Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Crazy little Christmas presents list

If I were Santa this year, I’d like to give my favorite, lovely, delightful friends the quirkiest and the swankiest Christmas presents. Here’s my list:

Roselle - fly chef Dimitri Fayard of Vanille Pâtesserie in Chicago to her home in the Gold Coast for a private baking lesson
Farrah – a weekend at Le Spa de l’Hivernage, Hivernage Hotel and Spa in Marrakech,
Taryn – a private serenade from John Mayer (and get married to John Mayer)
Faith – a 12-day Food and Wine Tour in Germany
Bonna – a trove of vintage jewelry pieces in a handcrafted Agresti Magdelian jewelry box
Lia – a dozen Christian Louboutins, a dozen Manolo Blahniks and a dozen Jimmy Choos
Mei – a date with Mr. Right (Prince William?)
January – a shopping spree at Burberry for the newest mommy
Karen – Half a dozen Chanel outfits of her choice, plus Lanvin accessories
Fevi – a trunk-full of pearl jewelry for the girl with the sunniest personality
Otette – Tango lessons in Argentina
Bardott – a brand new house with gold-plated fences
May Ann – a ski trip in Gstaad, Switzerland
Kati – breakfast in bed at the Penthouse Suite, The Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco
Lanie – a la Lara Croft adventure trip in Cambodia
Carol – her dream guy in a faille-wraped huge box (with a Bvlgari necklace pakapin!)
James A. – a private Phantom of the Opera show where he plays Christine :)
…And of course, to my all-time favorite friend, David – a super white BMW M6 coupé and the Burma Workshop with Steve McCurry

But until I stumble upon an indecent amount of money, or upon a magic well which dispenses a never-ending supply of moolah… you all have my LOVE. :)

Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 12, 2007

New York minute

We wanted to do something new, something crazy, something unexpected. Like, (I asked my hubby) not pay the mortgage? Well, not THAT insane.

So last Saturday, despite the undesirable predictions of “some showers” and low 40s temperature, off we went to New York City. And- we took the bus! We parked our car in Union Station in DC and walked a couple of blocks to the Greyhound station- at 2:30 a.m. The four of us (me, David, our friends Darko and Janet), walking in the NE DC streets in an ungodly hour in freezing temperature- how’s that for a crazy start? Actually, we got a little lost at the Union Station, we didn’t know where to exit from the huge, deserted station. We were panicky because we didn’t want to miss the 3:15 bus. We didn’t miss it alright. The bus was 40 freakin’ minutes late! We didn’t know what was wrong, but the driver sort of pranced around, with his huge hat, as if announcing (as Darko said)- “look at me, look at me, I’m a bus driver!” People were cranky and impatient, and when David asked the lady at the ticket office what was taking the bus so long, the lady simply said- “It’s up to the driver’s discretion when to leave”. Whatda??!

And we wanted to slap him silly when he gaily (and ever so slothfully) took our tickets, acting like time was not wasted at all. Grrrr. We slept on the bus and then we were finally in NYC. We had breakfast at Sarabeth’s in Central Park South, where we ate a whole lotta eggs. Haha!

Our trip was kind of a short stop here and there, because we were only staying for the day. It was so cold, and gloomy. Our last two trips in NY were really cold, so David said he’s not ever coming back to NY when it’s freezing. We went to the Apple store on 5th Ave. And then at FAO Schwarz to look at toys we weren’t going to buy. We waited outside (in icebox temperature) for minutes before the store opened. We witnessed the trumpeters’ fanfare, the laying out of the red carpet, and the staff cheering on the entrance of shoppers. It was kind of cute, but David thought everything was “silly”.

NYC cab drivers are one-of-a-kind. They fly the minute you get in. And there was no time to be polite. One of our cab drivers uttered the unspeakable N word to the other driver when we nearly hit his vehicle. Had he been a celebrity, he would have apologized on TV and would have gone to rehab. But it was New York, and people were perpetually impatient and busy.

Fifth Avenue was bustling with bundled-up tourists. I guess one can entertain himself just people watching all day. Although the Christmas tree was not set up yet, we went to see it at the Rockefeller Center. The gloomy weather did not deter the people’s sprightly spirits, including us. Achy feet? Naah. Biting cold? No sweat.

Lunch at Chinatown was unbelievable. Dirt cheap and as tasty as tasty Chinese food should be. We went to the tiny corner restaurant on East Broadway. David ordered the roast pork which he liked so much, and forever regretted not getting it to go. We ordered their yang chow fried rice. It was yummy, so we ordered another one. Then, it was that good that ordered two more to go. Whoa, now THAT was liking it so much! The roast duck was also good.

New York trip over so soon? We squeezed in a little stroll in Upper West Side. We went to Zabar’s. And some shopping, too. My prized find? A burgundy cashmere shawl. And lots of other stuffs, too. The bus trip back home was quick and on time (thank God!). By 9:30 p.m., we were back in good ole’ DC.

Was it fun? You bet. Sometimes, something unpredicted is more wonderful. It gives a great big oomph.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Today is gloomy, rainy and cold. Not my kind of day. But it’s a good thing that the rains came since the area had been experiencing droughts for weeks now. And thinking about the fires ravaging Southern California, I wish it were raining there, too. I was watching the movie The Holiday on HBO earlier this week, and the Santa Ana was mentioned. And then, the next day the wildfires started, fueled by the unusually fierce Santa Ana winds. When you agitate your mind with all the calamities going on in the world, you’re bound to just perish miserably. This is added stress. What to do, what to do?

Anyway, we bought half a gallon of Selecta halo-halo ice cream from the Filipino store this week. Too pricey at $10, but too mouthwatering to dismiss. I love it. Buko salad next time?

About the movie The Holiday, I liked it for its simplicity and agreeableness. It wasn’t explosive or massively tear jerking, but I found a lot of kilig and funny scenes. This kind of movies should be in my must list- I don’t need maddeningly passionate love stories or sappy, sappy love songs to make me smile. On hectic days and weeks, sometimes funny videos or a nice warm meal or photos, and nice pleasant movies are enough to ease up the crunch of daily life. Last night, I watched the movie Happy Feet in between cooking for dinner and dinner, and chores afterwards. It was so cute. So we’re planning to watch it again tonight on HBO.

While I was flooded with paperwork today, (and in fact, I’m bringing some work home tonight), I was thinking how glum today was. It’s now 5:30 pm and outside it’s already too dark. Definitely, not my kind of day. Summers are better. But I thought about the meeting that I conducted today, and how it went really smoothly, and at the end of the hour, one staff exclaimed “it was really a good meeting!” I realized, heck, it was so much better than whining that life sucks. I remember a clinician, who always seemed to find ways to complain about the cases that I assign to her, grumbled again to me last Tuesday. As I listened to her irate litany, I looked at her and was astounded. Here she was, just a couple of years older than me, and looking like she could already be my aunt. Holy crap.

So take it easy. Take time to think, that no matter how mad the day was, it will always be better tomorrow.

Friday, October 19, 2007

sixty-seven days 'til Christmas

The other day, I bought a creamy cappuccino-scented candle. I need a little bit of aromatherapy in my life right now. It’s calming to come home after a long day and have a room heavy with one of those stimulating aroma. Since I have stopped drinking coffee, who said I couldn’t “smell” it? The past three weeks had been hectic. So frenetic we were tired all the time. Adding the cooler temperatures, bed and sofa are instantly our choice words. Pleasant scents are always a relief. In my case, the scent of coffee always peps up nothing but good memories.

At our former boss’ Tie Burning” party at his house on Columbus Day, I tasted this wonderful thingy- wasabi nut. It was surprisingly very tasty, and you couldn’t help but pop them in your mouth one after another. His tie-burning party was fun. A lot of the staff were kind of edgy when he left (sort of, he was forced to retire by the Board), and I was half-expecting that the party would be all kvetching since a lot of people didn’t want him to leave, but then, everyone was pleasant. The food was good, and the people’s mood was less uptight than at work. Perhaps, life is too short to wallow in mournfulness all the time?

