatory messages, and scheduling doctor appointments.

I’m going to take care of my snails now, and then head to bed. Thank you so much to everyone who read this!

Train Time 🚂

Here, have a train photo dump! After a month of playing, this is our setup before being dismantled. I’m sure we will make another in the future, but for now we need the space. This takes a LOT of room. 😅

Nothing else to add, really… just wanted to share the photos. Oh yeah, and it turns out our three new battery powered engines (Percy, Diesel and Thomas) are actually not compatible with other brands of track. So I’m trying to decide whether to modify or sell them. 🤔

The Weekend’s Treasures ✨🦕🚂

Good morning everyone! I’m still doing lots of things… even more laundry, still unpacking, very busy… I did say I would make an additional post to share my new treasures and souvenirs, so here we go! In no particular order…

These are the Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway goodies we snagged. Three battery operated engines! Diesel, Percy and Thomas. Very happy with these finds!

Then, as you can see, we got a few “destinations”. A water tower, a search light, a quarry mine tunnel and a winter fuel station!

The store had a lovely friendly attendant who surprised me with a cute little doodle of Thomas when we went to the register to pay! 🥰

Here are some goodies from The Sound Exchange in Tampa Bay. We found a brand new record of the music from Tales From The Crypt (which we are currently binging!) a Laserdisc featuring How The Grinch Stole Christmas and Horton Hears a Who, and another of the Dead Poets Society.

Something else they had at the Sound Exchange was old books and magazines. I decided to take this one, from 1966, partly because it had some pages about dinosaurs.

It’s an interesting little magazine, with lovely illustrations. It was one hundred percent brand new, as it must have looked the day it was made.

Continuing the dinosaur topic, we visited Mojo Books & Records across the street from our hotel. This is actually a place we visited on our second anniversary trip. We loved it then and now! I decided to look for more dinosaur books, because why not. I found a few:

They are all beautiful, but my favorite is the first one (The New Dinosaurs). The biggest book, The Prehistoric World Of The Dinosaur, had a child’s drawing inside:

I almost discarded it, and perhaps eventually I will, but Christopher pointed out that some kid loved dinosaurs and this book so much, that he carefully drew them and placed the drawing inside. Thinking that, it felt wrong to remove it.

And now, let me share the best part, which is my haul(s) from Dinosaur World! One haul wasn’t enough… Christopher took me back on Saturday. He really indulged me all weekend long. 😁💕

First off there are these tiny, tiny books! About the size of my hand. Little stories about dinosaurs.

I got a visor and a tie-dye shirt! 🌈✨

I found a wonderful foam dino in the same general vein as Mojito and Fuit Gummy, but a completely different color and pose. I think he will make a great friend for them! I’m calling him Churrasco.

I also got this medal which I will hang from my cork memory board:

And a few more odds and ends; a patch (also for my cork board, at least for now) a pencil case and a rubber bracelet:

They had so many beautiful statues… it was really very hard to pick what to buy. I ended up getting this little guy:

And this beautiful… beautiful, massive gal… The jewel of everything I got this weekend. I adore her. I could go on, but I’ll leave you to look at the photos:

And that’s it! There are a few things that stayed in my mind as “wish I’d gotten that” but I had to stop somewhere. 😅 One was a foam triceratops that I didn’t buy at the store where we got the Thomas stuff. I looked for it online, and all I could find is that it’s by a brand called Best Choice and is out of stock everywhere. Another was a raptor lamp at the Dinosaur World, and a lenticular print, also from there… but I’m sure if I’d gotten these things, there would be something else I regretted leaving behind. So it’s alright. 😁

I do wish Christopher had found more things he liked, but he didn’t really. We both had a good time, though.

Anyway that’s all for my trip, I have to go grocery shopping now. Hope your week is off to a great start!

Anniversary Trip: Day 2 (And Home Again) 💕🚂

Here’s the second day summary of our wonderful anniversary getaway! We were up pretty early. I was excited to wear the outfit I had planned for today.

