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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

God Bless Us All

These days the news is filled with the wrath of Mother Nature.

The Typhoon and Floods in the Philippines .....

The Earthquakes in Indonesia .....

The Tsunami in American Samoa .....

All the lives lost and the magnitude of devastation is heartbreaking. It is at this time when we all need to put our differences aside, focus on what is important, continue praying and keep our faith strong, and help our fellow man in any way we can.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Dinner with the In-Laws

I invited my in-laws for Sunday dinner. It was partly so the family could get together and partly to celebrate the mooncake festival. It has become a tradition for us to gather and play the dice game every year. I've been hosting it the last 3 or 4 years. But this year, the timing is not right. Some of my in-laws are on vacation, others have to work, then next week I have guests over, etc., etc. We are running out of weekends in October! =)

So, anyway, I decided it would be just dinner this year. I spent the afternoon cooking a somewhat Chinese dinner and decided that since it was a special occasion, we would use real plates (instead of paper plates). The kids (who ate in the kitchen) had real plates and silverware too.

I made chili garlic prawns. My mom's secret recipe that's super easy to make but is a real crowd-pleaser!

I also had sesame seed chicken. I marinated the chicken the day before so even if I used breast meat, it was very tasty and not dry.

This is a classic at our place. Mapo tofu - I use a mix of ground pork and turkey.

I had to have a vegetable dish. I decided to serve just steamed green beans sprinkled with garlic butter. Not very Chinese, I know =)

After dinner and dessert, it was picture-taking time. Here we are with my mother and father-in-law.

These are some of my in-laws. This is just half the group - we are usually a much bigger group than this =)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

For All the Women Out There ...

Someone sent this to me the other day. I don't normally read mass emails and am very unlikely to re-send them. But I found this so profoundly true that I just had to react to it.

I've re-posted it below. (My comments are in italics).

For all the women out there ... keep this in mind!


A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ...


1. Enough money of her own to move out and rent a place for herself even if she never wants to or needs to... (CHECK. One thing both my parents told me is that I should always have money of my own – and Jojo respects that. We have three active accounts: Our joint checking account, our joint savings account and my own savings account).
2. Something perfect to wear if the employer, or date of her dreams wants to see her in an hour... (CHECK to the work outfit as for a date outfit … hmmm … I guess … if it still fits ... ).
3. A youth she's content to leave behind.... (CHECK. I had a great childhood that has helped me become who I am today).
4. A past juicy enough that she's looking forward to retelling it in her old age.... (Not so sure how juicy it was but certainly nothing that I am too embarrassed to talk about).
5. A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra... (CHECK. CHECK. CHECK. Believe it or not, I actually purchased the bra last!).
6. One friend who always makes her laugh.. and one who lets her cry... (CHECK and CHECK. I’m lucky to have more than one each).
7. A good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in her family... (CHECK).
8. Eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems, and a recipe for a meal, that will make her guests feel honored...(CHECK – I’ve thrown a couple of successful dinner parties that I can brag about!).
9. A feeling of control over her destiny… (CHECK)
10. Dreams she has accomplished and dreams she is working towards (CHECK and CHECK. My “dreams-to-do” list is always a work in progress).


EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...

1. How to fall in love without losing herself...(It helps if you have the right guy to fall in love with!).
2. How to quit a job, break up with a lover, and confront a friend without ruining the friendship...(I’ve done all three and have lived to tell the tale!).
3. When to try harder... and when to walk away ... (it’s a fine, fine line).
4. That she can't change the length of her calves, the width of her hips, or the nature of her parents…(or that she can’t change others, only her self!)
5. That her childhood may not have been perfect...but it's over...
6. What she would and wouldn't do for love or more... (Again, another one, wherein the distinction is not always clear).
7. How to live alone... even if she doesn't like it... (I lived alone … it had it’s good points but honestly I didn’t like it very much … but I definitely grew up as a result of doing it!).
8. Whom she can trust, whom she can't, and why she shouldn't take it personally... (I think this is a lifelong lesson).
9. Where to go... be it to her best friend's kitchen table.. or a charming Inn in the woods.... when her soul needs soothing... (I can think of several places I would consider my haven).
10. What she can and can't accomplish in a day... a month...and a year... (Am still working on this one!)

