All aflush and aflutter

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Rainy and snowy weather can make for a lovely visit to the zoo.  With the crowds snug and warm at home, I have the place mostly to myself and can linger as long as I please.  We had a second light snow on Saturday, and I found myself at the bird house, watching the storks stretch their wings and blend into the snow, while the flamingos fluttered about in their steamy pond and struck a stark contrast.

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Hello, tiny panda

Mei Xiang and Bao Bao

Mei Xiang and Bao Bao

Ever since we moved closer to the National Zoo, the Mister and I have become total zoo fans and frequent visitors.  Like the rest of DC, we were pretty thrilled when the Zoo’s giant panda, Mei Xiang, gave birth to a tiny healthy panda cub this past summer.  We’ve eagerly followed all the news updates about her and watched her exploits (mostly sleeping and snuggling) on the zoo’s panda cam.

Last weekend, her exhibit finally opened to the public, so on Saturday, I woke up early, threw on my warmest layers, and walked over to the Zoo.  This week’s frigid temps and piles of snow seemed to keep the crowds at bay, at least for a little while, and I was able to walk straight into the exhibit and get my first in-person glimpse of the little cub.  All of last week’s troubles melted away as I watched the tiny panda scramble all over her mother, nurse, cuddle, and generally tumble around.

Mei Xiang and Bao Bao

Mei Xiang and Bao Bao

There were sort of a reverent hush among the early morning crowd, all huddled together and snapping pictures while wearing an amusing array of panda paraphernalia.  Children would enter the exhibit and say, “Bao Bao?,” in their tiny voices, and the crowd would part to let them stand in front and have a peek at the tiny panda.  What is it about pandas that inspires so much awe in people?  Probably the extreme real-life cuteness, but still it was almost as interesting to watch the people there as to see the cub herself.  I have a feeling I’ll be visiting the Zoo even more often this year.

Bamboo Storage

Bamboo Storage

Mei Xiang and Bao Bao

Mei Xiang and Bao Bao

It’s Friday, I’m in love

The atrium of the building I work in never looks lovelier than at this time of year

The atrium of the building I work in never looks lovelier than at this time of year

Since the Mister spent the earlier part of the month traveling, we’re staying in town for the holidays this year.  This is the first time we’ve spent the holidays alone together, which is kind of sweet and romantic.  We’re planning to do a little baking, wrap a couple more gifts, and enjoy a few cocktails while DC is at its quietest.

Here are a few photos from the week.  Hope you have a great weekend!

The bar cart looking lovely in the midday winter sun

The bar cart all aglow in the midday winter sun

Tiny stockings hung from the bookshelves

Tiny stockings hung from the bookshelves

White poinsettias lined up on the marble staircase

White poinsettias lined up on the marble staircase

Gingerbread and candy zoo!

Gingerbread and candy zoo!

Our holiday cards, featuring the DC Panda Cub

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Christmas cards are pretty much my favorite part of the holidays.  I love getting them in the mail, especially photo cards, and especially especially, the slightly irreverent ones some of our friends make.  We like to have a bit of fun with our holiday cards.

Two years ago we had fun “baking” with a little Maker’s Mark.

2011

2011

Last year, we got caught under the mistletoe.

2012

2012

This year we decided to express our excitement about our newest neighbor, the panda cub born at the National Zoo this summer.  I love Cardstore for Christmas cards.  They have so many great options and are super affordable.  Isn’t their packaging adorable?

2013

2013

While I hate that so many of our friends and family live so far away, when I’m filling out mailing addresses on the cards it’s fun to think about all the different places they’ll be going.  This year our mailing list includes Ann Arbor, Austin, Berkeley, Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago, Durham, Hoboken, Houston, Irvine, Los Angeles, Merrimack, Milford, Monmouth, New Orleans, New York City, Norwalk, Philadelphia, Portland, Richmond, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, and a dozen small towns in Texas and Massachusetts where we have family.  Do you send out holiday cards?

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Zoo Lights at the Smithsonian National Zoo

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We live near the Smithsonian National Zoo and are frequent visitors.  One of my favorite annual events is Zoo Lights, which unlike many of the Zoo’s other after hours events, is free to the public.  Every year, from the day after Thanksgiving until New Years, the Zoo stays open late for visitors, puts on an extensive holiday light display, and leaves several of the animal houses open late.

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They have hot chocolate, a tube slide, a gingerbread house contest, a dancing panda, and performances by choirs and other musical groups.  A few nights ago, I ventured over with a small group after work to check out this year’s display.  It’s a great place to visit with kids, but we always have a lot of fun with our friends.

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