I interpreted for a Cebuano-speaking client of a law firm in Pennsylvania Avenue in DC last October 12. I took the train on a cold, windy day. I interpreted for fours and a half, and took the train again going back to the office. It was my first time to act as interpreter, and it was a fun experience. I met the three lawyers who worked with the client, and I had a great experience. After work, the hubby and I met three friends from work at an Ethiopian restaurant. I love the food. It’s not something I can eat everyday, but it’s very tasty and spicy I’d like to enjoy it from time to time. We also tried the Ethiopian beer, which was very light. One of our friends was egging me to let her try one of Philippine-made beers. I’d love for her to try San Miguel, but I don’t know where to get that around here. Or Red Horse kaya? Ha! One of our friends was Ethiopian, and he taught us how to say thank you in Amharic. It was too long, and I couldn’t pronounce it well. David was able to say it to our waitress, which delighted her very much.

I was able to beat the deadline for the county report at 4:35 pm on Monday, the 15th. I’m tasked to do the report on one of our county grants now. It was passed on to me since the last Program Manager left in a huff in July, and she didn’t really tell me much how to do the report (which was done online). I didn’t have an idea what I was getting myself into, and of course, I was frustrated until I was finally able to figure out what to do. How funny life is, when all your life you avoided getting involved in anything with numbers and figures- I chose to take the least amount of Math courses in college and I crawled, and I wept in my Stat and Research courses in Grad school- and then, now. Is this the way of the Heavens in punishing me?

Life is better with free pizza! We ordered pizza for dinner earlier this week. When we got there to pick it up, we waited another thirty minutes for it. I was not really that bored and exasperated, but I was pacing back and forth the whole time. (Because it was cold, and I felt better if I kept on moving). When the pizza was ready, the manager told us it was free, and we didn’t have to pay for it and he thanked us for waiting. With free 2-liter Coke pa! Not bad, not bad.

I finally made some binignit. I got all the ingredients from the Asian store, and on Wednesday night, there I was, ladling my way into a medium pot of my (authentic) Pinoy binignit. Oh well, the next day, I brought some at work, and shared it with some officemates. They liked it. Half the fun of making the binignit was explaining to my non-Filipino friends the ingredients and the history of the binignit!

Sixty-seven days ‘til Christmas! I haven’t heard a single Christmas carol yet! In the past, I always look forward to hearing my first Christmas carol for the year. Hopefully this year, I’d hear something classic and heart-tugging. Something like this:

Can't wait.....

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The search for the great 0 S

I’m talking about a pair of jeans. Last weekend, I crawled and labored looking for a pair of perfect jeans. Perfect for me meant- dark, stretch, sits low on the waist, and of course, short and size 0, and most importantly, within my budget. (I’m not the kind of girl who buys those pricey jeans which can feed a whole country for a day). I guess I am just an unfortunate shopper because I had to sweat and toil each time I shop for a pair. That is why, when I find a good pair of jeans, I don’t usually horse around. I wonder if fellow size 0s have trouble like me.

I actually went to a couple of stores which was frequented by teenagers. But, their jeans were made for tall, lanky teens with legs shooting up to the armpits. As I browsed through endless shelves of jeans, I was a strange weed in an oasis of teenyboppers in tank tops, hoodies, short shorts, fleece drawstring shorts and pants. I was thinking, oh God, I am an old prune trespasser. I had to make a quick getaway to save myself from further embarrassment.

At one point, I tried on one of those skinny jeans. But like super low-waist jeans, it’s just not for everybody. I swear I looked like a bowling pin, and my butt seemed like Titanic. Oh well, I have accepted a long time ago that not every uso is for me. My jeans had to be straight and, or boot cut, but never long and lean and skinny. At this day and age, of course.

Looking for size 0 and short pair of jeans was a major spin for me. A total headache most of the time. But unless I wanna expand and burst forth into two (or three) pant sizes, (which I have no plans of ever doing), or unless I grow really tall and my legs would stretch, then jean shopping would remain to be a massive pursuit for me and a major pain for my hubby. (He still cannot fathom why I HAD to shop for jeans for an entire afternoon – no breaks, to add). I kid that the only thing that matters for men in jean shopping is if their size is available.

Last Sunday, I found a pair that I liked – dark, stretch, sits low on the waist, slim through the leg and thigh, subtle boot cut opening, in my size and only one pair left. I tried it on, and it looked and fit right. But then I had wanted to see more, to scout out for other size 0s out there. I’m that kind of shopper, but only when it comes to jeans and shoes – I had to scour every item in every store before I make the ultimate decision. And so, I left the pair in a corner under the green jackets (a marker, sort of).

I went into an epic quest for that elusive pair of size 0s that look, feel and fit just perfectly. I dared to take another chance in another teenybopper store. But still, no luck. So I traced my steps back to the store that never seem to fail me. And there it was – my pair of jeans- waiting for me. Finally, I found my perfect pair. It was a happy day….

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Some days are good

Some days are good, some days are bad. And some, plain humdrum. On Sunday, we spent the whole day holed up at home, and I complained to the hubby how… quiet it was. Normally, I would prefer days at home muted and unperturbed. But yesterday was… just different. Traffic down below was hushed, and it felt like the whole world went away for a nap someplace. The hubby and I were catching up with some work while tuning alternately to 90s, 80s (and 70s!) music channels. But still the lull, was oddly dismal.

When I was a little girl, I could never comprehend why grown ups prefer to just sit down and talk, or just sit quietly for long periods of time. That was the time of inexhaustible energy – always running, stomping, cutting things, chomping away pretzels and stick bread. No time for talk, only for screaming. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t turned my back to conviviality. It’s just that as I grew older, I look at peace and quiet as a reward, and not as a punitive measure.

First thing Monday morning, I managed to irk (unintentionally) an officemate. Two officemates, actually. They were in my face by 8:30 a.m. I could have griped and fussed, too. But then again, those two people were the two most unlikable people at work. They were perfectionist, nitpicking and tart. They want everything to be perfect. And God forbid, should a minuscule detail be off, a hissy fit is sure to happen. I wasn’t interested anymore to grumble. It was obvious I do not belong in their perfect world. And I am not even welcome there! Oh, well. If the “perfect” world is populated by people like them, I’d rather splash around in my imperfect world. Some days… are just full of drama.

Some days which start bad, turn out good. That, would be a perfect day. After a lousy Monday, I got a very good news. So I survived. I love quiet days. And I love days full of surprises, too.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Legends of the Fall

Last Monday afternoon, I spent a scant two hours watching Legends of the Fall on TV. I’ve watched this movie many, many times, and yet I still spent ample time holding back my tears. It happens all the time. The movie, is one of my all-time favorites. I liked the pre-Brangelina Brad Pitt. I think I don’t like Brad now – for a very valid reason. I’m not sure why after all these years, I still feel like weeping and mourning over the story. Was I being a fool?

I liked the sadness and the harsh mood of the movie. Unrequited love, troubled soul, pain and sorrow… an absolute, powerful sad story. I’ll never get over it.

What is it with me and sad stories lately? I remember, last Monday I had cried three times in a single day. Can I blame it to sad movies, the searing hot weather or am I just mad at the world?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

last hurrah for summer

Back to work today. We decided to take the day off yesterday, Monday. David was kind of feeling under the weather, and a day off from a hectic workweek was undoubtedly the antidote. We did the usual lazy day stuff- woke up at 11.30 am, cheese omelette for brunch, an HBO movie, marathon reruns of Sex and the City (for me!) and just lying around, consumed by the gloomy weather outside.

David got stung by a jellyfish at the beach last Saturday. He had an ugly welt on his right arm, and he said it was a little sore. And when he called in sick yesterday, the whole office was under the impression that he was “attacked by a huge sea serpent”. I couldn’t stop laughing when a friend told us about it last night. Apparently, some kook, for whatever reasons, wrote on the bulletin board that David got bitten by that sea serpent something. Hilarious!

The sand at the Sandy Point beach last Saturday somehow reminded me of cheap polvoron we loved as elementary-school kids. The kind that was golden-colored and very grainy. We finally made it to beach after a whole summer of postponing the trip. Everyone couldn’t get a free, sunny weekend for the beach. Either the other couple is busy, or the weather is not okay, or we had other things to do, etc. Last Saturday was perfect- bright sunshine and cool breeze. I got toasted, but not baked. Darko (our friend) wanted to go to Ocean City, but Janet, his wife was not too keen in driving 3 hours just to get there. So the nearest beach we could find was Sandy Point. Only 45 minutes away from home. The beach had a great view of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

Darko’s nephew Stefan, frolicked on the beach like a pro. Just two years ago, he was hysterical when his mom or uncle tried to dip his feet on the water or plop his feet on the sand. Last year, he would play on the water’s edge, but would scamper away when a wave comes to the shore. But this summer, he’s a beach dude. Isn’t it amazing to witness that kind of growth? Now he’s almost four, and he’s trying to master the art of interrupting adult conversations. So funny.

