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Monday, March 29, 2010

Like Butter!

Last night Jojo, Atsi, Mark and I, had dinner at a place that is sure to make it to our all-time favorites list. We went to Sansui-Tei which is a smallish Japanese grilling place located in the Rolling Hills Plaza complex, next to Nijiya Market.

We were excited to try the food since we had read that Sansui-Tei serves WASHUGYU Beef which is a crossbreed of Japanese Wagyu and American Black Angus. We browsed the menu and made our selections - we had to pass on some of the more exotic stuff like beef heart, tongue, liver, intestines, etc. and we settled for more taditional fare. While waiting for our food, our server turned on our table-side grill. We whetted our appetites with kimchi and hot green tea. We noticed that all the other tables were filled with Japanese customers. We took that as a good sign. Our meat orders arrived soon after. The raw meat was served on little plates and was just lightly salted and not marinated (like in Korean bbq). The marbling on the beef was gorgeous ... but made us feel slightly guilty about what it would do to our cholesterol levels ... we decided though that this meal would be worth an extra few minutes at the gym!

We started grilling. The chicken was nothing great. The pork sausages were tasty but bordering on the salty side. The real star of the evening was the beef. IT WAS DIVINE. You know how some people say that perfectly grilled beef is just like butter? I never quite got that - how could meat be like butter? But last night, I totally understood. It was indeed like butter! The meat was so succulent, juicy and tender - it really felt like it melted in my mouth. It was so good that we were kind of speechless for a while and were all just concentrating on eating. We had three kinds of beef - the ribeye, the short ribs and the flat-iron skirt steak - I can't decide which one was best.

We also ordered some veggies for grilling. I figured they would be sweet peppers, onions, asparagus, and zucchini, etc. but was surprised when we also got mushrooms, squash and cabbage. I've never had those grilled before - surprisingly the squash was good - there was a caramelized texture and taste once it was grilled. The mushrooms were also slightly sweet but with a more woodsy taste. I didn't particularly enjoy the grilled cabbage though.

After dinner, we all agreed the Washugyu was awesome and even if the service was a bit slow (there were only 3 servers and it was a full house), we would definitely recommend this place to others. Our bill came to $80.00++, with tax and tip included. Not bad for a really good dinner =)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Del's Day

Yesterday we celebrated the birthday of my sister-in-law, Edel. She turned 35 but does not look a day over 25! We had dinner at the Grand World Buffet in Torrance. Too much food for dinner - yummy that night but not so good the morning after! It was a happy and noisy affair - which is quite typical with Ordinario gatherings.

The birthday celebrant, Edel, with her family =) My nephews, Jorel and Elroy, always make funny faces for photos!

Jojo and I (with Sydney behind me). Picture taken by my niece, Meredith. I'm not sure why the pictures look so orange! And yes, I had my hair cut. =)

My sister in law, Marik, and her husband, Roy. (Jay and Lee and Lee's family in the background).

Here's a partial group shot. It's really hard to gather everyone together and to fit everyone in one shot! I'm the one holding Faye up =)

Here's Edel (with the help of Marik) opening her presents! Lots of really cool stuff!

Happy Birthday, Del! May you have lots more to come =)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Saving Money

One of my former bosses liked to constantly remind me that in business there are two ways to “make money”. The first way is to increase sales (or in some cases to find alternative revenue streams). The second way is to cut costs and decrease expenses. With the job market the way it is and me not yet working, we are still a single income family. So without another “revenue stream”, the best way I can contribute to our household income is by cutting costs. Here are some of the things we’ve done lately:

1.) If your home is mortgaged, now is a good time to refinance. Interest rates are still low and there are lots of good options to consider. Just be careful about who you choose to broker the refinancing. We had to shop around for someone that really wanted to help us and was not just interested in making their company money!
2.) Write to your local/state tax review board and ask for a reduction in your property taxes. With property values at an all time low, many areas have also lowered property taxes.
3.) Switch to a prepaid phone plan rather than one with fixed monthly charges. Now we pay only for the minutes / services we actually use.
4.) Make competition work for you. In our case, we were offered a lower rate to switch our home security system to a competitor’s. When I brought it up with our current home security provider, they offered to match the competitor’s price.
5.) Being a good and loyal customer pays off. Since we’ve never missed a payment and have not been in any accidents, we have requested and gotten a discount from our car/home insurance company.
6.) Use coupons when buying groceries or things for the house. They may seem like a small savings but they really add up. Also, I plan our menus more carefully (it really helps to go the grocery when you are not hungry and when you have a shopping list on hand!).
7.) Avail of service promotions. For example, I have found that when you get your car’s oil changed on a Wednesday (instead of the weekend), you get 30% off.
8.) Surf the internet for savings. I’ve joined Restaurant.com and Groupon.com that sends me discounts for restaurants, shows, and other services around LA. For example at Restaurant.com, you can purchase a $25.00 certificate for $10.00, which you can use it at many local restaurants. There are some restrictions though (some places only allow certificates to be used for dinner from Sunday to Thursdays and with a minimum amount ordered), so read the fine print.
9.) Eat out less. Because we’ve been trying to eat healthier and since I have more time to cook these days, we’ve reduced eating out from 3-4 times a week to maybe once or twice a week. We’ve also cut down on take out from once a week to maybe once a month. It also helps that I have time to pack Jojo lunch every day.
10.) Shop smart. When making a large purchase (in our case we are on the lookout for some new appliances, vacation deals, and getting our kitchen renovated), it pays to take your time and look at all the possible options. Ask for quotations from different competitors to compare the pros and cons of each. Most of the time, we miss out on savings when we buy in haste.

Side note on "Shopping Smart": Buying at store sales and in bulk does not always equal saving money. Sometimes it is tempting to buy the 5 lb. box of multi-grain cereal, on sale at Costco, even if we don't really eat cereal all that much. It may be a great deal, but we need to keep in mind that 5 lbs is a lot of cereal and it ends up going stale after a while.

With the economy still in recession and while we wait for the light at the end of the tunnel to get brighter, all of us could stand to tighten our belts and be wiser with our money. By doing so, we can still lead very satisfying and quality lifestyles without giving too much up =)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Can You Say "CAT"atonic?

Let me start by saying this: If you are planning to watch CATS and have not yet seen the show, don't read this post. I give away the ending during this review.

If you are still reading, well, don't say I didn't warn you! =)


The evening was full of promise as Jojo and I headed off to the Pantages Theater. I was looking forward to watching CATS. Before the show, I have been warned that the show is "boring" and that this is the kind of musical that you either really love or really hate - there is no in-between. I figured I would probably be one of those that really loves it since I am a big musical theater fan. Also, I thought how could I not like this production when it is music by the great Andrew Lloyd Weber and when this is THE longest running Broadway musical ever???

Here are Jojo and I while waiting for the show to start.
Two and a half hours later, I have to admit I am not one of those that love this show. Maybe I don't hate it but I do harbor very strong feelings of dislike.

Let me start with the good points. To be fair, the music was fantastic. Andrew Lloyd Weber is a genius. Also, last night's production spared no expense. The stage set was utterly believable and the props and effects were professionally prepared. The strobe lighting, dancing colored lights, the fire-crackers and the fog machines blowing smoke were all nice touches. And yes, the cast was top-notch. Everyone gave it their 110% - such incredible singing voices and fabulous dancers. It was entertaining to see such lithe and yet agile dancers prancing the stage and tumbling to music.

But sadly, all that could not hold my interest and attention. The first 10 minutes of seeing 20 or so actors in imaginative cat costumes singing, dancing and prancing is great - but 2 and 1/2 hours of the same thing was pretty tedious. Each song seemed to be about the same thing and had the same choreography. I could hardly tell when one song ended and the next one began. Also, even if we tried, we could not make out a lot of the words to the songs. I don't think it was the sound system since I've been to the Pantages several times before and never had any complaints. I think it's just that the songs themselves had no meaning. At least none that I could comprehend.

