07 December 2013

Cold Mornings and White Russian Cupcakes

It's a cold Saturday morning as I am writing this long overdue post (that I've been promising myself to write way back in February of this year).  The sun is streaming through the balcony doors and Nards is swaddled in a blanket on the sofabed, not only because of the cold, but because of a sore throat that has been bugging him since Wednesday this week.

I've been trying to get back to blogging for most of this year, and it takes me almost eight months to get over my block.

Not much to update except that I've been spending more time in the kitchen, baking, than taking photos these days.   In fact, the only way I take photos lately is through my phone, and the only social media I've been updating is instagram and twitter.  I have missed holding a camera, and experimenting with Nards on different light set ups.  Next year, hopefully, I can achieve more balance between baking and taking photos.

Speaking of baking, my latest project is making boozy cupcakes.  My sister recently celebrated her birthday and I baked white russian cupcakes.  (She originally wanted to have margarita cupcakes, but I was averse to investing a lot of money on a good bottle of tequila just for the 1/4 cup I need for the batter.  And I am more averse to buying cheap booze because they mostly taste like battery acid.  Since we had vodka and Kahlua on hand, this was a convenient substitute to what she wanted.)

This cupcake was not overly sweet and the alcohol content was just right, not overpowering nor underwhelming.  It was such a hit with the girls at the party that we've decided to add it to our menu.

Next baking project: caramel cake.  Will post it as soon as it's done.

25 February 2013

Revive This Blog. STAT.

I am hoping that I've come to the end of this blog's hiatus.  I have lost my inspiration to write for quite a while.  But after devouring a lot of reading material lately, I may have gotten a bit of my drive to fill this blank space with, at the very least, a few coherent words.

My block had gotten so bad, I can't even be inspired enough to fill a 140 character space on twitter.

I'm giving myself a deadline.  I should at least have a decent entry before the month's end.   And I do hope that will propel me to adding more entries.

Hope to see you all back here on the 28th. :)

23 August 2012

Put Your Records On

Nards and I were watching reruns of The West Wing last Sunday. We were on this special episode that Aaron Sorkin wrote entitled Isaac and Ishmael.  At the end of the episode, the song playing on the end credits was not the usual one but a song of Buffalo Springfield.  We started bobbing our heads and tapping our feet without even realizing it.  It was uncommon that the two of us respond to a song in this manner on the first couple of bars.  But respond we did, and we searched for the song on YouTube just to listen to the entire song.

There a couple of nights when I put together a playlist on iTunes, Nards would pour out wine and we'll just sit and listen.  We both enjoy these quiet nights, not talking, just listening to good music and unwinding with a good bottle of red.  It reminds me of a lot of summer days, and weekends, where I would browse through my parents' vast vinyl collection, pop two at a time on the turn table, and put on my Dad's massive headphones and plop down on the nearest chair.   Sometimes, my siblings and friends would come visit, and we'd gather around the stereo and have a listening party.

I miss those days.

Today, with almost everybody owning a pair of ear buds and their own mp3 player, nobody really experiences the magic of listening to music together.  I appreciate the benefit of not being subjected to someone's disagreeable music preference, sure.  But (and I know this sounds awfully corny)  I like those brilliant instances when people suddenly stop whatever they are doing because a perfect song plays somewhere.

What rare bliss.

29 July 2012

Pleasant Surprise

Two night ago, while Nards and I were waiting for the opening ceremony for London 2012 Olympics, I was monitoring my twitter feed for updates from BBC sports.  A tweet popped up with a youtube link.  I opened the tweet, and loaded the video, and the minute I heard the first line spoken, I knew it was Benedict Cumberbatch.

It was such a pleasant surprise. :)

I thoroughly enjoyed the opening ceremony.

I'm a huge, huge fan of Danny Boyle.

21 July 2012

Vincent and The Doctor

One of my absolute favorite episodes of Doctor Who is Vincent and The Doctor. Apart from the fangirl moment The Doctor and Amy had at the café when Van Gogh appeared and the giggle moment when Van Gogh wanted to give them a painting, I loved the scene when the three of them were on the grass, holding hands and looking up at the night sky.

Vincent Van Gogh: [Explaining how he sees the world] Look at the sky. It's not dark and black and without character. The black is, in fact deep blue. And over there: lighter blue and blowing through the blues and blackness the winds swirling through the air and then shining, burning, bursting through: the stars! [the sky gradually transforms into van Gogh's painting Starry Night] Vincent Van Gogh: And you see how they roar their light. Everywhere we look, the complex magic of nature blazes before our eyes. 
If I could time travel, visiting Van Gogh would probably be on my top ten list.  I would love to see his studio and to see him work, to watch him create magic on canvas.   And I would do exactly what the Doctor and Amy did (giggle and fangirl), drag him in the Tardis and bring him to a museum to let him see how much his art is appreciated.  How much beauty he contributed to the world.   I would tell him how much I love his work, how much it means to me.