Another trip that has been postponed for the nth time was the Lake of the Woods day trip. The lady from work, Katuko, who never gets tired of treating us to lunches, dinner, etc., planned to take us to Lake of the Woods for brunch and house hunting. Same thing happened- busy schedules, gloomy day, rainy day, etc. Last week, the weather forecast for Sunday was perfect- sunny in high 90s. So despite delay, the trip was on. But Mother Nature can change her mind anytime she wants. Sunday came and it was low 60s, gloomy and drizzly.

Rain or shine, we went there anyway. We had brunch at the Clubhouse- waffles, mealoaves, potatoes, pastries, bacon, fruits, omelettes cooked for you by a bored-looking chef, and a whole lot of other things. I just thought that chicken marsala was kind of out of place. All in all, it was a nice brunch. And we had a great time.

House hunting was fun. Katuko’s agent got confused whether all of us were her children. And nobody bothered to explain. We just let her assume we were there to help “mom” choose a retirement house. Our unanimous favorite was a two-bedroom house with a large front yard, a cute little porch, a spacious kitchen, a beautiful deck at the back that looked out to the golf course, and a larger backyard. The whole house had turtle trinkets everywhere! Turtles on deck, on plant pots, on table accents, front yard trimmings. The house must be owned by a crazy turtle lady, hehe.

It’s gonna be September in ten days, and very soon, it will be Fall. Where have all our summer days gone? Summer felt like it’s only ten sunny days. Oh well, there will be more summers to come. And whatever happens, I’m always looking forward to warm, sunny, long summer days.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A little recycling goes a long way

Global warming and recycling are two of the most pressing and significant topics right now. And although I wouldn’t label myself a hardcore environmentalist/activist, I care about the environment and I do my best in performing my part in saving the environment.

In my own little way, I take an effort to recycle, and do much with less. The hubby and I abhor seeing heaps of advertising papers which clog our mailbox everyday. It is also sad to see those fancy, thick glossy papers used for cable and internet advertising in the mail, and of course, those useless junk mail we receive on a daily basis. Wasting too much paper!

Doing a bit of recycling is meaningful on my part. It may not be enough, but I can say that I’m not adding up to the already wasteful ways of doing things:

- We try to use less plastic bags as much as we can when do our grocery shopping, and I use those plastic bags for the trash. I had never used those regular trash bags.
- I use old newspapers in blotting out oil from the frying pan.
- I have a lot of extra hand towels in the kitchen so that I will use less paper towels; especially if I just want to dry my hands.
- I recycle plastic containers from the supermarket.
- I am an avid recycle-r of boxes, or gift boxes. I collect and save boxes early on for birthday and Christmas gift boxes.
- I recycle gift wraps! (So sue me for being so inot (stingy)!
- I don’t drink coffee anymore so no one can ever accuse me of squandering those Starbucks venti cups.
- I am not so gung-ho in using disposable paper plates for dinner at home (for easy clean-up purposes). I’d rather spend an extra half-hour doing the dishes.
- One requirement in shopping- wrinkle-free fabrics. Less ironing, less electricity used.
- I use the back of the paper for taking down notes.

I hope I can do more in the future…

How do you recycle?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

these pimples give me a headache

I’ve been having breakouts especially in my forehead area for the past month, and no matter how clean and refreshed I make my face, they seem to keep popping up like a party crasher. A nightmare. I have those tiny, tiny ones which really annoy me and I believe, the more I think (and worry) about them, the more they appear. Sometimes I feel my forehead felt like sandpaper.

They appear for a week, and then my skin gets clear again. And then they reappear after three weeks. Oh, zit emergency! Stress? Wrong facial wash? Looking online for remedies, I found this:

Aspirin contains BHA (Beta hydroxy acid) which is a powerful defoliant and great at helping unclog pores and clear blemishes. It's recommended that you use the Aspirin mask / scrub once a week.

Step 1: Take 6 - 8 uncoated aspirin tablets in cup or bowl and crush them in to a powder.
Step 2: Add a few drops of warm/hot water, aloe vera gel or honey, now stir until you have a thick white paste. You may need to add more water to achieve the right consistency.
Step 3: Spread over your entire face, sit back and relax for 10-15 minutes. You'll know when 15 minutes is up as the mask is likely to start falling off your face.
Step 4: Wash off the mask with warm water and a gentle cleanser, as you wash gently massage, the grains will help exfoliate and reveal softer, glowing skin.
Step 5: Gently pat your face dry.

I always have a bottle of aspirin in my tote, and so I was thinking, hmmm, would this actually work? Would I try it? I’m kind of apprehensive about the defoliant thing. Sounds like a potent thing to me. If case turns worse, I don’t want potholes in my face! If a tiny pill of aspirin can zap out a terrible headache, it makes me wonder how will it do to my puny pimples.

Hindi lang pang-headache, pang-pimples pa!!

I’ll think about it.

Monday, July 30, 2007

happy day!

Today, we are celebrating our 8th year as a couple. We’ve come a long way since 1999. And I am proud to say that after all these years, and after almost three years as a married couple, we’re still as fussy, as attached, as thrilled with each other as when we started. The love, respect and the need of each other has grown steadily and progressively over the years. I am so hooked on him.

I couldn’t imagine myself spending a day apart from him. Not ever again since we were away from each other for years in the past. I couldn’t imagine myself catching all those late-night movies without him. I couldn’t imagine cooking only for myself and not for him. I couldn’t imagine not having him to share with all the day’s gossips and goings-on before going to sleep. I couldn’t imagine myself being happy without him. Like I said, I am definitely hooked, addicted to him.

We’ve seen the best and the worst in each other, but we still love each other, anyway. We’ve been through several trials and difficult times, but we still have each other and so we remained strong. What I liked best about us, is that we managed not to scream in each other’s faces to settle a fight or an argument. To me, that is a rare accomplishment.

We try not to be standoffish when we irritate each other, and we try to hug, kiss and make up as soon as we can, before any glass (or plates) gets broken. We try not to be a sour, indifferent, irksome couple. And I guess, we’re very good at doing that…

To my baby, happy anniversary. You’re my best and worst habit, my happy thought always. And I love you very much.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

stuck and snug

You forgot about them, and then you rediscovered them!

Isn't it terrific when the songs that you liked when you were still in your "-teens" are found again?! Ah, what a thrill. The hubby and I spent many nights last youtube-ing all those old songs that we liked. Why is it that when you're in your teens, you remember a lot of songs and the year they were popular? Right now, I am so out of touch. I left MTV-ville eons ago.

Here are a few of my favorite songs way back when.

30 and..............

30 isn't so bad. Lots of people would love to be 30… Especially the ones who are 40!

Today, I am 30 years and 10 days old. So far, so good. According to my hubby, I shall be branded a “cougar (in-training)”. Cougar or not, I think I’m loving thirty.

7/7/07 was reputedly my luckiest day. So we bought lottery tickets, and wished that we’d wake up millionaires the next day. (By the way, we won $10. Dang it.) I made my birthday noodles for lunch (rice and vermicelli noodles plus shrimps) for more lucky streak. Born in 1977, I am considered a Fire Snake. But according to Chinese horoscope, the year of the Pig is not lucky for me. Oh well, what peculiarizes luck? Million bucks? Getting ALL that you wished for? Winning the lottery? Getting filthy, obscenely rich?

For me, being lucky means waking up to a new day beside someone whom you genuinely love and care about, and not wake up next to somebody whose face you cannot tolerate. Luck means being able to go into the day well without the discomfort of physical pain and illness. It also means having peace of mind- free from nagging guilt, bitterness and resentments. Luck means having true friends who share your happiness and sadness, and not make you a slave of their own capriciousness and self-centeredness. Luck is being able to taste, feel, hear, see and touch all that comprises life- aches and emotions, warmth and chilliness, roughness and smoothness, relentless loudness and deafening silence, the sweetness, tanginess and bitterness of living, and to witness all the bright colors and all the gory details of life.

