Sunday, August 31, 2008

Silent Sunday: St. Augustine

I've always liked St. Augustine...

You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.
     - St. Augustine


From priests' blogs I read:


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Faith of a Centurion
Fr. Jboy Gonzales, SJ


Vigilance

28 August 2008 Memorial of St. Augustine
Matthew 24, 42-51 Vigilance


The Gospel begins with an exhortation: “Stay awake!” The exhortation primarily refers to the Second Coming of Christ. Paul in the first reading reminds his people to remain faithful to the Lord until the end of days. Because it will come like a thief in the night. No one will know when it comes, and when it does it would be too late to change. But a delay of thousands of years may bring a certain disillusionment. It may not come in our lifetime, or perhaps, it would take longer for another generation.

So, we shall take the Gospel to also mean our own physical death when we too will meet the Lord in the afterlife. We know that the climax of our lives is our eventual union with God. St. Augustine, whose life we remember today, said that in all of our lives our hearts will be restless, until it comes to rest in God. And therefore, our whole life is a preparation for our death. And it is healthy to think about death in this perspective --- not superstitiously. If we meditate on our death, it would give us a perspective.

All we have to do is to imagine ourselves at our deathbed and ask certain questions. What would you like people to say about you when you die? What memories would you like them to keep as a remembrance of you? What questions in your life would you like to have resolved? Who are the people you would like to see and to surround your deathbed before your last breath? If so, are you spending more time with them than with others who do not matter to you?

St. Augustine was a latecomer or a late bloomer in terms of his faith life. “Late have I loved you” wrote Augustine. There is always a chance to begin changing now; an opportunity to prepare and stay awake! With the perspective of death, we can now direct our lives to where we would like it to lead. So that when the hour comes --- when, we do not know --- we would be ready. And if we have prepared well, our hearts will be peaceful and at rest when we sleep.

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Jesus Goes to Disney World
Fr. Austin Murphy 

Tolle et Legge- et Vide

Lot's of focus on St. Augustine of late. Maybe we should listen to him, who was opening himself up to the Word of God and allowing Him to do some incredible things in his life:
Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!
You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.
In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were
with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they
had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted,
and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my
blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant
for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me,
and I burned for your peace.
Now, that what Augustine says. Here's an - er, interesting - homage to the Doctor of Hippo:

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Monopoly and other Board Games

The first time I played Monopoly was last weekend.

The teams were:
NJM- Niji Jamie Mia
YSL- Yen Sam Lee
JMR- Suarez Bros & Rocky
AM- Abet Marga

When teams NJM, JMR and AM had at least 6 properties each, YSL had ZERO. The dice weren't cooperating and that made the first half of the game VERY boooooring for me... (yawn)...


A few lessons:

1. Read the Rules before playing... especially when playing with lawyers. If it's not prohibited in the Rules, then it's good.

2. Changing your token/piece can do some good. YSL decided to change our fashionable top hat for something more energetic... we thought of switching to the liner but the image of sinking ships made us reconsider, so we picked the horse with rider. :-)

3. When the President decides to just lounge, read the newspaper and sleep, the company will go down!! NJM was doing well so when J thought they could just cruise along... she lounged, read and napped. Woke up to find the team in a desperate situation. To survive a bit longer, they just had to dodge 3 properties. J decides to take matters into her own hands, in this case, the dice. Throws it. Lands on one of the properties they needed to skip. Bankrupt. Good bye.

4. The economy doesn't stop while you're making negotiations. NJM and AM would hold up the game (not throw the dice) while they were negotiating trades with each other. Offer, counter offer, counter counter offer, call off any offers, beg, reason out, offer, counter offer. The rest of us was, like, Cmon- just roll the dice... :-)

5. Getting to Yes. Win-win situations. JMR had lots of properties, but no money to build. YSL had lots of money. They invited us to get into a Joint Venture with them. Yeah! We'd build their first couple of houses, get immunity and share half the rent. It was a win-win situation, the girls and I huddled, then ok'd their proposal. Yey!! :-)

The game seemed to capture reality quite well... Haha. I don't know if I'd like to play it again though. It was so stressful!! We were so loud, negotiating, yelling... :p


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     Other board games I've played this year:


Board games (that I remember) we had at home when I was growing up:





This wasn't the Pictionary version we had. But I remember super enjoying this game. :-)





Haha, we had all the books so just HAD to get the board game, too.












I'd have to say that this is/was my FAVORITE board game.











I think our neighbors (the Dumdum's) might have had this game and that's why we got one for ourselves. I don't remember how it's played or if we played it correctly... :p










Now this one I'm pretty sure the Dumdum's had also. I love the click, click, click sound the "tray" makes. I saw it recently in our house in Cebu and just clicked, clicked, clicked the pieces just for the sound. :-)















I think this might have been one of first board games... I think...











I got this game during one of my birthdays. But the board and the cards were.... not very colorful and nice (compared to our other board games) so I didn't appreciate it so much then. I think this would be fun to play now that I'm older. And it was invented in the Philippines! :-)











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What's your favorite board game??

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stepford Wife*: Waving Goodbye to Husband at the Door

     I had to kick my husband out of the house this morning. His hearing was at 10:30am which meant he could leave the house later than usual. However, I can't quite start my day with him still in the house, so I nudged him out of the door as soon as we finished eating breakfast. (Bye, wave, flying kiss mwah!)

    Now, I'm free to blog.

    Hahahaha.

    No, what I'm really doing is killing some time after breakfast, giving my tummy a chance to digest my food properly before I play the Pilates for Dummies on dvd. (Then I'll decide whether to watch it and blog.... or get on the floor and "work those core muscles" which happen to need a lot of work these days. Haay.)