And there lays another sad fact, the whole musical had no discernible storyline. I had read that the whole production is based on poems by T.S. Elliot - but I thought there would be some sort of story or at least a plot to follow. Sadly, that is not the case. It is just a bunch of Jellicle cats (still not sure what they are) singing song after song about what else ... CATS! Fat cats, old cats, magical cats, glamorous cats, wily cats, pirate cats, and all sorts of cats. There was certainly not much humor or drama. There was definitely no romance or mystery. There was totally no heart-warming story with a moral lesson in the end. In fact, it was hard to tell when the whole thing ended since again, there was no real story.

Jojo was in misery - not only was he bored to tears, he was fighting a cold and had to keep from sniffling and coughing all night. In my case, this was the first time I have watched a show wherein I completely felt the intermission came too late and when the 2 & 1/2 hours seemed to drag on and on. I am sorry to be giving such a bad review. Of course, this is just my personal opinion. (Although several people seated around us seemed to agree since a lot of yawning was going on and some folks even left half-way). Anyway, it is safe to say that this is definitely not going on my list of favorite musicals. Perhaps I am not sophisticated enough to enjoy every type of musical theater (I never claimed to be!). It's just so disappointing since the reasons that I love musical theater are for the excitement, the heroes and villains, the plot lines and the over-the-top productions, the feeling that I am part of the show, and the wonderful feel-good feeling I get after the curtains go down. Sadly, last night, I did not get any of that at all.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Thanks Everyone!

After my last post about having PCOS I had a huge amount of support and encouragement come my way. THANK YOU, EVERYONE that sent comments, emails, and phone calls. I was a little overwhelmed - but in a good way, of course. The reason I wrote the post was because I was trying to put into words how I felt that day. I know my last post may have sounded like I was pessimistic, or sad, or feeling hopeless ... but hopefully, it also sounded like I was positive, and accepting, and determined. You see, I have been going through a myriad of emotions the last few days which quite frankly included all those feelings and more. But suffice it to say that, I am fine. Jojo is fine. We are both completely, 100 percent okay with where we are now and we are completely open to what the future holds for us regarding this. I think the most important thing I have learned through this process is to know the facts, not to give up, and most importantly how much the support of my family and friends means to me. So, again, thank you all for the outpouring of support and love. =)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Considering Plan "B"

Yesterday I met with my OB-GYN/fertility specialist, Dr. Marsaidi. He is a very pleasant doctor and generally puts me at ease. After several tests, Dr. Marsaidi has diagnosed me as having Polycistic Ovarian Syndrome - which explains my very irregular periods. PCOS is the leading cause of female infertility. That means it is very, very difficult to get pregnant. That coupled with my age makes having a baby even harder (not impossible, but the chances are much, much slimmer than it would be for someone else). There are several procedures I will be going through in the next few days to determine our next steps and to find out what options we can take.

Last night, Jojo and I had a long conversation about this. It is no secret that we are both anxious to start a family and that we have been trying for more than 3 years now. We always attributed it as wrong timing whenever a pregnancy test came out negative. Reasons like we were both so busy, both so stressed, both so tied up with other things ... but never an actual "syndrome". So apparently it is not just wrong timing, but there is an actual scientific reason as to why it has not happened yet. For some strange reason, finding this out helps make things less frustrating.

Anyway, we still remain hopeful and will do whatever we can (within reason) to make this happen. I've told Dr. Marsaidi that I am willing to go through the tests and procedures - all of which are uncomfortable, time-consuming and expensive. But I draw the line at anything that is not "natural". Meaning, I don't want to go through invitro-fertilization or a surrogate pregnancy in order to have a child. My faith and my morals prevent me from taking steps which I view as going too far. I don't want to artificially create a child, because I know that if we are destined to have a baby, God will grant this to us in His own way.

Also, I believe that there are so many children in the world that need loving families and I would rather open my heart and home to them instead of creating another baby just to satisfy my maternal craving. I have always been open about adopting (even before Angelina Jolie and Madonna made it hip to do so). I have always thought that in the event I never married, or that when I was married and unable to have kids, this would be an option I would pursue. Jojo, on the other hand, has hesitated. His concerns are all valid and I respect them. Last night we had an open and honest discussion about them.