Typhoon Ondoy

My thoughts and prayers are with all the Filipinos suffering from the wrath of Typhoon Ondoy. Since yesterday, Metro Manila and surrounding cities are in a state of calamity over the strong winds and torrential rains that have resulted in massive flooding. I have been reading local news, blogs and posts from friends who live in Manila. It sounds so awful. I feel so bad for all those that are affected by this massive typhoon (apparently one of the strongest in the last 40 years).

I am seeing pictures of people swimming in the streets, stranded on rooftops, and trying to call for help. I am reading about people who have lost their homes or have their belongings ruined by the rising water. I am hearing about people stranded and families missing their children.

I pray that the rains stop soon and that the waters subside. Hopefully the damage and devastation won't be so bad and people can rebuild their lives. The fighting spirit and the good nature of the Filipino people will see them through this calamity. That and their strong faith in God. I am praying for my family (who thankfully are safe and sound), my relatives, my friends, my in-laws who are in Manila on vacation, people I know, and those that I don't. This is a time when we need prayers more than ever.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Baby Fever

A few days ago I was reading the blog of my friend, Ina. She had posted about her unexpected pregnancy with baby number three. Ina had written that this was totally unplanned and was actually not the "right time" since she has so many things on her plate.

Yesterday I got an email from Vivien, a friend of mine from New York. I have not heard from Vivien in a while but we used to joke about how we wanted to be pregnant together. After she suffered a miscarriage, she was being really cautious about trying to conceive. Turns out she already is pregnant (and is actually due to deliver her baby on October 2nd).

Today, I got an email from my former co-worker (Shari) who wrote to tell me that another colleague of ours (Cherry) is pregnant. Cherry is newly married and didn't even want a baby the last time I talked to her. Now she is expecting a baby by January next year.

And just now, I was talking to Joy who told me that our helper, Diane, is 5 months pregnant! Diane wasn't even planning to have another baby. But she's with child!

OMG! Every one is pregnant! And the one thing they all have in common is they all did not plan to get pregnant. Maybe that's my problem. Maybe I'm trying too hard! I have to relax and just take it easy. There's BABY FEVER going around and maybe if I'm relaxed enough, I'll catch it too!

The Counter

It's the middle of the week and I decided to surprise Jojo by picking him up from work and taking him to lunch. We drove over to the El Segundo Plaza to have lunch at The Counter. It is a place that allows you to custom-make your burger, so you get exactly what you want!

This is what the place looks like inside. Very minimal, nothing fancy.

As soon as you are seated, they hand you a clipboard so you can customize your burger. You start by choosing your burger (beef, turkey, veggie or grilled chicken) and how big you want it (1/3 lb., 2/3 lb., or 1 pound). Then you pick what kind of cheese you want (there are about a dozen different kinds). Next you pick your toppings (you can choose up to 4) from a long list of choices. Then comes your choice of dipping sauce. And lastly, you pick the kind of bun you want (regular, wheat, english muffin or on a bed of lettuce - if you are cutting your carbs). Also, there are a list of sides like fries, sweet potato fries, onion strings, etc.

I had a 1/3 lb. turkey burger (medium well) on a whole wheat bun. My choice for cheese was the horseradish cheddar. My toppings were roasted green chillies, lettuce, tomatoes and dill pickles. And I had a horseradish mayo dipping sauce. My burger tasted really fresh and was so juicy!

Jojo had a 1/3 lb. veggie burger on a whole wheat bun. He had sharp provolone cheese, grilled pineapple, caramelized onions, tomatoes and a black bean & corn salsa. His dipping sauce was peppercorn steak sauce. It looks messy but Joj said it was really good!