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    But it's true that I can't start my day until he's out of the house and off to work. I like to start early, get a lot of things done and then look at my watch and be surprised that I still have half a day to do more things.

    However, married life has forced me to adjust. I can't bring myself to leave the house before Rocky does (and I don't think I've done it since we got married). He gets to use the shower/bathroom first, we eat breakfast together when he's ready, (and I start fidgeting if he thinks it still too early to leave for work (like this morning) and moves to the couch to read his book), and then he leaves for work. Only then do I start preparing to leave myself.

    Well, maybe it's not entirely because I try to take care of things and be around the house when he's in. It's also because there's no office to rush off to for me, the nearest supermarket opens at 11am (SO late!!) plus I have absolutely way too many subscriptions on my Google Reader. :p

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    A few weeks into married life, when we were still staying with my in-laws and I really wasn't doing much, I'd be in our room racing or feeding my fluff-pet on Facebook when Rocky gets home from work. I was starting to get embarassed about being such a bum so one day, when I heard Rocky beep-beep at the gate, I rushed down to the front door.

    Open the door.

    Greet him with a big, wide smile and a hug. "Hi, hunny!"

    He gives me a funny look, surprised- "O, what are you doing here?"

    "Nothing! :-) I just thought of meeting you here." (No, I was just wandering around the house and happen to be at the front door right when you're walking in. :p)

    "Oh thanks, but you didn't have to."

    (Then I told him about how I was feeling clumsy about being a wife and that aside from my mom and aunts/wives, Nicole Kidman and Glenn Close come to mind when I was trying to figure out how to be one. :p)

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    These days I don't run down to our front door everytime he gets home from work.

    Haha.

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* I use "Stepford Wife" in jest; forget whatever dark and negative undertones that may come with it. This is just silliness. :-)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Silent Sunday: Homily for the 35th Anniversary of the Death of Sen. Benigno Aquino, Jr.

Homily for the 25th Anniversary of the Death of Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr.
Church of the Gesù, Ateneo de Manila University,
17 August 2008
By Fr. Jojo Magadia, S.J. (current Jesuit provincial)

When I was telling a group of friends about this Mass for the 25th anniversary of the death ofNinoy Aquino, the common reaction was disbelief: "Twenty-five years? Already?" Even more striking was the conversation that followed. One said, I was driving my car when I heard the news and I felt so heavy and distressed and sad, and there was this strange emptiness inside. Another said, I was just coming out of class, when word spread on the crowded corridors of our school, and many were stunned and confused and outraged. A third one said, I was at home, and a friend called me, and as I heard the news, the tears started coming for reasons I could not understand.

One after another, my friends and I recalled, how each one remembered that day so vividly, where we were, what we were doing, the thoughts and the feelings that hit us when the news broke out, what we did after, how we all found time to fall in line with the millions of
Filipinos from all walks of life who paid their respects at Santo Domingo Church, how some of us joined that unforgettable twelve-hour funeral march from Santo Domingo, down España, crossing Quiapo and Luneta, and all the way to Parañaque, singing and praying, as millions
more lined the streets in solidarity, chanting "Ninoy, Ninoy!", dressed in the signature yellow. I remember feeling so proud of being Filipino and so proud of Ninoy Aquino, and so emboldened by his death, to continue the fight, and to take part in the next three years of nonviolent struggle, and to join the Filipino people in assuring each other with Ninoy's immortal words, "Hindi ka nag-iisa." Yes, those were graced days of unimaginable courage, and I consider myself so blessed to have been part of that.

As I look back, I ask myself, how did Ninoy Aquino do it? How did he leave such a mark on many of us? Was it the disbelief and shock that blood was spilled? Was it the incredible audacity of a man who knew he was risking death, and yet went on with such determination? Was it the sacrifice that was so strikingly and powerfully communicated? Was it the dignity that came with courage recovered?

I suggest that there were two fundamental experiences that marked those days –redemption and conversion.

First, redemption. In the Old Testament, the idea of redemption boiled down to something quite simple. It had to do with the payment of a price, in order to release the enslaved or imprisoned or oppressed. It had to do with ransom, in order to liberate and grant freedom to one who is held captive. It had to do with setting free from a power that controls, that burdens, that possesses and imposes and dominates, that makes people unable to take their lives into their own hands, and determine their own futures with dignity. The sacrifice of Ninoy Aquino left such a mark on us because it redeemed us who witnessed the boldness and bravery of someone who was willing to give up his life for those he loves.

The Filipino is worth dying for, Ninoy said, and that anchored our actions in those days. It gave us a share in his vision, his daring, his tenacity. It gave us a spirit that was so fresh and infectious. It made us creative, thinking out of the box, in our ways of fighting the injustices of those days, to the point of being playful and even enjoying ourselves. It gave us a staying power that didn't give in to petty discouragements, through three long years of seeming impasse. It gave us energy and faith to just hang on, no matter what and no matter how long. Ninoy's death was our ransom, our redemption. We were saved, because through his sacrifice, we felt a new strength. We were won over by the power of good and righteousness that Isaiah speaks of in today's First Reading. Observe what is right, says the Lord, and do
what is just, for my salvation is about to come. And Ninoy's sense of what is right and just gave us a new vitality.

Second, conversion. In that most touching 1973 letter Ninoy wrote to Senator Soc Rodrigo, he recounts his experience of solitary confinement. He was already in prison, when on March 12, 1973, he and the late Senator Pepe Diokno were ordered to get dressed, and thereafter, the two were blindfolded, handcuffed, and flown by helicopter to an unknown destination.

