Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Little Recap

Here's what happened to me this year:
  1. I travelled a lot. I have visited Vegas (Grand Canyon, Valley of Fire State Park), New York (for a wedding and little sightseeing), Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Athens, Ephesus, Izmir, Alexandria, Cairo, Valletta, and Madrid.
  2. I had my first root canal. Or should I say my first and only. It was not what I expected. No pain in the tooth, but there was pain in the neck. I think the dentist positioned my head awkwardly and so after the hour-long procedure I had pain in the neck :)
  3. I attended a black tie dinner in January as my husband's plus one in their company holiday dinner. I know their company always find a way to save some moolah so they schedule their holiday dinners in January.
  4. My pet bird Mulder died suddenly. Two days later we bought a replacement whom we called Mulder also.
  5. A friend and former co-worker succumbed to the big C after battling it for 4 years.
  6. I had my first facial. Okay this is my first with an aesthetist. I used to have one every month with a dermatologist (yes the one with MD after their name).
  7. My niece gave birth to a cute chinky boy named Alex; another niece got pregnant and found out it's going to be a boy. Due date is Feb 2010.
  8. I was diagnosed with Epstein Barr, hypothyroidism, and low iron levels.
  9. I bought a house (can't believe I only remembered it here on number 9)
  10. Went tent camping for the first time here in the USA. I used to do tent camping as a girl scout back home.

Monday, December 28, 2009

No Vietnamese Sandwiches for Christmas

What spurred my previous post about serving those crunchilicious Vietnamese sandwiches for Christmas eve dinner was a free sandwich courtesy of one doctor. As soon as I smelled the tasty bread, I knew it had been long since this goody has touched my lips and mouth.

Anyway enough about that. I did not serve it. My husband, who is the main chef of the family, made steaks, fingerling potatoes, and Brussels sprouts and mushrooms. Quiche was our appetizer. We did not have time to have any dessert at all as we hurried to the Midnight Mass service.

Christmas Day luncheon was at my sis-in-law's and bro's house. Our contribution to the potluck was roast herbed pork loin with fingerling potatoes and Brussels sprouts and mushrooms, jazzed up Mac-n-cheese, meat torta (meat omelette), and for desserts we brought Crema de Catalunya, which was a big hit. Yay for husband.

Need I say I got stuffed at the dessert table. It's not what you think. It's the rice cakes that did me in. I am ordinarily not a fan of Filipino kakanins, but that day we chatted around the desserts table and guess what? I had my fill at palitaw and suman sa ibos. I can't remember what else was on the other table, but the suman was outstanding.

How was your Christmas eating?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Would it be...

so bad to serve hotdogs and/or Vietnamese sandwiches for noche buena?

Just thinking out loud, because I really really love those Vietnamese sandwiches.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Way It was

At least a week before Christmas, mom and I would hie off to the provincial capital (where the "big" grocery stores are located) to buy the whole leg of pig (jamon) and queso de bola, that would be the star of our Noche Buena table. I would watch my mother start prepping the cooking around noontime on the eve. The leg would be too big for our stove, so we would cook outside in the backyard by putting stones and cooking with firewood. My mother would bring out her big cooking vessel (much like a big wok) to cook the jamon. I don't remember exactly how she cooked the jamon, but a bottle of 7-up was her secret ingredient.

While the jamon was taking it's sweet time cooking, Mom would start slicing and dicing for nilagang baka, another mainstay in our table. We were then encouraged to take a long nap, as we need to be up all night long.

In our small town, there is one Catholic church. The church services the entire town, which consists of 44 barangays. You could imagine that the church would be crowded on midnight mass service. And because my mother (the devout Catholic) wanted to always sit near the front, that meant we had to be outside the church before it opens to the public around 10 pm, or something. The mass always began at 11 pm and ended at midnight, exactly midnight when the church bells ring rapturously to signal Christmas day. Every year, I remember we had to be out the door by 9 pm. Yes that early!!!!! We live two blocks away from church, but mom needed the security of knowing she gets the prime seat by coming way too early. Oftentimes, we would be the first waiting outside the dark church yard. Some years, we would find people already waiting.

