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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Green Village Shanghai Restaurant

My Uncle Wash and Aunt Pizza are here visiting from Manila. They are in LA for two days before going on their 3-month vacation around the US. They will be back to stay with us for a week in June before wrapping up their vacation and heading home.

Last night, my Uncle was invited by a group of his high school friends for dinner and Jojo, Jules and I tagged along. We drove almost an hour to Rowland Heights for an authentic Shanghai-nese dinner. The restaurant was called Green Village and was located on a new and upscale strip mall that housed several other Asian eateries.

The best way to describe the dinner would be to call it interesting. I’ve grown up eating Chinese food in Manila and here in the States. But most of my experience with Chinese cuisine has been the Cantonese, Hunan and fusion Filipino-Chinese and American-Chinese variety. Shanghai cuisine is quite new to me and though the ingredients were familiar, the presentation and cooking style was rather unorthodox.

Dinner started with several small plates of appetizers – a braised tofu dish that was made to resemble beef, roasted to a crsip squab which was glazed with a plum sauce, a pork ham hock that was covered in gelatin, chopped tofu and a parsley like vegetable, and sautéed celery stalks. We then had a soup that was served in a huge tureen – with a whole chicken inside – the chicken was chopped into pieces by our server and revealed shark’s fin inside. The soup was very tasty and was my hubby’s favorite dish of the night.

We then had a dish of stir-fried shrimps, scallops, red peppers and pearl onions surrounded by spinach. This was my favorite dish. The shrimps and scallops were super fresh - and almost sweet and the onions gave it a lot of flavor. Although it was stir-fried, the dish was not too oily – unlike most Chinese dishes. The presentation was beautiful too. This was followed by black mushrooms and baby bok choy in a whitish-colored sauce and topped with shredded scallops. It was very flavorful and I enjoyed this dish a lot as well.

Next came a huge platter of Dungeness crab in an egg sauce – it’s sort of like an egg-drop soup base over fried crab. Good but a little on the salty side. I told my hubby he was not missing that much since he is allergic to crabs. We then had sea cucumbers steamed and covered in a brownish sauce – that can only be described as Chinese gravy. Of all the dishes that night – this was my least favorite! Sea cucumbers look like giant slugs and taste just as slimy as they look. It was like eating giant lips – and I only managed a bite before discreetly transferring my share to Jojo’s plate. If you don't believe me, click on this link to see this slimy dish!

Our next dish was a curried lobster which was Jules’ favorite dish. It was really good but really spicy too. We were told the lobsters were fresh and flown in from Maine. The restaurant’s owner (Andy) was a personal friend of my uncle’s friend and prepared this dish especially for us – it was not in the restaurant’s actual menu. After the lobster we had red snapper with a soy-based sauce with lots of fresh scallions and ginger on top. I did not have any of this dish since I was getting full and am not a big fan of fish.

Our second to the last dish was a house specialty, a roasted and then deep fried whole duck with tasty glutinous rice in the center. Although we were all full by this time, our host told us we would be missing a lot by not trying this dish since it was the house specialty. He was right – the duck was crispy and flavorful while the rice was steaming hot and super savory. They also served this with steamed and fried buns –which were super good too.

Last dish of the night was two kinds of dumplings (shao long pao) – there were two varieties. There were meat-filled dumplings (round shaped) and vegetable-filled (crescent shaped) with the hot soup tucked inside the dumpling wrapper. It came with a black vinegar dipping sauce that added a really good kick to the dumplings. I was only able to try the vegetarian ones which were great (similar to Din Tai Fung’s - which I've featured in my blog before), I was too full to try the meat variety. For dessert, we had peanut balls in rice dough (my childhood favorite – we called them tsong wan ni back home) in a sweet rice soup. Yummy but honestly at this point (believe it or not) I was getting a bit tired of eating - I only managed to try one of my peanut balls. Lastly we sat around talking and enjoying hot tea and fresh orange slices.

It was an interesting dinner and certainly a unique culinary experience for us. What better way to spend a Friday night than to be with family, friends and a good meal.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Trade Offs

I got an email from Les today with pictures of her last birthday party. It was really nice seeing such familiar sights – old friends, old hangouts, old pastimes. Living here for the past 6 years has not spared me the occasional bouts of homesickness every once in a while. Seeing these pictures was one such time where I missed being back home.