I'm saddened that he killed himself, and he died thinking that no one liked his paintings.

This episode was the only one in the fifth season that had a suicide hotline announced at the end.  It reminded me to strengthen my resolve to be kind to everyone, because everyone is really fighting some kind of battle.  Some are just better at hiding it.

10 July 2012

My Weekend in Instagram

We had a productive weekend in and out of the kitchen.  Let me tell you about it.  In pictures.  I'm a bit knackered.   Struggling to actually string a lot of words together to form a coherent paragraph.  Even twitter is challenging me today.

 To get the amount I need, the entire bowl of calamansi must be squeezed.  Took me about an hour or so.

Ingredients for calamansi curd.  Not in the picture:  calamnsi rinds.  Those suckers are hard to get.

Fluffy pink macaron batter.  Well, pre-macaronage and pre-croûtage, that is.   (Fancy french terms that may be googled.)

Pink macaron shells + dark chocolate ganache = this.  I love the light on this photo.

My first attempt to make chai tea syrup.  From L-R: water, honey, cloves, bay leaf, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon bark, vanilla and english breakfast tea.  I need to recalibrate the amount of those spices.

A nice wall in an underground parking somewhere along the stretch of Ortigas Avenue.

What I had to settle for because Charlie's ran out of milkshakes.  Was really jonesing for Salted Caramel Shake, but alas!  The milkshake gods were not smiling at me.

Something that I nibbled on while we had watermelon bellinis.  Very hot afternoon on top of a disappointing trip to Muji.

02 July 2012


As I write this entry, I have my classical playlist on my player.  I was on an adult alternative streak last week, and this week, I've mellowed down to orchestra music, with wonderful solo pieces on the piano or the violin.

My playlist, courtesy of Genius, was generated from Moonlight Sonata.  I remember learning to play this song back in third grade.  I started with a simplified version for children.  When I reached sixth grade, I taught myself to play the actual piece.  I am very fond this song.  It's so doleful and pensive.  I used to play this for my parents after dinner.  I also remember my late Tita Paz, asking me to play it for her when she came for a visit.  And being a very good piano player, she'd teach me good techniques on how to play it, exactly when to build up to a forte, and  when to bring it down to a pianissimo.  This song remains one of my favorite pieces to play as well as Sonata Pathétique by the same composer.

Funny thing about Genius is it's uncanny way of putting together songs that I truly love in one convenient playlist.  After Moonlight Sonata, it added Debussy's Clair de Lune.  I love this piece.  Just love it.  I learned to play it in high school, though not in it's entirety because somewhere in the middle of learning that piece, I got sidetracked by broadway pieces.   I revisited that piece during grad school, but there's still a lot of distractions for me to finish learning the whole song. 

Chopin is also on the list. A considerable chunk of it, actually, comprised of his nocturnes, sonatas and waltzes, since I only have one Beethoven album, and about three Chopin albums.  What can I say?   He really floats my boat.

I mentioned to Nards last week, that one of the things I loved doing before our life together, was  playing the piano.  I couldn't bring my piano with me because it occupies a huge space.   The only musical instruments I brought with me are my flute and my grandfather's violin.   The flute is in good condition and when I'm alone with nothing to do, I'd play a few simple pieces.  The violin needs to be restrung and the bow, maybe reconditioned.  I'm always careful with it because it's an antique dating back to the 1930s, I think.  It also saved my grandfather's life during the Japanese occupation.  Oh how I wish I heard my grandfather play it!  He was truly brilliant, from what I hear.

I have sorely neglected my piano.  This month, I will have to spend about one to two days at my parents' while a repairman and tuner gets it back to its former glory.  Nards suggested that I look for an affordable second hand clavinova or small cabinet piano that can fit in our condo so I can resume my piano playing.  I used to play two to three hours everyday with about  twenty minutes devoted to finger exercises.   My fingers have pitifully lost some of their flexibility on the keyboard.

Once I get a decent piano here, I will definitely learn Clair de Lune.  It's too beautiful to simply listen to it.   I want to be able to play it.  I'm sure my Mom would love that.

30 June 2012

Old Friends

Mitzie and I used to spend a lot of time at Pages.  It was this little bookstore on Katipunan at a third floor of one of the buildings that are now dwarfed by Xanland.  I remember I used to park in front of that building, walk to the back, climb six mini-flights of stairs and onto a small non-descript door.  We loved going to that place, where they served cappuccinos in ginormous cups (think ramen bowl), and vanilla almond cookies.  All they ask is that we buy coffee and sugary treats to keep them in business.  It was such a novelty for us to peruse their shelves, sink in their overstuffed armchairs and couch, and read their selections.   A wonderful novelty at that time when the only decent bookstore was National Bookstore and they seal up their books in plastic and chase you down with the cash register if they discover you reading any of their books. 

