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.

25 June 2012

Maroon 5 Woot!

After being subjected to two hellish malls, about 17kms worth of gas, an hour of inching through Monday morning traffic, and 45 minutes of waiting in line behind a guy who couldn't make up his mind about the seats he wanted to purchase, I was able to buy them.

We're all excited to see them perform. :)

Especially since we've had this song on LSS for the past couple of weeks:

23 June 2012

Cabin Pressure

I believe a day spent laughing is a day well spent.

I recently discovered Cabin Pressure, a funny radio program from BBC 4.

Cabin Pressure is a sitcom about the wing and a prayer world of a tiny, one plane, charter airline; staffed by two pilots: one on his way down, and one who was never up to start with. Whether they’re flying squaddies to Hamburg, metal sheets to Mozambique, or an oil exec’s cat to Abu Dhabi, no job is too small, but many, many jobs are too difficult.  
It’s written by John Finnemore, writer for The News Quiz, The Now Show, and Mitchell & Webb; and stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement, Starter for Ten), Roger Allam (The Thick of It, A Cock and Bull Story) and Stephanie Cole (Doc Martin, Housewife 49). Written by John Finnemore Produced & directed by David Tyler A Pozzitive production for the BBC (text and photo from the BBC website)
It's so funny, that Nards and I are always convulsed with laughter every time we listen to an episode.  I am literally rolling and laughing so hard that tears are streaming down my face.  It has three seasons so far, and I just read from the creator's blog that they got a green light to produce season four this year.  Whee!!

Here's a youtube link to the first episode.

They got me at the bing-bong. :)

18 June 2012

Wild Grapes

It's not a piece of literary genius but it's rife with Brit humor.  I love love love this book. It's a permanent fixture on my headboard.  I read it at least twice a year and it never fails to make me laugh. Mitzie gave this to as a present way back in 1998.  She picked it up from Powerbooks in Megamall and decided to give it to me because it says "hilarious" on the blurb at the back.

She knows me well.

Thanks Mitzie!! It's my go-to reading material when I need a break.  And I would be bawling my eyes out if I ever lose it.

12 June 2012

Macaron Wedding Favors

We were commissioned by a bride to make 200 macaron wedding favors for her.   It was nerve-wracking, but we were able to finish everything in 4 days.

Two mixers, because I was so afraid of overworking the machines and winding up with no mixer at all.  The red one is mine and the white one is my Mom's.

Stiff peaks.  Nards thought it was butter, but it's a mixture of egg whites and sugar.

Beng, piped all the batter.  For two straight days, she piped more than 1,300 shells.  Thank you Beng!  I was in charge of mixing and the macaronage.

I love watching them develop their frilly feet.  They rise gradually after about five minutes in the oven.

It was an orchid themed wedding.  We decided to make yellow macarons and in keeping with the theme, I made white chocolate ganache flavored with vanilla bourbon.   It tasted good (to me, anyway, I hope her guests also find it good).

This is how the favor looked like.  Nards printed and cut the little tags.  I punctured it with my star puncher so that Beng can thread it through a nice purple ribbon.  I piped the filling and made all the sandwiches, and three of us pitched in, packing them in the little boxes and tying the ribbon.

We're still a little bit shell-shocked by the volume we produced the past four days, but we're quite pleased that we were able to do it at all.  We're thankful for the work, and it made us assess our capacity for mass producing the macarons.  It's a good learning experience.

Our next wedding is still a couple of months away, and we're looking forward to it.

02 June 2012


Currently, my absolute favorite show.  I cannot wait for Season 3.

01 June 2012


Hello, internet!  I'm back.

It's been twenty days since I went online.   Though I missed some of the things I do online, I found it utterly refreshing not to be online.  The only thing I allowed myself during this "vacation," was to check and write emails on my iPod and check in on GetGlue. 

Surprisingly, I find myself not keen on keeping up my old online habits.  At present, it's a tedious task for me to even type in facebook on my browser.  I'd rather keep my online presence on blogger, twitter, tumblr, YM and pinterest.  I'm this close to deleting my FB account, but we have business pages there so I'm held hostage by that.  That and the scores of possible clients who are hooked on FB.  (Much as I want to let go, our business relies heavily on our online presence and activity.)