One of my dad’s favorite sayings is “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”. And it’s true. I chose to come to the States to get a better education and to further my career. I chose to settle here with my hubby to provide a safer and better life for our future kids. I chose to live in the States because it is still the land of opportunity and a place where hard work is rewarded. I chose to make this place my home because life here is exciting and new and thrilling. And living here has given me so much – new friends, new opportunities, and learning new things about myself. Living here has made me a stronger, wiser and more independent person. Living here has made me more adventurous, more courageous, and more self-confident too.

But there are trade-offs. I’ve had to give up things dear and familiar. I’ve had to give up the security of my old job – where I was challenged but successful, given support and surrounded by friends, and actually had a life outside the office. I’ve had to give up being with friends I had grown up with, went to high school and college with, and shared my life with. I’ve had to give up living within the comforts of the home I had grown up in. Living without our helpers and a driver who made life much, much easier. I’ve had to give up being surrounded by my family and sharing their lives with them. I've had to give up being part of a community where my life was secure and comfortable. Special occasions like birthdays, weddings, baby showers, graduations and holidays are shared thru pictures, emails and over the phone.

I guess as with all things in life, as we move on, there are things we gain and things we give up. All we can do is carefully look at our options, weigh the pros and cons, say a prayer, and make a decision. There will always be a good side and a bad side to every choice we make. Life is full of these trade-offs. I guess it’s what makes life stimulating, challenging and worth living.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

This is what this blog is about!

Hi Joanne,

After I sent you that lengthy email, I had time
to spare and made a trip down memory lane through your
blog. I retraced a lot of your entries from the very
first, when you celebrated your first anniversary in
your home in Torrance, and down thru so many events in
your life over the years. What a wonderful record of
your life this blog is. I went through the whole gamut
of emotions as I read several of your previous
entries. You indeed have a gift of putting your
thoughts and emotions into words. This has been a most
pleasurable afternoon - journeying through our lives
thru your accounts. Thank you.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Birthday Greetings

There’s a saying you can’t choose your family. You are born into one that fate predetermines is the best one for you. So, I never got to choose my parents, my brothers or my sisters (lucky for me I’ve been truly blessed in that regard).

But best friends are the sisters you choose for yourself. And I’m lucky to have one such “sister” who’s shared so much with me. I’ve known her almost 27 years and in that time we have seen each other through some really great times: endless surprise birthday parties, out of town trips, sleepovers, movie star and real life crushes, double dates, first loves, walking to school together, FCCY, shopping, telebabad sessions, graduations, weddings, anniversaries, etc., etc., etc! And some bad times too: petty fights, bad dates, heartaches, gripes about school, being grounded (for the prom!), hectic schedules that leave us with no time for each other, questionable fashion choices (BTW, I've burned that red vest), and some pretty horrible hairstyles – where one of us (not me) actually went thru a frizzy hair stage!

But through it all, it is the shared laughter, the mutual love of a good meal, and the true strength of friendship that keeps us going! I am so grateful for all your support, your acceptance and for being someone who I can rely on and trust. I hope you know I’m always going to be here for you too.

Happy Birthday, Leslie-Beslie! I wish you the BEST of everything. Thanks for being such an important part of my past and such a significant part of my everyday – I look forward to what the future has in store for us - I just know it's going to be great!

Me and Les, back in 2004. She flew a thousand miles to be with me
at my wedding ... and on my honeymoon too! :)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Saturday in LA

There are many things I love about living in Los Angeles.

One, is the gorgeous weather we are blessed with in Southern California. You can’t beat our mild Winters – and Spring and Fall is just absolutely gorgeous here. Two, because of our climate, Southern California produces an incredible variety of high quality produce – from huge vegetables, beautiful fruit and a breathtaking array of flowers. Three, there is an incredible amount of diversity in this city. From cultures, cuisine, traditions and art. It is all a wonderful melting pot of people from all over. Four, living in LA has never made me feel too disconnected from life in Manila. There are parts in LA that remind me of things I hold dear and familiar. And lastly, there is just so much to see, hear and do in this city! I’ve been here for the 5 years and am still finding new things to do every day.

This weekend is wonderful way to illustrate all the things I love about LA.

Because of the beautiful weather, my hubby and I spent Saturday morning exploring a local Farmers' Market at the Charles Wilson Park. Now this is really special since most of the country is experiencing winter snowstorms, we here have been blessed with a sunny but cool March morning.

