Monday, December 31, 2012

Year-End Report

2012 turned out to be one busy year, both in travels and in general.  Let's see how the year shaped up to be:

HIGH
  • Travelled to India, Bangladesh, Mexico, Honduras and Belize.
  • Ate and drank in New Orleans, what a beautiful city.
  • Romantic get-away in the wine country in February.
  • Enjoyed the giant sequioa trees and the charming Victorian houses in Eureka for our May roadtrip.
  • Celebrated my birthday with my in-laws in Bangladesh - first time ever.
  • Hiked and cave tubed in Belize.
  • Drank the most wonderful tasting PINA COLADA of my life in the western end of Roatan in Honduras at the Half Moon Bay resort.
  • Had a lovely dinner at Cafe Curbside.
  • Baked my first successful brownie.
  • Participated in outreach for the homeless in a project called Tenderloin Project where we collected essentials and packaged them in individual reusable pouches/bags.
  • Took a 2-hour tour of Hongkong - which only whetted my appetite for the island country.  I wanna go back there.

LOW
  • A loved one was diagnosed with the big C - she's doing well after the surgery where the doctor told her all the cancer cells are gone, but will still need to undergo more chemo.  Praying hard.
  • Unable to unclutter my bedroom and garage.
  • Failed to read books.
  • Did not try to learn to knit.
  • Unable to complete needle work project.
  • Did not do much gardening or decorating.
  • Did not go to Yosemite this year :(
  • Zoom lens broke :(

GOALS:
  • Complete cross stitch project.
  • Learn how to sew and knit.
  • Send out Christmas cards.
  • Take a week off on Christmas to fully prepare for the day.
  • Clean out the garage.
  • Weed out my wardrobe.
  • Read a book, seriously, any book not just my usual type of books.
  • Find a way to make money out of my hobbies.
  • Make candles.
  • Make potpouri out of my lavender bushes.

I do not foresee many days of traveling in the coming year, athough there are 2 cruises that needed to be taken next year, both however are 7-day cruises each.  That only accounts for 14 days.  But who knows, 2012 wasn't a travel year in the beginning, but turned out to be one. 

The goals I set for myself this year are quite doable.  I bought a planner/journal on the weekend so I can jot down what needs to be done and what has been accomplished. 

Happy New Year.

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Survey


2009 Survey

2010 Survey

2011 Survey

In 2012:


Did you do something you would never do?

>>Rode an elephant. Cave tubing.



Did you keep any New Year's Resolutions?

>>I never make any so nothing to keep.



Did anyone close to you give birth?

>>No one.



Did anyone close to you die?

>> Yes, my friend's mom died. My other friend's bro died too. I don't know the ones who passed, but they are family to my friends. A lady from church Judy passed away. She even came to a football viewing in my house a month or so before her death.



Did you visit any countries?

>> Yes. India. Bangladesh. Hongkong. Mexico. Honduras. Belize



What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

>>A child of my own.



Will any date from 2012 stay etched in your memory forever?

>>I can't think of any one particular date.



What was your biggest achievement of 2012?

>>I won a cruise from a raffle.



What was your biggest failure?

>>Lack of self discipline and lack of stick-to-itiveness when it comes to pursuing goals.



Did you suffer illness or injury?

>>Same old, same old.



What was the best thing you bought in 2012?

>>I didn't make a big purchase, so I cannot think of one.



Did your behaviour changed over the year?

>>I felt like I became more whiny, must change that.



Where did you spend most of your money?

>>Travels, bills and cat food and vet fees.



Are you happier than this time last year?

>>I should be.



What song will remind you of 2012?

>>Nothing comes to mind



What do you wish you would have done more of?

>> Diet and exercise. Crafting and reading.



What do you wish you would have done less of?

>>Whining.



What did/will you do for Christmas 2012?

>>Church and then visited a friend in the rehab facility.



Did you fall in love in 2012?

>>Yes, I fell in love with the Mughal architecture of India.



Did you get your heart broken in 2012?

>>Yes. The Newtown shooting broke my heart.



Favorite TV program of 2012?

>>Same shows each year with new ones like Revenge, Once Upon a Time, Scandal, Person of Interest.



Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

>>Nope



What was the best book you read and/or movie you saw?

>>I really liked SKYFALL a lot.



What was your greatest discovery?

>>That New Orleans is such a fun city to visit, great food, marvelous architecture, pleasant weather, fun party city and very friendly to walkers.



What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?

>> Was in Bangladesh. My in-laws got me flowers and cake, friends came over with food, and hubby made pancit.



What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

>>Having a baby.



How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2012?

>>I don't have a fashion concept. Mostly frumpy.



FRIENDS:



Who was the best new person you met?

>>Monica is considered new because I only knew her one day prior to this year. This year we went on vacation for a week together so I got to know her better.



Who did you wish you did not meet?

>>No one.



Who was your bestfriend?

>>My husband



Who was your enemy?

>>Laziness and procrastination. Lack of focus and direction.



Who do you miss?

>>My girl friends from high school and college.



Who will you never forget?

>>The 2012 San Francisco Giants, the World Series champions.



Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

>>Pray then pray some more.



What will you always remember about 2012?

>>Busy schedules, church meetings, church activities, church plannings. India and Bangladesh vacation.



