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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Childhood

We celebrated my niece, Faye’s, 5th birthday today at Mulligans, our local amusement park. Picture this, an entire Sunday afternoon spent playing with my nieces and nephews - 9 kids total. Four entire hours spent lining up with them and then watching them play mini-golf, ride paddle boats and go-karts, climb the jungle gym, run around playing laser tag and finishing bags of quarters at the video arcade. The adults outnumbered the kids, but we clearly were no match for their energy level. My nieces and nephews are hyper enough but more so when hopped up on sugar and fast food – they had their fill of pepperoni pizza, barbecued chicken, chocolate cake and an endless supply of juice and soda.



It was quite tiring but also fun watching them. Even at such a young age, each one of them has their unique traits and distinct personalities. In general, all of them are very close and can get along well with each other. But naturally, when you take 9 kids (ages raging from 11 to 1), there is also a lot of tiffs and good-natured ribbing. It is amazing how they can be best friends one minute and mortal enemies the next. There is a whole lot of laughing and giggling but also a fair amount of pouting and crying.

While, we adults, sat close together huddling for warmth, the kids ran around oblivious to the cold. While we grumbled about the long lines for each attraction, the kids patiently waited their turn and amused themselves while in line. While we complained about having to go back to work tomorrow or the endless list of chores that still need to be done at home, the kids didn’t have a care in the world. It is so amazing and so profoundly true, nothing beats the joys of childhood.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Stats

Some of my job searching statistics:

21: number of days I have been actively job-searching

3.5: average number of hours I spend on job-searching tasks per day

8: average number of jobs I really want, that I have so far applied for

15: average number of jobs that seem “ok”, that I have so far applied for

20: average number of jobs that I don’t really want but could probably work on for now, that I have so far applied for

5: number of headhunter / staffing companies I am working with

7: average number of networking contacts I make in a week

2: job leads sent by the headhunter / staffing companies

2: job leads sent by networking contacts

2: job interviews, by phone, I have been on so far

1: job interview, in person, I have been on so far

0: job offers so far

The numbers seem a bit daunting … and normally the “old” me would be feeling signs of depression and frustration already. But strangely, I am still very hopeful and quite positive. I am at a point in my life where I have realized that good things come to those who wait and that the best things in life are worth waiting for. I don’t want just any old job – but something that makes me happy to get out bed every morning. I know I’ll eventually find it. RIGHT??? =)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rainy Day Footwear

The last couple of days have been very rainy in L.A. When the rain is pouring and the temperatures are low, people care very little about fashion and just concentrate on keeping warm and dry. I, myself, have been running errands in sweats and sneakers. The problem, though, with sneakers is while they are comfy, they don't keep your feet dry.

So while browsing for a solution, I came across a company called Nomad. They are a local company (located in Brea, CA) and they sell, among other footwear, several shoes perfect for rainy weather.

Now typically, when we think "rainy day footwear", we think boots and galoshes, right? Maybe something like this ...


Boots are great but the problem with them is I am stuck wearing them even when I get out of the rain. For example, I wear them when I leave the house to go to the bank, but once inside the bank, I am standing in line with my clunky and dripping-wet boots. Worse, they are hot and make my feet sweaty too. So, while they keep my feet dry, they are not very comfortable or practical.

An even better solution is this ... presenting the "rain shoe". They are water-resistant flats that also has excellent traction to avoid slipping on puddles. I love their funky colors like this one. It also comes in other color variations.

I think they are great cause they take care of keeping your feet dry, you can wear them indoors and out, and they actually look good too. This is my favorite, the navy blue shoe with lime green trim. For the more conservative, they also comes in just plain black and white.


For those who are interested, Nomad footwear is only available online for now. Click HERE to learn more about their company and the "Rain Shoe".

Monday, January 25, 2010

Today or Tomorrow?

Over breakfast this morning, Jojo and I got into a huge debate. It started off innocently enough. We were talking about the lifestyle choices of some people we knew. How, on one hand, some save all their money for the future and live so frugally today. And how, on the other hand, some go all out, living it up today, without any thought for the future. Pretty soon, we were both getting heated up.