Social networks have claimed a huge chunk of my day, and I'm pleased that I have reduced that hold to about an hour or so in a day.  I've been able to read more, finish books I've been putting off.  I now have more focus because I'm no longer distracted by notifications and pings on my computer.  (Except the alerts from WhatsApp on my phone, but those are live friends!)

One thing I missed, that I used to have a lot of time for before the advent of  FB et al, was listening to audiobooks.  I used to have audiobooks of Walt Whitman's, Yeats and Emily Dickinson's poetry in the car (proven and fantastic method of curtailing road rage, trust me).   I have amassed a lot of unheard audiobooks, and the first few ones I loaded on my iPod was Casanova and Sherlock Holmes Rail Way Mysteries, both read by Benedict Cumberbatch.   (He and Martin Freeman are my current celebrity obsessions and deserve a blog entry all by themselves.)  I couldn't really concentrate when I played them on my computer because I'd inevitably get distracted by social networks.

Now, I can blissfully listen to them while keeping my hands occupied with something else.

I strongly recommend unplugging for a spell.

09 May 2012

Rainy Season's Sidekick

With rainy season (in the midst of May) comes flu season. 

Over the weekend, Nards and I accompanied our assistant to an event somewhere in the mountainous regions of Antipolo.  That venue was perched on a steep hill within a village with guarded gates and quirky street names.  

The wind was blowing so hard, it rocked the car in the parking lot after the boys disembarked and unloaded the equipment.  I was half-afraid that the car was going to get flung to the other side of the courtyard with me in it.  I didn't want to take that chance so I followed the guys to the hall beneath a theatre (where I saw little caucasian girls, in cute tutus, dancing).   The hall was nicely decorated and swathed with black and white.  There were strings of crystals suspended everywhere.  I love the velvet damask table cloths.

We had a glitch in set up.  One of the primary cables was not working, and we had to high tail it to a computer shop (all the way from the top of the mountain) to get a replacement.  I went ahead to the parking lot to get the car warmed up.  I was halfway to the car, when it rained.  And it wasn't a gentle drizzle, it was a full-blown downpour with cold winds whipping me into a glacial mess.  When I got to the car, I was shivering.  I turned on the engine and cranked the car heater just to get off the chill.  

The following morning, I had a colossal headache, a bad case of sniffles and an itchy throat. 

That night, as we were about to sleep I laid my hand on his arm. 

Nards: whoa.
Me: what?
Nards: you're hands.
Me: what about it?
Nards: they're like pan de sal.
Me: pan de sal?
Nards: yeah, warm like pan de sal.
Me: (touched his feet with my feet) even my feet?
Nards: you're feet are like pan de sal too.
Me: *groan
Nards: where's the paracetamol....
I developed fever, of course I did.  Nards, on nurse mode, gave me meds, fed me warm meals and supplied me with fruits.  Now, I am mostly on our recliner, resting, watching TV and dozing on and off.  Going online when I'm up to it, to check our business correspondences, because Nards is busy with our current events.

What's the take away here?  My sister sternly told me to always pack an umbrella or a windbreaker in my bag.  No argument from me.  But this weather is starting to wear me down.

07 May 2012

RPGs and Me

Before I got involved with Square Enix, EA, Ubisoft and Capcom, I had a long standing love affair with LucasArts.

I remember that summer before my sophomore year in high school, when my parents got us a computer.  It was a 286 processor with 56kbs of RAM, with a CMYK monitor.  It had a floppy disk drive, (5 1/4 floppy disks were 360-800kbs only) and built-in speakers.  Powerful thing during those days, but quite pitiful by today's standards.  I learned to use Wordstar and Lotus on that thing.  I learned to touch type.  I also learned basic programming and how to make batch files.

Clockwise (L-R) from upper left hand corner: Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion, Pirates of the Barbary Coast, Sam & Max, Prince of Persia (photos from Moby Games)

But the best part of that computer was the new array of games we could play.   LucasArts, at that time, had the best games.  And my siblings and I spent most of our summer (when there were no 8-hour power failures), playing.  We also had Win, Lose or Draw, Family Feud and Wheel of Fortune.  I can still remember the midi sound track to all those games.