ASPIRATIONS FOR 2013:



What do you want to do in 2012 that you couldn't in 2011?

>>Have a baby..



Any resolutions?

>>Walk, move, exercise. Craft. Read.



What is different about 2012 than 2011?

>>Lots of good things, I hope.



Anything you want to change about yourself for 2012?

>>Reinvent myself by adopting a new positive attitude towards life. Get involved with the community more.



Do you want to make more friends in 2012?

>>Absolutely!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas to all!

How was your Christmas? Ate too much? Partied like it was 1999?

It's a pity that another Christmas came and went and I haven't had enough time to enjoy it. Every single year I tell myself that come Christmas I'd make time to just soak in the atmosphere, delight in the joyous season and basically just enjoy the season.

This year however the timing of December 25 was quite difficult to maneuver whatever fun I had in mind. Christmas Day fell on a Tuesday. In between two working days. I never had the foresight to take days off before or after the day or both. Also I just took off 11 days at the end of November into early December, that I thought it wouldn't look good on my work record to take days off for Christmas.

And so I never got to enjoy the season again. While the shopping part is well taken care of well in advance, the other logistics related to celebrating this most festive occasion needs more planning and fine tuning.

I have not driven around the neighborhood and watched the yards decorated with wonderful and colorful Christmas lights and scenes.

So next year through God's grace, I intend to take a week off during Christmas time. I fully intend to enjoy the birth of Christ.

Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Twas a rainy weekend.

My favorite thing in the world is a rainy and cold weekend where I could spend the day curled up in bed or in the couch watching tv or reading a book or both with both cats in my lap.

The past weekend was rainy and cold, super cold for this California resident. Nonetheless I had to run some errands. No lazing about in the house watching Pride and Prejudice for the nth time.

Saturday started with a trip to the vet for Emma, who had a follow-up after her emergency visit the past Sunday. I found this clinic that's not too far from us that people on Yelp seem to regard highly. So I chose this clinic and made appointments. Unfortunately on Saturday Emma's records from her emergency visit were not faxed over to the clinic despite my phone call requesting said records to be faxed ASAP to the new vet.

Thus, Emma's visit was somewhat limited to physical examinations. The vet examined her thoroughly and talked us through the possibilities of Emma having stones versus just having UTI, if that is what she have so far.

In the end, the vet wrote script for another round of general antibiotics, since Emma was responding positively to the first round. I raised concern about back-to-back dosage, but the vet assured me that it's okay and normal for pets to take antibiotics longer than the humans do.

Upon returning home, mom and I went on in the rain to run her regular Saturday errands, which consists of eating outside (Chow King that time) and getting some supplies (food).

It was gloomy all day so it got dark way too soon. When we got home from the errands, it was very late afternoon and time to just laze about the bedroom with the tv on and the laptop on my lap and the cats bodies touching my legs as they slept.
Sunday again was busy. I really wanted to skip church at least one Sunday, but well I didn't. We got out of church nearly noon and decided to drive to Napa just in case there are still any fall colors left to photograph. Last year we hit paydirt when we drove out to Napa the day after Thanksgiving and saw the valley gorgeously donning fall colors. I knew this time it was a lost cause but the hubby was adamant. I reasoned that it had been raining all week to begin with and add the fact that it's late in the season to still have colors. But he was unyielding.

The trip was originally planned with another couple, so he rang them up as we were leaving church. However, they weren't in the mood to go out for a drive. Who could blame them, the weather called for cuddling by the fire, with some football on tv.
And so we drove out to Napa and no fall colors, just as I expected. But we managed to stumble upon Bouchon bakery and the Marketplace shopping complex just across from it. We explored the Marketplace first hoping there was some eats and coffee to be had, but the no food stalls, only stores selling clothing.

So we crossed the street to Bouchon and entered the crowded little place, got some coffee and yummy pastry to go. We drove out farther until we didn't want to go any further at all.

We turned back and spotted some vineyards still carrying some fall colors so we stopped to photograph them in the rain.

Leaving Napa, we drove out to our next destination for the day, in Alameda, where our department Christmas Party was being held. It's amazing that I've lived here for 2 decades and still haven't been in this part of the Bay Area. It's lovely and we showed up at the party, took photos, ate and drank, and stayed for a bit, then said goodbye.

The day was not over yet for us because we had some shopping to do. We were supposed to go to 2 different stores, but after going to Costco where we got the bulk of our items, we decided not to go to the second store. It was late after all, I was hungry and tired and cold.

This weekend, we'll be having our family Christmas lunch. I suggested the date because Christmas day is Tuesday and we have no vacation before or after the day, it would be difficult to stay up late :)

I got my Christmas gift from hubby. We both picked it up at Costco last Sunday. It was the same one that I said in the previous post that I'm not getting for Christmas. I actually got it.

Hope your Christmas celebration is filled with love from family and friends.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Almost Christmas

IMGP2011

So it's just a week before Christmas, basically. Are you ready? Are your gifts wrapped? Or not done with the shopping part yet?

Apart from the hubs swinging by the drug store yesterday to get the boxes of chocolates on sale for the mailman and the garbage man, we have not done a single shopping trip yet.

