Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The true essence


Well it seems that compared to my very first post on this blog ten long years ago, the only Christmas decor you'd find here in our lil apartment is the Manger.

This pop up Manger made of cardboard has apparently been with D's family for decades.

It is quite fitting as it seems these days with all the bright twinkling lights, the frenzy of last minute shopping and the  merrymaking during Christmas parties ... we often forget the real meaning of Christmas!

Plan B of our holiday plans is in full swing so I've been busy sorting all the last minute arrangements.

So let me take this opportunity to wish everyone Happy Holidays and loads of Yuletide cheers from D & D!!! 

Sunday, December 08, 2013

A decade

On this date, 10 years ago this blog was born.
This was my very first entry.

December 08, 2003
Oh Christmas tree
Even though I have decorated the staircase with Yuletide garlands like 2 weeks ago - it didnt feel complete. So I finally got the little Christmas tree up yesterday. It was a fruitful weekend, since for once I didnt sit in front of the TV to watch gossip shows. Shows that make it their business to find out which actress is having an affair with a politician etc. Not really my business but for lack of entertainment, I sometimes amuse myself by watching them. Anyways, I cleaned the entire house with the help of my sister. It is amazing how two people can accumulate so much junk in such a short time. I tried my best to make the little tree perch itself straight and adorned it with blinking lights. But somehow despite my efforts, it still tilts like the leaning tower of Pisa. Hey as long as the lights twinkle and the vase that holds the tree doesn't topple down from the table, Im happy. At the end of the day when Im sitting in my living room with only the colorful lights of the tree and the green garland that snakes itself on the staircase sparkle with lights and decors - I feel peaceful and calm. 

I really don't know what else to say hehe except I am surprised it has endured 10 years.  It has been on a decline for the past 5 years now ... since I tied the knot ... it appears my life has been not blog worthy (for lack of a better word).

So do I see myself still blogging 10 years from now .... or even 5 years from now?  


Who knows?  

I already have a difficult time updating it every day so we will see how it goes!!!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving

Despite the health woes as well as some glitches in our best laid plans, my family has a lot to be thankful for during these harsh times.  Times plagued by both natural and man made disasters. 

I know I complain a lot about this and that stuff which irritates me yet I am also fully aware that I am blessed abundantly with both material and non material wealth.

I just wanted to put it out there or in this case on my blog that I am blessed in more ways than one.  I am eternally grateful and thankful for it.  =)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Rehab

I spent the weekend at this mall which used to be my fave hangout during my single days. Its proximity to my previous residence was a great convenience. Plus their cinemas were so posh and a comfortable venue to watch the latest blockbusters.

This year they have adapted a more somber yet elegant vibe to their Christmas decors. Tones of blue permeate the ambiance of the mall.



Anyway I was there to accompany my Dad as he went for one week rehab or physical therapy for his knees. He had a misstep a week ago and since then his knees have been painful. He walks slower and his movements are limited. 

I can just imagine how such a joint pain can be quite a discomfort for him. He is quite an active person as he exercises regularly. 

To see my father in pain totally breaks my heart and I often find myself crying as I pray for his full recovery.  When it comes to my family I tend to get highly emotional.

We remain hopeful that the rehab as well as the ointment and pain relievers would yield positive results.

That would certainly be at the top of my Christmas wish list, this year.  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Distraction

I've been married now for 5 years and 6 months yet I can't bring myself to blog in front of my hubby. Although he is aware I have 2 blogs I've told him not to read them. This is fine by him since he has other interests which doesn't include reading blogs.  

I usually take a while to compose an entry although the main topic is at hand (in my mind) I tend to write then edit the draft several times before I click the 'publish' button. 

You see in this household, our computers are located at a perpendicular angle.  This means I am facing the wall while D is at my back facing the other wall.  Ergo I cannot see what he is doing while he is at his computer while he can merely turn to his right and can read what's on my monitor.   Perhaps this 'disadvantage' is the reason I am not at ease as he can easily just turn and read what I'm up to. 

I am more of a silent/quiet type so I like to do my online activities in complete silence. This way I can concentrate more even though I got like several browsers all open at once.  While every few seconds, he would comment out loud on topics he reads online. This lil gesture can really irritate me especially when I have my earphones on while watching my fave TV shows on my PC and he would tap my shoulders because he wants to share some inane matter he saw online.

I know ... I know ... I'm being silly when he just wants to keep the communication lines open .... but to disturb my internet time is tantamount to talking out loud during Sunday mass sermon time!

Thankfully I found a solution! Nowadays I rely on my smartphone using wifi to connect online during his off days and on weekends. This way, we are both at peace.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Serenity

It seems rather foolish and selfish for me to mop and fuss over a cancelled vacation when there is too much devastation and misery in the Visayas Region after super typhoon Yolanda struck last November 8, 2013.

But yes I am still totally bummed over it especially when our renewed passports were delivered the day after the storm struck. In fact I had forgotten about it when the messenger knocked at the gate. 

D and I have also been quite sick this past week. There isn't much to do but stay in bed coughing and sniffing (from the colds) as we watch all the coverage of the media networks of the deluge that claimed so much lives and caused so much destruction.  It is beyond belief yet there it is as clear as day flashing across the TV screen on a daily basis. 

Whole towns wiped out, dead bodies scattered all over amidst the tons of debris that is lining up the streets.  One cannot really make much sense of what unfolded in such a vast region.  It is depressing, heartbreaking and it puts many things into a broader perspective.

We are sad, we are torn and then we are angry at how little the national as well as the local government units seem to be doing to alleviate the miserable and deplorable situation of the survivors.  You get on social media and you are bombarded with all these links, comments and photos of the suffering going on in these parts of the nation and your heart breaks more and more.  

Of course, we are all eternally grateful for the amount of donation and assistance that is flooding our shores both from local and international sources.  We are all overwhelmed with the enormity of the disaster as well as the logistical operations involved into putting some sense of normalcy in the lives of those affected.  Yet our hearts also warm up to the generosity and kindness of individuals as well as organizations/ foundations that are willing to help in any way they can.