It was my cheeky Thomas sweatshirt, a brand new blue plaid skirt, my black boots with new black rainbow socks, and my Thomas backpack. Oh, and my Doctor Who scarf. I wished I could get a full OOTT photo but there was no full-body mirror in the room, so I got a regular selfie.

And a photo of the rest of the outfit, like this:

Then I got Coffee Cake out of his little sleeping bag and had breakfast while I waited for Christopher to be ready.

Soon we were on our way. We stopped to get breakfast first, but due to COVID (understandably… I guess? this really could have been done better while still keeping things safe) the “free, all inclusive” breakfast buffet was, err, interesting:

Leaving the “buffet”, we went to the train show. Coffee Cake continued to enjoy the views afforded to him:

The train show was a collection of extremely elderly people selling extremely old trains in a packed, very rickety church room. I didn’t get any video or photos here, but they had a cute little display with a train running and the guy controlling it would make chocolate eggs jump up into the air with a loud POP! that really startled me and made me yell “what the hell” inside a church, but I’m a heathen now so that’s okay. The train popped three eggs. 🐣

After that, we went what was supposed to be the highlight of this trip, HR Trains & Toys, Inc:

This was followed by Zitnik Trains. Both were a letdown, for a few reasons. We’d been to HR Trains’ original location on our second anniversary trip, and while we didn’t buy anything, it was a huge highlight of our trip, and the seed for my interest in wooden track trains was planted then and there. But it seemed too silly, I suppose; I thought Christopher’s main interest were the HO scale and such. I had no idea then how much the liked the wooden ones.

By the time we visited again, HR Trains had been sold and moved to a new, smaller location, that did not have the magic or size of the original. In particular, the wooden track area was sad and minuscule, most its space taken by an old guy in an office chair, making it difficult and embarrassing for me to peruse anything without being in extremely close quarters with him. I saw some items I liked, but was so annoyed and generally let down, that we didn’t buy anything here either.

Other than that though, we enjoyed looking around the store, in particular I had fun looking at the G scale trains. Zitnik trains was smaller and less interesting, so I don’t have much else to say about that. We found no wooden track stuff at all there.

💂 Jack’s London Grill 💂

Then it was lunch time. I’d picked a place called Jack’s London Grill for our itinerary, and here was another highlight. This was an AMAZING place, the chef was from Surrey in England and the food was genuine and superior in taste, texture and presentation.

I had a pear cider, bangers and mash (well, one banger and mash –I asked for the lunch-sized portion) and a puff pastry stuffed with hot melted brie. For dessert, we ordered bread pudding.

Everything I ate was incredible. It’s hard to choose a favorite, but I guess I’d pick the bread pudding because it was so different. Christopher had Shepherd’s Pie:

I took this next photo after asking him to smile properly. In his defense, I think his mouth was full. 😅

The order of things escapes me slightly here –we went to record stores, to bookstores, and to game stores. We also went to a vintage toy store that really stood out! That’s what I’ll be talking about next.

🌈 Bear Haven Land Company Vintage Toys 🌈

This store was called Bear Haven Land Company Vintage Toys. It was much bigger than it looked on the outside and an absolute delight. They graciously let me take a bunch of photos. I’m sure you’ll recognize many toys you’d like to get your hands on, as I did! It was a real treat.

Here, I found a wonderful little Raikes bear! He was affordable, small and charming, so I brought him home with me. I decided to call him Raisin, because his color was just like that of the raisin-filled bread pudding we had earlier.

His face and paw pads are made of carved wood. Isn’t that cool? I’d seen bears like him before but none were cute enough for me to want to buy.

After that, we went back to the hotel and napped/watched TV. For dinner we went to a Phở place. The food was good, but the place was dingy, the lights flickered, and the service was so-so. 🤷‍♀️

After dinner we went back to the hotel for the final time, to toast our anniversary!