 Maniac Mansion Intro

There was no internet back then.  No walkthroughs to download.  They could be procured from the computer shops that charged a minimal fee for printing costs.  I remember my classmate in HS gave me the walkthrough for Maniac Mansion.  It was a big relief for us to finish that game because we got stuck at some point.

There are revamped versions of this game.  I have finished Prince of Persia Sands of Time and Warrior Within.  I have Sam & Max on my iPod.  I'm going to try the new Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island.  I hope I will enjoy them as much as I enjoyed their original versions.

04 May 2012

May Showers

I find it ironic that the day I saw a friend twitted a news link that says La Niña is over, we get a downpour.   Not that I'm complaining.  I'm grateful for the relief from the intense summer heat, the sound of thunder, the smell of rain and the sound of it as it hits our neighbor's roof.  

I used to dread rain during the month of May because it meant that the new school year is just around the corner.  It was haggling season with my Mom on our sleep schedule.  (She liked to put us to bed earlier and wake us up earlier a few weeks before the first day of school to get vacation mode out of our system.)   It also marked the time when I had to start covering my new schoolbooks with plastic.   I love getting my new school books.  I'd always cover my literature books first and read them afterward.

I feel that was ages ago.  But at the same time it also feels like it only happened yesterday.   Does that make sense?  At present, all I know is that this rain is a welcome break.  And the whole city just took a much needed bath.

My biker roommate is a bit sad though, because rains = no biking today.

02 May 2012

01 May 2012

Somewhat Rainy Labor Day

It's the first of May.  I hear our expressways were clogged.  A few people I know went laptop shopping and dumpling shopping.  Nards and I stayed home.  I tried working on some designs this morning, but I couldn't think because of distractions from friends who were on holiday mode.  So I closed photoshop, opened our video player and put on the entire third season of Mentalist.

The heat and humidity was more intense today.  And it made sense when dark clouds rolled in and the air became heavy with the scent of rain.  Around lunch time there was a brief downpour but the really good one came late in the afternoon.   It was strong and was accompanied by a brisk breeze.   I went out the balcony and saw a lot of our neighbors looking out their windows watching the rain.  

Thank you Lord. :)

25 April 2012

Eight Reasons to Watch The Avengers. (No Spoilers)

Nards, Beng and I just got home from watching The Avengers.  I hate spoilers so I certainly won't be posting them here, but I am going to give you good reasons why you should run to the theaters and watch the film.

  1. Mark Ruffalo makes an awesome Hulk.  No disrespect to Edward Norton, but Mr Ruffalo made the Hulk funny and even more lovable despite his volatile and destructive temperament.
  2. Tom Hiddleston made Loki really badass.  Subtle and classy.  But really badass.  Magneto and Joffrey Baratheon cannot hatch an evil plan that would measure up to what a super villain like him can possibly make.
  3. Agent Romanoff has sensible and believable superhero hair.  Not too short so she's still looks very feminine.  Not too long that she looks like she's a spokesperson for a shampoo or something.  
  4. Fantastic action sequences that does not give one a headache.  It was well-shot, well-coordinated and it does not become the focal point of the movie. 
  5. It's well-paced and well-coordinated.  Those three hours will go by unnoticed.
  6. It has a plot.  And it's a good one.
  7. Signature one-liners.  I swear, it's so Whedonesque.  We were quoting all the hilarious one-liners as we were walking out of the theater.
  8. Joss Whedon.  He wrote the script.  He directed the film.  He made Firefly and Serenity.  Enough said. 

There.  Eight solid reasons. 

What are you waiting for?  Go! :D

23 April 2012

A Post-Earth-Day Entry

Yesterday, I braved the traffic jams surrounding Megamall to drive my Dad to his meeting.  He wanted to take the train, but I did not want him to walk the short distance from the station to building A in the interminable summer heat.   Summer gets remarkably hotter every year, thanks to our irresponsible way of living.  

With the news of the SM tree-cutting debacle, and the failed NatGeo Earth Day Run, I am flummoxed at how companies, organizations and individuals can be so casual with their non-earth friendly actions.