I end this post by typing the Serenity Prayer which I believe seems appropriate in times of crisis.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
 
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
 
Amen.

 

Friday, November 08, 2013

Disappointment

This article just made me sad. It probably means we have to cancel our trip. I don't really know what it entails. I am still confused about what our options are at this point.

The weather is really bad as the Visayas region is currently being battered by supertyphoon Yolanda. It is expected to hit the NCR this afternoon or tonight. So this bad news doesn't help to cheer up our dampened spirits.

I do understand their measure to impose these sanctions. Truth be told the moron (I did not vote for him) who leads our embattled country is to blame not only for this incident but the messy crisis we are currently experiencing. I know I sound bitter and for sure I am indignant about this restriction because it involves me and my family personally. But I am also concerned for the thousands of Filipino workers whose livelihood would be affected by these economic sanctions.

At least, I do care which cannot be said for the haciendero who continues to mismanage our nation with his ineptitude!

May the good Lord bless us all.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Plan B

When I was still single, I was quite meticulous when it comes to planning.  I'd have everything ironed out months before the actual trip. 

Then I got married. :D

Much to my regret, I've somehow changed in my outlook towards well almost everything, I'd suppose.  Part of the blame would be my hubby who isn't much of a planner. He is pretty much the last minute sort of guy who throws in everything in a suitcase and throws caution to the wind.  Or let me rephrase that he would throw everything towards me! So I have to make all the necessary arrangements as well as the itinerary during the trip.

My single self would certainly relish this bequeathed role but my married self abhors it.  I know it doesn't make sense but strangely it is how it has been the past 5 years of my married life.

This is the main reason why I said in the comments section of my previous post that I don't find the planning part quite exciting, anymore.  It stresses me out that *I* have to do everything!!!

Therefore it didn't come as much of a surprise when we hit a snag in our planning stage. It actually was sort of looming but I never expected it to hit us this late in our preparations. Of course, despite my complaints I am still hoping the trip will push through. If only for the sake of my parents who are this early quite excited about spending the holidays in a colder climate. 

So I'm keeping my fingers (my toes as well) crossed. And pray we push through even though the stress factor would be at the highest level possible for me to handle. So help me, Lord!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Get a move on!



So yes that's it, I'm now officially 45 years old. We had my birthday lunch at Chili's, a restaurant which was my favorite hang out while we were stationed in Dubai, UAE way back in 1995 until 2001.

It was and still is a very special place. The venue where I had dates with my exes as well as dined with good old friends of mine (most of whom I've lost touch with since we are located in different places, nowadays).

It has been ages since I partook of their meals and although the menu is quite different from the one located in Dubai, it still brought back many fond memories for me.

By the way, I didn't order any margaritas as my drinking days are way behind me.  In the distant past, I could still walk straight after downing 4 -5 margaritas. Ah yes the good old days of lush and lust. hehehe

Now that I'm done with celebrating turning a year old, I've got to get my groove back as I have tons of errands and chores to do.  First is to get our passports renewed.  Second is to find the appropriate dates for our Christmas vacay at where my sister is based.  Third is to find the cheapest flights to get to our destination.

And you all know how hectic it gets before a trip.  Millions of things to attend to which can be quite tiring. So I have to get a move on, no time to be lazy.  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Today I'm Forty Five =]



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Recipes

One of my favorite past times online is to read food blogs as well as some reviews of newly opened restaurants in the lifestyle section of the web edition of local newspapers.

I like reading about food.

Why?

Surely not to add to the repertoire of my very limited culinary skills. Neither do I have the luxury of time or to be honest the budget to dine at most if not all of these eateries. I just like the way it satisfies my vision and in some sense my appetite.

But truly there are rare occasions when I do venture out of my cave to satisfy my discerning palate. 

When it comes to choosing where to eat when we are at the mall, my dear hubby ALWAYS leaves it to me to decide. Heck, I even order for him and he just eats whatever is laid down in front of him. 

I decided to try RECiPES, a resto known for Asian fusion cuisine. Upon checking the menu I notice it is mostly their version of local dishes

I ordered Thai Spring Rolls for appetiser. 9 tiny pieces with a tangy sauce. 



Then Gising Gising (minced pork with tiny slices of green beans mixed in coconut milk) and Chicken's General (crunchy boneless chicken with some sort of sweet and spicy sauce).  I told the waiter to specify the dishes must only be "mildly" spicy.

The portions are a bit small for two persons so it would be wise to order two mains + appetisers. 

The ambiance was cosy. not too claustrophobic as there is enough leg and elbow space between tables. 

The place is well lit and minimalist in its interiors decors which is fine by me. I don't know about you but I prefer to focus on the meals than the walls of any eating establishment.

As for the price range, it is affordable given the small portion of its dishes. Our bill amounted to less than a thousand pesos, this includes 2 plain rices along with 2 cans of softdrinks.

My overall satisfaction rating is 3.5 out of 5 stars. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Funky mood

So ever since I got back from a week of fun bonding moments with my sister dearest, I've been feeling funky.

You know the sense that you are either too tired or just plain lazy to do the million things that is expected of you.

Given that yes I am lucky I am a stay at home wifey, there is always something that needs your productive attention.

I've chalk it to a number of (valid imho) reasons like PMS, my apprehension about turning a year older in a week's time, fatigue and/or just plain old laziness!

Either one or all of the above reasons could be to blame.

It seems all I've done is watch whole seasons of TV shows which my kind sister dutifully saved in 2 USBs for my viewing pleasure.  You all know that on average one season is roughly composed of 8 to 12 episodes. Each episode is about 45 minutes to 1 hour. So you do the math and that is how much time is wasted by yours truly. 

Hopefully I snap back into a more productive mode and be more enthusiastic about turning forty five next weekend.  Goodness! 

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Return to basics

I'm back in circulation. My beloved sister was in town for a week. She spent her 42nd birthday here with her family. We all had a great time as we were complete again. 