We cuddled and watched the last episode of Horimiya afterwards, which was very fitting to end the weekend… 🥰

We were tired, but happy. It was a wonderful way to wrap up our anniversary getaway.

💕🏡 Home Again 🏡💕

And that brings us to today! We left quite early in the morning, after grabbing one final McDonald’s breakfast. And, yeah, Friday-Saturday-Sunday I am not doing fitness logs. I ate like a beast, though we also walked a lot. It was a time to enjoy to the fullest, so I have no regrets. ✌

When we got home, I found that that my Brown and Cony keycaps had finally arrived, after a million years delay. They’re very cute!

I spent the day taking care of the cats and snails, blogging, unpacking, doing laundry, and resting. We ordered Bento for dinner and I had some coffee and a Vauquita from Argentina, another sweet treat I hadn’t had in years. Vauquitas ( a play on the word vaquita, which means “little cow”) are “dulce de leche” bars covered in powdered sugar. They have a harder shell with a soft and crumbly inside. It’s very sweet and delicious but you can’t eat more than one at a time. It’s too sweet like that.

Tomorrow I have to shop for groceries and finish my chores 100% because Tuesday begins my 100 Daily Warm-Ups project and I have to study for my citizenship test all the harder! So I will end this post here. Also, tomorrow I’ll share all the treasures I found with you. I hope you enjoyed the recap of our trip!

Anniversary Trip: Day 1 💕 🦖🦕

I’m so happy, I’m so happy, I’m so happy…! 😭✨ I don’t even know how many times I’ve said this over and over during the last 48 or so hours.

Not everything in our getaway anniversary weekend went as expected. Some things were way more amazing than planned, others were kind of disappointing, and others were unexpected surprises that we enjoyed a lot. I took lots of pictures and I can’t wait to tell you about it all. I’ll be dividing my weekend summary in two posts, plus a third one for all the goodies I got. This is day one —the best day, really!

(I should add, our anniversary is actually on May 11th. But the timing worked best for this weekend, so we celebrated it early.)

We left a little after 7:00am and had McDonald’s for breakfast. It was unusually good, we enjoyed it a lot. As a side note, I was really excited for my outfit for this day! I’d never worn my Lazy Oaf overalls until this day. They are my only “designer” overalls:

They also marked the beginning of the pandemic for me: the last thing I did before serious lockdown began, was go to the tailor’s to pick them up after adding some extra buttonholes. It was my last day out without a mask. The world changed a lot right after that.

My companion for this weekend was Coffee Cake:

Coffee Cake was pretty excited for his first-ever road trip:

Our first stop after driving a few hours was lunch at the Whistle Stop cafe (the name appears differently on the menu for some reason). This is one of the places that was a bit of a mixed bag. 🤔 The restaurant felt like much of this little town: run down and with caked-on dirt in places. But it was also so old, established in the late 1800s as a drugstore! A lot of its original appearance was still in place, which I found fascinating.

The food was okay, but because the place was fairly dirty, I didn’t have much of an appetite. I had tuna salad, potato salad and a root beer float:

The root beer float didn’t look pretty or appetizing so I didn’t photograph it. I did enjoy the train theme of the place. It was perfect for our train-focused trip! And the staff was very nice, and there was an old man playing an old, slightly out of tune piano. Honestly if the place had been cleaner I would have liked it a lot more. 🤷‍♀️

Almost across the street was our next stop, the Robert W. Willaford Railroad Museum:

Compared to the Gold Coast Railroad Museum, there wasn’t much to see here (again, comparatively). But they had a lovely model train display:

I got some video of it as well:

Here’s a couple more pics I took from this area:

Then, it was on to a stop that I was very excited about, but I didn’t really understand how awesome it would actually be. That was…

🌴 🦖 Dinosaur World 🦖🌴

I’m making a separate section in this post to further emphasize how utterly incomparable, amazing, highlight-of-the-weekend this place was. I spent hours since then, thinking how to best describe its magic to accompany the 150-odd photos as well as videos that I took to share with you. I hope I can do my experience justice with words.