The Charles Wilson Park Farmers' Market is a tradition where local farmers bring their freshest produce into the city every Saturday morning. We get to sample these treats right off the farm! Walking around there are endless rows of fruits and vegetables (the largest beefsteak tomatoes I have ever seen, my favorite Haas avocadoes, huge artichokes, bright orange tangelos, plump strawberries, green onions stalks that are two feet long, and so much more). The Farmers 'Market is bustling with so many people walking around – enjoying the cool air, the live music from local artists, and of course, the free samples from each of the stands!

(Beautiful flowers for sale, next to a stall selling California-grown
nuts, dried fruits, and jars of jam and jelly)

(Sampling the different varieties of oranges and apples
at a fruit stand)

At one end of the Market is a row of food stalls that really showcase how diverse this city has become. Side by side there are booths like: an authentic Thai booth dishing up hot curries and pad thais, a Salvadorean booth serving hot pupusas, a Korean booth with beef short ribs and kalbi chim, a French booth making fresh crepes, an Italian booth serving up sausages and calzones, a Texas barbecue booth with slow cooked tri-tip and brisket, a Japanese booth frying up shrimp and vegetable tempura, a Mexican booth with fresh salsa and hot tamales, a Peruvian booth with saltados made of pork, beef, chicken or shrimp, and more. The air smelled of freshly popped kettle corn and brewed coffee. And the rows of stalls selling all sorts of bread, cheese and pies were just too good to pass up.

(The stall with the yellow banner is the Hot Tamales stall and
next to it is the one serving sausages and snow cones)

At the end of the day, my hubby and I had a bags of groceries (broccoli, avocados, asparagus, strawberries, tomatoes, baby carrots, freshly pressed olive oil infused with garlic, a pound and a half of California Cheddar cheese, and two thick loaves of Ciabattini bread), and our lunch – a trip-trip sandwich smothered in BBQ sauce for him and a pupusa with chicken and cheese for me.

Jojo’s tri-tip was very tender and very juicy as a result of being slow cooked all morning. The toasted sesame seed bun was lightly buttered and toasted which was great in holding all the tangy sweet barbecue sauce. My pupusa (a Salvadorean delicacy is a thick handmade corn tortilla stuffed with a local cheese and pieces of chicken) was so good – crispy on the edges but chewy on the inside. I couldn’t really taste the chicken as much but the cheese they used was great. It was very mild and melted in your mouth. The pupusa was complimented by very spicy pico de gallo and shredded pieces of pickled radish with red onions and lemon juice.

(Pupusa on the right, tri-tip sandwich on the left)

After our trip to the Market, we came home and washed our produce – that’s the only thing with going to a Farmer’s Market, most of our veggies still had dirt on them. Unlike the supermarket variety where you get things pre-washed and pre-cut, this is a small price to pay for freshness. I usually wash up my produce all at once and then keep them in large Ziplock bags ready to use the rest of the week.

That afternoon we went to the Eagle Plaza Plaza to celebrate the 7th birthday of the son of a good friend. This mall really reminds me of the SM stores in Manila. Because Eagle Rock boasts of such a huge Filipino community, the mall is crowded with so many Filipinos and they have so many stores and restaurants that are found in many of our malls back home (Chowking, Goldilocks, Jollibee, Seafood City, and even a Bench store!). I was so amazed and a little bit nostalgic for home after seeing that!

The birthday party was held at Chuck E Cheese which is a wonderland for kids but a workout for parents! Think of a huge amusement center with all sorts of arcade games, mini-rides, and carnival type booths. Since all of my in-laws were also invited, we took turns herding all my nieces and nephews around the place and dropping tokens into every game their hearts desired. All between being entertained by Chuck E Cheese himself and eating slices of greasy pizza, cold chicken wings and a sad looking plate of wilted greens they called a salad. Chuck E Cheese is all about the kids – it is not a culinary experience nor is it a relaxing afternoon for the adults. But in the end, we did manage to enjoy ourselves after all.

We left the mall around 7 and joined my brother for a late dinner at Afloat Sushi in Old Town Pasadena. Since I went to school in the Alhambra area, I am familiar with Old Town – but in the last year or so that I have not been there, a lot of new places have opened up along Colorado Blvd. Our dinner at Afloat was good and worth the over 40-minute wait. We sat around the sushi chef’s counter and picked plates of sushi and sashimi around a conveyor belt that paraded the dishes right in front of us. My favorites are the spider and dragon sushi’s made with soft shell crabs. The hot bowls of miso soup were also good and helpful in warming us up. Yummy!

