Ski Week: the Mid-Winter Break

South Lake Tahoe – Hwy 50 (November 2012)

The mid-winter break in February is a new concept to me.

When I was in grade school (in the mid-’80s), all I got were two days off in February: one for President Lincoln’s Birthday and the other for President Washington’s Birthday.

These days, there are about 180 instruction days and about 75 no-school days in the United States.

Most schools have fall break (five days during the week of Thanksgiving in November); winter break (10 days in December/January); spring break (five days in March or April); and summer break (50 weekdays between June and August).

In addition, many schools observe five holidays (at least in California): Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday (January); César Chavez’s Birthday (March); Memorial Day (May); Labor Day (September); and Veterans’ Day (November).

Well, it seems the school holiday calendar is changing. For example, the school district in my city added yet another break during the school year: five days off in February — bringing the grand total to 80 no-school days!

The break is dubbed Presidents’ Week, Mid-Winter Break, or Mid-Winter Recess. The term Ski Week appears to be gaining popularity, too (whether or not you hit the slopes!)

However, for some parents with young children, frequent week-long breaks from school present a dilemma: Do parents send the kids to a camp for a week OR do parents take a week off from work, too?

My children get a mid-winter break from school this month and I have decided to join them! I’m thrilled and so grateful we get to take a family trip this year.

More to come on my “Ski Week”…

Like I’ve Been There Before: ‘Friends’ 25th Anniversary Pop-Up Experience in San Francisco

Fans of the hit comedy, Friends, will have a blast at the show’s 25th Anniversary pop-up that recently opened in downtown San Francisco!

view of Market Street from the second floor of One Powell

Located inside the AT&T Flagship Store at One Powell (in front of the Cable Car Turnaround), visitors can enjoy two floors of interactive digital displays, view actual props and costumes used on the show, and step into recreated show sets, like Central Perk and Monica & Rachel’s apartment in West Village.

It was my first time at the Friends 25th Anniversary Pop-Up Experience, but the spot-on sets and familiar memorabilia on display made me feel… like I’d been there before!

not sure why I’m knocking here – after all, I’m “inside” apartment 20!

Enjoy two floors of interactive displays:

Look through the peephole and view a short clip from the show:

Record your cover of Phoebe’s famous song, “Smelly Cat”:

Read lines from scripts:

Visit the mini Friends museum with real costumes and props from the show:

Chandler’s Halloween costume

the award that Joey stole, plus Rachel’s wedding garter

Find Friends-themed merch at the Friends Boutique:

Check out the couch that Ross, Rachel, and Chandler tried to carry upstairs:

… and the fountain and orange couch from the opening credits:

Central Perk:

Watch the video for the Friends’ theme song here (from YouTube – All rights reserved) >

Your Friends will be there for you, but this Pop-Up will be in San Francisco for a limited time! ☕️

Are you a big Friends fan like me? If I had to pick a favorite character, I’d pick Phoebe (she’s kind, plays guitar, and speaks French)! Who’s your favorite Friends character? Tell me in the comments below!

Watching Apollo 11 on the Moon Landing’s 50th Anniversary

Today, July 20, 2019, is the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. Many celebratory events are happening this weekend, including special screenings of the 2019 documentary, Apollo 11. I’m not sure why, but coincidentally, the three theaters near me had the same showtime of 3 in the afternoon. Could it represent the three astronauts: Aldrin, Armstrong, and Collins?

My family and I went to The New Parkway Theater in Oakland, a quirky, but cozy place filled with mismatched sofas, couches, and chairs. They claim to be one of the greenest movie theaters and I can see why.

For example, if you buy tickets online, they discourage you from printing them. At the concession stand, they serve popcorn in reusable plastic bowls. If you order Italian soda or kombucha, it’s served in a glass. They offer cloth napkins that were likely washed in unscented and organic laundry detergent. My Starbucks in a paper cup felt like contraband, which I managed to smuggle in without incident, thankfully.

quirky, yet cozy seating

When the movie ended, we were inspired to see the USS Hornet (CV-12), the actual carrier that recovered Apollo 11 (and later, Apollo 12) astronauts from their lunar capsule that safely splashed down near Hawaii on July 24, 1969.