In that letter, Ninoy writes: "When my blindfold was finally removed, I found myself inside a newly painted room, roughly four by five meters, with barred windows, the outside of which was boarded with plywood panels. There was a six-inch gap between the panels and the window frame to allow slight ventilation. There was a bright daylight neon tube that glowed day and night. There were no electric switches in the room, and the door had no knobs, only locks on the outside. The room was completely bare except for a steel bed without mattress. No
chairs, tables, nothing.

"I was stripped naked. My wedding ring, watch, eyeglasses, shoes, clothes were all taken away. Later, a guard who was in civilian clothes brought in a bedpan and told me that I would be allowed to go to the bathroom once a day in the morning, to shower, brush my teeth
and wash my clothes [two shirts and underwear]…. the intention was to make us really feel helpless and dependent for everything on the guards."

In those days of solitary confinement, Ninoy reached a point of desperation and desolation, as he questioned the justice of God. He told Soc Rodrigo, "I remembered your famous words: Hindi natutulog ang Diyos…but I felt, at that moment, he was having a very good sound
siesta and I was afraid when he finally woke up, I would have been gone! … Would God allow me to die without seeing my family? What terrible crimes have I committed to deserve this fate? The magnanakaws are living it up and I who tried to walk the narrow path of public service with integrity am now about to meet uncertain fate? Is this justice?

And then, something happened. "Suddenly," Ninoy relates, "Jesus became a live human being." And he awakened to the truth that in Jesus was "a God-Man who preached nothing but love and was rewarded with death…. who had power over all creation but took the mockery of a crown of thorns with humility and patience. And for all his noble intentions, he was shamed, vilified, slandered, and betrayed."

"Then as if I heard a voice tell me: Why do you cry? I have gifted you with consolations, honors and glory which have been denied to the millions of your countrymen. I made you the youngest war correspondent, presidential assistant, mayor, vice governor, governor, and Senator of the Republic, and I recall you never thanked me for all these gifts. I have given you a full life, a great wife and beautiful lovable children. Now that I visit you with a slight desolation, you cry and whimper like a spoiled brat!

"With this realization, I went down on my knees and begged His forgiveness. I know I was merely undergoing a test, maybe in preparation for another mission. I know everything that happens in this world is with his knowledge and consent. I knew He would not burden me with a load I could not carry. I therefore resigned myself to His will."

This, my friends, is conversion. And it is this conversion that we were invited to in those three years of struggle against the dictatorship – a conversion that meant working and giving it our best, but in the end, knowing that we could only depend on God. It was a conversion that meant accepting our limitations, and allowing the Lord to move in and fill in the blanks, and bring all the loose ends together into some unity. It meant surrendering everything, and then allowing ourselves to be surprised by the Lord's ways, as he would later show so wonderfully at EDSA in 1986.

For Ninoy, and for those who saw his conversion, it also meant embracing the ways of active non-violence, which called for courage and daring. It sought reconciliation, and not the defeat of an adversary. It was directed at eliminating an evil, not destroying an evil-doer. It entailed a willingness to accept suffering for the cause, should it be called for, but never to inflict it. It rejected hatred, animosity or violence of the spirit, in addition to renouncing all forms of physical violence. It demanded a fundamental faith that in the end, justice would prevail. And that is why, the conversion to non-violence also means an openness to even the inclusion of the dogs who depend on the crumbs that fall from the master's tables, an openness to receiving the aggressor who turns away from his old ways, an openness to reconciliation and forgiveness, after repentance.

As I look at the Philippines today, I feel sad. I am sad about the brazen corruption of many who are supposed to serve in public office. I am sad about how we Filipinos have become so tolerant of injustice and oppression, and how we do not challenge ourselves enough, and easily let ourselves off the hook. I am sad about how many have given up integrity to claim their share of the booty that the powerful dangle before them. I am sad that so many of our people have to leave their homes and their families, in search of employment overseas,
because the country could not offer them opportunity. I am sad about the acts of violence all around, from the violence of the criminal, to the violence in Mindanao, to the violence of poverty and hunger and inequality and miseducation. This morning we received news from the
Assumption sisters, asking for prayers because of the war that has just begun again in Lanao del Norte. I feel sad about the greed of those who abuse power, and selfishly cling to it at any cost. And through all this, it is so easy to be discouraged. But if we were to give in to this discouragement, then this commemoration of the sacrifice of Ninoy will have been merely ritual, and nothing more.

Instead, today, I suggest that we are asked to step back for a moment, and look back to the life of this man, twenty-five years after the great sacrifice of his life. We are invited to consider that what Ninoy's experience really tells us is that the struggle is really not meant to end, that the true offering of self is a daily and ongoing oblation that can only last a lifetime, and that the fight for justice must go on, ever-renewing itself, and ever re-creating itself in the face of new injustices. We are challenged to re-tell the story of Ninoy to our young, those who did not see, firsthand, those years of amazing spirit, and to rekindle in them that fire that burned so
strongly in many of us.

My friends, if we are to live through all the difficulties in our country today, if we are to persevere with dignity and determination, we can draw our strength once more from Ninoy, by reclaiming the redemption he offered, and the conversion he shared. This day, we thank the Lord once more for all our Filipino martyrs and heroes, men and women, known and unknown, whose lives have been a great light and a source of hope, that feed into the work of continuing national transformation.