Afterwards we walked down the street and enjoyed the cool night air. It was very crowded everywhere since everyone was out to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with beer and flowers dyed green. Interesting night to say the least! Especially since we had to stop at a sobriety checkpoint before we were allowed to get on the freeway. I am sure with the free-flowing beer last night there were a lot of people who weren't allowed to drive home!

So, that’s how we celebrated a Saturday in LA, enjoying the great weather, the fresh produce, the diversity of the city, things that remind me of home and getting to enjoy something new!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Ups and Downs and Work

Life is so interestingly unpredictable.

The last few weeks, actually, the last few months, I’ve been having an incredibly stressful time at work. My “not so new but still feels like new” job has been so demanding, challenging and chaotic. I’ve been single-handedly asked to develop, implement and manage a new department for over 400 employees. I signed up for the job thinking it would be hard work but exciting nonetheless. Little did I know we would be going thru a company reorganization, there would be so many different expectations and needs to be met, I would be entering an entirely different culture, plus working in an industry I knew nothing about. Talk about jumping into a 10-feet deep pool and then having to learn how to swim!

The last few months have been a true test to my character. There have been many times when I would rant and gripe about the pressures of work to my family and friends. I would work 10-12 hours days and weekends too, while asking myself “what have I gotten myself into?” I lost sleep over this and I got sick so many times I became immune to over the counter cold medication and doses of Emergen-C and Airborne became my drink of choice. It even went as far as having my parents and husband asking me to start looking for another job because no matter what the benefits were, it was not worth the unbelievable amount of stress.

I seriously thought about leaving. But I’d like to think I am made of stronger stuff. I was not yet ready to throw in the towel. I wanted to really try my best and give it my all. In the end, if things did not work out at least I could say I did my best. I was no quitter – well, that’s one way to look at it. Another way is the fact that I have been born with an incredible amount of stubborn pride.

Over the months, things at work got a little better. And more importantly, I was learning to deal with the stress and making promises to myself that I had to adapt a better work-life balance. I consciously limited my hours at work and kept my weekends free. During this time, my new department started getting some projects rolling and SLOWLY I was getting things done. But just before I could build any momentum, one of my projects went bad – really B-A-D. The worst part is it was because of something I totally had no control over. I couldn’t avoid it even if I tried. But of course, that is no consolation for someone like me who likes to beat myself up over every little thing.

It is one thing to have too many huge projects, looming deadlines, tough customers, and set-backs along the way. But the worst part is feeling unappreciated and alone. I received very little feedback – unless you counted criticism for how projects could be done better. Occasionally I would hear a positive comment or two but never from the people who I really needed to hear it from. It was physically and emotionally draining.

Yesterday, I was busy with a million and one things when my manager called me to his office. I was expecting him to ask about normal work stuff or to “lecture” me on something or the other. Instead, he said something I was very shocked to hear. He gave me a raise for a job well done. He and the top brass of our company had deliberated about it and I got a substantial and unexpected merit increase. The increase is even more surprising because we were getting a lot of slack lately for supposedly not meeting expectations. Pardon me for saying it one more time, but I was SHOCKED.

It’s not so much the money that makes me happy (of course, it plays a part in all this) but it’s really finally getting some sort of validation for all the work I’ve put in and all the drama I’ve gone through. Getting a higher salary and a bonus to match is a good sign of being appreciated - even if I know I have not been perfect either. I am sure it will not make things 100% easier when I go back into the jungle on Monday. But at least I know that somehow I am doing a good job even if I don’t hear it in so many words.

As with all things that lie in-store for me, I don’t know where this job will take me or if this is really where I am meant to be. But for now, I am content, re-energized and certainly ready to give it another go.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

My Trip to New York

I’m back from New York. I had an interesting trip. I stayed at the Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. The hotel lobby was absolutely grand and very regal looking. By the way, it's the hotel where the movie "Maid in Manhattan was filmed". My only complaint is the rooms are a bit small and the bathrooms seemed old and a little bit shabby. But the little touches like the Bath and Body Works toiletries, the incredibly crisp and yet luxuriously soft sheets, and the beautiful room decor made up for it. The staff was very helpful and made my stay very pleasant.