I will get back in the swing of things once I've gone through the backlog of online activities as well as household chores. 


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Special day

Today my hubby turns 49 so we went out in the pouring rain to celebrate.  We had Japanese fare which consisted of California Roll, Seafood Yakisoba and Ebi Tempura.

Happy birthday Hon =)


Friday, September 27, 2013

Where have all the hours gone?

Often times I tend to complain (only inside my head and then I post about it on my blog) that my life is one big boring existence.  I'm mostly at home doing household chores while maintaining my online activities.

But ever so often, something comes up and more often than not they tend to stack up one after the other that I end up feeling tired from so much activities.

Yes I complain way too much, don't I?

I complain when I have nothing to do.

I complain when I do have many activities to attend.

Heh.

But the main gist of my post is that being away from an Internet connection for a certain period of time would merit an accumulated backlog.

Suddenly there are more posts to compose, more movie reviews to write, more photos to upload, more status updates to describe and the general pile of online websites I miss reading. Now that I got my new smartphone I may not miss out on reading blogs and websites but it is a totally different matter when it comes to blogging.  I don't know about you but I rather not strain my eyes and my fingers typing on a minuscule keyboard just to come up with a blog post.  

At the end of the day, sometimes it feels like there aren't enough hours to squeeze in everything I have to do.  I need to better manage my time instead of wasting it playing Candy Crush or Temple Run on my phone.  Yes get used to the fact that I will be mentioning my new phone ever so often in my blog ... so deal with it. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Chef's Noodle, SM North The Block

I heard so much about this restaurant so when it opened a branch at SM North (just a few minutes away) I wanted to try their dishes.  I had a difficult time finding it because I forgot to jot down the exact location.  I asked the information desk and the lady at the counter directed us towards another wing. So we decided to go to another eatery for lunch because I was already hungry.

Lo and behold we literally stumbled into Chef's Noodle as we were heading towards another establishment. I had a misstep and almost fell and when I got my bearings back the Korean restaurant was within sight.
It is a rather small place with a second floor or rather a loft. We were directed to a table for two at the loft.  Another place where they maximize every single space so the tables are pretty close to each other.  
I ordered the dishes on their chef's recommendation list. We had their signature soup dish Chef's Noodle which is Korean fresh noodles with beef, anchovy broth topped with leeks, bean sprouts, fried tofu, spring onions, egg roll and beef Bulgogi. It was still boiling hot when it reached our table.


Japchae -  Sweet potato glass noodles with beef and vegetables.


Bibimbap - traditional Korean steamed rich with seasoned beef, vegetables and fresh egg.



The portions are of decent size. In fact, they can be shared for two persons well because I don't really eat much.  But the best thing about Chef's Noodle is how affordable the dishes are.  Our bill was less than 500 pesos (meals + beverages) which is a good deal for people on a budget. So if you are in the Q.C area and craving for Korean cuisine, I'd recommend you try Chef's Noodle. 

P.S
The pictures are c/o of my new smartphone. In fact those were the first images I took using the new phone. It was mostly a trial and error basis as the settings on the camera were still unfamiliar to me. I almost dropped the phone into my soup because I'm not used to utilizing a phone to take pictures. he he he But overall, I was quite satisfied with the resolution and the quality of the images.   =)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

It has been a week ...

... Since the hubby and I got our new smartphones ... so I've been pretty lazy!

It was supposed to be my birthday gift to him because his old cellphone is barely functional.  But he tagged along so he could have a feel of how to operate it and if he could handle it with one hand and/or if it would fit his jeans pocket.

But I also ended up buying one for myself because they had a discount on 2nd item cash promo so voila we are now hopping onto the smartphone bandwagon.

No longer relics with chunky cellphones, we have moved into the android phone technology.  But they are just the basic versions not the expensive branded varieties yet they give us me so much joy I can hardly stop myself from playing all day and all night.

Thus a neglected blog situation. He he he

Friday, September 20, 2013

Medical Drama

Yes one of my favorite TV shows is back for its tenth season. I'm eagerly looking forward to the shenanigans of the doctors (and the interns too) of Seattle Grace.  Ooops I mean Grey + Sloan Memorial Hospital as it was renamed after two of the doctors who didn't survive that plane crash.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thai Time

Sometimes, my beloved mother craves for certain types of food. For the longest time, she wanted Pad Thai, the famous peanut flavored Thai noodles.  She also reads the newspapers daily so she came across this Thai restaurant named "SOI" (pronounced "SOY") which opened a new branch at Glorietta 2, Makati.

We headed out on a weekend, Saturday lunch time to be exact. It is a relatively small yet cosy place with what I assume are Thai lanterns dangling from the ceiling. They seem to have maximized the entire place so tables and the chairs were close to each other. Too close for my comfort as I can actually reach out to the adjacent table and grab a complete stranger's meal with my chopsticks. It was a weekend and lunch time so the place was quickly filled with hungry customers.

We ordered Prawn Cakes (P260 for 3 square pieces), Chicken Satay (P170),  Fish Fillet with Black Bean Sauce (P238) and naturally the Pad Thai (which comes in 3 varieties Shrimps (P298) Chicken ( P248) and Vegetarian (P198)).  We had the chicken variety together with 2 bowls of Jasmine Rice. One bowl is pretty good portion so Mom and I just shared one bowl. 



I wasn't able to take any pictures since the digicam was with the hubby who was at work.  The picture above is taken from this informative article about new restaurants in the newly renovated Glorietta 2 area.

The total bill for 3 persons amounted to about P1031.00. Of course with two senior citizens discount card. The food was tasty and they followed our instructions to have the spicy factor as mild.  We didn't wait too long for our orders to reach our wooden table.  Overall the ambiance is cozy and has an air of fine dining yet the dishes are affordable and good sized portions. Mom loved the food and she will definitely return to sample their other dishes. Believe me that is a good sign since she can be quite picky when it comes to food, she is from Pampanga, after all!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Not Wired

The original plan was to meet up with my parents for our monthly First Friday mass cum food tripping date. But I ended up spending almost a week with them (at the condo) as some important matters came up which needed my attention. As fate would have it, the old rickety computer at the condo (my parents are not computer savvy so they keep it hidden under a blanket) had a tantrum and won't load the operating system. 