It was a pretty nice birthday weekend for me. The hubby took me on a trip to the “Kwik-E-Mart” in Bladensburg, MD. It was a treat for us huge Simpsons fans. And we went to the AT&T National golf tournament hosted by Tiger Woods at Bethesda, MD on July 8. We're a few meters away from touching Tiger Woods, hehe. And then of course, I had a surprise party on my birthday night! Our friends Darko and Janet threw the surprise bash for me at their house, and they conspired with my hubby. It was a nice party! Yummy food, a birthday cake with a conspicuous 30th birthday candle, presents (yay!), and margarita (of course!). Would it have been fun if I had a piñata, too?! Janet was so sweet because the day before, she told me she wanted to cook for my birthday, because I made her look bad (she doesn’t cook at all. Or at least, cooking is on the bottom of her list of favorite things). Ploy or not, I fell for it, and it turned out that most of our “non-family family” and friends were there. I felt loved. How many horseshoes, rabbit’s foot and four-leaf clovers needed to feel that cared for and doted on?

To be thirty and loved is not an unfortunate event at all. New expectations and newer perspectives await, taking in surprises and tributes from dear friends like this, and the new understanding that I am in a different stance in life, yet I am still “me” and I could be so much more! Thanks to all the people that I love, and love me, too. Especially to David and Mom.

Monday, July 02, 2007

in the old, old days.....

I once liked this song so much.... Listen to the lyrics. Well, I still like this song, and I'll share it with anyone who likes it, too... Remember the good old days? It was never lost, you know.....

Thursday, June 28, 2007

wimpy, wimpy.

I am the biggest wuss there is in the whole planet. I am almost three decades old and I still haven’t overcome the fear of needles.

Last Monday, we went to the clinic and had blood drawn from me for laboratory tests. I was dreading about it the whole week before. I had to hold to hold the hubby’s hand the whole time and winced as I felt the needle pierced. It was good-sized needle, the hubby said. I didn’t dare look at it, because I know I’d die! David had a ball telling my mom how I “almost” fainted while the blood was taken. Of course, I won’t admit I was about to faint. I got really pale, I was sure. I dabbed red tint on my lips before we went to the clinic, so as not to embarrass myself when color drains from my lips.

I had squeezed the hubby’s hand too hard when the second needle pricked for another test. He said it hurt, but he was more amused by the funny look on my face. Again, on Wednesday, my ordeal was far from over for we had to go back for a couple of shots. A couple of shots on my left arm were like a couple of my toenails were pulled out. Or something like that. I told you, I am wimpy.

Even if all people say it’s just feels like an ant bite, it still seriously hurts. And I know where does this spiel lead. I know I haven’t gotten into the “real”, “major” pain in my life yet. But I’ll cross the bridge when I get there. Meantime, feeling beaten by the needle shots, I guess I just have to dust myself off and say, I survived. Until the next shot.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

happy bee day!

The other night, I labored until half-past midnight baking David’s birthday carrot cake. Or is it carrot birthday cake? Whichever. I kissed the birthday boy a happy birthday still with my pink baking bandana (no chef’s toque!) and smudges of flour on my face (plus a scraped finger). I, must take a bow, I was caught in a baking frenzy and when the hubby wished for a carrot birthday cake, I gladly (and foolhardily) took the challenge.

First of all, I’m not a carrot cake fan. (The hubby knows it). I have tasted carrot cake once when I was young, didn’t like it, and declared I won’t eat carrot cake ever. But “ever” ended last night- I ate David’s birthday cake. What do you know? Carrot cake tastes better when you baked it yourself!

Second, this was a meaningful project because for recent years, most of our birthday cakes were store-bought. If you can find it in Whole Foods bakery, why bother making it? What a hang-loose attitude. Last year, he had a raspberry-white chocolate cheesecake. Rich, luscious, chichi. Whole Foods, of course. But this year, I made him a promise- I will bake him a birthday cake.

I am not overdoing this Martha Stewart wannabe thingy, am I? But the hubby was happy. Although his round birthday cake with cream cheese frosting looked two bit compared to the flashy cheesecake, still he had the biggest smile on his face and had endless thank you’s and sweet words to me. It was worth it. Why, I couldn’t buy something like that in Whole Foods.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

small doses of fun

Mikka and Jay’s wedding

Mikka was a perky, emotional and offbeat bride. Her groom was so tall, and she was so petite, so she wore this white platform wedding shoes (she said it was her “stripper” shoe)! Their wedding was held on a cool Thursday late afternoon in a spectacular gardens called Meadowlark. Dark clouds loomed and threatened a downpour hours before the ceremony (it was held outside), but it never did. Instead, tears poured down- the bride, the groom, and the people who witnessed their union.

After cocktails, people moved into at the atrium where the reception was held. The color motif was aquamarine and chocolate. Their three-tier wedding cake had aquamarine icing and chocolate details. Their favors were fortune cookies dipped in aqua-dyed white chocolate with chocolate sprinkles. Guests dined on stuffed chicken, steak, creamed asparagus and different kinds of salads. And the best part of all? The open bar!

They danced and kissed to the song Spend My Life With You as a newlywed couple. More gaiety, dancing, tears (during toasts), merriment and drinking as the night wore on. It was a lovely wedding. Simple, but characteristically happy and heartfelt.

row your boat

The hubby got blisters on his hands from rowing the boat on Burke Lake last Sunday. We had a picnic on the park with some friends, and we just had to try the boats. The lake was fairly big-sized, and the sun was not too harsh that day, so we had fun. The hubby did all the rowing, and I was his navigator. I thought I was a little dictatorial (yikes!) – always chattering “to the right, to the right! a little to the left, a little to the left!”. Actually, I was scared the boat would sink (hehe). Can you blame me? The boat looked like an empty tin of Spanish sardines, and there was water on the bottom! (I guess people before us dumped water into the boat).

Perhaps I could try my hand at rowing the boat next time. Until I get blisters.


The joy of rediscovery! Suddenly inspired by the simple tomato salad prepared by our friends at the picnic, the hubby and I promised to eat more tomatoes. Vitamin C overload. So last Sunday night, we chopped big, juicy red tomatoes, cucumbers, and white onions, sprinkled it with salt, and added just a tiny, tiny splash of vinegar. Drool…. I slaver just thinking and writing about it now. It’s funny how the food you avoided as a child come to win you over now that you’re old(er). It’s gonna be tomato salad night tonight!

mix it

I experimented with my pasta meat sauce recently. I added sour cream to the usual blend of bottled pasta sauce, chopped onion and garlic, Italian seasoning and grated cheddar cheese. The result? The hubby liked it! So from now on, sour cream will be an essential part of all my pasta sauces.

I made a coconut custard the other night- another experiment. It was basically a leche flan recipe- I just substituted milk with coconut milk and used powdered sugar instead of my typical condensed milk. It was good (I guess). But the hubby ate it, so it must be “tasty”. He’s my trusted taste tester. If he wrinkles his nose, and say uhm… ok pud when I ask him if the stuff is okay, then it’s a NO. But he never retches or spit out any of my experiments ;) He’s that kind and considerate of my feelings. He just “forgets” it, and there it sits on the refrigerator until it’s time for it to be discarded. It’s my cue that my experiments are crappy.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

little things make you the happiest

When things seem dull, come up with a list of things which make you happy. Here's mine:

- milk and Oreos
- Cheetos
- a nap on the sofa before fixing dinner
- a quiet time at home after a day’s work
- sour cream and tomato soup
- looking at friends’ wedding photos
- freshly washed comforters
- linen-scent carpet freshener
- fixing a cappuccino smoothie for the hubby
- unexpected email from an old friend
- seeing your high school friend’s baby sister all grown-up
- plane-spotting on a hot afternoon at Gravelly Point
- shopping for TV dinners, on sale
- finding a new dress in less than 20 minutes at the mall
- olive butter hand cream
- cream cheese on wheat bread
- finding an old favorite song from ten years ago (Kavana, Will You Wait For Me?)
- looking forward to making fried rice for dinner
- sharing a showbiz gossip with the hubby
- bright sunshine
- snagging a Victoria’s Secret Dream Angels parfum spray from a party
- getting nice looking photographs
- a stain-free white linen table cloth
- going barefoot around the house
- watching a TV show that the hubby likes
- catching snippets of Sex and the City reruns
- almost finishing a good book
- a good article in a magazine
- funny anecdotes from the past
- always sneaking an extra hour of sleep in the morning
- a clutter-free house
- a good night sleep
- funniest home videos
- a tall mug with different-patterned heart print
- freshly-cooked, hot white rice for dinner
- ‘Citrus Smoothie’ hair conditioner
- newly pedicured toes
- garlic bread
- Jelly Ace
- sparkling mirrors after Windex
- vanilla cones
- smell of coffee

....and more.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

ten years ago....