I believe that being environmentally responsible is a commitment in ensuring that our actions and way of living does not bring more harm to the environment.  It is not a PR statement that can be flaunted around to entice buyers; nor is it a fad that can be worn for popularity points, and then junked when the next one comes in.   I agree that eco-friendly living may not be easy.  But little changes in our lifestyle can at least lessen our contribution to the problem.

For Nards and myself, here is a partial list of our green commitment:
  1. Always bring an ecobag.   (Always keep at least one in my bag; and a couple in the car);
  2. Always bring a refillable water bottle, to avoid buying mineral water;
  3. Whenever an appliance is not in use, we unplug it from the electrical outlet;
  4. When no one is in a room in the house, we turn off all the electrical appliances, including the aircon ( I know of a few people who leave the AC on all day so they can come home to a cool house);
  5. We use rechargeable batteries on everything: cameras, flash, wireless keyboards and mice, etc;
  6. Bring our own utensils whenever we go out to avoid using plastic spoons and forks;
  7. Always consider the packaging of products when we go to the grocery store;
  8. Refuse plastic.  If I don't have an ecobag, tough, I shove it in my bag;
  9. If possible, bike or walk to our destination.  If using a vehicle cannot be avoided, we schedule all our errands on the same day;
  10. Carpool;
  11. Keep our car well maintained, and to keep the tires inflated properly;
  12. Buy local, whenever we can;
  13. Using pedala for our courier needs;
  14. We try to keep our paper consumption to a minimum, e.g. all contracts are emailed instead of printed and delivered to clients;
  15. I never use wrapping paper for presents; either use recycled paper (yellow pages) or use a handkerchief;
  16. Whenever we're at a coffee shop, we opt for our coffee to be served in a mug instead of the paper take-away cups;
  17. We use biodegradable detergent, i.e. Plantex;
  18. Buy less and try our best to adopt minimalist living;
  19. Recycle and upcycle our belongings;  (I'm thankful for Nards who loves to make things from scratch using materials around the house.  He's made a bike bag--hand stitched!--from his old jackets, and he's made a kindle case out of an old useless hardbound book.) 
  20. For baking, we've investing in silpats instead of repeatedly buying parchment paper and disposing of them after a few uses; and
  21. In the photobooth, we encourage our clients to use fabric backgrounds instead of the customized tarpaulins.
It's not much I know.  But in our home, whatever we do, whatever we buy, whatever we dispose, we always ask the question: is this environmentally sound?   I hope you can all join us in contributing to Mother Earth's welfare.  A little sacrifice will go a long way in making sure our children and our children's children and our children's children's children still have a habitable planet to inherit.

Let everyday be Earth Day.  Let every hour be Earth Hour.

21 April 2012

Reckless Driving by VS&F Catering Truck

At around 11AM this morning, my sister and I opened our gates for my parents who came from church. As we opened it, I heard the swoosh and growl of a truck engine on high speed, and then followed by a frantic rustling of leaves, a loud crack of wood splitting and a whimper of a woman. I ran out the open gate to see what happened.

A VS&F catering truck sped down our street and clipped our langka tree. A branch heavy with fruit (one large and one medium sized) broke off from the main trunk and fell on a poor woman who was walking in front of our house. I wasn't able to get the plate number because the truck careened down our residential street. All I could see were the letters VS&F that were located on the upper left hand corner of the back of the truck.

 I quickly called VS&F and asked for a supervisor and reported the event. Mercy, one of the supervisors, told me that they had no catering event in our subdivision but that they'll check on it. They said I should expect a call from Lani, their operations manager.

It was reckless going on that speed on our street. And if they had no catering event here, what business does their truck have in our private subdivision?

UPDATE: I just got a call from Lani, and she told me that their catering jobs for the day were in Camp Aguinaldo and in Tandang Sora. She also informed me that the company sold a truck (or a few trucks) and it was possible that it was that buyer who was responsible for the incident.  If this was the case, it's unfortunate for them because their company name is still printed on the vehicle.