After my many (failed) attempts to jump start it with my somewhat limited hardware knowledge, I simply gave up and resolved to find other ways to entertain myself. I finally finished reading Dan Brown's latest novel "Inferno". We had given my Dad the hardbound copy of the book as his birthday gift. But guess who ended up reading it first => me. I will review it in a future post.

It was also good timing as Cine Europa - the film festival featuring European movies was having its run at the Shang Cineplex which is just a few minutes away from my former residence.  So after we were done with the tasks, I would end up queuing to watch a European film.  Great way to relax and just get lost in the cinematic offerings of Europe. 

So I was able to survive 7 days without an Internet connection. It was refreshing and quite an eye opener for me whose first move in the morning after I get off the bed is to switch on my PC even before I go down to answer the call of nature. Heh!   And in this digital age where we are connected 24/7, I do recommend we take some time off to disconnect ourselves from being wired, most if not all the time.  

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Lack of Common Sense

Kindly allow me to express my opinion on a controversial matter.  Lately, there have been a couple of instances where celebrities made headlines. Unfortunately, the publicity isn't good feedback but smacks of bad taste. Videos of their most intimate moments were uploaded online. Naturally they would insist they didn't upload it themselves. That their hard drive was stolen and someone got hold of these files and thought it was a good idea to post it online where majority of the teeming public will feast on it like it was the soup of the day on a menu.

By the way, I haven't seen these videos and I have no intention of viewing them.  In the first place, I believe it is a violation of their privacy. Secondly, more often than not, it is the woman who has a lot to lose in these types of situations.  The lost of  trust and respect, the sheer humiliation, the embarrassing blow to one's dignity is the sad part of this whole messy imbroglio. 

It is just a simple matter of common sense running out of the window that got these celebrities into trouble. Given that you are a known figure is enough for one to behave appropriately not only in public but even in the privacy of their own adobe.  Now, I am not saying they should not engage in the most sacred, intimate act but they should be more responsible with their actions (pun intended!) and keep it private and within the confines of their bedroom.

Unfortunately, in this 'macho' society, most would even applaud the guy for not only having the guts to film such an act but would even critique his 'prowess' and his 'performance'.  In such a delicate situation, I would place the blame entirely on the guy.  Women need to be convinced to be a willing partner in allowing the act to be filmed.  Of course, the guy can always insist that it is safe and that no one can have access to these files. Yet in the digital age, no one can be 100 percent sure of being completely safe.  There are always several risks involved and this pertains to life itself not just in making sure your files are password protected.

In these cases though, it is quite apparent the women in these videos knew they were being taped and willingly participated in it. Perhaps they thought it won't be leaked.  They trusted their partners too much and didn't feel the need to worry about the bad exposure. Or it could also be they are shame-less and couldn't care less about this sort of behavior being recorded for whatever purpose. Ultimately, it seems having a respectable reputation and good dignity doesn't count much for these days. Proper decorum and a sense of propriety are perhaps not part of their limited vocabulary.

These type of videos also cheapen the act of lovemaking.  It isn't meant to be that way. It is an act that is supposed to be sacred and done with the affection and intimacy.  It is an expression of love but trust and respect must also be present.  It isn't something to be taped and then uploaded so perfect strangers who have nothing better to do would gawk at it like it was some exotic animal at the zoo.  

It is time we all be more morally responsible for our actions, not only physically but verbally as well. A return to good family values and a higher tolerance towards each other is clearly in order.  Our society is morally decaying in these "selfie"  times.  That for me is the most scary aspect of this present digital generation!!!

Monday, September 02, 2013

Physical Exertion

P.E was my most dreaded subject. In Brussels where I had my elementary schooling, our P.E (Physical Education) was gymnastics, softball and swimming. 

Although I was pretty flexible because I was such a shortie, I didn't relish the fact that we had to do several somersaults on the 'horse' just to get a fairly passing grade.  I also had to wear those really tight long sleeved leotards which was really not flattering to the figure.

Me and the water don't go well together.  So you can just imagine how I dreaded my swimming classes. For some strange reason, I cannot for the life of me float in water. Someone had to physically hold my mid section so I could pull my legs away from the ground.  To this day, all those swimming lesson didn't serve me well since I still don't know how to swim nor do I even attempt to go near the sea.  So obviously I'm not a beach person.

Back in the Philippines, high school life itself was pretty miserable. I was such an oddity so I couldn't fit in. I couldn't speak the local language. I was an ugly duckling (thick eyeglasses and even thicker wavy hair).  So sports like volleyball was sheer torture for me. I had this fear that the ball would hit my face so my eyeglasses would break and I would be blind without them. I was always last to be picked to be part of the team. During the game itself, the opponents would specifically target me knowing fully well I couldn't hit the ball. Terrible!

At the University of Santo Tomas, our P.E classes were volleyball, table tennis, dance and some activity I can't recall.  I've probably blocked it out of my memory forever.  My hand and eye coordination is practically zero.  My brain isn't programmed to act quickly on my feet and so my sight would be greatly hampered.   

Since all of these activities involved my most hatred 'action' - sweating like I was burning in the fires of hell, I was totally miserable when it was P.E time. I'm glad those years are way past behind me. I'm grateful I passed all my P.E subjects without the need to re-take them during summer.  

I still sweat a lot but I figure the main culprit would be the balmy weather and all the meds I have to take to control my hypertension and my cholesterol levels. The only time I don't mind sweating is an activity done in private. But this is a wholesome blog so no details would be forthcoming. :D

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Post birthday celeb

This year my father's birthday fell on a Thursday. But even though the storm had left the PAR (Philippine Area of Responsibility) it was still raining heavily and flash floods still hampered our mobility.   So this weekend,  we had a belated birthday lunch to celebrate his 77th natal day.   Our go to resto for milestones and celebrations serves tasty yet affordable Chinese food.   