.... I oooh-so loooove this song.

Just reminiscing.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

smell you later...!

The smell and feel of Pond’s Facial Wash will always and forever remind me of hot afternoons and old friends from USC in Cebu, in late 1993 and early 1994. We were freshmen in college, were makeup-free, and were somehow hooked on washing our faces with Pond’s every afternoon in our earnest attempt to keep our face pimple-free, oil-free and clog-free.

My mother-in-law had left a tube of Pond’s when she left for home last weekend. The other night, I tried to wash my face with it, and the unmistakable scent of it instantly reminded me how Claire would troop us all to the Ladies Room, after our first afternoon class, to wash our faces. It was a period of guilelessness and easy happiness. No mascaras, no concealers, no lipstick at all. Claire, with her freshly-scrubbed, flawless, cheery face always convinced us that “fresh and clean” was the way to go.

I miss those days. And I terribly miss my friends’ company. It’s funny how a simple, unassuming tube of a facial wash can intensely hint memories of friendship. I loved those girls! I remember that we had an extremely boring Religious Education and Sociology classes before, and it was almost a comfort to daydream of washing our faces afterwards. A cotton face towel and a tube of Pond’s Facial Wash were a fixture in each other’s handbags.

I have since switched to a different facial wash a few years after I left USC, but Pond’s will always have a special nook in my heart. It will always be a reminder of a period in my life when relationships, household chores, career and finances are unknown entities just yet. Back when what mattered most were friends, grades (1.0s!), books, exams and having a great time.

Ah, youth.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Shallow Stein

Here’s an excerpt from a Joel Stein article in TIME Magazine, April 9, 2007,9171,1604946,00.html

Jollibee, with more than 1,400 stores in the Philippines and 11 branches in California, makes McDonald's look like a funeral parlor. Its mascot is a jolly bee, and the restaurants are blindingly happy, all giant, shiny yellow blocks, as if they were designed by an architect from Legoland. Even if you gave Walt Disney all the ecstasy in the world, he would not have come up with this. America, according to Jollibee, is clearly a place of childlike optimism. Jollibee's two most popular items are called the Yumburger and the Chickenjoy. The Yumburger has a weird, plasticky dollop of French dressing in the middle. The crisped-up French fries are dry inside and taste as if they weren't just double fried but dunked in oil four or five times. The fried chicken is halfway decent, but the inflated, happy fakeness of Jollibee makes you feel that the only American its Filipino owners have ever seen is Pamela Anderson.

Can you believe what this obtuse clown has been saying? It’s pretty obvious that he is slanted, if not totally bigoted, writing about this. And it totally irks when reading articles like this is that everything have to “taste” like American, “look” like American, “feel” like American. And Joel Stein has been clueless (ignorant?) in writing about Jollibee’s concept and appearance. And please, Jollibee was NOT made for America. Although, it is American style-inspired, Jollibee is 100% Filipino made for the Filipino people. The bright red and yellow colors of Jollibee depict the happy, open-minded and tolerant nature of the Filipinos. Jollibee was made for, and will always be for the boundlessly good-natured Filipino children. And Jollibee has been a big hit in the Philippines before it came to America to cater to the taste of the Filipino people residing here. Why does Joel Stein thought Jollibee was made for America?

He may not fancy the taste of Jollibee, but to call it fake is outrageous. I wonder what standards Joel Stein are using. His own twisted, tainted American standard, perhaps? And to say that “the only American its Filipino owners have seen is Pamela Anderson”. Can you believe a TIME writer like Joel Stein still think that Filipinos have limited, puny and crude view and experience of America? For his information, the Jollibee owners can buy him anytime, with plenty of millions still to spare. Hmm, it makes me think if Joel Stein still believes that Filipinos live in tree houses. Can you believe this Shallow Stein?

I used to like reading Joel Stein’s articles, but this definitely has turned me off. It doesn't matter if he calls that crap a "humorous article". Down with Stein, stand up for Jollibee!!!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Niagara Falls, 16 May- 18 May

It was half-past two in the afternoon when we arrived at Niagara Falls, NY. After an eight-hour drive (and never missing any exits), we were finally there. It was cold- only high 40s, and the sun was never out! After checking in to our hotel, we ventured out to the Niagara Falls Park, and found out that the whole town was practically deserted. Very few shops were open, and even fewer people (tourists) were there. At only in the 40s temperature, who would want to vacation in that condition? We learned, much later, that visitors start coming in after the Memorial holiday. We were a tad early for Niagara Falls.

We saw the American rapids first, then crossed the pedestrian bridge to the Goat Island, where several lookout points to the American Falls and the Horseshoe Falls are located. At the tiny Luna Island, people can see the thundering rapids before it jumps onto the American Falls, and the much smaller Bridal Veil Falls. It was pretty amazing. My favorite was the Terrapin Point, where you get a magnificent quarter-view of the mighty Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side. The rising mist, the rushing water from the Niagara River, and the falls itself was a true beauty beyond words. Going down the steps to Terrapin Point, on a gloomy early evening, with the view of Canada and the soaring mist from the falls- it was a surreal experience. I have always wanted to see the Niagara Falls, and there I was, and it was all that I have expected. And much more.

I guess the perk of visiting Niagara on a cold, gloomy day is that you have the whole park to yourself and you don’t have to clamor for a spot to get the best view. At Prospect Point, and at Luna Island, you get the best view of the American Falls without anybody cutting you off.

We found dinner at the only restaurant which seemed to be open- an Indian restaurant called Punjabi which served an all-you-can-eat, cold, stale, baaaad, poorly-spiced Indian food. Ugggh. The waiters even looked as bored and as stale as their food. But what can one do? I think eating our baon granola bars would fare better. The Hard Rock Café, although it had blaring music outside, doesn’t seem to be open.

The next day, it was even colder- only in the 30s! We started the day with an oversized, overrated breakfast at the local Denny’s (no other choice, nowhere else to go). And then we headed out for the Maid of the Mist. It was surprisingly inexpensive at $12.50, and the experience was superb. We had the ubiquitous blue raincoats and we were on our way to a 30-45 minute sail at the foot of the American Falls and then at the sublime, stupefying Horseshoe Falls. The spray of cold water from the falls on our faces was unbelievably exhilarating!

The most overwhelming part of the Maid of the Mist trip was when the boat was actually at the foot of the Horseshoe Falls, and there you can see and hear nothing but the thundering waterfalls, the mist, the roar of the falling water and you can all but feel, drink, taste, smell and hear water! Actually, in the midst of it all, I spied a lone goose (a goose, the hubby insisted because I kept on saying a duck) right smack at foot of the falls, having a ball swaying in the waves and acting like it was not a big deal. I’ve seen nothing like it! A goose with a been-there-done-that attitude!

We spent the rest of the afternoon visiting a godforsaken shopping mall, a lonely Polish Catholic Church in an equally deserted neighborhood. The whole town seemed to be side-tracked, and there was nothing else to see but the beautiful falls. It was kind of sad. We talked to the Polish lady who cleaned the church, and she told us that the town is being abandoned by the young people and old people remained and they kept on dying. She said that the Catholic Church may have to be closed soon. We also drove up north-east to a village called Youngstown. It was an idyllic place, and further up on Lane Road, we can catch a glimpse of the blue Lake Ontario. Early evening we were headed to the Seneca-Niagara Casino, and this time I was let in by the bored young man at the entrance. We hit the slots, but we never won anything. Not even a dime. As expected.