Not surprisingly, Jojo took the side of those who enjoy their money today. His main point is you never know what will happen tomorrow and wouldn't it be sad to find yourself unable to have the fun that you could have had. Then it would be too late and all you are left with are regrets and “what ifs”. I, on the other hand, argued that we should work hard when we can so we can one day enjoy the fruits of our labors. That we should live more simply today and save for that proverbial rainy day. That we should always be prepared for tomorrow. Basically we went on and on about how one lifestyle choice was better than the other.

Now, of course, we know that the ideal situation is having a little bit of both lifestyles. Work hard, reward yourself by having fun and enjoying your current life, but also put a little aside for the future. We all know that is the perfect scenario. But it hardly works like that for most people. I mean it’s no ones fault really. It’s just how we are wired, how we are raised or what circumstances we find ourselves in. Either we don’t have enough money to enjoy life now and save for tomorrow, or we don’t have the foresight and the mindset to think that way. Lucky are the few who have found the perfect balance or at least someone in their life that balances them out.

In my case, it's one of the (many) reasons why Jojo and I work well together. He balances out my “kakuriputan” (frugality) and makes me stop and smell the roses. He shows me that life is short and we should live it doing the things we like to do and enjoy it with the things we like to have. Here is a pretty basic example. He is the one who convinces me to get the latest gizmos. Now, as you may know, I am ultra tech-phobic and have an aversion for spending money on new techie stuff. I hem and haw about getting new stuff even if admittedly, I end up loving them anyway. For example, we had a huge argument several years ago about buying a GPS. This was way back when getting one was not a common thing to do and they still cost a lot of money. Jojo was selling the benefits of never having to look at another map. How we could go anywhere (in the Continental US) and never get lost. How we could find the closest gas station when we were in the middle of nowhere and low on fuel. How we could find the shortest route when we were running late. Etc., etc. All I could think about was spending over $500.00 on another gadget we would probably use once in a blue moon. How every week we went to the same places anyway and didn’t need an electronic map to tell us how to get there. How we could rely on Mapquest when we did need to go to somewhere new. And how it would probably not be as reliable as having an actual map on hand. Well, Jojo managed to convince me and today I can not imagine life without Garmin. That’s how it was when Jojo first talked me into buying an Ipod, Mac, Blackberry, digital camera, Nintendo Wii, massage chair, the list goes on. And yes, when I reap the benefits of those rewards, I thank him for it.

I, on the other hand, temper his zest for living life to the excess. I slow things down a bit when things can go just a tad too crazy. I am the one who sees things more long-term and plans on how to get us there. I am the one who talks him out of buying another pair of Cole Haan leather shoes because they look exactly like a pair he already has. I am the one who vetoes the idea of upgrading our cellphones every time a newer model comes out. I am the one who insists we pay our credit cards in full and not incur any interest. I am the one who insists we maximize our contributions to our 401ks and our Roth IRAs. Yep, that’s all me, and one day when we are old and gray, and still have our savings to live on, Jojo will thank me for it too.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Thanks =)

I had a fantastic birthday this year, thank you very much for asking. It was my kind of celebration – very quiet, low key and doing the things I enjoy most. I got to indulge and sleep in. I spent time shopping and getting my nails done. I spent the afternoon reading and then preparing for a small dinner at home. I also got a lot of birthday greetings from people who mattered – family, friends, colleagues and even a couple of acquaintances that remembered my special day. I am touched by the emails, phone calls, birthday cards, and in-person visits to greet me. And yes, many of the greetings were sent online via Facebook – and that was ok too. I also got loads of lovely presents. Flowers from my husband, flowers from Joy, Jim, Jules and Marc, three items from my wish list (thanks Les, mom and Jojo). A present from Atsi and Mark. And even more presents from my Ordinario family too. It was nice. Nevermind that the weather was acting crazy all week. Nevermind that over dinner the power went out and we experienced a blackout that lasted over 4 hours. I didn’t mind too much. All in all it was a wonderful way to spend my birthday. Thanks to everyone who made it so special =)

P.S. What do you guys think of my new blog template? I love it cause it reminds me of Cath Kidston prints - which I absolutely adore =)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Storms

Sometimes we have to be careful what we wish for! Three days ago I posted a blog saying I was so excited about the upcoming cold front and the rainy weather. And while I still like the cold and I still like rain …I’m thinking we have a little too much of both right now.