Today, we pray very especially for President Cory Aquino, for healing and for strength. We pray for peace in Mindanao. We ask Ninoy to pray for us and intercede for us, for we know he is with the Lord he sought to serve, the Lord in whose redemption Ninoy participated, the Lord in whose hands we entrust our lives and our loves, confident that he will bring us his peace. Amen

Friday, August 22, 2008

Joseph and Dean

One afternoon, Joseph found Dean already in the driver's seat of dad's car. Of course, he wanted that seat also. I used to let Joseph "help" me drive-- I'd let him sit on my lap when we were just a few houses away from our own (he just liked to beep-beep, give the guard a salute and turn the car into the driveway). I wondered if he remembered my instructions- "hands on the wheel, eyes on the road"...




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Other funny things from Joseph and Dean.   

    Joseph has to memorize bible passage every week. I think it's really, really difficult! They use the version (King James?) that uses all the "-eth" and thou and thee. I find it hard sometimes to understand it! So anyway, sometimes we ask him to recite a verse and sometimes he just recites one that he's made up:   
  
     "My Jesus said I will go to my homeland forever and ever again."

    (David was the one who told me about Joseph's passage. :p)

    Dean likes to invent words also. Well, in his case, he just has one word for ANYTHING he can't identify. Achi had told me already that Dean's invented an answer for something he doesn't know. But I heard it for myself when---

    We were playing in bed with Achi, I held up Achi's headband and asked. Dean, what's this?INGGA! (with an of-course-i-know-what-that-is look).

    We were going over his book and I pointed to an animal he didn't recognize. Dean, what's this? INGGA! (with an i-don't-know-what-that-is-but-can-i-charm-you-with-a-smile-and-an-ingga look)

    I told Golda about it, she wanted to confirm. When she got the chance, she pointed to a vase. Dean, what's that? Ingga!!

    We rolled around laughing.

One Big Fight! Go Ateneo!!

mama called me around noon yesterday inviting me to watch the ateneo vs. ue game with her, papa and macky. okay!
(rocky had to stay in the office to work :( )

such an exciting, thrilling game! ue was leading at the end of the 1st quarter, 2nd quarter and 3 quarter. waaah. it didn't look like ateneo was having a very good day. parang they were fumbling with the ball and struggling to understand each other on how they wanted to execute a play.

i had a blizzard after the first quarter and it was doing flip flops in my tummy. i was tempted to have a taco bell taco also (after the 1st half) (matakaw gyud kaayo), but i decided my tummy wouldn't be able to handle it. i was so nervous i couldn't shout and cheer. i was pensive and prayerful. haha. 

mama and i (papa and macky's seats were separate from ours) were on our feet the whole time during the last quarter. haay. i was so relieved we tied and went to overtime. (have you guys ever noticed the ceiling of araneta? wala lang, i just saw it everytime i threw up my hands and head in yipeee hooray relief)

i'm so happy ateneo won in the end. whew! yey!!

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i covet:
the blue eagle head gear.
i've seen people wear them but still don't know where i could buy one.
anyone out there knows?

it'll be so cute on joseph.
rocky and i have taught him blue eagle spelling.
next time i'm home in cebu, i'll show him this video so he can do the actions also:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Kitchen Experiments: Beef Stroganoff and Korean Beef Stew

Beef Stroganoff

     Mrs. G introduced me to this beautiful blog, kitchencow.com and I found a beef stroganoff recipe that sounded yummy with a picture that really looked appetizing. Recipe and photo arehere.

     Ingredients: beef, onion, butter, mushroom, sherry or cooking wine and sour cream. Easy enough to get but I decided to experiment and tweaked it a bit. I used white cooking wine instead. And put in more sour cream than the recipe said.

    This turned out to be a disaster. I think there was something very wrong with the beef I used. I got the cheaper, local beef and I'm wondering whether there's something super smelly about local beef or I simply bought icky kind.

    The beef was all wrong. The white cooking wine didn't work. The additional sour cream just added to the stroganoff nightmare. :-( Even Husband had to admit it tasted really bad. (I still gag just thinking about it.)


I moped for a few days and stayed away from the kitchen. When I got over it, I decided to get over my beef aversion as well (I actually don't really eat beef save for a few exceptions like ground beef: burgers, de original jamaican patties...) and face my cooking beef phobia. I would have done the stroganoff again (I still have plenty of beef stroganoff cuts in the freezer) but I don't think I could handle another failure. sniff sniff.

So.

Since Husband's family loves the Korean beef stew especially the one from Korea Garden I decided I could start there.


Korean Beef Stew

    
I found a recipe with a photo at Pinoy Cook.

    Ingredients: beef, onion, garlic, ginger, chili peppers, bay leaf, dark soy sauce, white sugar, salt onion leaves, sesame seeds.

    I wasn't taking any more chances with cheap beef... I got the ones from Australia at Rustans Supermarket. This time I followed the recipe very carefully... well, I used sili labuyo since I still don't know which peppers are which and I threw in more than the recipe said. (Note: It turned out just right for Husband but might be too spicy for his brother and parents.)

    Yey! Yummy! :-)

P.S.
Yes, I can post pictures of my disasters. Only of the disasters. No pictures of the ones that turn out yummy.

Yes, that's my sad stroganoff, frozen. I don't know what to do with it. My cousins and I grew up with stories of how our grandparents would spank our parents if they left ONE grain of rice on their plates. I can't bear to throw away food. Sigh. When I *really* need space in my freezer, I'll throw it out na. It's really inedible. :( 

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bite her already!

It's hard to miss the Twilight Saga books in the bookstores. All I knew about it was- "vampire love story" and that, despite the prominent display in Fully Booked and National Bookstore, didn't pique my curiousity enough for me to shell out my own money.

Atty. Chan came home one day and he brought home a treat. The first book of Stephenie Meyer's series. Twilight. So, I read it.

Well.

Um.

From chapters 1- 17, I was distracted. Reading other books in between. I just kept thinking-- Oh, bite her already!