Although it was a business trip, and most of my time was spent, working, I can sum up the rest of my 5 days into two words: COLD and FOOD. I won’t bore you with the work details but let me elaborate on the “COLD” and “FOOD” part.

The last couple of days were unbelievably cold in New York – it was just my luck that the week I was there, the temperature highs were in the low twenties and the lows were in the “teens”. But added to that, there was the snow and the windchill factor that dropped temps to single digits.

But honestly, inspite of having to wear layers and layers of clothes, I actually liked the cold. It was refreshing and exhilarating. There’s nothing like walking to work, along 45th and Madison, sipping hot coffee and feeling the icy air on your face. And I absolutely loved the feeling of falling snow. I was so excited the first time it snowed while I was there, I had to stand out on the street to touch it for myself, never mind if my coworkers thought I was acting all touristy.

I also loved the look of freshly fallen snow. Yesterday, we visited our offices in Queens, Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan and Elmhurst and I enjoyed the long car rides just looking at everything covered in fine white powder. I know this is probably just because I was just visiting. I am sure if I had to live there and trudge across the slippery ice that turns into sludge or if I had to shovel the snow off the driveway and add chains to my tires every time I left home, I probably wouldn’t describe it as a winter wonderland!

The second thing I loved about my trip was the FOOD. There were so many wonderful places to try just around the hotel. I tried a few of them with co-workers (for lunch) and explored others by myself (for dinner). I wish I took pictures but I was a bit embarrassed to be taking photos of my food with newly met co-workers and even more embarrassed to snap pictures of my meal when I was alone. I’ll try to add links (if there are any) to the places I went to instead. You can click on the links and see the places for yourself.

Here’s a quick rundown of my foodie adventure:

I arrived late Sunday afternoon so my first meal in NY was dinner at a local pizza place. Since I didn’t know where to go and was getting really hungry, I followed the hotel doorman’s suggestion to try Gino’s Pizza. It was a small inconspicuous place a block from the hotel. It was so small there were no places to sit, you got your pizza slices hot from the brick oven and ate it standing around the counters. Two slices of greasy (you needed a napkin to wipe off the grease!), cheesy, authentic new york pizza. YUMMY! Luckily, there was a small family run grocery next door where I stocked up on bottle water for my hotel room.

On Monday, I had coffee and a real New York bagel with cream cheese at Café Metro before heading to work. Lunch was with co-workers at a very posh Turkish restaurant called Pera. We shared a grilled calamari ceviche-type salad and the appetizer seafood platter (raki cured salmon with with fennel raisin, marinated white anchovies with crispy shallots, sea bass with lemon and smoked paprika yoghurt, jumbo lump crabmeat with avocado and tomatoes). It was all quite exotic and very good. My main dish was the pera shish frites (lamb tenderloins cooked perfectly served with a creamy-dill yoghurt dipping sauce and a side of pomme frites - which is just a fancy way to call French fries). We also had a continuous supply of wonderful warm grilled flatbread and a warm hummus. For dessert, we had a traditional dessert that was a mild goat cheese, wrapped in shredded wheat, baked and drizzled with honey and kaymak (a sweet butter). It is probably one of the best desserts I have ever had in my life! Incredible. Crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The slight saltiness of the cheese was a great compliment to the light sweetness of the honey and the melting kaymak. I can still taste it in my mind! For dinner I walked two blocks to the Grand Central Terminal and took the escalator down to the Dining Concourse where there is a food court with several wonderful, exciting places to eat. I chose Cafe Spice, an Indian Food vendor, and treated myself to a spicy chicken vindaloo (yes, it was spicy!), crisp salad and fluffy Basmati rice. Soooo good! I had to burn it off by window shopping along 5th Avenue.

On Tuesday, breakfast was courtesy of a New York hotdog stand. An all-beef hotdog with spicy hot mustard and a carton of orange juice. Lunch was with my co-worker at a trendy Japanese lounge called Haru. It was a very hip and happening place where “yuppies” went to have great food while enjoying the music. The place has long tables and stools and customers sat wherever there was space available. We shared our table with several other people we didn’t know. Between the loud music and the conversations around us, it was hard to have a serious conversation, so we made up for it by enjoying the food. We shared spicy salmon sushi, tuna sashimi, grilled sweetened eel, and bowls of hot miso soup (perfect for warming your hands too!). Dinner was a thick pastrami sandwich from Café Metro. The pastrami was thinly-sliced and piled high between two slices of bread. IT was piled so high it was hard to open my mouth wide enough to bite that sandwich (but it was worth the effort!). I took my sandwich (and dill pickle) along as I walked towards Bryant Park and stopped by a roadside store to buy my hubby an “I Love N.Y.” shirt.