At ten o’clock on our last night at Niagara, we returned to the Prospect Point to see the illuminated falls. Beams of colored floodlights light up the falls and it was incredibly beautiful. Mists rose up in a medley of colors and it had a spectacular, enchanting effect. Aaaamazing. Not bad to cap our last night.

On the day of our departure, the sky was suddenly bright and sunny, and it was warm. Luck wasn’t on our side, I guess. The trip back home was pretty uneventful except for one thing- we almost ran out of gas! In the middle of Pennsylvania back country! I feared that we may have to flag down trucks and ask for spare gas, or hitch a ride home, haha! What happened was really absurd. We didn’t fill the tanks while in Niagara, thinking it was a bit expensive there and we will find something cheaper on our way. When it was time to head for the next gas exit, the hubby got an unexpected call from his boss, and we missed the exit. The tank was almost empty, and so we thought, oh, in the next gas exit. And the next gas exit turned out to be at least 40-50 miles away! And the low fuel light was flashing, and we were panicking. We don’t wanna be stuck in the middle of Pennsylvania boonies!

So after an eternity of roads without gas signs, and every minute passing feeling like puking and passing out, we finally found four gas stations. The hubby said he was never ever been happier to see a gas station in his life, haha! Moral lesson? Always fill the tanks full, and never ever assume there’ll be a gas station at the next exit.

Thoughts on the Niagara trip? Beauty. Nature. Calm. Solitude. Abandon. Simplicity. Power.

of caves and a bell

The other Sunday, we visited the Luray Caverns in Luray, Virginia. It was my first time to be inside a cave and to be “16 floors” below the earth’s surface. I tend to be claustrophobic, but the Luray Caverns was huge inside and it was well-lit for the tourists, so my fear for confined places and darkness never cropped up. Plus there were lots of guided tours that went on inside, so it wasn’t exactly like going deep into hell’s deep alone ;) And too, there were kids who chose to cry and scream and shriek every time the guide gives a speech about stalactite this and stalagmite that, which made it harder, with her thick redneck accent, to understand what she was saying!

But I was impressed with the cavern. It was pretty amazing, with its rock formations, the clearest pool of water I’ve ever seen which reflected perfectly the stalactites, the mazes and crevasses and everything inside. It was a great nature’s creation. It was like under Pluto’s lair, yet, not that scary.

And to continue on with our touristy romps with my mom-in-law, we took her to Philadelphia on Monday. The weather was fine, and so it was an enjoyable day to be in the historic city. First, we had lunch at this Malaysian restaurant called the Banana Leaf. I had the salted fish fried rice- one of the many things I miss from home. Salted fish fried rice, we meet again! David had a ferociously spicy prawn noodles bowl, which he labored (seriously) to finish. He gave up at half-bowl, and settled to eat the chicken satay with peanut sauce.

After lunch, we went to see the Liberty Bell and the Independence Hall. Pictures here. Pictures there. Pictures everywhere. And then it was time to go home. We actually had a glimpse of the famous Rittenhouse Square, but never had time to explore it. Next time, next time.
I felt we’ve spent more time driving than actually spending time in those famous tourist spots. I was so tired. Sooo tired.

Friday, May 11, 2007

my funny names

Your Mexican Name Is...
Doña Dominga

Your Celebrity Baby Name Is...
Poppy Zola

It made me laugh! Try it! Happy weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Meat, meat, meat!

Thank God I’m a meat-eating creature! I never thought I could eat that much amount of meat in one sitting. Last Saturday, a nice lady at work who frequently treats us for lunch took us to dinner to a Brazilian restaurant called Chima (pronounced SHE-ma).

Chima offers traditional Southern Brazil style of barbecue. And the skewered meats are served on your table by gauchos (Brazilian cowboys). All you can eat! You just have to flip your round disk (which they gave to you before you start your meal) to orange to signal the gauchos to keep the meat coming, or to black when you want to take a break. First, we started off at the salad bar where you can choose a delicious selection of salads and other Brazilian specialties – Feijoada, potato salad, Waldorf salad, mashed potatoes, Tabbouleh tomato antipasta, cucumbers, assorted cheeses, beef carpaccio, farofa, fruits and a lot of other sinfully delicious things. Several kinds of rice and soups were also served. And they had this tiny round, cheese-filled bread you eat with turkey pâté which are heavenly.

And talking about the meat, gauchos with loose-fitting trousers and orange neckerchiefs were constantly making rounds serving top sirloin, lamb, rack of lamb, filet mignon, flank steak, prime rib, chicken, salmon and sausages. So it was a game of flipping it orange or black until you can’t take it anymore. Truly a meaty, satisfying experience!

We also had a taste of guarana drink from the famous Brazilian berries, which is believed to be energy-boosting. We had a great, great time! But I think I’m going to take it easy with meat for a while from now on. Meat is so good, and I won’t be timid to say vegetarians are missing out a lot! Life is too precious (and short) to dump meat completely!

Cheers to all the carnivores out there!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Miss Outdoorsy

I am not a girl who loves to hike, jog, or play the rugged life for that matter. I would be the first one to object to a camping trip. If argued into it, I might think over it twice or maybe thrice. But most likely, I’d pass up altogether. Call me vain and squeamish, but I just don’t think I’m cut up for rough pursuits such as long hikes, camping, mountain climbing, etc. I am not even enticed to try white water rafting.

I enjoy nature but not too much I wanna live for it. I admire people who take camping in the woods seriously, or those who jog even in the dead of winter. What I like best about nature is the magnificent scenery. And I do enjoy little walks in the park, and picnics in the park, or just plainly hanging out watching the world go by.

Last Saturday afternoon, I went with the hubby for a run in the park adjacent to the building where we live. It was a beautiful day, the sun was out and there was a gentle breeze. The hubby was itching to start his exercise, his get-an-active-lifestyle-oath. So we went through the back parking lot into the wooded trail along the creek, past the wooden little bridge into the park. We ran (hubby) and walked (me) two rounds around the park. The grasses and trees in the park are in its full spring glory that day, so it was a wonderful sight. Very relaxing. It felt good, I discovered. I might go with him the next time he goes for a run/walk.

Sunday afternoon was also spent outdoors. We took the mother in law to the Arlington National Cemetery. The weather was a bit warm, but just enough to enjoy the leisurely walks around the place. We visited the Kennedy gravesite, and then to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier where we witnessed a ceremonial laying of the wreath and the notable ceremonial changing of the guards. The last time the hubby and I witnessed the ceremony was on a rather cold November day last year. Taps was played on bugle (trumpet) at the wreath ceremony. I think taps is one of the two most moving musical piece of all times. The other one, in my opinion, is the wedding march. The two are completely in contrast (taps convey “end”, while the wedding march denotes “beginning”), however, they connect in the manner of stirring the emotions.

Maybe I shall have more luck being Miss Outdoorsy this summer.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Harpers Ferry

Ah, glorious, glorious sun! The sun shone brightly last Saturday for the first time in months and the temperature shot up to a divine 70 degrees. To think that only a week before, I was shivering in my toes. Suddenly I was alive and perky! No wonder the Incas worship the sun. It gives life, it makes people happy.

And so last weekend, we went on a real excursion to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Harpers Ferry is a little, old historic town where three states meet- West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland. And it is also the location where two famous rivers converge- the Shenandoah and the Potomac. The tiny, tiny town is rich is Civil War history. So little was the town that you can tour it in half a day. But no doubt about it, Harpers Ferry is a picturesque town. To walk in its cobblestone streets and alleys was amazing. It has few restaurants, some little museums, a number of souvenir shops and various Civil War sites and memorials. It also has a history dating back 1747. And Lewis and Clark replenished their supplies at Harpers Ferry back in 1803. Being nestled in a ravine, and with its old world buildings, the town exuded charm and mystery.

Harpers Ferry is only an hour and twenty-one minutes away from where we live. By the time we got there at half past ten o’clock, the sun was shining splendidly and visitors start trickling in. We got a nice parking by vintage-looking train station. It’s amazingly beautiful to watch a train go by. I am talking about the old trains which carry supplies, mails, etc. AmTrak passes by Harpers Ferry, too. As outdated as it may look, but people still has wonder about a train coming. When the train siren sounded somewhere, people really liven up and wait for its arrival, and then watch the train roll by, leaving an air of amazement in its trail.