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Habagat (Monsoon Rains) 2013

The rainfall started at a frequent rate last Saturday.  I was at a health clinic to get my blood tested for my cholesterol levels. Oh this reminds me I have yet to get my test results but I haven't been out due to the stormy weather.   

Sunday, we heard the 11 am Mass by then the downpour got really heavy so we rushed home after grocery shopping to stock up on supplies.  By evening, the precipitation got heavier along with strong winds which kept banging against the window panes.  Class suspension announcements were made by the various local government units.  

So D slept in Monday as the storm became stronger, causing massive flooding across the National Capital Region and neighboring provinces.  Every time the volume of rainfall got bigger, this was the scene outside our doorstep.


These were taken from the second floor of our apartment.  Kids just appeared out of nowhere and start playing in the massive 'swimming pool' on our street.





Yet every time I start to panic and think the flood level will increase and start seeping through our door, the rains took a break and it would quickly subside and the street was dry yet again.

I know I am lucky as I watch the news and see the devastation the storm Maring (along with the monsoon rains) caused on people living in low lying areas across the metropolis.  Wet, shivering and probably quite hunger, they are evacuated in rubber boats by rescue personnel.  At the local schools which are converted into evacuation centers, they have to contend with the crowded surroundings, common bathrooms and the lack of relief goods to alleviate their hunger.  

Tuesday saw the same cycle all over again. Heavy downpour with strong winds. Once again the capital was at a stand still as mobility was hampered with flooded streets, stranded commuters lined the streets as traffic jams prevailed.  It was total chaos.  Classes as well as work were once again suspended.  Miserable conditions all around. 

By the way, here are important phone numbers we should all have posted in our homes, and saved in our cellphones. 

 

Today August 21, 2013 is a regular holiday here as we mark the 30th death anniversary of President Aquino's dad.  Weather wise the rains are still quite heavy but less frequent. Some roads are now passable while some towns still remain flooded.  It is really quite bleak as we haven't seen the sun in five days now. 

As I type this post, I got these advisories c/o Twitter:

ADVISORY: Classes in PUP Sta. Mesa, Manila are suspended until tomorrow, August 22, following Mayor Estrada's announcement.

Yellow Rainfall Advisory No. 28

Weather System: Southwest Monsoon (#Habagat) enhanced by
Tropical Storm “#MaringPH
Target Areas: #MetroManila
Issued at: 04:30 PM, 21 August 2013 (Wednesday)

Moderate to heavy rains is expected over Metro Manila, #Bulacan, #Pampanga, #Rizal, #Cavite, #Bataan and portions of #Laguna, #Tarlac, #Quezon, #OccidentalMindoro and #Zambales and most likely to continue for the next 3 hours.

• FLOODING in low-lying areas may still prevail.

• ALL are advised to MONITOR the weather condition and watch for the next advisory.

Let's all hope and pray there will be an improvement in the weather. God help us, all.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Belgique

We were stationed in Brussels, Belgium from 1978 to 1982.   30 years ago but there are many memories from that period that stay in my memory warehouse. Naturally the feel good ones, for certainly there were some moments (i.e racial discrimination and bullying) I've long buried and hope I never get to experience again in my lifetime. 

During this rainy weekend, I caught a cooking show on TV Monde 5 (The French Channel) where the contestants were tasked to cook a dish from the tiny nation of Belgium. With a current population of 9 million citizens, the country is divided between the Flemish (the Dutch speaking populace) and the Wallons (the French speaking portion).  Its capital is Brussels and it has 3 official languages namely French, Flemish and German.  

My elementary schooling was in a Catholic institution where I studied, talked and even dreamed in French. But I was excepted from taking Flemish because I was a foreigner.   Belgium is famous for the Mannekin Pis, its waffles, Brussels sprouts and Moules et Frites (Mussels and Fries).  

Moules et Fries is one of my fave dishes.  I remember we would eat at this restaurant called "Chez Leon". It's quite famous for its wide varieties of cooked mussels.  You can order their steamed with white wine (my fave),  au gratin (baked with cheese), with tomato sauce or the classic steamed mussels.  It is normally served with a basket of thick potato fries and slices of bread which you can dip into the sauce.  Delish, I'd tell you.

So one of the contestants decided to cook her version of Moules et Fries. She mixed the shelled seafood with white wine and celery and her presentation was quite elegant.  And lo and behold, she won that category.  

It has been 30 years since we lived in Europe but on the few occasions my sister and I were able to re-visit Brussels and Paris, we always ate at "Chez Leon" for most of our meals.  To the point that if you prick us, our blood would be streaming with white wine mussels. :D

Just last year in HK for our Yuletide holidays, my sister had a surprise for us.  She took us to this restaurant near her office called "Frites" and it serves Belgian fare.  My parents and I were ecstatic as we feasted on mussels and fries while reminiscing about moments that occurred 30 long years ago.






Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Darkness falls

Last night while we were doing our usual online after dinner routine, the power supply suddenly went off.  Good thing I wasn't composing anything important because I wasn't able to save it. I was merely playing Candy Crush on Facebook as I'm still stuck at level 147 for almost 3 weeks now.  Grrrr!

So there we were fumbling in the dark, I reached for my cellphone so we could have some faint light to guide us through the room.  We got our always ready rechargeable lamp and switched it on so we weren't completely in the dark.

Last night was quite balmy (unlike the previous nights when the precipitation lowered the temperatures) and without an electric fan, my very active sweat glands were working overtime and I was sweating buckets + it is the 'time of the month' so perspiration galore for little me.  Not fun, quite unpleasant, cringe moment all rolled into one. 

By then it was already past 11pm and I was getting quite sleepy.  My ever loving hubby who knows I'm Miss Sweaty (not Miss Sweetie) took charge and starting fanning me while we were lying in bed.  Even though I felt like a lechon (roasted pig) being roasted, I'm just very grateful I'm married to a guy who understands my needs and my wants without any prodding from my part.  Thus no nagging needed!