The temperature in Torrance right now is 55 degrees, but because there is a storm and the winds are blowing … it feels more like 45 degrees. What’s worse the inside our home is always 5 degrees cooler than the outside (which is great in the summer but not so great in the winter) so it’s really more like 40 degrees. Brrr! And it’s so dark (storm clouds all around and occasional thunder and lighting). It’s 3:30 pm and it looks like nighttime outside. I am alone right now and I have the tv blaring in the living room, all the lights turned on, and the Ipod on speakers in my office. I have the heater turned on and am attempting to keep my hands warm by wearing gloves indoors. FYI - wearing gloves while typing is certainly challenging.

Earlier, I was watching the news and the situation is not so good. Southern California was hit by Storm Number 1 the day before yesterday. Storm Number 2 is here today and scheduled to really hit hard tonight. And Storm Number 3 is coming tomorrow. Yes, that’s right, 3 storms this week. Many parts of LA county, Orange County and the Inland Empire are flooded. Areas that had forest fires last summer are now experiencing flash floods and mudslides. Several communities have lost power. All beaches, piers and docks are closed. Hail is coming down in many areas. Evacuation announcements have been going on all morning. Many schools and offices have let people go home early. There are talks of possible small tornadoes occurring. It’s very surreal since I am used to seeing typhoons in Manila but have never experienced a storm in LA. It’s kinda scary and sad too.

I just hope things get better before they get any worse.


Flooding along one of the local streets in Long Beach.

The waves pounding the boardwalk at Ventura Pier.

LAPD officer going door to door in La Canada ordering people to evacuate.

Photos courtesy of the KTLA-News website.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Thoughts from Someone in Their Mid-30's

I am turning 35 in 2 days. That means in 48 hours I can no longer claim to be in my “early 30’s” but will now fall right smack in the “mid 30’s” category. I’ve never been one to obsess about my age. I’ve never felt compelled to lie about my age nor have I ever tried to evade the “how old are you” question. (Ask me about my weight and that’s an entirely different matter altogether!). The thought of turning a year older does not really scare me nor does it elicit feelings of depression and anguish. To be perfectly honest I’m pretty nonchalant about the whole thing. I don’t feel any different. I can’t claim to not know where the years have gone and I can't ask myself "how can I now be 35". I’ve had a pretty good life so far and I feel that I have had the opportunity to experience many things, positive and negative. I think the quality of my life has been proportionate to the quantity of years I have been alive. I can’t really say turning 35 has crept up on me ... I knew it was coming ... I've been expecting it. It’s all good and I am taking things in stride.

I guess the only thing that is weighing on me is the fact that turning 35 means there are less chances of our having a large family. I’ve always thought that at 35, I would have at least 2 kids and would be planning to have baby #3 or #4 in the next year or two. Jojo and I both come from big families and I’ve always wanted one of my own. (FYI - My definition of a “big family” is having 4-5 kids). But since I am turning 35 in two days and biologically I don’t think it’s possible to have 5 kids in the next 5 years (unless we have twins and then triplets!) … well, I may have to rethink the whole idea of wanting a big family.

Actually, lately, I have been thinking about this whole “having a baby” idea more than usual. (Maybe turning 35 does that to a woman!). I’ve always thought that having a child was one of the most important things I would ever do. That it would be the defining moment and the would be the one thing that would complete me. In many ways, I still do. And I still am not giving up on the fact that Jojo and I want to have children. But, because we have not been blessed yet, I’ve had the time to rethink and reevaluate.

Recently I read an entry by one of my most favorite bloggers (Frances Sales). She is actually pregnant herself. In her entry, she writes about how when people found out she was pregnant, they would tell her that “having kids is the best thing that can ever happen to you” and “now your life will have meaning”. She writes that those sentiments saddened her because while she is happy to be having a child, she never felt that her life before becoming pregnant was not a good one or that it had no meaning. She was happy before being pregnant just as she is happy now that she is pregnant. Maybe "happy" in different ways, or "happy" in different levels but certainly not because one life is better than the other.