Despite this, I only need to pick up a few gifts. This is the good thing about shopping early. I shop all throughout the year for great deals and stock 'em up in the garage. Come Holiday Season, we open the box full of goodies, which are clearly marked with names btw, so that it's just pull out of the box and into a gift bag, slap some tag and voila, ready to gift. Less fuss, doncha think?

Still, I'm nervous about going to the store this late in the season. I've learned from past mistakes you see. I just hope this year, many people have completed their shopping and the stores wouldn't be too crowded. If there's one thing that ruins the holiday cheer for me is the crowded store.

Anyway, my gifting has been toned down every year. Not only is this saving me a good deal, but it is also helping my recipients lessen their clutter. You know the people I give to are my family. For all intents and purposes, they have everything they need. I give what they need, not what they want. Although if what they want falls within budget, I give that too. I don't want to give them something that would just gather dust somewhere in their house.

Since I feel that they have nothing they need materially, I can take liberties with some crazy gifts sometimes. But I always give out practical gifts anyway. Household things that I myself would want to keep.

I started bagging some gifts a couple of nights ago, so our tree doesn't look empty anymore. It will definitely have less gifts underneath it than years past, because well I don't whimsically just shop anymore.

As for parties, my company is giving one this year. Actually, it's my manager who's giving a party outside of work and we'll drop by for an hour or two just to show up.

Tonight our friend from church is having a surprise party at Chevy's for his 75th. A big treat from his son, whom I never met. But the b/day boy and his wife are friends of ours from church and we're just pleased that we were invited. No matter what people say about Chevy's and my dislike for chain restaurants in general, I like Chevy's especially the mango margarita. But I won't be having that tonite, as I will be driving home. I'm meeting the hubby at the restaurant tonight. We'd be there straight from work.

Our family made tentative Christmas luncheon plans, but I need to get in touch with everyone to finalize such plans.

I am hoping that I can do a little baking for the Holidays. I'm thinking either scones or lemon bars.

Ham for Christmas? Seems like a no-brainer. However, I'm leaning towards turkey. Didn't get enough turkey on Thanksgiving.

Futile to think I'd still get to see Breaking Dawn in the cinema. Gotta wait for the DVD, sigh!

Throughly enjoyed SKYFALL last week. It may easily be my most favorite Bond movie of all time.

Saw THE VOW on DVD. I can't help but fall for Channing Tatum, what a hunk!

I wonder if I'd get the Giants DVD package for Christmas? Wonder no more - I'm definitely NOT getting it!

Emma's (my cat) recent medical worries had put a damper on the Holiday cheer. Taking her to the vet this weekend, hoping that no surgery would be required to remove the stones that showed up in the tests when we took her to emergency hospital last Sunday.

Do not have the excitement to listen to carols this year.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

And we cruised the Caribbean

November is a very nice month for cruising in my opinion. The weather is pleasant and mild and even the humidity in places in the Caribbean is quite manageable.

We sailed for a whole day. Our foursome pretty much joined most of the activities on board and snacked our way through the day.

Our first port stop is at Costa Maya in Mexico where the four of us signed up for a tour of the Mayan ruins Chacchoben. We joined 6 others in the van and travelled an hour to get to the ruins. Having seen the ruins at Chichen Itza I would have to say that visiting this is nothing compared to it; however, there is one ruin where you can climb up on top, which is pretty cool. Everyone seemed to be here though as the place was crowded quickly. As soon as we boarded the van to take us back to port, the rain came down in buckets :)

The next day, the ship docked in Belize. This was hubby's birthday too. While we were on the tender that would take us to port, we inquired about cave tubing tour from one of the employees of the boat. He said he know somebody and there's another couple interested. So our tour became 6.

We travelled over an hour into rural sceneries to get to the cave and the river where we will be doing the tubing. When we entered the "park" and the van parked, we were asked to change into our bathing suits. I wore something that was okay to get wet, I had change of clothes afterwards.

We began the tour by getting our tube (salvavida) and our headlights. Our footwears were inspected and one lady in our group needed to rent water shoes because she was wearing the wrong shoes (flip flops).

Afterwards, we carried our tube and hiked thru gravel-lined path in the rainforest; crossing the same river twice. By the time we reached the same river the third time, we were ready to enter the cave and began the tour.

The river and cave setting was so magical. I hated the fact that I didn't have camera with me. I don't care if it would get wet, I should have brought the little one.

We floated on our tubes inside dark cave infested with bats, cold river water and quiet except for the many tour guides and tourists who were floating alongside us :)

That was one true blue fun experience. I could stay in the river for a whole day, heck even a week and be content.

On the drive back to the port, we stopped at CHEERS bar and restaurant where we grabbed some snacks. We had enough time to shop at the port area and so we did. I get so inundated by the same old souvenirs they sell everywhere, so I browsed and made sure I got the mandatory ref magnet that I collect. While the other couple shopped some more, the hubs and I stopped at a restaurant to try conch ceviche and fish tacos. That is where they found us and shared a bite with us. Afterwards we browsed at the stores some more.

The next day we were in Honduras. Roatan is a small island and that's the part of Honduras we visited. We signed up for island tour and we got to see as much of the island. We met some local kids in one stop and decided to get them some candies at a grocery store and returned to their place to give it to them.

Hands down best pina colada I've ever tasted is in Half Moon Bay resort and restaurant in Roatan, western end. Fresh pineapple juice, fresh coconut milk and lotsa booze. Two thumbs up.