We know that adoption is not something we can do without much thought, careful consideration, lots of prayer and the sincere support of our families and friends. We have agreed that we are open to it and will keep it as a possible "Plan B". We did agree though that, off the top of our heads, there are some considerations. First, we will only adopt if and when we are told we can no longer conceive. That it is biologically impossible to have a child. Second, we will not adopt just one child but two or more belonging to the same family. That way it will be the merging of our family with theirs. Third, we would be open about the fact that we adopted and would never hide that fact from other people, especially the children we adopted. I think an open and honest relationship makes it easier from the very start. And lastly, we would only adopt if and when we can be sure we are able to provide a loving and stable home.

For more on Polycistic Ovarian Syndrome - click HERE.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

CATS

Just when I can't think of another reason to love my husband even more ... he's taking me to watch the Broadway musical, CATS, at the Pantages Theater! I am so excited beyond words. I love musical theater but haven't had the chance to watch Cats yet. That may be somewhat strange considering it is one of the longest running and probably one of the most well known musicals.


Well, now I am going to go see it. It's a date. Next Saturday at 8:00 pm. Pantages Theater in Hollywood. I can't wait ... I hope the next 5 days just fly by!

Friday, March 12, 2010

I'm Feeling Better

I'm feeling better, thanks for asking. After my little breakdown yesterday regarding the travails of job searching, I am now feeling okay. I think it helps to just rant and get things off my chest. It also helps to just take the day off and do things I like. I started with a trip to the gym, lunch with Jojo, and shoe shopping in the afternoon. I scored a great pair of Kenneth Cole suede pumps for just $25.00 (down from $89.00!). Then I made a stop at the supermarket and shopped for dinner. I spent the rest of the afternoon watching the Food Network and making my version of Osso Buco - which turned out to be a cross between the real thing and beef stew - since I could not get beef shanks and used stew meat instead. Nevertheless, it was a delicious and hearty dinner that Jojo and I both enjoyed. After dinner, I had a long nice hot bath and settled in with a good book. Aaah! It was nice and I do feel better. Incidentally, during my day of non-stress, I also got a call from another company and am scheduled for a first interview on March 18th. I guess these things happen when I least expect it and probably when I am thinking good thoughts and sending out good vibes. Today, I am ready to go back to job hunting and am feeling hopeful that good things are still in store and opportunities are definitely out there =)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Dream

I had "the dream" again last night. It's been a while since I've last had that particular dream. I haven't missed it at all and am actually angry that it's back. I used to have that dream very regularly (back when stress and pressure were regular parts of my day!). I thought I had gotten over it ... but apparently not.

The dream starts out rather innocently. In it, I am back in school (I can't really tell if it's high school, college or even graduate school). I am chatting excitedly with friends while waiting for class to start. Then the mood starts to shift. The teacher/professor walks in and announces a test. A big, important test that will determine if we pass or fail the entire year. A test that will determine if we become successful or failures in life. A test so important, everyone has been studying for it for the last couple of months. Everyone but me! In my dream, I realize, I don't even know about the test. I try to protest but the papers are shoved in front of me and a giant clock starts ticking. I look down at the paper and see the most mind-stumping Math problems (Math being my waterloo!). I notice everyone hurriedly scribbling away while I sit in cold sweat and too panicked to even write. I can hear the clock steadily ticking and I am in a real state of panic. I usually wake up during this scene. The dream always seems so real - I can feel my heart racing and my pulse quickening - I have to take a few minutes to remember where I am and to mentally reassure myself that I am done with school and that it was just a dream.

Back when I was working, I use to have this dream very often. It would usually coincide with my having a rather stressful day or when I am anticipating a huge project. I chalked it up to the fact that it was stress and pressure playing with my mind. My dad would tell me to relax and try not to let it get to me. It never really worked since I don't really handle stress all too well. I finally left that job and the dreams stopped. Last night was a shocker. I think I am starting to feel stressed again. It's been almost 2 months of job searching and nothing has come up yet. I mean, there have been some interesting nibbles here and there, but no concrete offer yet. Plus, I started this whole job search with very idealistic goals. I had this whole list of things I would look for in my next job and how I didn't want to have to compromise anymore. But lately, the market has been so awful that my list of idealistic goals have been narrowed down rather quickly. Of course, it's not just me, it's the whole country! Every one is still reeling from the effects of the recession and unemployment rates are still at an all time high. I know of friends and family who are in the same boat as I am. I know I am still lucky because we can still afford to be a one-income household and my family and friends have been extremely supportive. Jojo has been an absolute gem throughout all this. An incredible, loving, supportive, understanding, absolute gem! I can not stress enough how much he has been there for me. But just the same, I am still feeling pressured to find a job. It's been almost 2 months, and I have been willing to compromise, for crying out loud!