Then some suspense and action (plus a few more cheesy lines) from chapters 18 to the end (24). These chapters I read straight through.

While I was still at the middle of this book, I kept wondering whether to buy the rest of the books in Meyer's saga (or at least the second book). I'm not that crazy about the whole thing, but I feel compelled to finish what I started (that is, the series).

Now I've decided, I'm getting the second book (New Moon).

See, they had a sneak peak of New Moon at the end of Twilight. New Moon's first chapter. And it reeled me in like the 18th chapter of Twilight.

Sneaking lil ploy, that sneak peak. :p

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Kitchen Experiments: Noodle Salad and Kung Pao Chicken

Had fabulous guests over last night. Since they were bringing pata tim, I decided to do something more asian instead of the beef stroganoff and an upscaled chicken cordon bleu i had originally planned.

I ended up doing the noodle salad that went with the soft shell crab from my asian crab festival class (chef kathy sion at the heny sison culinary school). I didn't have soft shell crabs so I just did the noodle salad.

The recipe goes:

     Noodle salad
250 grams egg noodles (boiled)
1 pack pea sprout (saute in garlic)
2 pcs salad tomatoes (sliced)
1 piece yellow onions (sliced)
1 piece yellow bell pepper (strips)

     Salad dressing
30 grams parsley (chopped)
30 grams cilantro (choppsed)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp kikkoman soy sauce
3/4 cup honey
1-1/2 cup soya oil
1 Tbsp sesame oil
salt/peper to taste

I boiled a pack of egg noodles. Sauted organic bean sprouts in garlic. Was tempted to chop the tomatoes (I got the big red juicy ones, yum!)  but decided to make the effort to slice them. Skipped the onions. Cut the bell peppers to strips. I ate some of that tomatoes and bell pepper while I was preparing everything. 

It's always intimidating for me to see recipes give out the measurements by weight. 30 grams? But I would have been more stumped if it said "one bunch" because I'd wonder how big a bunch was. In any case, I got two bunches each of parsley and cilantro. The price tags showed the weight in kilograms. I winged the conversion... oops, made a mistake pa. I just realized I was doing 100 grams = 1 kilogram. (Ms. Prado, Ms. Gallosa and all my high school teachers will have a fit! Eck.) So the right one is: 1,000 grams = 1 kilogram; 1 gram = .001 kilograms. 

And then I misread the recipe "1-1/2 cup". Now I think it means "one and a half cups". When I was making the dressing last night, I read it as "one to one half cup" (which doesn't make sense and should have caught my attention to... "one half to one cup" dapat, diba? Anyway, I used less, less soya oil than I should have... which explains why my dressing looks more like... mush. (I threw in all the ingredients into the food processor). The red wine vinegar saved it from becoming a disaster.

Oh well. I tossed everything together. It looked like a green pasta dish. I tried to arrange the tomatoes and bell peppers on top fancy, but my lousy slicing was a dead give away so I just put them neatly in rows.

No pictures. It didn't look so bad on the dish, but well.. not photo upload worthy :p Yey, the guests went to get seconds!


And I also did kung pao chicken based on the Sizzling Shrimp with Kung Pao auce recipe from the Seafood Special something class again with Chef Sion.

Sauce: 
     1/2 cup ok sauce (Colman's Fruity sauce)
     1 Tbsp chli garlic sauce
     1 pack tomato catsup
     1/4 cup knorr seasoning
     1 piece long chili
     2 pieces thai red chili
     1/4 cup gin
     sugar/salt and pepper
     100 grams garlic

I tried to do double the recipe. I ended up using an entire bottle of ok sauce, 1 bottle of catsup and 1 piece of sinigang sili (that's what the tag said). I forgot to research the kinds of chili-- there's so many! So I was confused in the supermarket. Sauted garlic, then threw everything in the pot to simmer. Tweaked it with sugar and pepper and stopped when it didn't taste too weird anymore.

For the chicken, I cut up breast fillets into bite size pieces and coated it with cornstarch + black pepper + knorr aromat before frying. I got the knorr aromat from santi's. I picked it up hoping it would substitute for knorr chicken powder which supermarkets sell in huge cans only. The one from santi's is very small and it also has all the information in german (?), but i suppose "vegetarisch/ vegatarien" means it's not chicken powder? Anyway, I decided to use it. I don't know what oomph it added to the dish, but anyway, it was there. :p

Arranged the fried chicken in a dish, poured some of the sauce, served.

I forgot to decorate it with the parsley I'd set aside!!! Haha. I was planning to make the presentation a little bit arte but at the end, I forgot to! Haha. Again, no photo. :p

But here's the parsley still swimming in the cup. I don't know what to do with it now.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Much Ado about Ikea (and again, SM is the best! :p)

     Mrs. Chan: I love going to the home and kitchen department these days. Such a thrill!! Rustan's is great, but SM is the best!!!
     Mrs. Suarez: Me, too!! You can find everything in SM!!
     Soon-to-be-Mrs. Yatco: Ako din... but I do my shopping in Ikea.
(Yabang!! :p)
     Soon-to-be-Mrs. Nuguid: (taking down notes :p)

Soon-to-be-Mrs. Yatco, fyi, is moving to Sweden (which explains her quip) and is furnishing her nest Ikea all the way. ;-)

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There are a few places here in Manila selling Ikea stuff. I've not been to any, but Mrs. G's been and has a post about it here.

I've not made a trip to any of the Ikea stores here because I'm avoiding temptation. Hahaha. I already spend way too much time (and Php) in SM and Rustans :p (But, had lunch with Mrs. Ledesma yesterday and she mentioned she wanted to check it out, I might tag along... without my wallet :p)

Anyway, Ikea has it's 2009 catalogue. You can flip through the online version here.