Our last port of call was Cozumel. Okay so I have misconceptions about Cozumel. Before coming here I thought it's one of those made-up for tourists town with all shopping and I wouldn't like it. It is a made up tourist town, but I liked it, hah!

We didn't stay in Cozumel instead took a 45-minute ferry ride to Playa del Carmen (outstanding beaches, I wanna go back) where we would sign up for a tour of Tulum ruins, another Mayan ruins. This ruins however faces the water and the beach area is to die for, unfortunately we didn't have time to explore the beach. The ruins though is fascinating, they all are.

We got another full day at sea the next day so we again participated in everything.

Our boat docked in New Orleans and we were out of the boat by 10 am. The hubs and I walked leisurely from the port to our fabulous hotel in the French Quarter where our friends were waiting for us to have a little tour of the French Market. New Orleans is walker friendly, especially this part of town. Sightseeing on foot is advised.

I must say that New Orleans is really fabulous. The food. The music. The arts. The architecture. The shopping. What more could one ask for. As a bonus, we got wonderful weather the entire time we were there.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I'm back and ready to tell a story

I'm back from my 11-day vacation for 3 days now and I'm ready to tell a story. So grab a seat and get comfy. This could get long, very long.

Thanksgiving was a blur this year. I'm thankful for so many things, both the good and the bad that happened this year. The good brought joys to the heart and the bad always come with lessons in life.

Anyway, my plans for Thanksgiving initially were to have a simple Thanksgiving dinner at home. As a family, we don't normally gather for Thanksgiving, only Christmas. Hence I always invite people who have nowhere to go to for Thanksgiving. In the past I have a motley crew of guests.

This year though I was a bit hesitant to extend invitation to friends because I know that I would need to be rested on Thanksgiving because our vacation starts the day after Thanksgiving.

With that in mind I didn't send out any invites, but we had bought all the fixings for the meal including a 20-lb turkey. No way are we able to finish that just us, so I called brother #4 and invited him and his family over a few days before the holiday. I knew his family doesn't do anything on Thanksgiving. That is exactly the reason why I didn't extend an invite to my other family members especially brother #2 who always have a spread on Thanksgiving.

At the last minute however, brother #4 called to say that his daughter and her family are coming over for Thanksgiving and if we would be able to join them. My niece was sick and would need surgery a few days after Thanksgiving and because of this we couldn't say no. I told my brother that I have a whole Thanksgiving feast ready to cook. So I told him I'd cook everything (well technically the husband is the cook) in the house and haul it over his the day of. Furthermore I instructed him not to get any turkey because, well I have enough for everyone.

So that's how our thanksgiving played out. 3 out of 4 brothers came to lunch, we ate with gusto. I marveled at how my nephews seem to have mastered the art of baking. Joe made us wonderful cheese biscuits, he bragged courtesy of Food Channel. Brian made a delicious sweet potato souffle. Even my niece's 7-year-old daughter made a dish. Her contribution to the table was the cranberry sauce. We told her that this year is the beginning of a tradition. She would be expected to make the sauce every single year.

We made a quick exit after a few hours because we were going to have friends over for dinner. We have some food at home and our friends joined us for dinner. They do not do thanksgiving, it's a cultural thing I suppose.

On Friday, brother #3 drove us to the train station; instead of going all the way to the airport by car, we opted to take BART. It's easier that way. Our plane took off on time at 1 PM. After an hour and a half we were landing in picturesque Salt Lake City. It's gorgeous from up there. Another hour later, we were boarding our flight to New Orleans!. We arrived in N.O. around 10 PM, immediately boarded the shuttle to the car rental, chatted with friendly locals at the car rental place who pointed us to the best eats in town we have to try and then decided to drive on local streets instead of the freeway to our hotel because we were scouting for a grocery store. We found a Winn-Dixie (don't have it in Cali) and got some essentials - sunblock, conditioner, lotion, vodka :), and frozen food for dinner.

It was past 11 PM when we drove up to our hotel and checked in. We were surprised at how lovely our hotel was, better than we expected for the price we paid. The parking however was another story, because although they have a parking lot in the back, it fills out too quickly.

We were meeting our friends in New Orleans, they flew in on Thanksgiving from New Jersey. We planned to take this trip together, but didn't talk about the hotels we'll be staying. Turned out our hotels are next to each other. Go figure.

On Saturday while our friends took a segway tour of the city, we decided to do a DIY of the city. We went to the Garden District, drove around ogling beautiful houses, stopping at the famous cemetery and was tempted to join a tour currently in progress, but I didn't want to cheat. I told my husband that we'd shoot and then google for information later.

Afterwards we drove out some more discovering churches and parks and the riverfront shopping area including the Mardi Gras museum. We parked the car a few blocks away and met our friends at the riverfront mall food court. We shared lunch and hurricane (a cocktail muy delicioso), then walked from the Riverwalk to the Mardi Gras Museum, which is a few blocks away. Browsed there, went to the riverfront, took pictures, then decided to walk from the museum to where we parked our car. Turned out there was a thousand blocks from point A to B, however, New Orleans is a walker friendly town and there's plenty to see.

