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Sunday, January 13, 2008


The last few weeks have been so busy (I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record). But this time, it has not been all about work. I’ve been quite remiss from updating my blog for a far better reason! My sisters have been here the last 4 weeks and together with them were, of course, their special friends Mark and Marc. We’ve had a full house and many adventures together. I can’t believe how fast the 4 weeks have flown by. I think that is a true testament to how well we all got along, how much fun we all had, and how much I am starting to miss them all since they left two days ago.

Some highlights from the last 4 weeks:

- We spent a 3-day weekend in Las Vegas. While in Vegas we got to watch “The Phantom of the Opera” at the Venetian Hotel. Watching the show, listening to the music and being transfixed by the splendor of the story … it is far beyond any description I could ever write. Suffice it to say it was probably one of the best shows I have ever watched and I am forever indebted to Andrew Lloyd Weber for bringing this spectacular show to the theater! We also feasted at the Rio hotel’s Carnival Buffet. Now I’ve been to a lot of buffets both here and back home but this is the “mother of all buffets” in both quantity and quality! A total “must-do” whenever one finds him/herself in Vegas. And of course, the shopping – from Barstow, to Primm, to the Las Vegas Premium Outlets … what more can I say?

- We spent Xmas eve at home and dinner was a team effort. My husband and Marc grilled tenderloin steaks, I made a shrimp scampi pasta, Joy made my mom’s super Caesar salad and a made-from-scratch strawberry trifle, Jules brought champagne and a cherry cheesecake, while his friend In Sook brought us fresh fruits. Atsi and Mark spent Xmas with Mark’s family over in Borrego Springs. After dinner, we attended Xmas eve mass and went over to my sister-in-law's place where we spent the rest of the night exchanging presents, revealing our secret santas, and enjoying a light Noche Buena.

- Christmas Day we lounged around in our pajamas all day (perfect way to spend Xmas if you ask me). Watched DVDs, indulged in comfort food, and just enjoyed each others company.

- We also visited Marc’s place for a 5-day vacation to Glendale (AZ). We took day trips to explore the Red Rocks in Sedona, the city of Flagstaff and shivered our way to the top of the Snow Bowl. We visited Tempe, Chandler and of course Phoenix. We walked around Main Street by the Arizona State University, spent the morning in the Wild West town of Rawhide, enjoyed new places to eat (Cracker Barrel, Rock Bottom, etc) and of course were pampered by Marc’s mom and grandma.

- New Year’s eve was also at home: I made a rib eye roast with mushroom and white wine gravy, roasted baby potatoes with rosemary and garlic, and steamed green beans. Marc made shrimps with garlic sauce while Jules brought smoked salmon with capers and pita bread with three dipping sauces. Jojo opened a bottle of Riesling which we enjoyed with Joy’s super luscious chocolate bread pudding. After dinner we all headed to my brother-in-law’s place where we joined Jojo’s family – played games like Family Feud and Trivial Pursuit. And rang in the new year together.

- Atsi and Mark took care of our New Year’s day lunch – they grilled finger-lickin’ good ribs, had a creamy chicken alfredo penne pasta, and pita breads toasted on the grill with hummus. The rest of the day we enjoyed old movies and playing games.

- Those were the highlights but in-between we had many happy moments too. Dinners out at new places and all our family favorites, day trips to Balboa Island and picnics at Redland Park, endless shopping and catching late night movies at the AMC in Del Amo. I especially enjoyed the camaraderie of everyone pitching in to do household chores and everyone doing their own thing during the day but sitting down to home cooked dinners every night. Aside from our Iron Chef dinners, we had many memorable meals too: Mark’s delicious fried catfish dinner, Marc’s super beef stew, my chicken adobo and nilagang baka feast, Joy’s delectable tiramisu and Pinoy breakfast buffets, and even Atsi’s attempt to make guacamole sandwiches and turkey burgers. Despite living within 1,800 sqaure feet, sharing 3 bathrooms and 1 television, we all managed to have a good time and really rekindle our bonds of sisterhood (I couldn’t be happier about that) and really getting to know our “special partners” (no complains there either!). Of course we were also busy with Joy’s applications to FIDM and helping Atsi and Mark plan their wedding. It’s been busy but probably one of the best vacations I have ever had in ages. I can’t wait to do it all over again!

Here are some pictures of my favorite moments:

(Jojo, me, Jules, Joy, Marc, Atsi and Mark)
Walking the Las Vegas Strip - it was a really COLD night - we all ended up buying Las Vegas sweatshirts (like the ones Atsi and Mark have on) because we were freezing!

Freezing our butts off at the Snow Bowl. We looked so out of place in our trenchcoats and jeans - everyone else had snowsuits and boots on! And of course our constant picture-taking really gave away the fact that we were "tourists"!

Barbecuing in our backyard (where else can you do that in the US in the middle of winter ... well ... California, of course!)

Toasting the new year ... and the fact that we didn't burn anything we cooked for dinner. We wish mom, dad and Jim were here with us too!

Working our way through the Backyard Feast at Lucille's Smokehouse Barbecue. Those ribs are to die for!!!

Picnicking at Redlands Park (right by where Mark lives). It was really windy that day but we were determined to have a picnic (nevermind if we had to wear coast and scarves the whole time!)

Getting ready to watch "The Phantom of the Opera". It was awesome! Mom, we have to do this when you get here!!!

The view of the Red Rocks (behind us) was breathtaking. It was so worth the long drive :)

Noche Buena with my in-laws and three of my beautiful nieces.

Cook-it-yourself Korean barbecue - after this meal we headed off to Balboa Island smelling of grilled meat all day!


jol said...

Indeed, it was a great one month holiday with the 5 Js and 2 Marc/ks. Happiness is doubled when shared with a person you love. We may have an even bigger family reunion come October!

leslie Ty said...

Jo! This is such a great blog! =)

i've been looking at Joy's multiply site for updates of the trip...(akala ko ako lang ang mahilig sa pics but i think natalo na ako ni Joy! ) =) I know you guys had sooo much fun !!!!

This blog entry summarized all the highlights! Galing!!! =)

Can't wait for you homecoming soon!!!! =)

joyeeee said...

I so miss you guys na and I really had fun during my stay there:) Thank you so much for accomodating us and for making our vacation fun!:) I love how you described our vacation and the pics too. And Yes, I am super an addict in taking pics!!! hahaha ( you should know that by now) I'll see you guys soon!:)

Marc said...

Hi Dets!!! It was really a great vacation. Time well spent in my opinion. I've never been that happy spending time as a group. Thanks so much again for letting me stay there! Looking forward to the next one as well!

Junarakasa said...

Hi Les, Yes, mukhang napa-laban ka kay Joy when it comes to taking pictures. Believe it or not - in 4 weeks she took almost 3,000 pictures! No exagg! =)

Can't wait for the next "family" vacation and hopefully you can join us too.

Joyeee and Marc - I miss you both! Come back soon ...

leslie Ty said...

Jo...i think i forgot to mention na I love the pics in your blog as well =)

i will definitely visit you soon...jeff is asking na nga when i can visit again =)

BUT....i'm looking forward to your homecoming in Manila! super excited na ALL our friends!!!! =)