Okay, okay, I am going to calm down now. I had to get it off my chest. Jojo suggested I take today off from job searching and just relax and do things I enjoy. I think he's right. Looking for a job is almost a full time job and I need a break! So no more dwelling on this situation, and certainly no more stressful or pressuring thoughts - at least for today. I am going to RELAX and take it easy. I will also have to make a conscious effort to just go with the flow, to stay positive and to just keep at it. I know it'll have to work out soon.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

A New Food Find!

Today, Jojo and I felt like having Indian food for lunch. I absolutely love Indian food. I can't have it every day but once in a while I get a really strong craving and it pays to know where to go for good food. We know of two places (one in Torrance and one in LA) for really delish Indian food, but we've been to both places so many times, we decided to try something new. So, where do we go for food finds? Why, the Internet, of course! We go to Yelp.com and Citysearch.com to be really sure. With the help of of these 2 websites, we have found lots of great new places. Today was no different. On Yelp, we found this place called Tandoori Nites. I was a little dubious at first since the name did sounded slightly cheesy ... but the place was ranked number one for Indian food in the South Bay. We also caught a glimpse of some reviews and everything was pretty positive. So off we went to try this place.

Tandoori Nites is located on Narbonne St. in Lomita. It's sort of easy to miss cause it's tucked away in a strip mall. Luckily we have GPS so we were able to find the place. FYI, the restaurant's exterior does not do the place any justice!

The place was surprisingly soothing and spacious inside. They had high ceilings which immediately made the place seem much bigger. The dining area walls were a mellow mocha while the main floor was a mustard color. The drawn shades gave it a cool, almost zen atmosphere. There were some interesting Indian artwork, mirrors and sculptures around. Our host, Munish, was very gracious and led us to a nice corner table. He told us they had a buffet lunch that included drinks for $10.95 per person. Not bad, right?

After placing our drink orders, we headed for the lunch buffet. With Indian food, I always prefer a buffet, that way I get to try different things (dishes I would not normally order a la carte). And the best thing is I can go back for more of the ones I like and pass on the ones that I don't!

My plate had tandoori chicken (the one that looks like bbq chicken). It was very good. Moist on the inside and very flavorful on the outside. I love how it was not dried out even if it was on a food warmer on the buffet. Next to it, I had some lamb curry. This was my favorite dish of the day. Indian curry has a very distinct flavor that makes it different from other kinds of curry. It's all the wonderful ingredients they use (cardamon, ginger, turmeric, curry powder and so many more!). It's hard to identify just one taste in particular cause there are so many things going on at the same time. I also had a fried vegetable pakora which was okay. And of course, chicken tikka masala. It was also good, it had a creaminess to it that made it almost like eating comfort food. Lastly I had some lentils and chickpeas (sort of like "guisadong monggo"), which rounded out my plate.

To balance all the meat on my first plate, I had a side dish of veggies. One was called Palak Paneer which is like a version of the Filipino dish laing - this was made with spinach and was very tasty. The other was called Chicken Mathi and had leafy greens that were a bit tougher (like maybe kale) mixed with chunks of chicken. Both were interesting, slightly different in taste even if they looked the same. Jojo found them slightly spicy but I thought they were just fine.

It was really hard not to eat rice since one of my favorites in Indian cuisine is their fluffy and fragrant Basmatti rice. Luckily we had a basket of delicious naan bread. I love naan because it is the one thing that can be crunchy and chewy at the same time. This one was infused with garlic and parsley which made it extra yummy!