Eventually we got to our parking and we loaded up the car so we could drive them to the garage where they parked their car for the day. But we hit so much traffic that the guy decided to go on foot to fetch the car. He would drive the car to the hotel and we'll meet him there. From there we would take one car and hit the nightlife of French Quarter.

French Quarter is party central. In my humble opinion as a party pooper, it is crazier than Vegas. Bourbon Street filled with people, all with drinks in hand in party mood. We walked around until we found the brewhouse that was recommended to us. There was a wait of 20 minutes so we sat in the bar and ordered 2 of the beer tasting menu, 5 different beers. Then decided to get something else, a cheese plate. By this time we lost our appetites for what the brewhouse had to offer so we cancelled our seating, and moved to next door Hard Rock Cafe. I know it's not our style to eat here. But remember we were with another couple who love to eat here.

I was almost full from the beer and the cheese plate, so hubs and I decided to split an order of fish and chips.

We walked some more after the dinner and then time to go back to the hotel.

Sunday we were embarking on a Caribbean cruise for 7 days. Check in starts at noon. We woke up early to see the sights. Being a Sunday the streets of New Orleans were empty. We returned to French Quarter, went to the cathedral and Jackson Square, drove out to the riverfront and French Market, then plugged in the city park in our GPS and drove around the beautiful and spacious park with old oak trees that have long graceful limbs. We saw a wedding under a picturesque oak tree, very romantic.

Then the hubs dropped us off at the port while they returned the cars. This gave us girls a time to chat. Here's the deal. I've known this couple for a very short time. One day to be exact. I knew them for one day 3 years ago in another cruise. We went on a day excursion with them in Cairo visiting the pyramids. We were in the same Mediterranean cruise. That excursion consisted of 11 people including us, 9 of which are our facebook friends. So via facebook we kept in touch; hence we were able to plan this cruise with them.

Technically I don't know them, because I probably have exchanged a dozen words with them prior to this trip. But from the very beginning it seemed like we were old friends. There was no awkwardness, only catching up, can you believe that?

So the time we were waiting for the hubs to return, we chatted furiously and shared future travel plans.

The hubs returned and we got checked in without any hassle. Now off to the cruise.

Will tell you all about it soon. Needless to say, I need a vacation after the vacation because I'm very tired :)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Catching Up

Let me try to catch this blog up with what's going on in my offline life.

Seasonal cooling has begun shortly after the clock turned back an hour. So now it gets dark really early. The cooling feels so good especially last weekend as I was doing my errands the breeze was cold and there's definitely the chill in the air associated with the season.

Also had the second offering of our Monthly Night Out program at church where I am a member of this committee. My husband co-chairs the committee. For our second monthly night, we had GAME NIGHT. People come with board games and we spent the night, well at least 2 hours, playing games. Every event is with a meal and this time around we had sausage and salad with spiced apple cider. I played uno and jenga. There were a group that played monopoly, another cloo, another scrabble, and blanderbash I think it was, and also chess. It was a fun night.

Last night we went out for dinner. It was Veteran's Day weekend so I had the day off, but hubby didn't. Veteran's Day fell on a Sunday so the town activities were on Sunday, but gov't employees had Monday off.

We went to Curbside Cafe in San Francisco. I throughouly enjoyed my night out with the hubby. We met up with another friend and her hubby and their two boys. We weren't seated together in one table, because of the fine prints of our dining vouchers, but that didn't matter anyway because the place was very cozy - small - we were like dining in the same table.

The decor was Parisian (it's a Parisian bistro), very quant and charming. I totally adored it. The food was excellent. I have to do a separate posting for this here. I'd love to go back to that restaurant.

The dinner ran long and we were late at our church meeting. We barely made it to the meeting. We probably sat for the last 20 minutes of the meeting.

So that's what's been happening. I have so many things in my plate right now. And as usual my lack of time management is making it extremely stressful on my part to handle this time of the year.

I'm about ready to pack my bags again and travel. But first I'll have to help hubby fix Thanksgiving Dinner at home.

I'll tell you more about my trip in the coming post. My flight won't be till after Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

If I was blogging in 1993, this would have been my post.

I just had a tinge of regret at fact that I wasn't blogging when I first came to the US. I don't think anyone was blogging or if blogging was invented yet. Just think of all the possibilities for postings, a goldmine. Each time one experiences change, there is bound to be endless bloggable materials from the experience.

Unfortunately for me, I may have written a few journal entries, whereabouts unknown. Mostly though I was sharing all these new experiences to my friends by writing them letters and sending them postcards. I moved to California from the Philippines in 1993.

It will be 20 years in February of 2013 that I have been away from the motherland and living in my second motherland, California. Sometimes, I feel nostalgic and try to recall all the changes brought by the move, but the years have been plenty between then and now and my brain cells have aged dramatically since; hence, very little do I remember about those experiences.

The difference with my move in comparison with the many blogs about changes in location that I read (mostly from fellow Pinoys moving/working outside the country) is that I moved to join my family. I already have a family support system in my new "motherland" and that I was expecting very few, if any, adjustments with my living conditions. I was the last one to come.

However, it was really tough getting started. Unlike the nurses that come to the US to work, I came without a job already in place. It was tough job hunting even then, and that was the time of plenty. My sis-in-law had many friends. One of them offered to give me a training position in her small mortgage firm, by doing small things like answering the phones, faxing, doing whatever needs to be done. Aside from the owner, there were 2 others that work there part-time. All of them Filipinos. She gave me $100 a week and I stayed for a few months, just so I have something to write in my resume. I don't think it helped, but it gave me something to do in those first few months here.