Alameda, California

After having watched some conspiracy theory videos, which suggested the moon landing was a hoax, I was skeptical for many years. However, after watching Apollo 11 today, I’m a believer again! The never-before released footage and audio from the 1969 space mission erased any doubt from my mind.

If they can put a man on the moon…

…then each of us can achieve anything with courage, determination, and focus!

For more information:

Tell me in the comments below: What are your thoughts about the first moon landing? 🚀🌝

French Lop Rabbit at the County Fair

It’s the first of the month: Rabbit, rabbit! (as the saying goes to have good luck for the rest of the month)!

the fair from the air: view from the Ferris wheel

At the county fair’s animal exhibits yesterday (June 30), I observed this French Lop rabbit all alone in a huge enclosure with lots of room for it to roam. However, when I took this picture, it didn’t seem to be in the mood to play. It was fixated on the wall!

Large rabbit, but calm and docile in temperament

According to the Lop Rabbit Club of America, the French Lop rabbit breed resulted from a cross between the English Lop and the Butterfly rabbit of France. The French Lop rabbit was first bred around 1850 in France by a Frenchman named Condenier.

For more information:

Lavender Days

It’s September and everyone is back at school, the wind is starting to blow, and pumpkin spice everything is popping up everywhere! While autumn is my favorite season, I’m still hanging on to those dog days of summer – like the time the family and I went to Lavender Days!

The 3rd Annual Lavender Days event was held on the weekend of June 23-24, 2018 at Il Fiorello Olive Oil Company in Fairfield, California (about 47 miles/ 76 km northeast of San Francisco).

The scent reminded me of France (photo credit: Jennifer)

We attended two brief presentations. The first was by a local lavender farmer who described her years-long process of building a lavender labyrinth.

The second presenter brought three types of lavender. She described each of their distinctive traits: English (good for cooking and making wreaths), Spanish (looks like a pineapple with bunny ears), and French lavender, which is what most people think of when they see swaying purple fields in Provence!

Family-friendly activities: potting your own lavender plant and making sachets

In between presentations, another local lavender farmer treated us to a lavender oil-making demonstration using the copper distiller he brought. (Hint: it takes lots of lavender and many hours to get about one gallon.)

That’s the copper distiller in front of the white canopy

It was triple-digit weather that June afternoon, and unlike hardy lavender that thrives in the heat, we needed some refreshment to cool down. Fortunately, they were selling gelato! They had raspberry and stracciatella, along with two special flavors. In honor of Lavender Days at the olive oil company, they also offered honey lavender gelato and vanilla gelato with lemon-infused olive oil and sea salt!

raspberry, stracciatella, honey lavender, and vanilla with olive oil and sea salt

(Photo credit: Jennifer)

For more information:

Building a Toy Airplane and Dreams

After my visit to Airbus in Toulouse, I went to the gift shop and bought a model airplane building-block kit of the Airbus A380! It’s a fun souvenir that family and friends can put together. To assemble 70 blocks and build the cute replica, it took the Girls and me only 45 minutes, which included unboxing and taking pictures along the way!

Part 1

Part 1: Completed

Part 2

Part 2: Completed

The most challenging part was peeling off the stickers from the paper sheet and making sure they didn’t tear. But applying the stickers to the model airplane was a breeze!


Let’s name the pilot!

The finished replica measures about 10 inches (25cm) in length and almost 3 inches (7cm) in height. It’s sturdy enough to play make believe, but too fragile to throw in the toy box. Most likely, we’ll display it on the bookshelf. I hope the model of the world’s largest airplane will inspire travel, conceive dreams, and spark the imagination.

Speaking of which, we’re now playing a game called Name the Pilot. What can we call her? 👩🏻‍✈️