I agree. I know I will be ecstatic if I ever become pregnant and I know I will love being a mom. I look forward to that. I can appreciate friends and family who keep telling me “I wish you could have kids” or “it will be so wonderful when you have kids of your own”. I know they mean well and I honestly never take it the wrong way. But if it does not happen or if it happens much later than I want, it does not mean I will live a life that is sad or any less fulfilled. It just means things will be different. Not lonely, not bad, not less meaningful, just different.

Jojo and I love kids (I think my nieces and nephews can attest to that). We would love to have kids of our own. We have been trying. We have seen doctors and prayed novenas. We have kept hopeful and patient. The bottomline is we do want children but I do not want to be consumed with the thought of having kids. I don’t want to be depressed every time a pregnancy test comes out negative. I don’t want to be pressured every time I am asked if we have kids. I don’t want to be desperate and try to conceive using any artificial means. I want it to happen badly but I don’t want it to consume my life. I don’t want having or not having a child to be the end all, be all of my existence. I don’t want it to be the reason I am happy or not.

I view having a child as a blessing. Just as having a good husband, having a good family, having good friends, having a career, having your health, having a home, … etc. etc. If we are or are not blessed with kids, then we should just remain grateful for our other blessings and move on with our life the way we were destined to live it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Weather for This Week

LA weather (as with many other places around the world, no doubt) has been so strange lately. It’s the middle of January and usually, it being the middle of winter, (yes, we experience winter, even in Southern California) that means low, low temps and dark, overcast skies. But this past week, it was more like early Spring weather. We had very nice, slightly warm weather. It’s still cold in the mornings and definitely chilly at night. But our mid-days had temps reaching the upper 70’s. From late mornings to early afternoons, we had sunny skies and very mild breezes. Of course, it’s nice to be able to go out with just a light sweater and to putter around the house in regular sweats. But honestly, I miss winter weather. I miss wearing thick wool coats, turning on the heater, making steaming cups of hot chocolate and snuggling under the blankets while watching the windows frost away.

Well, it looks like I am just about to get my wish granted. The weather reports show that a cold front is coming. And as a bonus, a week of rain is headed our way. I know it sounds so strange to be excited about rain – but I absolutely love rainy weather. There is nothing like staying in on a cold, rainy day and doing all the things I absolutely enjoy – reading, surfing the net, watching old movies, snuggling in bed, making hearty soups and stews, scrapbooking, tackling a home project, and just enjoying time at home. Even job searching (which is what I’m busy with most days) doesn’t seem too bad when I’m cooped up indoors anyway.

Here’s a snapshot of our weather for the week courtesy of The Weather Channel: (please click the picture to enlarge)



On a completely separate note: I just learned how to save print screens off the internet and then upload them to my blog. I am quite proud of myself since I am probably in the lowest 10% percentile when it comes to doing anything techie. Best of all, this time I figured it by myself - instead of asking Jojo to do it for me (which is how I usually get anything IT-related done). Believe it or not, it was actually easy to do using the Mac! Just another reason why I like Mac more than Windows! =)

Friday, January 15, 2010

And yet another wish list!

I absolutely love making wish lists. I can usually come up with a list in just a few minutes ... it usually starts with online window-shopping and it kinda goes from there! Today, I was bored and day-dreaming about what I would get with my first paycheck from my new job. The list surprisingly came together rather quickly =)

By the way, I do not have a new job (yet) so this is purely wishful thinking for now!

Wish List:

I need a new camera since our old one is clunky and is a real battery-drainer! I don't know much about cameras but I do know I need one that is slim enough to carry all the time and has enough mega-pixels to make sure my amateurish photos look good enough to post!

Griffin and Sabine, 6-volume. I love these books by Nick Bantock. They are both entertaining to read and artwork to enjoy as well.

For some reason, I am going through a cocktail ring phase.




Corelle serving dishes to match my dinnerware. I know my mom thinks I have too many of these and I do not have enough storage space (so maybe these aren't a good idea anymore).

I've always wanted an engraved locket with my (and my hubby's) photo in it. Not too fond of a heart-shaped one though ...

My brother-in-law is getting married in April and I need a decent silver clutch to go with my dress. I want one of those hard-shell cases rather than a satin/leather one. Any ideas where to get one?