Either I am that predictable or he is simply such an awesome hubby.  I believe it's the latter, don't you agree? 

Monday, July 29, 2013

It's in the jeans!

Yesterday at church, I noticed this young woman wearing a printed top with matching pants.  At first I thought she was wearing her pajamas until I realized this type of attire was the current trend in fashion.

When it comes to fashion, I prefer to stay in the safe zone.  I was brought up to wear matching colors.  Shoes and bags should be the same tone.  Keep it simple when it comes to accessories.  Do not draw attraction to yourself.  Clothes don't make you, personality does.

So when I see how fashion has evolved through the years, I feel 'old'.  Mismatched tops and bottoms, shoes and bags give me the hives.  I tried it once just for the heck of it but I felt so uncomfortable I wanted to shrink and hide behind a closet or wear a blanket over my outfit.   

One of my staple outfits is a top and jeans.  Yet skinny jeans and leggings are not part of my wardrobe.  For one, I am too short to pull it off. Second, I equate leggings with sleep wear.   Third, I no longer belong in the hip category range.

My jeans are straight cut, sometimes a bit of a flare at the seams.   Now that I'm a lot lighter, I get the impression I'm now wearing what you call "mom jeans".  Nothing wrong with them (it goes with the adage that you should 'act your age') but the thing is I'm not a mom so why should I wear them? :D

My options are to get them 'fixed' or buy new ones.  Let's see if my budget cooperates with my plans.  

Friday, July 26, 2013

Roulade, Terrine and Pavlova

Usually after dinner, I like to chill and watch TV shows.  If there is nothing to view on the telly, the alternative would be to park in front of my PC. Normally I would view one whole season of my fave programs.  I was done with my medical drama (Grey's Anatomy), scandalous politicking (Scandal) and spies thrillers (Homeland, The Americans).

So I turned my focus towards the yummy world of cooking shows.  Top Chef, MasterChef US and Australia and Top Chef Masters.  Programs which feature the culinary expertise of ordinary folks as well as experts in the food industry.   Most of them cook with ingredients I have never come across and use fancy terms to describe their dishes.

I only cook simple Filipino fare like Beef Kaldereta, Beef Steak Tagalog along with my experimental dishes which I concoct at the drop of a hat.  The hubby has not had any food poisoning experiences based on my cooking so that is a good sign.

To satisfy my gastronomic senses, I tune into people that cook recipes I would never get to taste let alone afford those fine dining cuisine.  Most of them look 'simple' enough but boy they take a lot of prepping combined with creative imagination to look so delectable in their presentation.


The above picture is a screenshot from the finale episode of MasterChef Australia the Professionals.   It looks so yummy, doesn't it?

Watching these cook shows late at night does not bode well for my diet.  Thankfully, I have a strong will power and I am able to control myself from ransacking the pantry or the ref for a sinful midnight snack.   

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Living within your means

Saving was not part of my vocabulary when I was growing up abroad.  We were not wallowing in wealth but I like to think we were better off than a large majority of the population.   A bulk of my dad's income was spent on family vacations. We might not have invested in a house & lot back home but I can enumerate 20+ cities we traveled to in Europe and Asia for leisure purposes.  So much so that when we had to go home for good, we spent a number of years renting instead of owning the places we lived in.

As fate would have it, I married a guy who lived an *austere lifestyle*.  Contrary to popular belief that tertiary instructors earn big bucks, it has been quite a task for me to budget his income.  Sometimes there would be days even weeks when his salary would be delayed (apparently it's normal for state owned universities) for various reasons, so I would have to dip into our savings to make ends meet.  Not to mention the period when he took out a loan (for our fertility treatments) payable for 3 years and 1/4 of his salary was automatically deducted.

Therefore, I have been highly conscious of ways on how to live within our means.  I am mighty proud I am able to implement these measures without breaking into sweat. For someone who easily perspires, it is a big deal!

Here are some tips:
  • Cut your utilities cost.  I noticed that we barely watch TV so I checked out the website of the Cable TV we were subscribed to and went for their most basic plan.  The number of channels are limited but most of them were the one I frequented so it fit my viewing habits. Instead of paying P780.00 monthly our cable TV bill is fixed at P499.00.
  • Whenever I don't use an electrical appliance, I unplug it from the electrical socket. Even when I just go down to cook or have my meals, I unplug the computer, the DSL modem as well as the electrical fan.  The same works for when I go back up I unplug everything downstairs.
  • Be sure to open all the curtains/blinds in your home so you won't have to switch on the light fixtures.
  • Most of the time, I eat lunch alone.  So I stack up all the dishes with dishwashing liquid in a small pail and wash them later after dinner along with the pots and pans I used for cooking.
  • I use ratty old clothes as rugs.  I do have many old clothes which no longer fit me.  I cut them into large square pieces and use them to dust off furniture and appliances on a daily basis.
  • Aside from rent, we spend most of our meager income on food. Grocery shopping is much easier when you have a list of items to purchase.  I have this rule when the contents of a food item is less than my thumb that is the time to replenish so I add it to my list.
  • I always buy sachets. Aside from the fact that they are cheaper, they are also lighter and not too heavy to carry in your tote bags.
  • In my opinion, promo priced items are not necessarily better.  For instance, some products come with an attached 'free' item such as a can of corned beef with a free sachet of chiz wiz.   Or those 'buy one, take one' promos, I stay away from them.   I always feel guilty when I have to throw away these free items since we don't patronize them.  Since I went on a diet, I have to stay clear of dairy products plus having an extra can of corned beef is not feasible since we are only two in this household.
  •  Always check the expiry dates of every food item you buy.  When arranging your pantry, put the items with the shorter expiry dates in front so you dispose of them first.
  • I always cook vegetables first once I reach home. They tend to perish right away and when kept longer in the ref, they get all 'wrinkled'.
  • Make sure to squeeze out every single bit until the last drop from the bottles of condiments, hair products, dish washing detergents etc etc.    Heck, I even use tiny pieces of soap, as long as they still have bubbles to lather, I'm game. :D
Well these are the tips I can conjure right at this precise moment.  If you have some more tips, do share.