20 April 2012

Perfect Pairing: Laundry & Summer

Today, according to my weather app, we reached 34-35 deg celsius.  It was very hot.  And the heat suddenly got truly intense once we hit midday.  And for that I am thankful because I brought about two months worth of laundry and I wanted to get everything washed, dried and folded by the end of the day.  I didn't want to spend a lot of money on our corner laundromat for our bed linens to get cleaned, and drying them on our tiny balcony was simply not possible.

So I put all our dirty linens in a huge basket, loaded a new book on the kindle and went to my parents' to do the laundry.   I had a total of four loads, which would mean about half a day of washing machine time and more than 80 feet of clothes line space.  I was a bit worried about that because with two cars in the garage we only had about 30 ft available.  

And this was how hot it was.  On our second load, I had just ended the first rinse, when I asked Nards to check the condition of the first load we had pegged on the clothesline.   He announced that it was already dry and ready to be folded and put away.  Fantastic!   We were done, even before my Dad called us in for lunch.

I love summer!

19 April 2012

Book Depository and the Philippine Postal Service

I have wanted for the longest time to try ordering books from The Book Depository.  Mitzie has made it her go-to online book store since it's easier for her to do online transactions there than Amazon.  I have spent months browsing their site and going through their collections, but always hesitated in putting in an order.  They offer free shipping unlike Amazon, which I course through Johnny Air via New York or LA.

The shipping system for Amazon is pretty reliable, even if I opt for the Super Saver Shipping (which is free).  They have an online tracking system with email notification, that let's me know exactly where my parcel is located at any given time. 

With Book Depository, their tracking system only goes as far as the date when my order has been dispatched.  And they do ship anywhere in the world for free with a 6-8 week delivery time, but they use the local postal system.  And therein lies my problem.  I have absolutely no trust in the local postal service.  In the past, my Victoria's Secret, LL Bean and William Sonoma catalogs always arrived tampered.  Tampered in the sense, that the clear plastic bags have been slit open, and then taped to re-seal. 

I feel violated because someone else has opened my mail.

On another occasion, Mitzie sent me a birthday card with a bookmark from Egypt.  I never received that mail.  Mitzie was so sure that some postal worker filched the thick envelop, convinced that there was money inside.

Clearly, we do not trust the Philippine Postal Service.
So you can imagine, my trepidation when I first ordered from The Book Depository.  Three things made me decide to push through with TBD.  First, I had to order from them because the macaron cookbooks I wanted to buy was unavailable locally and it was dirt cheap with free shipping from TBD; second, I read a blog entry from another Manila resident who has had successful purchases from the site; and last, TBD had a full refund policy for ordered items that failed to reach the client.

So I put in my order last 3 March, and started counting the days.  I expected my books to arrive first week of May, expecting that I'll get the whole 8-week wait.

So I was surprised when my sister arrived yesterday with the mail from our box in the lobby, which included the two books I ordered from TBD.

I was so giddy I did a little dance.  Until I noticed that one of the parcels was open.   So open, I didn't even have to rip the tab that says "to open, pull here."

I effing hate the Philippine Postal Service.  

So what's the take away here from my experience:  Yes, if you're a Philippine resident, you can order from The Book Depository and you will get it.  BUT expect the package opened (baka may libre pang fingerprints) upon it's arrival on your doorstep.

18 April 2012

Summer Picnic

It is now officially late April.  We're now mid-summer and the heat gets really intense between 10AM-3PM.  I've been trying to blog this past couple of weeks, but the heat renders me stupid.  (Likewise, my mind goes completely blank when faced with the 140 character space on twitter.  Blockage is really bad.)

My birthday has come and gone, and as a late celebration, we, with a handful of friends, went to UP for a picnic.  Seb and I share a birthday month so it was a double celebration. 

It was a perfect lazy afternoon.  We sat on mats catching up and the kids played.  I miss doing this in campus.  When I was still an undergrad, my friends and I would spend hours under the trees either at the sunken garden or at the lagoon, reading and feasting on carioca and lumpia.

It was a simple fare: I prepared cold tuna sandwiches, sour cream popcorn, and fudgy brownies.  We also brought a cooler filled with ice, frozen grapes, dalandan soda and the drink staple: coke.  (We also had rootbeer, but Nards hijacked it from the bag to make floats.)  Sheila brought Lay's sour cream, Tostitos and salsa.   Meah brought boxed cereals (hit with the kids especially the frosted flakes). 