After lunch, I dropped Jojo back at work and then I was off to run some errands.

Monday, September 21, 2009

DwellStudio

I recently came across a brand that I absolutely fell in love with. It's called DwellStudio and they have several lines of home furnishing products, including a line especially for babies. I love their geometric prints and how they are incorporating these textile patters into modern, fresh and functional designs. My dream would be to decorate our "future" nursery around their products.

Here is one of their patterns used on a crib. I like how it brightens up the room without making it look too "baby-ish".

They have great stackables that store toys and other kids' stuff. I think the patterns are amazing and will hopefully make cleaning up more fun!

I love how they think of moms too. These diaper, weekender and travel bags are both stylish and functional.

They also have a bathroom line featuring bath mats, shower curtains, towels, mitts, etc. I love how clean and contemporary they look.

This is my choice of pattern for a baby boy's room. It's called "transportation". What do you think?

I like this geo animal pattern (particularly the pastel ones on the right). Would love to use this for a little girl's room. I have nothing against Disney Princesses but I don't think I could sleep in a room that looked like a bright pink castle!

The company is fairly new but they have a growing fanbase (myself included!). One more thing that's great about them is they are currently developing organic and eco-friendly products. If you are interested, they have an online store at www.dwellshop.com. They also have retailers in the US and Manila.

Working Hard for Our Business

Ever since we moved to our home, we have used a security company (let's call them Company ABC) for our home security needs. They have installed a pretty comprehensive security system with several features that help keep us safe. First, we have a perimeter shield wherein an alarm sounds whenever a window or door is opened. On top of that we also have motion detectors inside the house. So in the event an intruder does get in an alarm will sound when he moves across the rooms. Next, we are also connected to the fire station, police department, the paramedics and the carbon monoxide/poison control center. They are alerted in case we need their help. Lastly, we have back-up power so that our security system continues to run for 24 hours even if we lose electrical power. All these help makes us feel safe - especially when I'm home alone or when we leave for vacations.

We've been very happy with Company ABC since the few times we accidentally had the alarms go off - their response was quick, efficient and professional. Believe it or not, we get a call within 45 seconds of the alarm going off and help arrives within the next 5 minutes. Guaranteed. So even if Company ABC's security system is a bit expensive, I never think twice about having it and have never considered having it discontinued or of reducing any of the features that are in place. Also, I have never looked around for another company to replace Company ABC (since they are the best in the business). I believe that you can not put a price on safety and peace of mind.

So, it was a surprise when the other day, we go a call from Company ABC's competitor. They (let's call them XXX, Inc.) were trying to lure us away from Company ABC by giving us a better rate if we would switch. We would be saving almost $10.00 a month and would receive a free system upgrade. All we had to do was switch then and there.

Now, I am a very loyal customer especially to companies that have been providing great services. But then again an upgrade is an upgrade and saving $120 a year is not a bad incentive for a switch either. So to be fair, I called Company ABC and told them that while I was happy with their service and was not looking around for a better replacement, I was approached with an offer I could not refuse.

The customer service agent at Company ABC was very professional. She immediately put me through to her manager who said they would do everything they can to keep us as a customer. They assured us we did not need an upgrade since our system was just upgraded two years ago. They said that XXX, Inc. was probably only going to replace the external control pad and not really upgrading the system (there was no need). Also, they said they would match the price XXX, Inc. was quoting us so we would not have to switch.

In the end, we decided not to switch. It worked out great that we got the best of both offers. We have a company we have been and continue to be happy with. We have a great security system that makes us feel safe. And we got the special price without having to go through all the paperwork!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I Miss Manila!

This week I went to the salon to get a haircut. I had my hair trimmed about 2 inches, shampooed, and blown dry. Very basic. I also got a manicure and pedicure. Again, just a basic cleaning. Nothing fancy. This was my bill:

Haircut (Trim): $18.00
Shampoo and Blow dry: $5.00
Manicure: $10.00
Pedicure: $12.00
Tip for the Hairstylist: $5.00
Tip for the Manicurist: $5.00
Total: $55.00

When I get a hot oil treatment it would be an extra $22.00 and another $5.00 tip.
My total would then be $82.00.