*I love my husband and I don't mean to belittle his income but it is just the way it is.  When I first talked to his mother (based in the USA) over the phone, she told me they weren't well off.  I replied it doesn't matter, really.   When in truth I wanted to tell her in jest "hindi naman po pera ang habol ko sa kanya, kundi ang kanyang matipunong katawan" he he he.    

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Memories that remain

This is one of my favorite ABBA songs.
She sings about a summer fling in Paris.
It reminds me of someone really special,
who shall remain nameless.
I still think of him often.
More often than I care to admit.
Perhaps too often than it is permitted.
It was many years ago.
Yet I still get nostalgic about it.
I remember it with fondness.

Our Last Summer
The summer air was soft and warm
The feeling right, 
The Paris night did its best to please us
And strolling down the Elysee
We had a drink in each cafe
And you
You talked of politics, philosophy and
I smiled like Mona Lisa
We had our chance
It was a fine and true romance
I can still recall our last summer
I still see it all walks along the Seine,
Laughing in the rain
Our last summer


Friday, July 19, 2013

Too Much Information

In this age of instant this and instant that, researching on medical conditions is merely a click away.  Through the ever reliable Internet, loads of information on various topics can be quite overwhelming.  Although some amount of information can be quite helpful, I sometimes get the sense that all these pieces of material can also be quite harmful.   

When I was still on fertility treatments, I read up on everything about the prescribed pills (injections) to the different procedures I had to undergo.  I absorbed way too much information for my own good and my peace of mind.

For instance, I learned that the daily meds I drank to increase my follicles had an adverse side effect to my main 'problem' (very thin endometrial lining).    So I was given another set of meds to make my lining thicker but this would mean it would decrease the number of follicles I needed to produce.  

When I asked my OB-GYN about this seesaw effect, she just assured me it was the best course of action for my condition.  Being the diligent patient that I am, I merely followed her instructions to the dot.   Yet at the back of my mind, I had this nagging feeling that it was all a very futile effort since the meds would counteract each other's functions. That is why after almost 2 years of trying, I 'gave' up.  It was too stressful for me to handle.
 
In the light of my high cholesterol levels, it seems to take the same seesaw path.  The meds I was given for 3 months although it lowered some components, it also meant a hike in my triglycerides and VLDL levels.   
 
So what gives?  How does addressing one problem area lead to a second or even third problem to crop up?  It is really not fair, is it?

I know I have no one to blame but myself for neglecting my health.  Up to the time that I got married at the ripe age of 39, I was never conscious of my diet regimen. I sailed through life with a blast.  Living it to the fullest and enjoying every nanosecond of it.   After all, we only have one life so might as well savor it so now I pay a hefty price for my shortcomings.
 
Tsk ... tsk ... tsk.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pills, pills and more pills!

3 months have elapsed since I had my medical tests so it was time for another consult. I wanted to check my cholesterol levels to see if there were any improvement after taking the prescribed medicine for 3 months.

My lipid profile indicates 3 of the 5 cholesterol conditions were now within normal level, while my triglycerides and VLDL level were still 'critically' high.  Plus my liver functions peaked not in a good way so that 'problem' needs to be addressed ASAP.

So although I've been on a strict diet (save for 1 week when my sister was in town), been active in my simple exercise routine, I must still push myself further to attain my goal of a 'no pills' lifestyle.

It is deeply frustrating to say the least. I've never been a pill popping for every ache kinda person.  It just takes me back to the 'dark' period when I was undergoing fertility treatments where the amount of pills + the injections I endured was pure torture.  

On hindsight, I believe stressing over the cost of the meds was a big factor in my failure to conceive than my actual inability to be a mother.  Oh well such is life, we win some and we certainly lose a lot more in the process.

So this morning, I just drank all the necessary pills and shrugged.  I might as well just accept this whole new lifestyle and charge it to the rigors of getting old(er) and my credit card too!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Pet Peeve(s)

When I got back to our apartment, I noticed two new things.  We had new neighbors (in the 4th & last apartment door) and they had a dog tied to a kennel near their entrance.

I've always been afraid of canines and don't really associate well with pets, in general. Dogs bite and attack people, they also stink, have fleas and bark incessantly ergo disturbing my peace and quiet time.   Irregardless of the fact that a number of jeeps and tricycles pass by our street during the day so it isn't really that quiet in my neck of the woods.

So I asked D "how come you didn't tell me the new neighbors have a dog?" He merely shrugged and replied "If I did, would you refuse to return home?"  Good point.   He further added "Mabait siya, nasa dulo naman at hindi siya tumatahol"  ("It's a good dog. He is tied up at the far end of the compound and hardly barks".)

Well D is wrong!

He doesn't know (since he is at work till early evening) that the pet dog does bark.  It is barking now as I type this post about him or her (I'm not sure and I don't intend to find out its gender).   It barks whenever its owners leave for work at around 9:30 every morning!   Worst of all, it managed to break itself free from its reins and walks around the common area, barking.   I almost fainted when I went out to hang the towels to dry and the dog suddenly walked towards me without a sound (mind you! such a sneaky one!) and barked at me.  I fled and ran inside our apartment, still cowering in fear.

So yeah don't tell me he is a good dog, he ain't, ok!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Back in circulation

D & I have this silent agreement that when my sister is in town for a visit, I'd stay at the condo.  This way we save on the commute to and from Quezon City.  This involves from 3 days to 10 days, per visit.  This also entails that I bring most of my personal belongings with me.  Clothes, make up kit, toiletries, shoes and accessories.  It almost feels like I myself am going away for a vacay, albeit it doesn't involve using my passport.