In the same company I met a younger woman, a few years older than I am who was renting the small office. She is a lawyer and studied law at San Beda College, which is just across from my alma mater, CEU. In all the time I was there, I only saw her with one client. I don't know how she managed to keep afloat. We bonded and often ate our lunch together. I sometimes am left alone in the office, welcoming people from banks. I got some mugs and cups and other freebies from banks.

But a $100 a week wasn't going to keep me alive, so I left. I was out of job for a few weeks, if my memory is correct. Then I saw this ad on the paper about a supervisory position in a manufacturing firm in Emeryville (just across the Bay Bridge from SF). My brother drove me to the appointment, I went to be interviewed and was told by the owner that I was overqualified for the position. But I told him I needed to start somewhere. And I wasn't picky.

And so I started to work in a factory - making suspenders (that you see on Home Depot) and ties. While I was hired as a supervisor, I first have to get trained in the stock room where I needed to familiarize myself with all the products we make and all the materials required to complete a product. In addition, I was to learn the entire process and it begins in the stock room. The stock room is manned/headed by the owner's wife. The owners are Eastern European and she's about my age and we got along well from the very beginning.

My first day on the job I was lugging heavy materials all day long (was good, I maintained a sexy figure, wink***) and making sure I was giving the production floor the right materials for the products we were making. I couldn't move a muscle when I got home. I remembered almost crying (wouldn't cry because I was still living with brother) as I raised my feet up against the wall and laid in bed, too tired to want dinner.

I survived that first day and the disappointment and heartbreak of the first paycheck (peanuts money I tell you) and learned to like my job and my co-workers. The workers were from different countries. At the peak of production, I was managing 32 people, can you believe that?

Since the factory was small and the owners were Catholic, we always had Good Friday off. Also we have two 1-week vacation/time off every year. The workers didn't get paid for vacation, but I did since I was supervisor. This is where I met my husband. He was handling the Shipping and Receiving Dept. He stayed in that job because it suited his school schedules. I stayed because I didn't feel like trying to job hunt again.

Eventually, we both found our situation wanting in so many levels. He was going to graduate soon and would be seeking good jobs, I wanted a medical insurance coverage - the company didn't think I deserved to get one or that they could not afford it, either way the answer was NO.

On one of those weeklong vacations my then boyfriend and I would apply for jobs, mostly county and gov't jobs. Then we get called to take exams - civil service exams. And so one of those jobs called and I interviewed for 2 different positions - one in Social Services and another in hospital (here). I chose the latter because it has parking space. And also when the Director interviewed me, he said I was overqualified. I managed to convince him that I needed the job and I won't leave him high and dry. Not sure if that is a good decision or not.

See I have way too much materials then to blog about. Now, look, this blog is suriving on a once-a-week post, pitiful, isn't it?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

10 Down, 2 To Go

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This was Orange October. Orange for the the October Quest post-season games that the Giants were playing. Orange October was good, in fact very very good to me because my team, my love, the San Francisco Giants won their 2nd word series trophy in three years. So yes, that would always be the highlight of October. Three glorious weeks in October were for watching the baseball games, the pre- and post-games and reading all the articles online. It was madness, and maddening at the same time. I am just in heaven right now, orange and black heaven. Today is the victory parade. I am not going. I went to the first one in 2010, it was craaazy, lots of people, shouting, crowding, just total jubilation. I am not going, because, well because I wasn't feeling it this year. I know I got a better camera and hubby just picked up a little upgrade for his camera as well. However, I am going on a cruise in a few weeks so I don’t want to use up another day off for this. But the DVR is recording two different stations covering the same parade. I hope I taped all the happenings, with DVR you don't know. It always cuts off the best parts.

In addition, I have won (or given, however you see it) a cruise. There's a lot of things attached to claiming the prize, but as long as there's no money leaving our pockets we're going to go with it. Plus, our thinking is even if we fork out some money, as long as the cruise would still be less than the regular price of the cruise then we'd take it. Right now, we are awaiting for the processing of claim to be completed. But this was really fun for me, because I join many contests, raffles and drawings over the years and I never really get to win something substantial as this is. So this is really neat!

And speaking of more winning, we received a thank you card over the mail yesterday from a fellow church member thanking us for the Pirate cruise along the Sacramento River that we donated for the church fundraiser last June. She won the cruise, which was tagged as second prize. The first prize was an overnite stay in a lighthouse converted into an inn in a little island between Contra Costa and Marin counties. Anyway, she said that after years of joining raffles and losing she was shocked when her name was picked out. They only used their prize last weekend, and she and her husband had one wonderful night and experience. And she sent us a card to let us know. How thoughtful of her. And I thought that sending cards via snail mail is completely gone. I love receiving and giving cards over snail mail. I hope to send Christmas cards this year as well.

Hubby and I also joined a local newspaper's photo contest where the prize is a trip for two in the Pacific, something like a tropical vacation. I'm not very hopeful about my entries, although I stand by them, but I've seen the sampling of the entries and boy oh boy compared to those images, mine look like a 5-year-old snapped them. I didn't do a lot of picture taking this month.