Several chafing dishes so I can throw a proper buffet dinner at home. Although my lack of storage is an issue here too. Since they are so bulky I'd probably have to store them in our toolshed or our garage!

My friend, Les, got me hooked on Longchamp bags. I absolutely love them! They are practical, easy to match with almost any outfit, no hassle to care for at all, and roomy enough for all my stuff. I think their suitcases are great too. Thought about getting one when we stopped over at the Taiwan airport but didn't know how I'd bring it home =)

A Queen-sized Tempur Pedic mattress with the advanced ergo system. Do I still need to explain why!?

If you ever find yourself with time to spare, go ahead and make your own wish list, you will find it is a lot of fun to create and an excellent way to kill time =)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Choices

I had lunch with a friend today and our conversation touched on how complicated life is because we have the luxury of choice. Think about it. Every day we are given the opportunity to do so many different things. We have the choice to move our lives towards or away from a certain direction. It seems fairly straightforward, but don’t you think that when faced with a multitude of alternatives, on which way to go and how to get there, well, it just makes things somewhat complicated?

Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great to have choices. I consider it a blessing to have options and am thankful to be given the chance to take control of my life. But sometimes (just sometimes), it would be great if things were just decided for me. It could be simple things, like sometimes deciding what to wear. Or it could be complex issues, like where my career should be heading. There are times I wish I were 5 years old and someone would just go ahead and make a choice for me. Do you ever feel that way?

It’s interesting how sometimes its easier to decide when there’s only one thing in front of you. Don’t you find it’s sometimes easier to decide what to have for dinner when you sit at the table and there is one dish, already prepared, sitting right in front of you? Rather than have to think about where to eat, how to get there, and then decide what to order? Do you know what I mean?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Food Trip!

Last Sunday, Jojo and I took our friends, Jake and Chico, for an impromptu food trip around Los Angeles. We had about 6 hours till they had to catch their flight so we planned a jam-packed trip to maximize the time. Our first stop was lunch at Philippe’s in downtown LA. The restaurant was featured in an episode of the travel channel’s, Man Vs. Food, and since we are all avid fans of the show, we had to pay homage to this dining institution with a 100-year old history. It is a no-nonsense restaurant with a cafeteria like feel. You literally walk up to the counter to order your food which is then served on a tray. Ambiance wise it is definitely not the Four Seasons but people don't go there for the ambiance. Philippe’s is most well-known for French dipped sandwiches. Basically, these are crusty baguettes, liberally dunked in flavorful au jus, then piled high with thin slices of meat. We chose the beef and the pork sandwiches. Despite being dipped in au jus, the bread still retained its crusty consistency. I liked this since I hate sandwiches with soggy slices of bread. The au jus was very tasty and really added flavor to the meat. The guys favored the beef sandwiches, while Chico and I preferred the pork. I like how tender the meat was and how the pork slices had a slightly caramelized texture and a bit more fat (which as we know adds tone of flavor!). Partnered with spicy mustard, these sandwiches really hit the spot!

Chico and I modeling the french dipped sandwiches and our matching purses!

Jake going in for a big bite! Yummy!

Happy couple number 1: Jake and Chico (after our delicious lunch at Philippe's).

Happy couple number 2: our turn naman!

After Philippe’s we headed to The Grove to do some shopping. While taking a break, we took out two slices of cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. Chico chose the original slice. I like the original too. I think cheesecake is rich enough without an overload of other toppings. Cheesecake Factory has a great original blend. It's sweet without being overpowering and is extra creamy too. Jacob chose the Godiva cheesecake. Like Jojo, they are both chocoholics. The Godiva cheesecake was heaven in a slice! Rich, decadent and super-duper luxurious. Both slices were fabulous! But then again, it’s the Cheesecake Factory - enough said! Since the restaurant was so crowded we took our cakes to go. We had a mini picnic in the car. Four people, four forks, two huge slices. It was great. (Sorry no pictures, though, we were too excited to eat!).