There were other dishes that I failed to try (one was a carrot dish, another had curried vegetables and there was also fried cauliflower. And I think there was a goat dish too). Also, I had to pass on dessert, but Jojo said the rice pudding was very good.

On our way out, we met and chatted with the Chef. He was a really nice guy who indulged me when I asked if I could take his picture.

The food was delicious and the service was extra good (they really took care of us the whole time!). This was a great food find and we will definitely be back for more!

P.S. Before I brought out my camera, I asked the host if I could take pictures (I always do this just to make sure it's ok). He told me it was fine but asked me what the pictures were for, so I told him about my blog. He invited me to link up my blog to their site and if I could maybe write a review for their website. So one of these days, I will. Luckily I liked the place, since it would suck to have to write someone a bad review!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

My 10 Favorite Beauty Products (Below $50.00!)

1. Benefit’s Hoola which is an amazing and versatile bronzing powder. You can use it as blush, bronzer and even eye make-up. Plus one little package lasts a really long time. I've had mine for more than a year now.

2. Nivea Q10 Body Firming Lotion – my skin gets super dry especially during the winter season and of all the lotions I’ve tried, this is by far my favorite. It does not have a strong / sickening smell, it lathers on easily and is not greasy, plus it is a firming lotion too! Basically it replaces the elasticity in your skin, making it firmer and toner too.

3. Lush Shampoo Bars. Perfect for traveling. I like the Stimulating and Reviving Mint bar. It's a great pick-me-up when you're in the shower.

4. Tarte Natural Cheek Stain (natural shade) – love the natural wax stain that serves as my blush. I use this cause it’s "goof proof" (it looks good even if you don't know much about make up!). I also like how it lasts all day and it has natural ingredients like acai berry extract and Vitamin C antioxidants.

5. L’Oreal Revitalift Day and Night Cream – I get the one made especially for Asian skin. It’s never too early to think about fine lines and wrinkles. Also I like that the Day version has SPF18 and the night cream works for moisturizing and skin whitening too.

6. Shiseido White Lucent Brightening Powder Foundation (Beige). Okay, this may be above $50.00 if you buy the whole kit, but just under $50.00 when you are getting just the refills. This is the only face powder/foundation that works for me.

7. Moisturizing Hand Soap from Bath & Body Works - my favorite scents include: Moonlight Path (lavender), Coconut Lime Verbena, and Nectarine Mint. Since we wash our hands often, it's nice to have a soap that not, only cleans but also moisturizes. You can literally feel it after you use it! Every sink in our home has this and we always have it in stock too.

8. Human Nature – Pearl Powder, Aloe Vera and Cucumber shampoo. I blogged about this shampoo before. It's a great product (minimizes hair fall and gives my hair more body) and from a great company too (helps the environment and local communities in the Philippines too). You can't beat that!

9. Burt’s Bees – lip shimmer (Rhubarb shade). I use this as my lipstick. Aside from a natural looking shade, it’s also good for the lips with ingredients like Vitamin E, coconut and sunflower oil. It also has a minty tingle that leaves my lips feeling refreshed.

10. Orange Soap – it does not have a brand since it’s made by my sister-in-law’s friend. I love it cause it's all natural and it does not leave my skin dry like other soaps. It also smells very clean and not cloyingly sweet like other soaps. Plus it clears up blemishes and scars too. It’s not yet commercially available but I’ll blog about it when it goes on the market.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

10 Things I Would Like in My Dream Home

1. I'd love a tiled path and driveway that leads to the house. Preferably one lined with flower beds with lots of blooms.

2. I want a proper foyer where guests can hang up their coats and where I can unload stuff when I get home.

3. A reading room with built-in, floor-to-ceiling shelves and large comfy chairs. It doesn't have to be a separate room altogether ... it could be a corner of the living room ... but designated just for curling up with a good book and housing my book collection.

4. A home office with his and hers writing desks. I like craftsman style work desks - they are functional without looking like office furniture.

5. A large, bright and open kitchen. I need lots of workspace, lots of storage, an island that people can gather around and lots of windows to let the light in. Doesn't this kitchen just make you want to entertain?


6. A roomy walk-in pantry to store my dinnerware, glassware, serving pieces and my dried goods too. I've always liked the pantry of Paula Deen - this one is a close second.