Imagine a literal Jurassic Park frozen still. Just as larger than life, just as mouth-gaping incredible. Craning up your neck to look at these massive dinosaurs that look like they could begin moving again any moment. I was LOSING MY FREAKING MIND (and wishing Nate was there to enjoy it with me because he would have lost it just as much). I was grateful for my mask that hid my face because for the first twenty minutes I was so overcome with happiness, surprise and excitement that I was trying not to cry.

For a bit of context… dinosaurs are my oddest special interest because it hasn’t been a special interest that ever had a period of intense obsession, yet it’s always been there, probably since I saw The Land Before Time as a very little girl (to this day, this is still my favorite movie of all time.)

The original Jurassic Park movie would later intensify this tremendously, but when I was younger, dinosaurs were a very boy-centered thing as far as toys, and I never ran into any very interesting scientific books about them growing up.

Later, as an adult, I discovered very charming dinosaur things such as the Gon manga, and the Umasou movies, and realistic toys such as Schleich dinosaurs replicas, which furthered my interest in an intense but quiet way.

So, it’s always been this thing in the back of my mind, I’ve collected a lot of dinosaur things, toys, clothes and books over many, many years, but without it ever being an all-absorbing focused obsession. Even recently, when I got into trains, I looked for dinosaur themed train sets. So it’s always just there, but it’s never been set afire like this weekend.

This is the first entrance you see when you approach Dinosaur World:

It’s followed by a long, tree lined road. The trees are super tall, with hanging vines and moss. Already, things feel larger than life –you really feel like you’re driving into Jurassic Park! Then there is the main entrance:

From the moment you park, there are cute dinosaur friends to see!

This one stands right by the entrance to the gift shop, which then leads into the park:

It was all I could do not to buy everything I saw before going to the park. The gift shop was incredible, absolutely MASSIVE. I wish I’d taken more photos of it. We even came back a second time, on Saturday, so I could go through it one final time.

This is what you first see as you walk into the actual park itself:

I can’t emphasize enough how small you feel next to these things. They’re so big!

A few more dinos from this area:

Right behind them, there was a museum. I liked the museum areas a lot, but my favorite part were the life-size models.

In the museum there were animatronics, though. I loved those! Here’s a still photo of one of them:

And here is video of them all!

Now I’m just going to add a whole bunch of photos. I took too many to add commentary to everything, but I do feel all are worth sharing here.

The dinosaur you see in the last photo above was to the right of this arch. It went into a different area of the park:

See the “river” down there, near number 5? Those arches are what you see above.

The boardwalk it goes into was beautiful, kinda rickety in a good, fun way. All around you found yourself surrounded in this scenery:

To the right of the boardwalk bridge, there was this:

Some more dinos to see as you continued to walk…

Then it was time to visit the mammoths!

The covered picnic areas were cute:

Nearby, I saw a squirrel friend in their tree-stump home:

Here’s all that was to be enjoyed as you made your way to the Skeleton Garden:

Here are some photos of the Skeleton Garden:

The moss hanging everywhere really added to the atmosphere for me…

After saying goodbye to one more friendly dino, we enter the Carnivore Boardwalk…

This area was interesting. It had a sign warning that it could be too graphic for younger children. In fairness, it WAS kinda graphic, but also dynamic, detailed and extremely interesting. Some dinos were well-camouflaged, and it was fun finding them.

As you will see in the photos below, the dinosaurs were depicted hunting, fighting, and defending their nests. I’d “content warn” this, but… there were several toddlers looking at this without batting an eye, so I assume my followers can handle some dino-on-dino “gore”.

Every once in a while Christopher would take a photo of me with the models. 😊

Another photo batch…

To give you an idea of how tall some of these guys were, here I am next to one of them:

Another big batch of pics…

I even saw an Argentinean dinosaur! Given the name, I guess remains were originally found in Salta? But this wasn’t specifically clarified.