Nards brought his frisbees, and taught Seb the basics.

And when they grew tired of tossing the disc, they rode around campus.

Then Seb later joined the girls in blowing bubbles.

I can't wait for the next picnic.  :)

22 March 2012

A Puppy!

This is my 401st post and it's going to be about a puppy.

Side note:  I've been trying to blog for over two months.  But every time I am faced with the blank compose screen, my mind goes blank as well.  I've attempted to do so more than a hundred times looking over my photos hoping I could be inspired to write, but still to no avail.  So I revamped my template and here we are.

Last weekend, Nards and I went out of town to visit my in-laws.  I always find the farm a refreshing break from the city.  Nothing but the sound of the dogs, the cow (which is about to give birth), the farm hands bustling about, and the lazy conversations at the front porch.  It's way cooler there too, and I love breathing in the sweet unpolluted air.  I love how everybody's in bed by 7PM, and Nards and I can actually catch up on sleep.

Except it wasn't as peaceful as I was expected it to be.  There was a gecko (tuko) that managed to crawl in the space beneath the stairs, and another one in the eaves of the garage.  And another one on the tree just outside our window.  (We sleep on a tatami room like space quite near the staircase.  And it is separated by a wall from the garage roof.)  So as soon as it darkens, those darn things would start their chilling song.  And once one of them starts, the rest of the gecko's nearby would respond, and the air is filled with their frightening sounds making me feel like I'm surrounded.  LOUD sounds which I translate to NEAR.  I tell you, I did not sleep a wink.  I was in constant fear that they'd find their way to our bedrolls and one of them would latch on to my appendages.  I envy Nards for sleeping right through the ruckus.  (Including the ones I made, I gasped and shrieked on a pillow every time I heard their horrid song.)  I tried to nap during the day, when they were all quiet.  (Probably reserving their energy for their encore performance at night.)

 From what Nards and the rest of the household say, you'd think the tuko looks like this:

In my head, it looks like this:

But I digress.  This entry is about a puppy. 

Before we went back to Manila, my Mother-in-Law packed the trunk with plants for my Mom, produce from the farm enough to feed several families, and a small white puppy.  She and Tita Lilian prepared a big box lined with newspapers that she placed on a sheet of plastic and another mat on the floor of the car behind my seat.  Except Nards put the puppy on his lap, and it remained there until we got to my parents'.

I warned him not to get attached, but he did anyway.  He had a hard time handing the little one over to my sister.

As it turns out, my Mom's Spitz named Sprite is slightly terrified of the tiny puppy.  It's always scooting off whenever the puppy tried to approach him to engage him in some sort of play.  One time, Sprite got so scared by the puppy's attempt to nuzzle him, he recoiled violently at the touch of its tiny paw, sprung off the floor, twirled for some absurd reason and landed on his head.  Nards and I heard the alarming thud when his head hit the concrete.  I rushed over to him and cuddled him and gently rubbed his head.  Sprite is such a lovable weirdo.

But this morning, I think they've finally learned to live with each other. 

29 January 2012

Dinner at Johnny Rockets

Beng and I blamed The Great Food Truck Race for our craving.  Watching six episodes that featured, among other gourmet food trucks, a gourmet burger truck, left us with a serious need to stuff our faces with really good burgers.  So after mass, we trolled the food strip near our place for one.

We decided to try out Johnny Rockets.  It was a decision we did not regret.

It reminded us of family brunches at Subic at an officer's club when we were children.  We used to struggle through gargantuan burgers, mountains of fries, and tall glasses of brewed iced tea (which forever turned us off to the powdered kind).  We were each given two american quarters each to spend on either the jukebox or the video arcade.  I remember wanting to be fair so I would always relinquish one to the jukebox and the other either to Space Invaders or to Pac-man.  

When we saw the jukebox console at the booth, we asked the staff if it was just part of the decor or if it really worked.   She said yes.  Beng and I looked at each other and immediately dove right in to the selections.  We were delighted to find songs we actually liked.  (No jologs music: YEY!  No beiberish [gibberish]: YEY!)  We exchanged two Php10-coins for Php1 coins and "relinquished" them to the magic box in the wall.