We had lunch at the Armory Pub. I had wanted to dine al fresco, all getting excited with the restaurant’s deck with a good view of the train tunnel and the two rivers. But the hubby said it’s out of the question since bees were hovering above. So we ate inside its all-wood second-floor dining hall. I had the tuna melt sandwich, the hubby had the Philly cheese steak melt, and the mother-in-law had the crab cake sandwich, which she declared as the best meal she has ever had so far in the US. The food was good, however, the strangest thing was we were charged 25cents for our glass of water. First time I encountered such a preposterous thing.

We explored the quaint, narrow streets of the lower town, the railroad trestle, climbed the stone steps up the hill to the St. Peter’s Catholic Church and the St. John’s Church ruins. It has a great view of the lower town and the two rivers. We trekked in the footbridge to the C&O Canal, and watched an AmTrak glide past us and into the tunnel. In the Arsenal Square stood John Brown’s fort- a significant Civil War relic. We trod the pebble path to the Point, a lookout point for the converging two rivers. The sun was high and ablaze that my nape, neck and the top of my shoulders got burnt. But what the heck, I’ve been covered up for far too long I’m proud I got mildly toasted!

We spent the last 15 minutes of our visit at Harpers Ferry sitting on a bench outside the dark brick-red color of the Waiting Room at the railroad station, eating ice cream cones. We were hoping to catch another train and see what it’s like. But the train never came and it was time to leave. Maybe next time.

We drove for another 14 minutes to Charles Town, West Virginia, to the Charles Town Races and Slots. It was close to 4 pm when we got there, and the 4th level parking was practically deserted. I was excited to go to the casino. But I never got to try the slots and missed my chances of winning thousands of dollars (hehe) because the security adamantly refused to let me in. They wanted my ID. I didn’t bring any. I was more worried about the thong sandals I was wearing and totally obliterated the matter of bringing any form of identification. The whole thing- is worthy of another blog entry.

It still was, a glorious, happy, toasty, merry Saturday.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Favorite Quote of the Day

"Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but only the pig likes it"

I came across this smart-ass quip online today, and it gives me the kicks since no matter what we say or think, it’s so true it’s funny!

It’s a pleasant distraction because of late, it has been dreary, moody and just plain bonkers. The weather sucks, not all things happen my way, stress can be excruciating. All I need is something to kick me out of glumness and stimulate my rather cluttered temperament right now. And what I need is a clever quote like that!

And the naked truth of the quote is diabolically cruel and wicked. But it makes us think. Hard. Why not? You choose your battles. If any loathsome character irks you, you just don’t jump at it and start a scuffle. It’s because loathsome characters intend to make your life detestable and miserable. And they get the satisfaction out of your misery. Rule no.1- never ever give them that satisfaction. As they say, no one can really hurt you unless you let them.

Life is too short to bother dueling off with pigs. There are many faces of pigs in this world – 1) one who unabashedly criticizes you in front of people; 2) one who thinks and makes you feel you’re beneath him; 3) one who is so inconsiderate he thinks he owns the world; 4) one who is so wasteful and selfish they never care about starving people in the world; 5) one who cheats; 6) one who constantly finds fault in everything you do; 7) one who thinks he’s the single most important person in this part of the world. And many other pig characters you can think about. Possibly, they’re clueless about their trashiness. But that makes them all the more dislikable.

It is also an atrocity to be thinking too much about these characters. That is why, you have to follow just the simple rules: 1) the quote above; 2) don’t waste your precious time fraternizing with people who pig it.

Have a happy-hippo life!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Knut and Leoooo

They're two of the cutest things this month! Well, next to my own knut at home, of course (wink, wink). Please READ. And this one, too.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday

It’s Good Friday today, and we’re still at work and worse…. we’re having pork loin for lunch. We’re bad, baaad Catholics. In strict traditional Catholic terms, I ought to be damned for not observing this day in silence and fasting.

Why is it called “Good” Friday? English is, together with Dutch, one of the few languages that call Good Friday 'good'. While one could say that Good Friday is the saddest day of the year for Christians, the Church uses the word 'Good' to show that Christ has died to liberate everyone from sin and that suffering and death are not pointless.

Other languages use other names for this day.

In Israel, Good Friday is known as "Big Friday." In Germany it is "Sad Friday". In Malta, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria, Republic of Macedonia (and Eastern Orthodox Church in general) the day is called “Great Friday”.

In Latin America, Spain, France, Italy and Portugal the day is called "Holy Friday"; in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Faroe Islands and Iceland it is "Long Friday".

What I remember most of the Semana Santa back home are the stifling heat, semi-deserted roads and churches bustling with activity. And out of town trips and reunions, of course. Because Holy Week unofficially marks the start of the summer season. It’s a big, big holiday I love to “love and hate” at the same time. Love it, because of the long holidays, and hate it because it seems activities are limited. Well, except for that one Holy Week spent with friends in Camiguin Island, where activities were far from being “limited” and conducts far from being called “silent” and “restrained”. But it was a good holiday.

The Holy week in my mind is always linked to harsh sun, hum of church rituals, TV and radio stations on furlough, reconnecting with family and old friends. And sacrifices, little self-renunciation in our own personal way.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

worrywart VS. neurotic

worrywart- n. One who worries excessively and needlessly.

neurotic- n. A person suffering from a neurosis. A person prone to excessive anxiety and
emotional upset.

neurosis- n. a functional disorder in which feelings of anxiety, obsessional
thoughts, compulsive acts, and physical complaints without objective
evidence of disease, in various degrees and patterns.

Since neurosis is no longer in scientific use, I’d just call myself… a worrywart. Besides, neurotic is a bit tad grim.

I am just feeling a little antsy today. I am just a girl who needs sesame bagels and cream cheese…..

Monday, April 02, 2007

back to Pooh corner

After a three-day hiatus from work, and then a lazy two-day weekend, I am almost reluctant to get up this morning to go back to work- to mounting paperwork, amassed voicemails and horde of emails. But when I got to my tiny, corner office at half past eight today, I was instantly relieved to be in this safe, quiet haven.

I, luckily, am lying low in a corner office where only a few people ever bother to venture- which is the nicest thing since I don’t ever get disturbed. Sometimes, I could stay here in my office working all morning and all afternoon without being interrupted. I just hear muted conversations from adjacent offices, distant phone rings, and the oh-so wonderful silence. The world has gone mad, indeed, because the old me who thrived on endless chatter now glorify noiselessness. Or perhaps, I have just gotten old.

Last week, we made a quick trip to New York City to show my visiting mother in law around. The noise, fast and nonstop activity was overwhelming a bit. My mother in law loved it. She has complained to us that our place is too deafeningly quiet, too boring. But the hubby and I have grown devoted to a quiet, peaceful life.

We took her to the usual touristy spots in New York- Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Fifth Avenue, Central Park, Empire State Building, Liberty Island, Chinatown, etc. It would’ve way more fun if not for the dreadful cold and windy weather. My two previous trips to New York, weather-wise, were more desirable. Last year, the hubby and I had a great time with my best friend and her family when they visited from Australia.

The brighter aspect in the trip were my two rewards that day- a bottle of perfume and a red tote- a guaranteed mark to make any (shivery) woman happy!

So now I’m back here to my warm, quiet, obscure hole. I guess occasional chaos and fast pace would be good for the body and soul. It keeps the balance mentally and physically. I would love to visit noisy places from time to time, but right now, this hushed, unruffled surroundings seem as beautiful as ever…

Friday, March 23, 2007

a chronicle on friendship

Back in 1993, as a college freshman at the University of San Carlos, I met a bunch of girls whom I shared one full semester of fun. It would have been a lot more wonderful had we, under circumstances beyond our control, stayed together in one school and enjoyed 3 more years of college together. But incredibly, we spent five amazing months as barkada, and it was one of the most meaningful friendships I’ve ever had.

Typically bubbly sixteen and seventeen year olds back then, we shared many unforgettable and happy times - shopping trips, movies, Friday night dinners, joyrides, sleepovers, attending one P.E. class, hanging out, endless talks and laughter. I loved every moment of it because they are the nicest girls I’ve met in my whole life- cheerful, nonjudgmental, persuasive, beautiful inside and out, and totally honest and confident. And so even after so many years of not seeing each other, they’re always on my mind and I wish all the time that one day, we’ll see each other again.