My friends Ia and May sharing an apartment in Sydney just furnished their place with Ikea. Their pictures are here and here. :-) [Great job decorating, ladies! Yihee!]

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SM is the best because--

Before we moved to our own place, when I was just browsing through department stores I saw this mesh bag wherein you throw in underwear and socks before putting it in the washing machine (so nothing gets lost or snagged). I made a mental note: must buy.

When the time came for me to buy the mesh bag, I couldn't find it! I guess I should have made a mental note on where it was also. I went round and round Rustans and SM for days. Then I found it in True Value, but it was so expensive I didn't get it.

Finally, while I was in SM, I decided to ask for help. I was in the bath area-- towels, bathroom sets, hampers... it just seemed logical for me to think it might be in that section. I asked the SM lady and she said, oh I know where it is. Then she walks with me all the way to the kitchen (?) area. And there it was--- the mesh bags, right by kitchen towels, pot holders, place mats, napkins, kitchen curtains, etc. I wanted to hug her!! :-) Galeng nya!!

(It was a tenth of the price of the laungry/mesh bags in True Value. And we're still using it up to now. Yey!)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

This Caught My Attention: Church into Apartment

Check out this church in Sydney that was converted into an apartment building/house.




I wonder how it feels like to go home and the facade of your house is like a church. But the interiors, except for the windows, are done nicely. It's got the Starck ghost chairs too. Nice. :-) The lay-out based on the floor plan is pretty good also (except for the drawing for Level 3, I think they drew a line by mistake.) No covered garage?

I wonder where the church moved to. (Did they move because there were no parishoners???) Do churches here in the Philippines ever need to close down?

Source

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Here's another church that's converted into a condo. This one is in Boston.

* Source

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Which church in your area would you want to live in? 
Hmmm...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Recycling tarps and banners

Philippine Daily Inquirer
Sunday Lfestye E3

Tarp bag the latest must-cause buy

Market! Market! has found a new, environmentally correct use for the tarpaulin- as a bag.

The "tarp bag" is made of recycled tarpaulin and was designed in such a way that no two bags are alike- what you have is one of a kind. The bag was crafted by people from urban poor communities and a home for persons with disabilities, with Gifts and Graces Fair Trade Foundation. The tarp bag not only helps build a sustainable livelihood for marginalized communities, it also promotes care for the environment.

Every P500 worth of same-day receipts (single or accumulated) from participating Market! Market! establishments entitles one to a chance of winning the tarp bag and other prizes.

It's good that they are finding some use for it. :-)

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Here's what some museums in the US (and other places) are doing with their street banners.

"BetterWall is your exclusive source for authentic street banners from museums around the world. When you buy a banner from BetterWall, you get a unique, dramatic work of art to display in your home. But, your purchase means much more! A percentage of the proceeds of every banner sold goes back to the museum. Be a part of BetterWall’s community of discriminating buyers who care about good design and supporting the arts. What could be better than that?"

Well, I think the banners are really expensive. But it's a good idea to sell them like this rather than just throw it out. Here are some that I like:

Fear No Art
from MCA, Chicago
7 banners available
$525 (ngek, no? :p)

Munch
from MoMA
10 banners available
$479










Warhol

from San Francisco Museum
20 banners
$635
























Source

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Silent Sunday: 1 Kings 19: 9, 11-13

First Reading
August 10, 2008
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

At the mountain of God, Horeb, Elijah came to cave where he took shelter. Then the Lord said to him, "Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will be passing by." A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountain and crushing rocks before the Lord- but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake- but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there was fire- but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Melamine Love

I needed some light and plastic plates and cups to use when I was preparing food for cooking and found myself at the melamine section of SM department store. My gosh, have you guys been there? Cheap and so many pretty designs. It took me forever to decide which design to pick. :-)

On my last trip to Rustans when I was looking for a garment steamer, I got sidetracked by their melamine ware. I've seen the Thomas Paul melamine plates before (like the ones here), but I wasn't interested. Too decorative. But this time... I ended up with this loot:

Round trays-- We really need trays.
 

Serving platter-- No, we don't need this (tsk, tsk, tsk). But don't you think it's pretty? and goes with our red wall? ;-)


Bowls with plate and chopsticks-- We can do without it, but we're going to use it so often it'll be sulit. (Hahaha.) It's easier to manage portions when you're eating rice toppings and one serving meals. Plus, we bypass serving dishes/utensils so save on water, soap and time. Pwede na? The purchase is justified? :-) [Perfect for the sukiyaki and hainanese chicken I've done. :-D]



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These plastic plates/kitchen utensils are actually melamine resin- melamine + formaldehyde. You can't use it in the microwave. Health issues concerning melamine arose when the cause of animals getting sick was traced back to the feeds containing melamine. I read this short bit on melamine contamination and I'm not too worried about being exposed to toxic levels of melamine.

For most meals, it's still Corelle for us. Corelle rocks, too! :-)

Olympics Special

It seems like I'm the only one who's not seen the opening of the Beijing Olympics. I've only seen around three photos (from the newspaper) and I haven't even read any news on it.

I'll try to watch the whole thing with Rocky.

Today though I was more interested in Special Olympics.

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If you've not met my youngest brother, let me introduce him. His name is Joseph. I call him Sweethart (a nickname he shares with Rocky) or Bam/Bambi/BamBam. He'll turn 9 on October 1. He's a 2nd grader in a regular school and is a fantastic speller. Last year, he placed second in his batch's spelling bee. This school year, they had another spelling be and he's in the top 3. (I think they'll have another round soon.)