Last batch of random pictures…

And a couple more “just for fun” ones:

That was it! After this, I went absolutely bonkers in the gift shop, and I can’t wait to share what I got with you, but I’ll leave all my treasures for a separate post. This post is so, SO long already, definitely the longest ever on my blog, and it’s not even done! So… let’s move on to the next topic!

After Dinosaur World we went to a few hobby stores. One of them, Toys+, was in University Mall, and next door to the hobby store area (by the same owners) was a normal toy store. This toy store had a lot of wonderful toys, including a respectable Thomas Wooden Railway section! Unbeknownst to us this would be the best selection we would find in the entire trip. We bought two battery-operated engines here —Percy and Diesel. We didn’t buy anything else (yet) because we expected to find so much more at the train stores.

We also went to a record store, where we got a few Laserdiscs, a vinyl record of the Tales From the Crypt soundtrack, and I got a vintage kid’s magazine.

Shortly afterwards we arrived at the hotel. The town wasn’t too promising. The hotel, called The West Wing and described as a “boutique” hotel, wasn’t like, dirt cheap, but it wasn’t expensive… it seemed like a good middle-of-the-road hotel though. Despite the area it was in, from the outside it didn’t look too bad…

Later, after seeing ants all over the place, a roach, and noticing the general layout of the hotel, we noticed the old sign, which they’ve yet not managed (or bothered to) take down. 😐

So I guess this used to be a cheaper motel, with a poorly slapped-on coat of paint. 😫 I cannot recognize the shape of the logo. The top makes me think Super 8, but it’s wider? I don’t know. Anyway this kinda sucked. Because it showed, too. It doesn’t feel great to stay in a hotel where you saw a roach, and piss ants all over the tables. Plus our bed smelled like the sheets had been left sitting while damp a long time. Overall it wasn’t great, but we were happy together, and we made do.

The hallway was… creepily long.

After some rest, we changed and went to Terra Gaucha, a Brazilian steakhouse. This would be another highlight of our trip! ✨

In spite of what I read in reviews, and in spite of mask wearing, this place didn’t exactly take COVID seriously. 😅 To my horror AND delight, the buffet/salad bar was open normally! The tables were all very close together and the place was PACKED. So basically if I’m destined to get COVID I got it here, for sure. I guess time will tell.

We were already there, so I decided to just enjoy what (other than masks) really felt like a normal, pre-COVID experience. I knew that wasn’t great to encounter at this time of our country’s struggle with this disease, but I decided to let myself enjoy it and had my most enjoyable meal in probably a year or more. Definitely made up for that awful experience at Gulfstream’s Texas De Brazil.

Everything was amazing. Everything. I ate until I couldn’t eat anymore. I drank too much. I was in a stuffed, half-drunk haze of the most utter, intense bliss.

Even writing it I go back to it and I’m so glad it happened. It was an expensive meal, but it’s a memory I’ll hold very dear.

As you can see in the photo above, for dessert we had a Crème Brûlée, the most perfect one I’ve ever tasted. They knew it was our anniversary and decorated it very beautifully. It was a very nice touch:

Then we went back to the hotel and, after such a long day, finally rested, relaxed, and watched TV together on Christopher’s laptop. It was a lovely end to our tiring day. I’ll share the next one in an upcoming post!

Odds ‘N Ends Before Bed 🌈🐶☕

You know, guys… I really want to cross post stuff to FurAffinity… I do… But, take this post for example. I’m finishing it on my phone. Tomorrow, if I want to post it to FA in the morning, I’d have to adjust its wording since it would not be posted when I am going to bed.

My posts generally seem so inconsequential anyway (other than my long, rambling ones) than to go through all that trouble, plus the photo links, etc… it all seems silly… I mean, it’s so much more work for me to cross post and make adjustments and links to the cross posted FA journal than for anyone to enter an email to comment here. It just makes little sense to me, I suppose. 🤔

But I have to get over it. As much as I wish my friends/FA watchers would comment here, I myself am terrible at commenting even on FA, like really awful, so I can’t point fingers. If people commented a lot here, I’d probably be bad about commenting back. So I get it, but it also kinda sucks.