FYI: I don’t go to a fancy salon here. It’s a small place located in a strip mall. It’s even run by a Pinoy hairstylist who used to work for Jun Encarnacion in Manila.

When I was in Manila, my sister, Joy, and I would go to the salon almost every week. We’d get our hair trimmed or get a hot-oil treatment. Then we had a manicurist, Emma, who makes house calls and does our manicure and pedicure while we watch t.v. in our living room.

Cost back in Manila (when converted to dollars):
Haircut (Trim): $4.00
Hot Oil Treatment: $6.00
Manicure and Pedicure: $4.00
Tip for Hairstylist: $1.00
Tip for Hot Oil Treatment: $1.00
Tip for Manicurist: $1.00
Total: $17.00

*Plus in Manila, a haircut automatically comes with a shampoo and blow-dry. The hot oil treatment comes with a free massage. And Emma brings a portable foot spa when I get my pedicure done.

When I need a massage here, I go to a place in Redondo Beach where I get a pretty good full body massage done by a feisty Korean lady. The massage lasts exactly 1 hour and costs $80.00 (plus a $10.00 tip). After 60 minutes, I have to get up and pay at the counter. I hate that part because I always feel sticky from the massage oil. And I hate having to drive home because I like taking a nap after getting a massage.

In Manila, we have a masseuse, Nelfa, who comes to the house and gives me a full body massage. The massage could last anywhere between 2 hours till you fall asleep. It costs $10.00 (plus $2.00 tip).

All I can say is: I MISS MANILA!!! =)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Lettuce Have a Healthy Dinner

One of my favorite things to eat during a Chinese lauriat is pao-chai (lettuce cups you fill with stir-fried ground duck and top off with hoisin sauce). My mom also prepares pao-chai at home - sometimes using ground pork or even ground chicken. Yesterday, I was craving this dish and decided to make a healthier and super easy version for dinner.

Here is my three-step, healthy pao-chai:
(1) Saute 1/2 cup diced onion, 1/2 cup chopped green onion, 1 cup finely-diced carrots, and 1 tsp. minced garlic in 1 tsp. of corn oil.
(2) Add 1 pound ground turkey and brown the meat.
(3) Add 1 Tbsp. black bean sauce, 1 Tbsp. hoisin sauce, 1/2 tsp. sate sauce, and 1/2 tsp. chili garlic sauce. Cook for another 5 minutes.

Prepare iceberg lettuce cups, top with the turkey filling, and add shredded carrots for that extra crunch (instead of deep fried noodles). Top with a sauce made with black vinegar, chopped garlic and lite sesame oil. Chili garlic on top of that is optional.

Ready to eat ... and so yummy! I ate 4 of these for dinner =)

Monday, September 14, 2009

5 Unrelated Tidbits About What's Up With My Life

(1) We took my three year old niece, MJ, to the Carson Park last Friday. While Jojo went to shoot some hoops, MJ and I strolled over to the playground. It was a nice day - cool but sunny. Since I have an aversion to sunlight, I convinced MJ to play in the shaded areas. I told her that we shouldn't stay under the sun since that would make our skin dark while playing in the shade would make us more fair. So we happily played in the shaded section. A few minutes later wan African American woman and her two kids came into the playground. They were a few feet away from us. All of a sudden, without warning, MJ says quite loudly "Ninang Joanne, is their skin dark cause they are staying under the sun? They should play here (in the shade) so they'll turn white again". I was mortified! I couldn't cover MJ's mouth fast enough. I am pretty sure the lady heard my niece but luckily she just smiled at us as we walked away.