The highlight of the visit apart from the music was the food.  We ordered onion rings, their Rocket burger, medium rare, and strawberry milkshake.

I'm very particular about onion rings, and I have to say theirs is really good.

Beng and I usually go halfsies on everything we order just so we can taste more than one or two dishes on the menu.  In the case of Johnny Rockets, it was a necessity.  The burgers are HUGE.  The fries are limitless and their single serving of milkshake nearly filled two glasses.

Look!  The ketchup bowl is happy to see me!

Before we left, we ordered a bacon cheeseburger with onion rings for Nards (who opted to stay at home).   And Beng and I both agreed, we're definitely going back.

21 January 2012

Saturdays at Home

It's been over three years since I moved out of my parents' home.  Occasionally, Nards and I would spend a couple of nights here.  My sister has long moved into my old room.  I now occupy her old room that has been turned into a hobby room of sorts at first, and eventually reverted back to a bedroom for Nards and my benefit.

Yesterday, I had to go to my parents' because Beng and I needed to bake to fill orders.  (My new oven is temporarily set up in my Mom's kitchen.)   I wound up spending the night.  After baking over 120 macaron shells, 40 pcs of chocolate chip cookies and two batches of muffins, (including prep and clean up) I could hardly stand up.  I curled up in my Mom's favorite chair by the piano and refused to move after I settled in.

This morning, I woke up to my brother making breakfast, my sister badgering my brother over something inane, my Mom folding freshly laundered clothes and my Dad reading an online broadsheet.  (It took a while to get him to migrate from reading an actual newspaper to reading them online.  It always makes me think of Mang Romy who used to deliver our newspapers daily, and how the advent of online broadsheets cost him his regular income.  It makes me so sad, and I always hope that he has found other means to support his family.  I'm digressing.)  I got asked the usual pre-breakfast questions.
"Ate, how many eggs do you want for breakfast?"
"Eew." (I REALLY don't like eggs.)
"Are you drinking coffee or hot chocolate?"
"So do you want eggs?" with a tone that is pressing me to say yes.
"(sigh) Okay one."
Late breakfast ensued with the usual morning chatter and lighthearted bickering.  The plates have been hardly cleaned up when the doorbell rang.  It's the sisters from a nearby convent popping in for a Saturday visit.  I grabbed my laptop and ipod and scrambled to get inside my room because I was still in my PJs.  I was hoping to check my email and to call Nards to check up on him.  My sister followed me, still holding her cup of coffee, which she puts on a stack of books on the shelf before sprawling on the beanbag beside the bed.  My brother came a few minutes later, muscling my sister out of the beanbag.  My sister ensconced herself on the bed, pushing me to one corner.  They took several trips to their respective rooms to gather all their electronics, before they settled in comfortably (for a better part of the day) in my (TINY) room.

Count the gadgets deduct one and divide by two.  The only thing there that's mine is the laptop.

They used to this all the time in my old room.  My brother would lounge at the foot of my bed occupying nearly half of it, and my sister would try to squeeze herself on whatever space we can share on the other half.  And stay.  We'd read, watch TV or play video games in my (always tiny) bed.

I love it.   

13 January 2012

PS I Love You

I have had a long affair with the Sony PlayStation. My siblings and I have spent a lot of quality time playing together. SO much quality time (more than 96 hours on Final Fantasy 7, even more on Final Fantasy 8). I still remember the time I pummeled my brother on Tekken 32-4. Or the Great War of 2002 when my sister accidentally overwrote my brother's saved game. Or the time we cowered in fear in the sofa as we played Silent Hill in the dark.

When Nards and I got married we donated our TV, and the playing consoles were put away in a box somewhere gathering dust. So it's been quite a while since I played, except for a brief stint with Final Fantasy 8 on the PSP.

Recently I discovered PC versions of my favorite games. Nards got me a USB controller so I didn't have to bang on the keyboard while playing.

I took a photo of the game I'm currently playing and sent it to my brother, who got envious, and took out our old PlayStation out of retirement.

Looks like we're all going to have a sleepless weekend.


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