He loves to sing and is the only one in the family who uses our Magic Sing. He likes going up to people and talking to them, but we have to watch him-- he keeps forgetting that it's not nice to tell people that they have a big tummy, are old or have "fur like Father" (he says this to hairy people and Father is referring to Fr. Bob Rice SJ, our neighbor). At least his compliments are as profuse- you're handsome, you're beautiful, you're sexy (but this one never to me :p)

He also loves books (especially big heavy ones or the audio/read-along books). He watches dvds also; Barney is great but we had to wean him from it. He loves animals and Animal Planet is his favorite channel when Mr. Bean isn't showing on Disney. Sometimes he thinks he's Harry Potter (his teacher once had to grade Harry Potter perfect on a quiz because instead of writing Joseph King, he wrote Harry Potter.) He can go on his monologues and insist that you listen to him. He likes telling stories using his imagination (tap finger on temple), but mostly it's a hodge podge of the cartoons he's seen. He also loves Timezone, but we usually take him there only as a prize.

Joseph gets into a bad mood when he's sleepy, when he's hungry (he loves veggies especially broccoli, kangkong and okra) and when he gets frustrated. Two things today made him a bit upset.

     A. No Timezone

     When I dropped him off for therapy this morning, I was talking to him. He was in a stubborn mood and wouldn't listen. I threatened, If you don't listen to me then we won't to Timezone anymore after your therapy. He still didn't listen.

     A couple of hours after, he picks me up at the office. Joseph: Dichi Yen, let's go to Timezone. Dichi Yen: Joe, remember, I told you to listen to me... (I remind him of the whole thing). Joseph: Okay, let's try again (then waits for me to talk so he could listen this time).Dichi Yen: (I wanted to laugh and give in, but..) Sorry, Joe, next time.

     (We still had to go to the mall though. No Timezone but I got him a scoop of ice cream.)

     B. No trip to Manila now

     I'd mentioned that there was a mouse at my place and we were trying to catch it. Every few minutes the entire day, he'd ask to go to Manila to catch the rat. Relentless. I told him yes he could go on October (he has a doctor's appointment then). After the nth time asking,...Joseph: Dichi Yen, can I go to Manila? Dichi Yen: I said Yes already. Joseph: Yehey! Dichi Yen: Yes, but when can you go? Joseph: October Dichi Yen: Right, October Joseph: No, now. October is birthday! Dichi Yen: You can't go now.... (when I get tired of giving reasons why he can't, I just say--) You have to talk to Daddy about it. Ask Daddy tonight.

     His eagerness to catch the mouse is not to get rid of house pests, but more dreamy, romantic... he said he it's ratatouille. Ay patay.

I forgot to mention, he has Down Syndrome. :-)

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On Saturdays, he joins training for the Special Olympics. Aside from the athletic games, Special Olympics has events called Motor Activities Traning Program where emphasis is in participation and training and not competition.This is what Joseph is practicing. I watched him today. He's more interested in socializing and so is distracted from doing the actual exercises. This afternoon, he tried to swing the hoola hoop on his arm, he hopped over low bars, did sprints and jogged around the gym and threw and caught balls.





















The next Special Olympics will be on 2011 in Athens. For more on Special Olympics, click here.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Starstruck


PR861 was on time. (Yey!)

When we landed in Cebu, our bags took a while to come out. Aside from my flight, there were two other flights whose bags were being unloaded on the same baggage carousel. When I spied by red checked-in luggage, I grabbed it, looks a little different (it had a blue sticker that marked Security Checked) and I went on to leave.

The guard at the exit automatically yanks off my stub and bag tag and then let's out a little yelp. The stub and bag tag don't match. Oh. "Escala ito" (referring to the bag), he says. I apologize. Sheepish.

I walked back to the carousel where a lady was just starting to unzip a red samsonite bag.
Yen: I'm so sorry, I think that's mine.
Bituin: Did you open it?
Yen: No, the guard at the exit told me I made a mistake.
Bituin: Yeah, I saw you walk out with it and I thought 'uh-oh'
Yen: I'm really so sorry. *blink blink* Okay... (turns and walks away)

I wish I small talked with Bituin Escalante some more. She's got a beautiful, amazing voice. I found this on youtube.


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I know. I should lock my check in luggage and put a name/indentifying tag.  I really don't usually lock my bags, but I do tie pretty and distinctive ribbons so I can identify my bag. How do you tag your bags? :-) 

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Garden Dilemma

  


The first time my mother-in-law came to our place, she pointed out how beautiful the birds of paradise were. (Pictured above). She was so excited for us. "You could have fresh flowers in a vase all the time.", "They go well with your livingroom wall.", "They last really long..." I had to break it to her.

The first time I saw our place, I thought, those plants have to go.

They were just too... leafy, stalky... too messy. They're not... neat and tidy. Parang high maintenance.  I like plants like A, B and C. I was thinking more in the lines of horsetail and white stones for our plant box outside (hehe, okay, this is more of a plant box dilemma rather than a garden one as the title of this post says). Or maybe just some plants for ground cover (yikes, kulang pa research ko, I don't know the names of the plants)- like the ones that grow with small yellow flowers.

Anyway, I've been taking my time fixing up the "garden". I've been to a few hardineros but nothing's quite clicked yet.

P.S.
The first time Rocky's grandma came to our place, she loved the birds of paradise also. Ooops. :p

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I've been thinking of getting my brother, Joseph, aneggling. (Eggling photo is from their website.) I'll probably just grab some mongo seeds and cotton and water it with Joseph. Haha. :-)

Good bye, Susan

     I've decided (and the Husband has agreed) I will let Susan go.