(2) I've just completed my yoga classes last Thursday. They were okay. Although I still don't get why people rave about it. I did learn a couple of things about myself. First, I am very uncoordinated (I was equally awkward and inflexible on the 1st class as I was on the last class). Second, I am unable to "clear my mind" (every time the instructor says that, I find my mind wandering and thinking random thought). Third, I can not "hold a pose". I always wobble. I was one of the worst students in the class (the instructor would always wander to my mat and help me with a pose). It got embarrassing because there were a couple of senior citizens and very large women in the class who were a lot more flexible than I was! So, I guess yoga is not for me. I've now signed up for Core Muscle Training classes (let's see how that goes!).

(3) I was in Kohls yesterday shopping with my mother-in-law and we were both surprised to see that Xmas decorations were already up. Xmas decors in September is hardly surprising in Manila - but here they usually make their appearance after Halloween. This year, they are up early so I am now officially starting on my holiday shopping! Yay! How exciting! I LOVE XMAS and one of my favorite things to do is to go Xmas shopping =)

(4) My friend, Jo, sent me an invitation to a "cash for your gold" party. Sounds interesting right? It is sponsored by a company called USA Gold Traders and my friend, Jo, is hosting it at her place. You basically bring your precious metal (gold, silver, etc.) jewelry that you no longer use/wear and you get to swap with others. And at the end of the party, any precious metal that is left over will be bought by USA Gold Traders. So you get to sell your old jewelry that you no longer like or can no longer use (Like my gold earrings - I lost one and have only one side left. Or my old charm bracelet that has a broken clasp. Or a locket given by an ex. All pieces I will never wear again. Haha!). Anyway, the company is very reputable and will buy your precious metals by weight. I think it will be a lot of fun just to go and check everything out.

(5) It's been over a month since we've gone on our low cholesterol, low sugar and low fat diet. A month since we've been going to the gym regularly. A month of pure torture. But it's been paying off. Although very SLOWLY. I've lost 9 pounds. And Jojo has lost 15 pounds. I am glad to have lost the weight but I find it somewhat unfair that Jojo has lost so much more. Come to think of it, I go to the gym more than he does and I eat much less than he does. It is one of the tragedies of life that guys gain weight slower and lose weight faster than women. That and the fact that they never have to deal with PMS!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

To Own or Not To Own

Jojo and I were doing an inventory of things we need to do around the house. At the same time I was taking a mental note of how much these things would cost. Here’s our list (NOT a wish list since these are all things we have to do sooner or later).

1. Replace our water softener
2. Replace the sink and bathtub hardware in the guest bathroom
3. Have the house treated for termites and carpenter ants. It’s been 5 years since our last treatment and we are due this year for another one.
4. Repaint the outer trim of the house and the gutters. We noticed that it is peeling in some areas.
5. Replace the bed in the second guest bedroom (Jules’ former room when he lived here). The bottom planks are loose.
6. Re-upholster the sofa and loveseat in the family room. Our set has been lovingly used for 5 years and is showing signs of wear and tear.
* Estimated cost for all this is between $4,000 – 4,500.00!

We just replaced the shower doors in the guest bath and I just bought new pillows for all the guest rooms. We also recently re-grouted the kitchen tiles. Then there are property taxes and the renewal of home and car insurance due in a few weeks, so we are biding our time and our budget.

It amazes me sometimes how much it costs to run a household. When I was growing up, I never really noticed any of that since my mom and dad took care of everything. Even when I was working, running the household still fell on my parents’ shoulders (those are definitely one of the perks of living back in Manila). Then during my first 4 years living in the States, I didn’t really have to worry too much since I lived in rentals and my landlords usually were on top of all major repairs and maintenance. Only when we moved into our home in 2004 did I understand what furnishing and maintaining a home really meant. And while I truly love our home and am very proud of it, I have to admit it is a lot of work. A true labor of love.

Sometimes I wonder whether owning a home is truly the better option. Everyone in America (and every where else, I guess) dreams of having their own house even if it means living with a 30-year mortgage. But is it really better? Sometimes Jojo and I talk about the pros of renting a place versus owning one (and depending on the day and the housework we are then faced with) the argument can go either way.