Our midnight mass service is the best that I had ever. It was solemn, despite the crowd. And the choir (which I was a part of for a few years) always managed to give the performance of the year at that service. As I look back, I remember I always felt spiritually nourished after this service.

Back home, we would gather on the table with mom slicing the ham and queso de bola very thinly and we make ham and cheese sandwich with pandesal. We have a bowl of nilagang baka with it and a cup of hot cocoa. That was our Noche Buena every year. Some years we would make buko salad and/or chicken sandwich.

That was how we celebrate our Christmas Noche Buena.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dear Santa

I hope it's not too late to put in my list. I have finished holiday preparations which included addressing and mailing all cards, buying groceries, making rumballs, wrapping presents. The tree has been trimmed and the lights are up.

I thought I'd be happy without anything this year, but I just thought of a few things I wanted for next year. Are you ready with my list Santa? They are in no particular order:

  • Sleep. Why did I feel like I was always yawning and sleepy this year? And nope, it's not all David Lettermen's fault.
  • Patience. I think I was born lacking in this virtue. I need it for next year and yes, I don't have the patience right now to explain why :)
  • Focus. I am easily distracted. What I always thought was my talent at multi-tasking was actually my inability to focus on one task and finishing such task before starting another one.
  • Goal. I need one badly. If I don't have one, I will not have something to look forward to, nothing to work hard for.
  • And as you can see, the list comprised of things meant just for me so I am asking for less SELFISHNESS next year. It's high time I think of someone else's comfort before mine.

Thanks Santa. And if you give me these things, I'll bake you some cookies next year.

It's me :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

2009 Survey

I found this survey while bloghopping and I thought I'd take a crack at it and in the process have something to post.

In 2009:

Did you do something you would never do?
>>I can't think of anything right now.

Did you keep any New Year's Resolutions?
>>I never make any so nothing to keep.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
>>Yes, Timmy has a cutie baby boy named Alex.

Did anyone close to you die?
>> Yes, former coworker succumbed to her 4-year breast CA battle :(

Did you visit any countries?
>>Yes (France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Turkey, Malta and layover in Netherlands does that count?)

What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
>>A child of my own.

Will any date from 2009 stay etched in your memory forever?
>>June 1, 2009 (the day we bought the house) and August 1, 2009, the day we moved into our very own house.

What was your biggest achievement of 2009?
>>Buying a house.

What was your biggest failure?
>>Unable to conceive.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
>>Epstein Barr, hypothyroidism and low iron level.

What was the best thing you bought in 2009?
>>The house.

Did your behaviour changed over the year?
>>I haven't noticed, too busy to notice I suppose.

Where did you spend most of your money?
>>Downpayment for the house, then for the repairs.

Are you happier than this time last year?
>>Most definitely.

What song will remind you of 2009?
>>Miley Cyrus' It's the Climb

What do you wish you would have done more of?
>> Diet and exercise.

What do you wish you would have done less of?
>>Blogging and tv watching.

What did/will you do for Christmas 2009?
>>Same thing every year, a day with family.

Did you fall in love in 2009?
>>Yes, I fell in love with Barcelona.

Did you get your heart broken in 2009?
>>Yes, David Letterman broke it when he announced his affair. I did not think of him that way. To me he is the one who makes me laugh before I go to bed. And this announcement simply broke my heart.

Favorite TV program of 2009?
>>Same every year - Lost, House, Grey's, Bros and Sis.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
>>No, oh maybe Tiger Woods :)

What was the best book you read and/or movie you saw?
>>Nothing comes to mind.

What was your greatest discovery?
>>Barcelona

What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
>> I can't remember what I did on my b/day. But I know I'm a year older this year than last.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
>>Having a baby.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2009?
>>I don't have a fashion concept.

FRIENDS:

Who was the best new person you met?
>>I met quite a few interesting people this year.

Who did you wish you did not meet?
>>No one.

Who was your bestfriend?
>>My husband

Who was your enemy?
>>No one.

Who do you miss?
>>My girl friends from high school.