On Wednesday, breakfast was a bowl of mixed fruit from Food World (I was feeling guilty after all the wonderful food I had been eating) and coffee. Since I spent the day visiting our other offices, my co-workers from Flushing treated me to an authentic dimsum lunch at East Lake Restaurant right in downtown Flushing. Many claim Chinese food in Flushing is even more authentic than NY's Chinatown. I don't know about that but I do know the dimsum we had that day was good – we had pork and shrimp dumplings, scallop dumplings, shark fin dumplings, steamed pork buns, taro puffs, and a spicy beef lo mein noodle dish with Chinese broccoli. Dinner was back in Manhattan, I went to Texas Station, a few blocks from my hotel where they claimed they made the “best, authentic Buffalo wings”. I enjoyed that with a chicken Caesar salad. While the salad was so-so, the buffalo wings truly lived up to their claim. They were crispy and spicy and finger-lickin’ good! You could even ask for extra sauce for an extra kick. And yes, with the extra sauce, you needed extra napkins too.

Thursday, for my last meal in NY, I headed to Dunkin Donuts for a quick donut and coffee. It was as good as I remembered. Back home, in Manila, I remember times when my mom would buy us Munchkins, I loved Dunkin Donuts and remember fondly the donut shop by Ortigas Ave next to the place where I got my hair cut. I also took home 2 dozen donuts for my in-laws. We all remember Dunkin Donuts from back home and don’t know why the chain can not be found on the West Coast.

So, that was my stay in NY. Most memorable because of the COLD and the FOOD – and yes, the new friends I’ve made at work as well. But that’s a whole other story.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Rambling Thoughts

I haven't had a new post in almost 2 weeks - not for lack of things to say but rather for lack of time to get some blogging done. I guess we all run into times where there seems to be too much to do and too little time to get things done. The last couple of days have been so hectic at work. There was a time when I used to thrive under pressure and found myself energized by the intensity of having to get things done and doing a great job while doing it. But lately, I am feeling very stressed and tired. Maybe I need a break. Maybe I'm getting old. Maybe it's just been a bad couple of weeks. Either way, I spent today just re-energizing and trying to snap out of this rut.

This past week one of my co-workers (let's call him Rob) retired from work. Rob is a very low-key guy. He's about 60 years old and very easy going. He didn't have a very high profile job - he handled our mail and took our lunch orders. But he made sure everyone got their packages and the right lunch order every day. And though he didn't speak English very well, he communicated with everyone through his smiling face and hearty "hellos". I saw Rob every day and we would chat once in a while, but like everyone else, I don't think we really knew the real him. Anyway, on his last day of work, we threw him a mini-party with cake and juice in the lunchroom. He told us he and his wife were planning to travel and see the world after he retired and looked forward to spending time with their grandkids. I had my turn and shook Rob's hand and wished him well. I told him that I too hoped to one day travel and just spend time with my family. He looked at me and in his words said, "Don't wait too long, life is too short so enjoy it now. We all wait too long and regret not getting to do things when it's too late". So profound and so true.

Tomorrow I am leaving for a 5-day business trip to New York. Even if it is a working trip, I am going to make the most of it and enjoy the beautiful hotel where I've been booked to stay. I think I've written before how much I love staying in hotels. So this will be my mini-vacation - the only bummer is my hubby won't be there to share it with me. I'll probably not have a chance to post a blog till I get back but I'll definitely make up for it when I get back on Friday.

This month celebrates my younger brother and sister's birthday (March 6th), my ama's birthday (March 9), my guama's birthday (March 14th). It's also my best friends' birthday, Gail on the (13th) and Les on the (20th). I wish I were home to celebrate with all you guys. But for now, my prayers and best wishes are being sent across the miles.

Today we went to take a look at the new house my BIL and his family bought. They are in Escrow now and waiting anxiously for the good news. I am so happy and excited for them. I hope everything goes well and they get to move in early April. I think one of the best feelings in the world is the joy of walking into your first home. I know it is one of mine :)

I guess this is it for now. I'm going to get my packing done before my hubby and I attend Saturday evening mass.

Happy thoughts and posts to come soon!