Owning a home is great for all the obvious reasons but it is also limiting. There have been several job offers we have turned down because it is too far a commute. Seriously – in Los Angeles – you do not want your job to be more than 30 miles from where you live. Also, owning a home means really exorbitant property taxes (especially for us since we live in a more upscale community and taxes are based on your zip code among others). And there is also the never-ending list of upkeep that a home needs. All of which fall to the owner to shoulder.

Now the pros of renting a home are obviously all the cons listed above. You can move when you have a better job offer, you don’t have the high taxes to contend with, and while some of the upkeep of the house is your responsibility, most of it falls on the property’s owner. But then again renting also has its share of negatives. The one big thing is it’s not your own home and no matter how long you live there, it will never be your home. Which means major renovations/redecorating needs to be cleared with the landlord. Also, you are at your landlord’s mercy (while there is such a thing as rent control), you could still be asked to vacate the place if the owners need it for something else.

I guess either way there are pros and cons. Us, homeowners, think that renting is better the same way I am sure renters think owning a home is more ideal. As with all things in life, the grass always seems greener on the other side.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Style Garage

My good friend, Mina Sanchez, is having a garage sale with a group of her friends this Saturday. It's called Style Garage and is definitely going to be a lot more sosyal than the garage sale I recently had here. Mina has always been very chic and is a true blue fashionista so I am sure there will be lots of good stuff.

It is an "everything must go" sale! So if you are free and are in Makati on the 12th, check it out. More details on the flyer (you can click on it to enlarge).



Good luck, Mins! This sure beats that garage sale we had 10 years ago (with Muri and Ence). I remember we sold really OLD and CHEAP stuff. It was an experience though and we had a lot of fun doing it =)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Labor Day Project

In keeping with the "Labor Day" sentiment ... Jojo and Mark did some manual labor over the holiday. They replaced the shower doors in our guest bathroom. I've been wanting to replace those doors after noticing that the design decals on them have started peeling off. Also, the track where they are mounted needed to be re-caulked to prevent water from seeping out. Luckily Mark and Atsi were here to help us tackle this do-it-ourselves project.

Here are the "handymen" dismantling the old shower doors in the garage. They had to take them apart and break them into pieces so we could toss them in the trash.

We all headed out to HD Supply Warehouse to pick out new shower doors. It turns out the doors come in two sizes (54 inches and 58 inches). Problem is our tub measures 56 inches - so Mark had to trim the doors we bought (which was a lot of extra work!).

After carefully stripping the old doors and the brackets holding it in place, they had to the clean the surface and re-grout some spots too. Here's the tub without any shower doors.

The whole project took much longer than expected and was harder than one would think. Our shower area is slightly slanted so there were a lot of re-adjustments that had to be done. But they got the job done by the end of the day. Here are the newly installed shower doors. I think Jojo and Mark did a great job because they look pretty good.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Sunday Brunch

Jojo and I treated Atsi and Mark to brunch at Souplantation. This is one of my family's favorite places to eat. Whenever my parents come to visit, we always have lunch here.

For those of you that have never been to one, it is a buffet that features an extensive salad bar and several kinds of soup (they always have the crowd favorites: clam chowder, chili bean, and chicken noodle soup plus three other soups that vary depending on when you visit). They also have a dessert section that features fresh fruit and a make-your-own-sundae bar. Plus a baked goods section that features muffins, brownies, breads and focaccia pizza all hot out of the oven.

We like going on Sundays because they serve a brunch selection. Starting at 9:00 AM they serve breakfast items and then they switch to the lunch items at noon. We like to come around 11:00 so we get to eat both sets of food!

Today, I started with breakfast. A cup of oatmeal with brown sugar, a banana, a waffle quarter with cream and maple syrup, potatoes o'brien (with red and green pepper), scrambled eggs and a slice of zucchini quiche.

Then my second course was "lunch". I had a cup of curried yellow split pea soup (it's new and it's really good!). I also had a plate of salad greens, some chicken, and on the side, my salad bar favorites: dill pickles, shucked corn, sweet peas and black olives.