7. I want a master suite. Right now we have a master bedroom (bed, bureau, dresser and tv ... not much space for anything else). I like having the sitting area and the extra space to just hang out.


8. Walk-in closet with built in shelves and organizers. This would be a dream come true. I'd gladly give up a fourth bedroom to get this!



9. I am not particular about bathrooms. I don't need jacuzzi tubs or fancy bidets. I do require his and hers sinks though. These are an absolute must for me =) Also, I kind of like having hardwood floors in the loo.


10. Recessed lighting - I love how they provided ample lighting without looking obtrusive. Also, this particular style makes for an interesting architectural detail in the room.

Additional things I'd love:
- a mantled, wood-burning fireplace
- crown molding and baseboards
- wainscoting in the dining room
- French doors that lead to the backyard
- an open floor plan in a one story home (a Loft-like atmosphere would be perfect!)


* Photos courtesy of Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel and the HGTV website.

Monday, March 01, 2010

A Spring in My Step!

It's Spring! Well, not yet technically. The first day of Spring is not till March 20th. But in Southern California, it seems Spring has come early this year. The weather outside is absolutely gorgeous. The sun is shinning but the air is cool. The grass is lush and green again, no longer the dull brown of winter. The flowers in our front yard have started to bloom. I've never been much of a garden-person but I can't help but smile when I see our lovely pink and yellow roses (huge ones too ... as big as my hands wide open!). The amazing scent of our lavender and jasmine plants are intoxicating. I also love how our backyard lemon and orange trees are heavy with fruit. It is such a privilege to witness Spring time in California! Even if I am a winter-and-autumn girl at heart, it's hard not to feel happy when Spring arrives.

And with Spring comes wedding season! My brother-in-law, Jay, is getting married in 5 weeks. My best friend is getting married next year. And who knows who else is next!? This last weekend we were in "wedding mode". I finally found a dress to wear to Jay's wedding. It has not been easy. My first option was a dress made in Manila. It was made by our family mananahi (seamstress). I designed it but when I saw the finished product ... well, it wasn't quite what I had in mind. I am so not cut out to be a fashion designer! Luckily it didn't cost too much and I can still have it altered when I go back home. My second choice is a black cocktail dress I got a few weeks ago. It is really nice and quite slimming. Even Jojo liked it when I tried it on. But then wearing black to a Spring wedding may be too severe. So I scrapped that idea. My third choice (after much searching!) was a lace and satin cocktail dress I found in Nordstrom. I liked it and my sisters-in-law gave it their approval too. But when I went back to get it, it had sold out! How tragic! For my female readers, you know what I mean ... it's almost impossible to find the "right dress" and when you do, it's almost like a mini miracle! Jojo could not understand why I was so frustrated. He kept saying "just get another one". Which for a guy is easy but for a girl means going through the painful process of finding the perfect one - the right style, the right color, the right fit, the right price ... and most of all one that doesn't make my butt look big! It's TOUGH!

Anyway, last Saturday, I got lucky and I found one. I first saw it at Macy's and tried it on. Perfect! - or as close to perfect when it comes to shopping for a dress. And even better, I found it next door at Nordstrom (yes, the exact same dress ... and it was on sale ... ON SALE at Nordstrom!). Halleluia - the stars and planets have aligned! I was slightly hedging only because I wanted to get a second opinion ... but Jojo made me get it right away since I think he was afraid he would be dragged on another dress-searching expedition! So, I got it and I am happy. No second thoughts whatsoever ... that's a good sign. Then on Sunday we went shopping for bridal magazines for my friend, Les. I found a gorgeous bridal journal for her too. Now I have to find a way to send it to her! I am so excited for her to get these. Hopefully the mags give her some great ideas and inspiration. And the journal helps her jot down the things she needs to get done. Since I can't physically be there to help her ... I'm hoping this makes it a little bit easier =)

So, Spring is here and weddings are things to look forward to and celebrate. I know the world is still not perfect (there are recessions and calamities happening all over and I am mindful of that) but for a little while, in my little corner of the globe, I am thankful, and happy and just glad to be so blessed =)