End of June my sister informed us she was coming over for a week for some R & R. She has mostly been traveling to and from trade fairs so she wanted a break from work.  So the usual sister bonding moments ensues.  Dining out at her fave restos.  Shopping for clothes, shoes and accessories.  Pampering treatments like hair cut and nail spa.

We had so much fun. We forgot to take pictures of the places we visited as well as the food we ate.   But I'm beaming with happiness and bursting at the seams (literally) from eating out too much. Credit card is pushed to the limits but I'd say that sister bonding time as well as spending time with my parents is priceless!!!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Firenze

Despite the "Gates of Hell" controversy involving Dan Brown's latest novel, I decided to read it.  As much as possible, I try to be tolerant of my fellow human beings and respect them for their personal views and opinions.  I understand they have a right to express whatever they feel and whether it is offensive or controversial is beyond the point.

I had made up my mind to read "Inferno" the moment I heard Dan Brown had a new novel. And the controversy in no way influenced me to grab a copy.  It was just an after thought or like an extra bonus that comes with a promo priced item.  

"Inferno" is the second book I am reading on my computer and not in hard bound or paper back form.   The first one was a sleazy novel and come to think of it, I haven't read parts 2 and 3 of that yet another controversial book.

The advantage is I don't fall asleep while reading because I have to sit up and glue my eyes to the monitor while the con is I have so many distractions (like playing Candy Crush and chatting on Skype with my sister) as I tend to multitask while I am online.

I am still in the middle part of the novel as I like to take my time reading each page. I also have this habit of googling for images of the venues which Dan Brown so elaborately describes in his books.  That way I add a more visual approach to the text. 

It also helps that I've visited the places he mentions so it serves as a walk down memory lane of my trips to Florence and Venice, Italy.   Although it wasn't as thrilling and as adventurous as the one that Robert Langdon is experiencing in the novel, it still puts me in a nostalgic mood.

This was taken in March 2001 in front of the Fountain of Neptune in Florence, Italy.  It is situated on the Piazza della Signoria (Signoria square) adjacent of the imposing Palazzo Vecchio.

Florence Italy

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

Today we celebrate and pay tribute to the first guy in our lives: our dads! =)
So we treated Dad to lunch with Tex Mex fare at TGIF, Galleria.


We had Broccoli with Cheese Cream Soup. Shrimp & Mango Quesadillas for appetizers.  Fish Veracruz with Pilaf Rice, Baby Backs (Half) and Chicken BBQ with Pilaf Rice as our main courses.






Wednesday, June 12, 2013

June 12

 
Today we celebrate the 115th year of our Independence.  Although the country is far from being completely 'free' I still believe we need to be thankful for certain liberties we do enjoy in our lupang hinirang.

Sadly, we tend to take the true meaning of freedom for granted.  For most of us, June 12 is just another holiday we don't have to wake up early and commute to work.  

You see all the years we lived abroad, our family would try to assimilate in our assigned location to the best of our ability.  This meant speaking the language, eating the local cuisine, adapting to the climate as well as being friends with the locals.

Yet on the 12th of June, we would brush off the dust from our Filipiniana outfits and attend the flag ceremony at the Embassy.   We would sing loudly the national anthem with our right hand over our hearts.  Later, we join the Filipino community activities such as partaking of Filipino dishes, participate in festivities featuring our cultural dances and attending the formal reception at the Embassy.

I remember distinctly when we were stationed in Brussels, Belgium, I was around 11 years old. My mother forced us (my sister and I) to join the other children of my father's colleagues in the Embassy to perform the Itik Itik dance.  I had no idea what it was, I didn't even speak a single word of Tagalog so I had a difficult time performing the dance. I looked quite awkward. Till this day, we laugh our hearts out when we remember how I became the ugly duckling in that Itik Itik dance. :D

Those were the good old days!   

So for me, I always associate June 12 with Pinoy pride.  A time to dress up in our finest Filipiniana outfit and be truly proud of being a Filipino, inside and out!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Blogging: Through the Years

The intermittent post entries on my blog makes me quite reflective. I wish I blogged more often like in my 'golden age' of blogging. 

This notion gets me thinking as to the cause why I've been unable to write an entry, daily. Is it due to lack of inspiration?  Is it due to a mellow(er) me that I've learned to simply accept the status quo instead of voicing my opinion against every issue that crops up?  Is it due to the change in my status?  Or could it be a simple reason like the stifling heat and humidity that clogs my brain cells?   

Probably it is due to all of the above factors and then some which escape me at the moment. 

The reason I started a blog in the first place was to document my so called 'activities. A record of my opinions, my experiences and my life in general.  I didn't want to get a book deal nor be famous or infamous, for that matter. Neither did I want to be labeled an 'expert' in a specific field (that would be too much pressure)!  I simply wanted my own small piece in the blog sphere pie to just think out loud about everything and anything under the sun.

There was a time when I joined memes to augment my daily entries. Then I would narrate my travels with matching photos of my itineraries.  I also would recount my heartaches in my love life.    So I guess I *did* have many episodes to blog about.  I would even form entries in my head about topics to blog about the next day.  Alas, those day are far gone and now simply a very distant memory.

5 years ago, I got married and settled down into a life of marital bliss.  I am certainly not saying I regret getting hitched. It does have its ups and downs and I'm blessed to say the downs have been few and in between there were many ups. 

I am not blaming my marriage for the lack of entries, I simply wish I blogged more but it is easier said than done, right?   

Sunday, June 02, 2013

June

Time just flies by.

I wake up and it is already the 6th month of the year.

It's back to school month for D.

Thankfully, the warm weather has eased up just a tiny bit.

Mostly it rains a lot where I live.

Whenever there is a heavy downpour, I text my mom.

More often than not, she tells me it is brightly sunny where she is at.

Weird weather.

Speaking of my mom, she turned 76 on the 30th of May.



We treated her to a Thai lunch at CrustaSia at the Shangri-la Edsa Mall.

We feasted on Shrimp Pad Thai, Fish Pancakes, Tom Yum Soup,  Chicken Pandan and Pork with Kenya Beans.   

Yummy!