And last was dessert ... vanilla soft serve yogurt (low fat) with chocolate sauce and sprinkles (not low fat). Since one is low fat and the other is high fat, in my mind they balance each other out =)

We like to delude ourselves into thinking that this is a healthier buffet. And when you think about it ... it kinda is! =)

P.S. Sorry there are no pictures of us ... we all had the "straight-out-of-bed" look.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Adventures in Babysitting

Today, I had the pleasure of babysitting my nephews, Jorel and Elroy (ages 10 and 6) and my niece, MJ (3 years old). Because of their age range, it was a bit tough to come up with activities that would interest all of them ... but at the same time, I did not want them to spend all day watching the Disney channel and playing video games. Here was our agenda:

They were dropped off at 8:00 AM.

We had juice and churros for breakfast. Then watched about a half hour of tv while Jojo got ready for work.

After Jojo left, we did some art projects - they drew pictures and we did some paper folding crafts too.

Next we played Boggle (a word game that my two nephews were surprisingly good at). MJ ... not so much ...

We took a break for lunch. We had hotdogs and spam (Jorel's request), scrambled eggs (Elroy's request), and Honey Nut Cheerios (MJ's request). Looking back at that meal, it seems more like breakfast than lunch!

I felt guilty with the "junk" we had for lunch so we had fresh fruits for dessert. Here's MJ enjoying some fresh mangoes.

After eating, I told them they could play 1 hour of Wii. The boys played video games while MJ served me pretend dishes that she would cook in little plastic cups.

Then they went "swimming" in our jacuzzi. I had them rinse off in the shower.

It was around 4 PM, when we decided to bake chocolate chip cookies. Jorel helped me measure the ingredients and mix them in a bowl while everyone pitched in to roll the cookies into same-sized patties.

After 30 minutes, we had fresh cookies ... they are a bit lopsided but they taste pretty good. We had cookies and orange juice for our afternoon snack.

At around 5:00, we went for a 20-minute walk around the neighborhood. They came back and had a turn each at the massage chair. Finally the boys played Wii again while MJ and I logged on to the Disney Channel website and I read to her the adventures of Tinker Bell, Jasmine, and Belle.

At around 6:30, their parents came to pick them up.

It was a good day and I am glad that my nephews and niece had as much fun as I did.

Dipped Banana on a Stick

Please stop by my sister's Dipped Banana on a Stick kiosk at V-Mall in Greenhills. It opens today (Sept. 5th in Manila). There are a couple of promotions going on so be sure to check it out ...

(you can click on this poster to enlarge it)

Just looking at the poster makes me want a chocolate dipped banana with rice crispies ... and the ube dipped banana looks interesting too. Can't wait to try one for myself!

GOOD LUCK, Cubs!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Just wanted to share ...

I miss my dad. There are some days when I am doing okay and then I see something that triggers memories of him. It can be a place we visited, a food he liked, a song we listened to, or even something we had talked about during our many conversations. When that happens, I feel sad all over. Take today for example, I had a perfectly good morning and decided to stop by the supermarket to get some fruit. From the car, I saw an outdoor ad for rocky road ice cream. FYI - rocky road was my dad’s favorite. He used to have it most nights after dinner. Mom would buy all kinds of ice cream flavors for us, but rocky road was reserved for dad.

After seeing the ad, I didn’t feel like going inside the store anymore. I just felt so drained and so sad. I ended up just sitting in the car and talking to dad (I know he can hear me). It makes me feel calmer when we have these “conversations”. It’s still hard but I find it helps me when I sometimes pretend that he is still back home in Manila and everything is the same. I don’t know if that’s very healthy behavior but it helps me get through some days. On other days I tell myself that he is in a better place, that he is happy, but that he is still with us in spirit. Then I don't feel so alone and things don't seem so bad. I know in time things will be easier but for now I also know that sometimes we all need a good cry to help us feel better.