Anyway. I started this post with a complaining ramble. Whoops. 🙇‍♀️💧 As I mentioned, I’m in bed. About to play a little Piofiore: Fated Memories (currently finishing all of Nicola’s routes but I already got his happiest ending), but first, I wanted to catch up here with a little post.

I’ve been using my new espresso machine lots and lots, and now I can make good espresso. It really was a wonderful Valentine’s Day present…

Kotoko keeps me company every day in the studio. She’ll bring me her toy mouse in the mornings and cuddle on my lap for a while, before settling on one of the beds I’ve set up for her near me (two, so she can pick… I guess I spoil her). But if I let her, she’d spend the whole day on my lap. 😅

It’s almost like the cats all have an agreement of who spends time with me and when. It’s all very specific. Kotoko is with me most of the day. Rosie is with me at night —she sleeps next to me, and at that time is very affectionate, and just with me.

She is playful during the day but doesn’t seek me out for cuddles, though she greets me often and wants to play if we “run into each other” so to speak. Meanwhile, Tomoyo seeks me out when I eat at the table: without fail, as soon as she sees that I’m preparing my midday meal, she sits on the chair next to me (and, if I get up, invariable takes my chair, and rolls on it belly-up, since this gets her attention.) Elliot seeks me out if I spend time on the porch, and when we have dinner, he sits between us.

Their routines rarely change, and almost never do other cats try to take a specific cat’s “special time”. Even as I write this, Rosie stood up just so she could fall down on me (which is how she lies down) even closer to my face, hard, to say without a doubt “I’m here, in case you haven’t noticed.” Purring furiously. Of course, I pet her.

Today I put together that KidKraft train set. It was absolute hell! I had to combine two sets (sending one back) to get the version with the least peeled-off paint… terrible quality. Putting it together was very difficult. A pity, the design is so cute. I wish it were better made.

Here are a couple of photos. I will take more when Christopher and I play trains again.

Kotoko LOVED the box it came in though. It’s now a new favorite place to sleep on —so much, that she brought her mouse to it. A rare occurrence:

Hmm… I think that’s all I have to share for now. I’m very excited about our anniversary trip. Just a week away! I’m also very tired. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Is It April 21st Yet? 😥

Hi all. It’s been a hot minute since I posted an outfit of the day! I felt very colorful, but walking over a mile in this got hot fast…

Anyway, today I went on a long (ish?) walk. I went to Walmart, mostly hoping to get out of a deep funk. I’m very stressed about the citizenship test. Everyone is being very encouraging, and I appreciate it. I’m having trouble with just 15 out of 100 questions (meaning, I don’t remember those 15 well enough yet.) So every day, I study them.

The problem is that even those I remember easily, I worry I’ll forget during the interview. I tend to crack under pressure. They might ask me something stupid like, “Who is the president of the United States right now?” and my brain might just decide to do this:

So, I’m doing everything in an uncomfortable fog, a daze, wanting April 21st to be here, and also to not be here. It’s stressful.

To relax, I continue playing otome games. I just finished Café Enchanté as I mentioned in an earlier post, I loved it… I’m already missing the characters. Hope a fandisc is released! And now I’m playing Piofiore: Fated Memories. I also watch old, early episodes of Thomas The Tank Engine while working, to relax. But mostly, I watch citizenship test videos on repeat while working on commissions. I don’t sleep well at night, and I’m snacking too much. Basically, I’m a hot mess. Can this be over already? 😅

Moving on… a new dinosaur train set arrived. Like usual, I’m saving it as a date night treat. The box art for this one is delightful, though!

Oh yeah. At Walmart, I got new shoos!

And! And! They light up!

In another bit of news… Our long-dreamed (and paid off) Alaskan cruise got canceled/postponed for the second time. Ah well.