Who will you never forget?
>>The DIY tour Cairo group.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
>>Anywhere you go, people are generally good.

What will you always remember about 2009?
>>Late in the night home renovations, Europe travel, moving in to the new home.

ASPIRATIONS FOR 2010:

What do you want to do in 2010 that you couldn't in 2009?
>>Get pregnant.

Any resolutions?
>>Walk, move, exercise.

What is different about 2010 than 2009?
>>Many many things I hope.

Anything you want to change about yourself for 2010?
>>Revamp my whole personality :)

Do you want to make more friends in 2010?
>>Absolutely!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I Woke Up To A White Backyard

With our freezing temps, I awoke to find my backyard white from snow dusting overnight. I know that the temps have fallen and have been around the 40s for a couple of days now, but the warmth inside the house make me forget how cold it could get outside overnight.

So you could imagine my delight to find the backyard whitish as I munch on my pork bun breakfast. I immediately ran up to the room to grab the camera and woke my sleeping husband in the process. I told him, come down see the snow dust.

I took some photos and wondered if the front yard also look whitish. The front yard gets the early morning sun so there wasn't any sign that there was dusting on the ground, but the cars are all covered with a light layer of ice.

It was 37F as I drove off to work today. The temp is not going any higher than mid 40s today. I love it!

And here are more reasons why I love this season:
  • wearing coats, jackets, sweaters, and boots is fun.
  • seeing my breath in the morning
  • smell of wood burning
  • trimming the tree and watching it all lit up in a dark living room
  • driving around town to watch houses all decorated with lights and wreaths and front yards using way too much electricity :)
  • shopping malls are especially gorgeous with all the decor
  • seasonal coffee drinks
  • getting together with family over meals
  • sending and receiving x'mas card
  • after x'mas sale!!!!!!!

What do you love about this season?

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's Monday and It's Freezing

..........but that's no excuse for an unproductive weekend.

There were so many things I wanted to accomplish over the weekend. And today I look back on the weekend and I felt like none of the things I wanted to do was ever done. Instead I the things/stuff I did, places I went were not on my plans.

I don't even want to know how many days to go before Christmas, I'll just panic more.

I still haven't addressed the Christmas cards, let alone mail them so they can reach their destinations on time.

Anyway, does anybody else still send Christmas cards via snail mail?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas....

....in my house. I have finally put up the tree last night. Why finally? After all it's only December 3rd today. Well you see that is quite late in my standards. The tree is normally up immediately after Thanksgiving. But this year as you know is different from the previous years as I wasn't around on Turkey Day.

I have a plastic tree. You heard that right. I don't mind having a fake tree. In fact I prefer it to the real pine tree. Wait, hear my reason/s. Who doesn't love the smell of pine inside the house? However, disposing of the said tree after the holidays is a bit of a hassle. I often forget the date I am supposed to put my tree on the curb for pick up. And dragging the thing out in the curb is not an activity I wanted to do every year.

Moreover, the real tree sheds. The needles are all over the floor. I am always thinking about it catching fire or something. The tree dries out quickly around here since our temps don't fall that much. And add the heater to the mix, it's really harder to keep the real tree.

Besides, driving around different lots to find the perfect tree is in itself a hassle. Yap, I don't need the extra stress this season. I have enough stress as it is with shopping, menu prep, decorating, getting the cards mailed on time, etc.

And so a few years ago, I went out and bought me a fake tree that came with its own lights. This year however, we found out that most of the lights have burned out. On Tuesday, we dug the box containing the tree from the garage, set it up and learned about all the burned out lights. Wednesday, we went to three different places to find both a twinkling and singing lights. Many years ago we had the lights that once turned on not only blinks but sang as well. We couldn't find those anymore, so we settled for the twinkling lights.

With the ornaments we have for many years, I have the tree up and lit. I am happy.

Yet, the wreath I have on my front door needs upgrade. It's far too small for the door, and way too plain I thought. I hope I have enough change in my pocket to afford one. Maybe I should make a visit to Michael's for a new wreath.

Hope your Christmas preparations are filled with joyous merriment.