Darby came early for trick or treating. He is growing up to be such a darling of a boy. My niece is raising him so well. It's a hoot to hear him call his parents Nanay and Tatay. He yelled with glee when my mom came down the stairs to greet him and said LOLA!!!! He calls me Tita and my hubby Tito.

Looking forward to November I'm very sure I'd be more rushed than October.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Serenity and Spirited Away


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things that I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.

I've been mouthing off the Serenity Prayer a lot lately, because I remember in 2009 that was my mantra. I would say those three lines (there is more to it than those three lines you know) over and over again to start my day, in the car, when I'm inching through traffic. I remember still how peaceful that prayer made me feel and how great my 2009 became. It was a wonderful year filled with good stuff.

Anyway, I still have the prayer posted in my office since I put it there in 2009 and every now and then I say it aloud, those three lines only.

I feel that this year I'm more stressed out than usual. The month-long vacation that I took over the summer did not bring me the rejuvenation that I was expecting despite traveling to exotic India and bonding with family in Bangladesh. My soul/spirit remains restless. I thought I needed to be reminded to listen to the advice of the serenity prayer once again.

I believe I am so blessed to be stressed and I cannot shake off this feeling of being overwhelmed. I need the serenity prayer now more than ever.

On another note, I don't know how to segue into this but the group that I'm a part of at church that would host a monthly activity after church hours held its first one over the weekend. On Saturday we had our Movie Night. Upon the suggestion of another committee member we featured SPIRITED AWAY, which is an Anime animation. I have not heard of the movie before; but a few other members of the church has heard of it and loved it. We thought it's fine choice to start our community night as we're calling it.


In line with the Japanese theme of the movie, we served Japanese food - teriyaki chicken with steamed veggies and rice, both brown and white, with choice of green tea or sake. Our initial gathering had 26 people and the table setup in the narthex was just lovely. We even used table cloths, real cutlery and real plates. We have a dishwasher at church so there was no problem with washing all those dishes.

If you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend it. It's quite riveting and very good. It won many awards including the Oscars for 2002 Animated Film. I believe it's suitable for little kids. The only thing about it is kids might be scared at the scene where the parents turned into pigs, but with guidance I'm sure the little kids will like it as well. It is animated.






Thursday, October 18, 2012

Weather, etc

I do not have any complaints with our gorgeous weather. It's hot, even reaching the 80s with plenty of sunshine and the most beautiful blue skies. BUT, it's autumn. Where is the crisp air, where is the chill when a breeze passes by? Where is the smell of burning wood coming from the neighbor's fireplace? Where is the hot cocoa at night?

While the Indian summer that we're experiencing has been delaying its exit, I'm not sure I want the lovely weather to end. It has been gorgeous as I have said before. Today at 8:30 am it was already 77F as I was driving to work. No doubt the temp will rise some more by the mid day. I just wish I was outside today in a park or something enjoying the good weather.

I've been quite preoccupied with church stuff, as usual. As a member of the committee that puts out monthly Saturday night events, my hands are full. Not only is the first Saturday night this coming Saturday, I'm also keeping an eye on the following monthly events, as they are more hands-on. I don't know why I even volunteered to help out in the planning of the events. I can be a masochist sometimes.

I know it's good to be involved in social activities, let alone church functions. And these activities combine both the church community and the larger community. Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed by the task at hand. Opening an e-mail can be daunting sometimes. I don't know what's waiting for me out there. What other tasks I must do, what alterations I must perform, etc, etc.

It's all good. It's using one's "talent" for the good of many. I did put that quotation in there because I still am not sure what my talents are. I know my leadership qualities have long eroded and I'm content with assisting people who's leadership qualities leave nothing to be questioned.

However, my talents seem to be completely lost when it comes to the website I'm trying to maintain. It's our church website, it's just not an ordinary personal website where I can just ramble on and on about the weather and the movies I've seen. I cannot seem to generate a post about the functions/events we've had lately. A fellow church member who not only writes a blog, but also has published the contents of that blog into a book has agreed to write an article about said function. It has been a month and I have not heard from her yet. I don't know why I hit a wall when I open the website and attempt to update the contents. I feel like I don't have full confidence in myself and I'm always second guessing my intentions. In the end, nothing gets published. Sigh!

This October has been quite blah overall. It's work and church and housework. Although lately the housework part has been neglected plenty. I've also been harping about pulling out the box that contains the holiday decors from the garage so I can start decorating the house, but other than getting cat food from the garage, I haven't been there lately, let alone dig out the box of decorations. May be this weekend. Oh no, I'd be tied up with church events all weekend. Sigh!

This also leaves me very little time to blog. I play memes on a daily basis. That is in addition to the travel blog I have, which is my original blog, this blog, my cat blog, and then my project blog. I don't have enough time to do all that. So I temporarily cut down the memes I play in half and I just incorporate the memes in my travel postings.

Also in my plate is full with research of IVF facilities, so we can proceed with our baby making project. I have heard from one facility that we planned to use. I have to do more research and hit the phones and get some answers to the questions I'm trying to formulate. I'm giving myself a few more days to accomplish this so that I can then go ahead with getting excited in planning our excursions for the cruise we're taking after the Thanksgiving holiday next month.