It’s definitely for the best. I heard that AC got canceled too… I wonder what will happen to Megaplex.

It really seems like we are just losing another year. But we will have our little Tampa trip in ten days, at least, and if only Ragtime doesn’t get canceled again, I’ll be so happy. It’s now been moved to June, I think. Fingers crossed.

Right now we have our friend Bert staying with us. He’s staying for three nights, so for the first time, I am making regular dinners for three people. Even though I cook every night, I was really nervous about it. I want Christopher to be proud of me. I think Bert is kind of easy to impress with my low-level skills… ^_^; I can never reach my own standards, really. But if Christopher looks satisfied, then I feel very pleased.

Tonight I screwed up the sauce. Christopher had to run out to get more. I was doing well until the last minute, and felt ready to tear up as they walked through the door. But Christopher saved the day. I wish I could be a little more dependable, at least more consistently. I’m trying my best, though.

I’ve been moving the snails around again. With some of the babies a little bigger, I’m back to two tanks. The usual, big tank, and the medium tank (which had sat unused). The medium tank is in a brand new place in the house:

Tomorrow I’ll Zoom with my mom as usual. Lately it just feels like I’m getting through the days. I have a lot of head pressure, too… I’m drinking way too much coffee. I hope I’ll be feeling better in about a month’s time!

Now I’m off to get ready for bed. Tomorrow I also hope to finish a couple of commissions, finally!

Hi, Everyone!! 🌈✨

Hi guys~! I know this blog has been all postdated entries recently, and art output just kinda… suddenly dropped. 👉👈💧

I’m just really, really busy with all sorts of random things. Right now, all commissions in this year’s earlier batch are in the “highlights/last details” part of the process, so I am really busy with that, and you can expect a barrage of around 10 detailed pieces being completed and posted very, very soon. 👍✨

I’ve also been gaming a little more than usual as I’m trying to finish Café Enchanté, and of course studying lots for the upcoming citizenship test.

While I expect to do well, the advent of a day I have dreamed of for twenty years is deeply anxiety inducing, so you should expect to see me be quieter overall, and commission progress slowed a tad. I’m just trying to study, work, and keep it together. 😅 I really appreciate your patience with me.

The test is on April 21st. After that, I’ll probably go back to normal…

…unless I fail. Lol.

ANYWAY, my BigJigs Dinosaur Railway Set is here!! I’ll save it for next date night.

I’m getting as many dinosaur items for our train set as possible to create a “Jurassic Park” of sorts in our train world!

I’ve been having a sorta lonely feeling in my chest lately. I paused moving stuff from IG for a little while because (as much as the word annoys me sometimes) certain old photos started to trigger memories from previous, deeply anxiety-inducing relationships, and that puts me in a weird mental place.

And yet, I am determined to move everything here. Everything. I feel it’s important for me to have a record of it all in one place for the sake of remembering how certain things were. Sort of?

You see, sometimes certain memories make me miss things or people, and then I remember how it actually was –the curated photos can be confusing. I know I sometimes twisted how I described my own mood in certain situations to fool myself I suppose… actually, it’s the memory of that behavior of mine that is sorta triggering. Just, remembering how many times I was sad or uncomfortable and made posts saying the exact opposite. 😅 Just to convince myself that my feelings weren’t as they felt. Weird huh.

Anyway, I’ll see those posts, be inundated by memories, and then think yeah, I’m ok not looking for more friends for now. I just do not feel ready to deal with the stress. But. It would be nice to have a friend around my own age… I think. Another girl. It would be really nice. Just, someone over 30… or someone emotionally mature I guess? I do have friends like that whom I love dearly, but they live too far away…

Well, that was a spontaneous ramble. Whoops. That is all I have time to share for now, I think? If anyone is reading this, I hope you have a lovely week.

And if you are feeling lonely out there, even if you have people who love you, if you have a little hole in your chest for whatever reason, I hope something happy comes along to fill it, soon. Keep an open heart! That’s what I’m trying to do, too. 💕