Our next stop was Pink’s Hotdog in Hollywood. Another famous LA institution, Pink’s has been serving awesome hotdogs for over 70 years. They are most famous for chili dogs and chili cheese fries. We would not be very good LA hosts if we did not make a stop here at least once! When we got there, the lines were incredibly long - which is totally normal. It may seem strange to line up at a food stand for over an hour for hotdogs, but once you’ve tried a Pink’s hotdog, you will know it is worth it. Besides us, the hundred or so people in line with us seemed to think so too! After a long wait, we finally got 4 chili dogs, a side of chili fries and a side of onion rings. We hunkered down in the eating area behind the food stand to enjoy. The place is nothing fancy - just a couple of plastic tables and chairs next to a parking lot. But it works and is perfect for enjoying our fare. As usual, the chili dogs were delicious. Beefy franks that are steamed not fried, mouthwatering chili, and a soft bun. Chili cheese fries with an overload of chili and melted cheese. Crispy onion rings with a great buttermilk batter coating. All good. I wish we could have made the meal last as long as the time we spent in line. But then again, as with all good meals, they usually go by pretty fast.

Here we are at the end of the line. The wait doesn't look too bad - the air is cool, everyone is excited, and there are hotdogs and fries at the end of the line. Not too bad =)

Still in line ... still waiting ... we were about 30 minutes along ... we could see the finish line and smell the food cooking ... that kept us going =)

Almost at the counter ... it was a 45-minute wait, but I think it was worth it!

Jacob hungry after our long wait at Pink's ... just look at those chili dogs, onion rings, and the fries ... don't they make your mouth water???


We considered heading to Sprinkles in Beverly Hills for their famous and super delectable cupcakes. In my opinion a red velvet cupcake topped with cream cheese frosting would have been the perfect end to a wonderful day of eating. But we found ourselves to be too full and out of time. Jacob and Chico had a flight to catch. And did I mention we were too full? I mean really stuffed! On our way to the airport, we had to make a quick stop at Walgreens. We loaded up on antacids, just in case. Luckily everyone survived the day pretty well and we are all looking forward to another time when we can pace ourselves and go on another food trip!

P.S. Thanks to Jake and Chico for the photos ... here's looking forward to another food trip with you guys ... either here in LA or back in Manila =)

Friday, January 08, 2010

It Is What It Is

I was reading a blog yesterday that got me thinking. The blog belongs to a young woman chronicling her first pregnancy. In her entry she wrote about how she would one day answer her child’s question about “who she really was” and “what kind of life she lived”. She wrote about things in her life she was proud of and the things in her life she was not too proud of doing. Her narration was amusing as she came to the conclusion that her life was rather boring … and that despite her fear of shocking her child with tales of her sordid past, she was closer to boring him to sleep.

I could totally relate! If asked by my future child if I had a wild and exciting life … I would have to say “no”. There are lots of words that can describe me and my lifestyle. Words like “happy”, “fulfilled”, “organized” are some that come to mind. But words like “wild”, “thrilling”, “spontaneous”, well, they don’t really seem accurate!

My childhood and teen-age years were normal. I have a great family, good friends, a stable home life. Everything was pretty normal compared to other people I knew. Till I was 26, I lived at home and I had a curfew. No going out on weeknights and home by midnight on weekends. I was constantly teased for that - but looking back, it was not really a very big deal. I had my share of “parental run-ins”. My share of bad grades, of sneaking off with friends, and my share of being grounded and of teenage sulking. But nothing major (at least none that I can remember). And most of it, I think I outgrew.

In general, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and I don’t gamble. I have never had a one night stand. I never kissed a girl. I have never done drugs. I have never danced on a ledge at some club. I have only seriously dated two guys in my entire life (and one of them is my husband). I lived near San Francisco and now in Los Angeles but can not name a single hip nightclub or bar in either place. I can recommend a lot of great restaurants though. I’ve been to Las Vegas at least once a year in the last 7 years, but never to hit the casinos or to go clubbing but rather to watch Broadway musicals or to try out the buffets. I have never gotten a ticket (except that one time 8 years ago when I did not see a stop sign). I have never shoplifted. Never gotten arrested. I have never gotten expelled or suspended from school. And I have never ever been laid off from a job.

I enjoy spending time with my family. When I was in high school, a lot of my friends called us the “Brady Bunch” and thought it was strange that I enjoyed hanging out with my parents and siblings rather than be out with friends. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m an introverted wallflower. I do enjoy being with people. I like having conversations. I like socializing. In fact my professional choices have been pretty much all about being out there and meeting people. But if asked what my perfect evening would be, it would not be going to some wild party, but rather entertaining good friends in our home.