I loved that place.  Mitzie and I would be there on days when we didn't have work.  And we used to treat ourselves to books every payday.  That and two double cappuccinos.   To say that we were heartbroken when it closed is putting it mildly.  We missed it to pieces, and no matter how many bookstores we discovered after that, it was never the same.

When I went to my parents' two nights ago to bake a last minute order for brownies, I found myself staring at stacks of my books that I have yet to pack and bring home with me.  Most of them were from Pages.

Someone recommended this to me. I can't remember who though.  The story takes place in Old Manila.  And I enjoyed how the author describes the place.
Definitely one of my favorite poets.  She has a thing for death and grief and lost love.  I am still looking for a book of hers with artwork from her brother.   Those Rosettis.  So talented.

I have a lot of other books, mostly poetry, from Pages.  I'll have to take them out of their boxes one of these days and read them once more.

28 June 2012

Tuwing Umuulan

A couple of years ago, after a nasty break up, a gaggle of friends headed by Gang brought me to a videoke place near Eastwood.  She called it my "freedom concert."  The theme for the night was songs for a broken heart.  The schmaltzier, the cheesier, the better.  Alcohol was served, the mic passed from one set of hands to the other, and the screen flashed lyrics of the most ridiculous, nauseatingly emotional songs of heart ache and unrequited love with video clips of couples, buildings and beaches.  I still remember Joey singing a Sharon Cuneta song with his signature choreography. 

Gang wanted this "freedom concert" to be cathartic for me.  And through the alcohol haze and heady wanton singing, an issue was challenge: for someone to pick a song that really hits me squarely on the nerves and succeeds in making me cry.

And brilliant Mr. Climaco picked the right song, singing with gusto.  Holy cow, and he was monkeying around again by enacting the song.  My eyes started to smart, and I didn't even notice my tears streaming down because I was laughing so hard at the same time.  It hurt sure, but it also lifted a great weight on my shoulder somehow.

It was cathartic.   That part was true.  And I appreciate my friends who cheered me on during a difficult time.   I am grateful for what they have done for me.  One of which is that now, every time I hear this song, it's no longer about a relationship in the past that didn't work out; but of a drunken night with loony friends belting out the lyrics to sentimental songs in their combined effort to cheer me up.  

Today, on this rainy day, Genius included it in the playlist.  What great timing!  Definitely added a bit of sunshine to my gray day.

27 June 2012


It's embarrassing, but I am one of those people who still have clothes from high school and college.  And who still wears them.  To say that I'm attached to them is an understatement. 

Maybe it's hereditary, but my Mom kept a lot of the clothes she sewed back in the late 60s/early 70s.  They were impeccably made and she used beautiful, beautiful fabrics.  There were a number of colorful floor length batik dresses with capped sleeves and some with puffed sleeves, and matching tops and skirts.   I'm thankful she saved them, because when I started working, it was all I wore.  Saved me a considerable bundle of cash.  It made a statement in my place of work, which I didn't mind.  I was proud to be wearing clothes my Mom made and she herself wore to work.   She took courses in pattern making and sewing while she was in college, and her clothes could rival the quality of well-known labels.  (Which is probably why, whenever she takes us clothes shopping, she's difficult to please because she's always tsk-tsk-ing at the shoddy workmanship she sees hanging on the racks.)

But as usual, I'm digressing.

This is about the clothes I currently have in my closet, some of which date back to the late 80s.  I still have the class shirt from second year high school (II-Biyaya).  I also have the red striped shirt from my college days that my Mom got me from a trip to LA.  Also a handful of classic Giordano shirts in pretty pastel colors that my Dad bought for me from HK.  I still wear all of them.  In spite of the pitiful (and this is a mild description) condition of some of them, I refuse to throw them away.

And so the warfare between my myself (and my shirts), and my family began.  They are ganging up on me.  My Dad always tuts his disapproval when he sees me in my beloved tatters.   My Mom does the passive aggressive route, and showers me with new shirts.  My sister surreptitiously aggravates the holes in my shirts (particularly my red striped shirt!) so I'll be forced to throw them out. And my husband begs me to let go and move on.

But I'm sticking to my guns (and shirts).  Especially my red striped shirt that accompanied me to my first day in college.  

Nards did the laundry last week.  While he was folding them away, he came upon my beloved red striped shirt.  He had a weird look.  And I panicked. 

I threw a hissy fit.

"No! No!  Don't throw it away!!  That shirt was with me in Kas 1, Hum 1, Soc Sci 1, Nat Sci 1 and Math 11!  It attended the freshman orientation with me!  And Mom gave it to me!"

"I was only trying to figure out how to fold it."  A beat.

"Oh, okay.   Here give it to me."   Even I couldn't figure out to fold it with all the holes in the back and the rips on the hem.  It doesn't matter.  I'm not giving it up.


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