Claire, is the most exuberant of the bunch. She’s always in a happy mode and had this very infectious laugh. She’s sweet, thoughtful and caring, too. Ching, is very demure and the most ladylike among us. She is generous and doesn’t make anyone uncomfortable at all times. Anna Leah, is the most assertive and the most independent. She’s very nice, too, and she always has fun stories to tell. Keith (her real name is Mirabelle), is our no-nonsense girl. She’s active and she had pretty nice ideas to share, too. I love them to bits.

The last time I saw Claire was that summer in 1994 before I moved to XU. And then I saw Anna Leah for the last time in 1996 when they visited XU on a class trip. She brought me a card from Claire, telling me about the birth of her daughter Anya and that she misses me a lot. I saw Ching, too, when she came to XU one time but we lost touch pretty much after that. Keith was the person I never saw again after our “freshman-year-is-over” dinner. But I remember all of them so vividly and I will always wonder about them.

Last year, Ching and I were able to connect again online and it was one of the most exciting things. My hopes were high again, finding them seems like not a hopeless case, after all. And so I knew that Claire is now based in Manila and works for PAL, and Anna Leah is in Belgium. Just yesterday, Anna Leah had a chance to chat online and we were squealing like school girls again! It’s such a joy to find and connect with old friends once more. Sadly, nobody knew about Keith’s whereabouts now. But I’m still hopeful that she’s out there somewhere, and she’d stumble upon us online one day.

Five months is not too long a time for togetherness, but we squeezed a lot of memories in those months. We’ve had too many deep, substantial conversations and more hilarious and childish exchanges, too. We never fought with each other, but shared the sadness of the other. We teased each other mercilessly, but we are jealously cozy with each other, too. Sometimes I wonder what could’ve happened had I not moved to XU, or Claire had not chosen to attend another school, or Keith had not switched to another course. Would we endure BS Psychology together, and find jobs under the same discipline? Would we take vacations together? Would we influence each other in our relationship and career choices?

I guess, I’d reserve these questions to answer when we meet each other again one day. It would be so much fun talking to them again…

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Sleepy and grumpy

I’ve received a second comment in two days that I look so sleepy. I suspect it’s just a mellower way of saying to me: “you look like hell”. It’s alarming! I’ve not been sleeping so well these past few weeks at all. Sleepiness is like a huge word emblazoned across my shirt, or an ubiquitous tag dangling from me, for that matter.

Yesterday, I felt so sleepy at 3:00 in the afternoon, and I couldn’t take it anymore that I had to lock the door in my office and rest my head on sheafs of papers and closed my eyes. I had to take extra precautions (hence, the locked doors) because I don’t wanna be caught sleeping at work in the middle of the afternoon. The nap was 18 minutes long. I’d be doomed if anyone from work read this, hehe.

I’m mostly to be blamed for all this fuss over sleepiness. We sleep really late, and I get troubles getting to sleep- naturally I’d wake up sluggish in the morning. With puffy eyes to match. And then the whole day, it’s like a vicious cycle of sleepy-active state. And the hubby wouldn’t buy the RLS (restless legs syndrome) thingy.

I’ve googled remedies for daylight sleepiness yesterday and one article suggested that eating chocolates will keep you awake. But it would mean you’d get fat because of consuming all those sinful chocolates. I’d rather feel sleepy, I guess, than to be a fatty. Hahaha.

Anyway, I guess I’d just have to sleep early and wake up early, too. And hopefully, I could find viable (and quick) remedies for daytime sleepiness. Any suggestions?

Friday, March 16, 2007

thank God I have a Friday wish!

It’s a rotten, rotten day today. It’s raining nonstop and the temperature has dipped low once again. Can’t say thank God it’s Friday……….. tsk, tsk.

We’re planning to get off from work really early today. But not to chase some leisurely Friday pastime but to run some very important errands. This is life, I guess. I feel like we’re constantly running out of time. Right now, I am thinking of a long, restful sleep and that I don’t have to wake up early tomorrow. And also, I want one of those aromatherapy oil burner/warmer, and have bergamot oil burning late into the evening.

But there’s dinner to fix, and a million other things to do when you get home. Can I just plop on the sofa pillows, and maybe listen to the rainfall tapping into the glass windows, soothed by the scented oils?

I could do that. I must, I must!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Dolled up

Last night, I got a message from my mom asking me if she could give away the toys that I have been keeping all these years. She was in the final stages of packing to move to her new home, and all my other things when I was single has to be displaced somehow. When she mentioned “toys”, the instant object that came into my mind is my rag doll collection. At some point in my teens (and early twenties), I have collected these adorable, pudgy rag dolls.

I have the smallest and the biggest rag doll in my stash. And like a true corny sentimentalist, I have a name for each of them. It’s a sad thing that it never occurred to me to photograph each of them (I have a feeling this would be a little too much, hehe). Some of them are bought, and a lot of them are given by my friends, who never hesitated in indulging me a bit in my habit.

And so I was a little alarmed when she sent me that message. But no, she’s not giving my rag dolls away, she assured me. What she meant were my other tiny stuffed animals I’ve also collected on the side. I’m a sporadic collector (pairs of brightly painted ceramic soup bowls, pig figurines, Readers Digest condensed books, etc.), but aside from the rag dolls and old issues (60s, 70s) of National Geographic magazines, I’ve only managed to collect few items of those before the pursuit went pffft.

My rag doll collection has a special spot in my heart. I’ve dreamt of bestowing the whole coterie to my daughter(s) when they come of age. I think it’s a very girly thing. That’s why I love the dolls very much. Actually, I can only recall a few names right now- Fate, Angelica Pickles, Chrissy, Cindy, Li’l. I’m sure the others are corny names, too ;)

Mom asked me also what’s she gonna do with a whole box of cards and letters that I have. We’re talking about those ancient snail mails from friends, pre-email/e-card days. I have quite a bulk of those, and I told mom to just keep in a box somewhere. I wanna go through each of them one day, and remember all the wistful memories. The rediscovery of this unexpected collection will be phenomenal. I can’t wait!

My rag doll troupe, I hope, will kindle the same fiery enthusiasm in another young girl’s eyes someday soon.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Our so-called nightlife

The only “nightlife” we could call lately are the Saturday night dinners at our friends’ house. Darko and Janet like to have us at their place from time to time, for dinner, drinks, a movie, and occasional shisha smoking. Last Saturday, we were at their place again.

Dinners at the Lazics’ are usually quiet and relaxed. And mostly filled with interesting exchanges of stories about cultural pecularities (we came from three different continents, that’s why). Funny examples: a puto is something yummy we eat in the Philippines, but in Latin America, it’s far from being an appetizing food (a swear word: faggot). And we’re curious to learn the bad words in each other’s countries. Anyway, these nights can be a lot of fun sometimes.

I downed a couple of margaritas before dinner last Saturday, does that make me a boozehound? Hehehe. Darko made his ‘specialty’ homemade pizza again. Bowtie pasta and turkey meatballs completed our dinner that night. Plus of course, free-flowing margarita which Darko was too happy to fuel us up with. Who says quiet dinners mean booze is a no-show?

We brought the movie that night, and we were kind of excited to see The Departed. With its recent Oscar Best Picture win, and a stellar cast, and explosive acting nominations for its actors, I expected a riveting, really rabble-rousing. But I swear, it was so boring my head wanted to explode! I don’t understand why it won. I thought Crash was a little tame and too self-righteous to win an Oscar last year, but at least it didn’t lull me to sleep. Sure, Leonardo di Caprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson were first-rate in their roles, but- oh, my God. It drove me insane! I read somebody’s review about how superior was Alec Baldwin’s role/acting. But all I can say is, huh??!

It was a major disappointment, really. We could’ve picked Tenacious D, or Barnyard. Maybe it would have been worth it. All the wonderful food for dinner and the delightful margarita got ruined by the bad movie.

Moral lesson: next time, don’t watch a supposed critically-acclaimed, dramatic, artistic movie in somebody else’s home. Watch it at the comfort of your home when it’s not too embarrassing to fall asleep on the couch. Hehehe!