My husband and I did not have a wild and whirlwind courtship. We were friends first then we dated for 5 years before we got engaged. We planned our wedding for a year before settling down. I am lucky since he shares my interests and agrees that a perfect night out means dinner and catching a movie or watching a play. When we travel, we both like to plan our trips down to the last detail. We don't go skydiving, bungee jumping or mountain climbing. Instead we take city tours in the comfort of a double-decked bus and we visit places recommended by reliable sources. We both enjoystaying in and catching reruns of crime dramas and sitcoms. And we both like hanging out with each others’ families.

I go to Church every Sunday. I volunteer at a soup kitchen / homeless shelter. I call my mom and sister every few days just to check in. I see my in-laws every weekend. I am doing my best to be a good housewife. But, hey, I am not perfect … I do have a temper and am not afraid to use it! I can be pretty stubborn (as my loved ones can attest). I can be controlling and obsessive. I can be quite makulit too. And I have done my fair share of things I am not proud of … for example I have bought pirated DVDs in Metrowalk when I vacationed in Manila. I have super-sized my French fries when I am suppose to be on a diet. I have taken sick days off from work when I was not really sick. I have neglected to do housework just because I am lazy. And I have many times made up some excuse (in other words “lied”) to get out of having to attend social get-togethers! Yes, I am guilty. But those are hardly what I would call "wild".

So, that’s my life in a nutshell. I guess to some mine would seem like a boring life. But it is what it is. I am what I am. I don’t think it’s boring … but rather it’s what makes me happy. And I guess that’s what ultimately matters in the end. The good thing is I don’t have to edit any of my answers when my future child asks me “what kind of life I have” … I can just tell it as it is!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Top Five

During my last stay in Manila, there were a couple of places and things I tried and enjoyed. I thought I’d share them with you. For my readers based in Manila, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. So this post serves as a reminder of some things that make living in Manila so great. And for my readers living abroad, well then, these are just my tips for things to try the next time you are ever in Manila =)

1.) Casa Armas – my friends took Jojo and I to dinner at their Podium location. They have really great Spanish food – their tapas (especially their gambas) were well prepared and they had a very good version of paella valencia. I am looking forward to going back and sampling the paella negra (one of my super favorite dishes!). But the highlight for Jojo and me was trying their super succulent and super delicious cochinillo. The roasted baby pig was so melt-in-your-mouth good that until today Jojo and I talk about that dinner and find ourselves drooling!

Casa Armas is located at 1/F The Podium, 18 ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila. (02) 687-3663
*you need to call at least 5 hours ahead to order the cochinillo


2.) My new favorite brand for bags and shoes is Charles & Keith. The brand is actually Singaporean but they are located in almost all major malls in Manila. They have really nice stuff. My sister and I literally spent an afternoon in just one store. I love their products as they are both trendy and classic at the same time. I also love the fact that they are so affordable. Hard to believe you can get a great pair of shoes and a great bag to match all for a little over a hundred dollars! I hope someone gets the idea to open a Charles & Keith store here in LA.

Click HERE for the Charles and Keith website.


3.) Mary Grace cheese rolls. They are so good. Kind of like ensaimada but with a slice of cheese tucked inside. The contrast of the sweet and salty is just addictive! I love these rolls with a good cup of coffee. We had them almost every morning for breakfast. Mary Grace food stalls are located in almost all major malls and bazaars I’ve visited. It should be no problem coming across one when in Manila.

Click HERE to view the pricing for the rolls and for where to find them.


4.) Enderun College is a premier undergraduate college located in the Fort. The school’s academic partnership with the Les Roches International School of hotel management and the Alan Ducasse Formation offers the students the opportunity to perfect their skills in hospitality management and culinary arts. The school has a restaurant called 101 where we celebrated my uncle and aunt’s anniversary. The food was very good (their cream of forest mushroom soup with truffle foam was divine and their lamb duo cooked two ways – braised shank and a seared rack was done to perfection). But more than the food, I loved the elegant ambience of the place and the way the service was elevated to a whole different level.

Click HERE for the website of 101.