I had some issues with her.

1.) We hired her when we were still living with my in-laws. My brother-in-law has two yayo's/boys and we noticed Susan was getting really close to one. (And  I have to admit, parang it's her super making landi the boy because the boys have been warned by Pa not to do any hanky panky with the girls. ) When she'd take her day off on Sundays, she started showing up at my parents-in-laws place because she'd somehow know that Rocky and I will be having dinner there. She'll hitch a ride home with us (also because we don't give her keys to our place.) She'd show up at my parents-in-law's place as early as 2pm!! And Ma caught her sitting nakadikit to one guy and grooming his hair.

This hasn't happened anymore so it's not really the deal breaker.

2.) I don't like it when people lie. We have liquid polish for our floor. We also have Wipe Out for her to use on the furniture. I've shown her how to use both. We've both polished and cleaned the house using both. One morning, I step out of our room and I see her polishing the floor and I see the Wipe Out at the top of her work pail. So I ask, that's what you're using? She says No. She goes down to prepare coffee for Rocky. I check her work pail. The liquid polish was not there. I ask her if we'd ran out of floor polish, she says No. I go to our service area, get the floor polish and told her to use it instead.

I recently bought rice bowls (our meals are gonna be rice toppings from now on :p). I placed them in the cabinet (so she knows where to keep them), but I tell her to wash them already. When I was going to use them (a day after), there were tell tale signs that the bowls weren't washed yet. So I ask if she washed na, she says yes, I say talaga? let's wash it again.

I have a slight problem with being direct and upfront. I could have told her pointblank not to lie. Instead, I usually say or do things to make her know that I know.

3.) She doesn't ask. Have I told you about the time when she started using the washing machine before I even figured it out myself? We woke up surprised to hear it running so we went out, asked her if she knew how to use it and she said No. (And she really just made it pindot pindot- excuse my lousy taglish ha- and threw in some detergent.) We tell her over and over again, if she's not sure about anything to just ask.

I take out some ingredients before I start cooking. I turn my back and there she is mincing everything when I just need them whole. It's such a test of patience. I've told myself to excuse her and just take it as good initiative on her part.

4.) But then, I don't really think she has initiative. Perhaps I'm asking too much, but I really shake my head when I see the legs of the chairs dusty or cobwebs inside the living room (cobwebs, okay lang, maybe the spiders spin fast, but cobwebs with dust bits sticking to it na... tsk, tsk.)

I'm not on her back all the time ha. Mostly I just observe. I'm not anal about her sticking to the color-coding I've assigned to the rags. When something gets really grimy na, then I'll point it out.

5.) I don't like it when people go over my/our things. When we got our landline installed, the PLDT documents were just in our home office, our phone number scribbled in a piece of paper (along with other information). It was just a day or two after (I'd not even stored our landline on my cellphone!) when the landline rang, she picked up and it was a call for her na.

Okay, maybe that's not a super bad thing. I'm not disallowing her from using the phone or receiving calls. But still. I felt really uncomfortable that she was looking at stuff.

I'm very sensitive about keeping some distance between the househelp and my things. I insist on putting the newly-washed/pressed clothes in the closets myself. I don't like househelp going through my closets. Whenever I buy anything (except groceries), I take out the price tags and throw them out myself just so she won't have to deal with me spending what she might earn in a month on shoes. My mom taught me (and I remind Rocky about it) not to tempt people by leaving money (or even loose change) around. It's so easy for us to leave money around and maybe that's more than what the help earns in a day.

6.) She steals. Little things, but doesn't it always start with little things?

     a) During one of her days off, I went to check her room. Okay, I went thru her stuff. She loves Westlife (boy band?) and she had a letter for a friend. The envelope? From my stationary set. I think she got it when we were still living with my in-laws. It bothered me, but I tried to live with it. Most of my things are locked. Most of the time, we even lock our bedroom and home office when we leave.

     b) Yesterday, I was in her room (where the iron board is) to fix the ironing board. I saw a keychain my cousin gave me hanging on her mirror along with her other toiletries. I asked her why it was there. Her answer was (I guess non-responsive) that she tried to make it kabit to her handbag but it wouldn't work. I asked her where she got it. She said it was in our guest room. All I could muster to say was, Susan, don't get things that aren't yours.

It shocked me that she didn't seem to think there was anything wrong to what she did. Really shocked at how she wasn't hiya when I asked her why it was there, and very matter of factly told me that she couldn't attach it to her handbag.

I'd seen the keychain on the bedside table of our guestroom. We probably misplaced it when we were unpacking and she placed it on the side table when she was cleaning. (Why didn't she just give it back to me na lang?) I know it was there for number of days, but I just didn't get it for safekeeping. She must have thought that it was as good as thrown away? So I added and told her also, even things we put out (I didn't say tapon or basura), if she finds use for it to still ask permission.

I can't live with her around anymore.

Problem:
She borrowed money from me. Told me it was for her mother/farming/fertilizers/etc. I lent her some, but not all she asked for. I was pretty nosy. I asked her how much fertilizers were, how big the plot of land was, etc. Anyway, I think she might have lied. She came home with a new fake ipod after her day off.

So anyway, I can't let her go right away. Aside from having to look for a replacement, I want her to work off her utang first (around 20 days more).

How much notice should I give her?

If you (or your househelp) can refer good househelp, I'm interviewing.

Sigh, and I just bought her uniform. Sana my next househelp will be the same size. :p

And, honestly, am I being too... am I expecting too much? Should I really expect househelps to be like this? Is she actually good enough na?

(Uh, I'm second guessing my decision to look for a replacement...)