5.) Dessert at The Peninsula Hotel lobby. I absolutely love the place – especially over the holidays. The ice cream concoctions are wonderful and their halo-halo is legendary. My suggestion is to get a group together and order the Pen Pals. It is a huge bowl of 19 scoops of ice cream, brownies, fresh fruits topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Yum! But aside from the food, what makes the whole thing an experience is the ambience of the place. It is classy and understated. The staff is attentive and corteous. Over the holidays the place took on a Xmas wonderland feel without going overboard. And the live orchestra playing Xmas carols are such a beautiful touch. It is such a pleasure to sit with family and friends amidst all that splendor.

Click HERE to see pictures of The Lobby at the Pen.


It was hard to limit this list to just 5 items. Since there are so many other wonderful things that come to mind. It would take me all day to list everything down. Since I have other things to do, I thought the top 5 would be a good place to start. =)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Best of Both Worlds

I’ve been meaning to blog more over the holidays … but our vacation in Manila just flew by so quickly there was hardly any time to capture the spirit of the season in writing! Also, I did not have the luxury of having my own computer, in my own room, and the thought of walking more than 10 steps to log-on was just too tiresome for someone on vacation =) But this changes now that the new year has rolled in (and now that I am in the comfort of my own home, with not just one, but two computers to use whenever I want!). Now it’s back to serious (or at least more consistent) blogging!

Yesterday, we flew back to Manila after 4 weeks of vacation. As with most vacations, the end was bittersweet. Part of me was happy to be going home and looking forward to resuming my normal routine. But another part of me was wishing time would standstill and I could stay in vacation mode for just a few days more! Here are the top 5 things about living in Manila and being back in Torrance.

MANILA
1.) Having my family and friends around … it’s always nice to come home to a full house and always wonderful that friends and relatives are constantly around for lunches, dinners and all other times of the day! And reunions … so great to see friends, colleagues and even family that I have not seen in ages. I am amazed when people say I have not changed since it has been almost 10 years since I last saw many of them. Either I am aging gracefully or people are lying through their teeth!
2.) Having household helpers that make sure you are pampered and taken care of and are able to just relax and having fun.
3.) The FOOD … oh the glorious FOOD. My mom went all out to make sure we had our fill of wonderful homecooking. Breakfast, lunch, merienda and dinner!!! There was never a meal where I did not leave the table fully satisfied and thankful that my mom is a culinary diva!
4.) And when I say food, it’s not just at home, but all the lovely new places and the old favorites we ate in … my friends and family took us to many great restaurants. I have said it before but I’ll say it again, Manila dining can rival any international foodie destination!
5.) Shopping! It helps we were there over the holiday season when sales and bargains were everywhere. I don’t know exactly what we bought and why we did but we used up every last possible space in our luggage and every last pound of our allotted baggage weight!

TORRANCE
1.) Being in my own home and lounging around according to my own schedule. It’s great to be able to do what I want when I want and staying in while wearing sweats the whole day =)
2.) Getting to drive again. I could not even begin to imagine driving in Manila (although I did attempt to a few times). It’s just too crazy for me out there!
3.) The weather … it’s winter in Southern California and I love it! The nights are cold and perfect for snuggling in. I absolutely love being surrounded by fluffy pillows and bundling in plush comforters. It’s amazing how you can be warm and toasty but have your nose stay cold.
4.) Having my in-laws welcome us home. It was nice having my brothers-in-law pick us up from the airport and extra nice to walk into the living room and have everyone’s Xmas presents waiting for us to open. It was like Xmas eve all over again! I can’t wait to see my nieces and nephews later on.
5.) Getting back to my “routine”, while I’m still fighting jetlag, it’s nice to get back to my daily schedule. Today, I went to the bank, hit the supermarket, unpacked our luggage, did some laundry and folded clothes while watching The Ellen DeGeneres show. Now I am relaxing by catching up on email and my blog.

I guess I’m kind of like Hannah Montana (now there’s a line I thought I would never say!). While Hannah sings about having the best of both worlds (she is a world famous pop princess with the help of a disguise but during the day she gets to live like a normal, average teenager), I can also claim to have the best of both worlds … enjoying life in both my homes … Manila and Torrance too.