Half of me wants another vacation so close to the last one in August. The other half is not ready to go away again, because I don't feel like I have fully settled into daily living after one month in Asia in July and August. But the cruise has been reserved since before the Asia travel was planned and taken, so we're going. Time to kick back and relax after the rush of Thanksgiving and before the chaos of Christmas preparations.

And so I ranted and rambled again. Until next post. Hope your autumn is wonderful.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

One Word Answers

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I was tagged by Ms. Bing to play this meme. I'm always up for memes so here goes:

1. Where is your cell phone? Bag
2. Describe your boyfriend/girlfriend? Married!
3. Your hair? Dry
4. Your mother? Fighter
5. Your father? Quiet
6. Your favourite item? Camera
7. Your dream last night? None
8. Your favourite drink? Coffee
9. Your dream car? Mini
10. The room you are in? Office
11. Your ex? Who?
12. Your fear? Disease
13. What do you want to be in 10 years? Mature
14. Who did you hang out with last night? Hubby
15. What you’re not? Organized
16. The last thing you did? When?
17. What are you wearing? Dress
18. Your favourite book? Dictionary
19. The last thing you ate? Siopao
20. Your life? Blessed
21. Your mood? Varied
22. Your friends? Far
23. What are you thinking about right now? Food
24. Your car? Toyota
25. What are you doing at the moment? Blogging
26. Your summer? Hot
27. What is on your TV? Sports
28. When is the last time you laughed? Earlier
29. Last time you cried? Dunno
30. School? Fun

Mission accomplished Ms. Bing!!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

10.11.12

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I'm not a numerologist, but I'm getting a kick out of today's date. I don't know if the date is significant in any way, but I like it. I like it even more because today, the San Francisco Giants completed a 3-game do-or-die series with the Cincinnati Reds, in Cinci. I'm at work so that's a bummer, but I was able to listen to the game on the radio. Thank Heavens that there are still radios.

The game was exciting and the big hit came from this guy pictured here. For those not in the know this is Buster Posey the face of the Giants. He is the catcher of the team, and just recently won the batting title. He's in line for the league's MVP. He certainly is 100% his team's MVP.

Just saying what a happy day 10.11.12 is. Hope yours is too.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What Peace There May Be In Silence


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"Worry is interest we are paying on a problem we don't yet have."

Friday, October 5, 2012

Jampacked

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The Bay is full of activities this weekend. The Giants are hosting the Reds for the NLDS, the 49ers are home against Buffalo, there's music in the streets at the Blues Festival, boats race in the bay for America's Cup, then the Blue Angels show their tricks in the sky. It's going to be a gridlock in the city and any attempts to go for any reason must be given much thought and planning. No driving should be considered for many reasons, among them that traffic in and to the city would be horrendous, parking spots would be ten times harder to find and of course that gas prices spiked 40 cents overnight. It's best to just take public transport instead of getting stuck in the middle of the freeway and miss all the action.

I have insanely scheduled something in the city for Sunday pm. I would have to cancel that.

I got a text from my friend; it actually went to my husband's phone, because we swapped phones right after coming back from our vacation in Asia. The message said (it was in Tagalog): Maria my mother has passed away. I will let you know of viewing times and dates. That's all. She/he did not say who was sending the message. The phone number was not familiar to me, although it's in the same area code as mine. I read the text as we were driving home from visiting an elderly friend of ours; she fell and was bruised all over. She lives alone and had to yell for her life. Luckily she lives near the golf course and golfers heard her screams from the backyard and she got help immediately - also there is a fire station at the bottom of the hill.

And so after the emotional visit to that elderly friend, I got another shocker. First off, I couldn't really tell who was sending me the message. Then by the process of elimination, I called the first one that entered my mind. I called not send a text. She replied and I couldn't recognize her voice for an instant and then I called her name. I was lucky I guessed right.

Her mother got beat by lung cancer, which metastasized, according to her. Boy I really hate that word, metastasis, metastatic, metastasized, in all its form. Anyway, the call was short and she was planning on the viewing and the funeral. Four days later I got another text informing me of the viewing time and date. It's going to be this Sunday evening. So many things happening this weekend.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

In Search for the Perfect Adobo

Lately I've been obsessed with adobo, the Filipino dish of soy and vinegar. It has always been my favorite food. My mother used to have her own version, wherein she only puts soy sauce and no vinegar and calls it lutong toyo (cooked in soy sauce).

So whenever I go to any Filipino restaurant or store that has some cooked food I always seek out the adobo. You'd be right if you guess I'd go home with adobo to go. I always do.

However, it has been a constant longing on my part to find the perfect adobo taste. Andrea which is a popular Filipino restaurant in neighboring Vallejo makes a decent adobo. The fact that their chef (okay cook if you quibble with terminology)is a Kapangpangan makes their adobo more believable, to me at least.

Over at Cabalen, another Filipino restaurant, they make a pretty good version as well. However, the best adobo I've tasted so far was over at my brother's house. We were invited to an impromptu dinner last week when his daughter and her family were visiting for a few days. In order to spend time with family, especially my niece and her kids who have moved to Southern California, my SIL rushed making dinner after work.

Her adobo is superb! My husband said the adobo has been simmering in a crockpot for a long time that's why the flavor is really rich and the meat is falling off the bone. They used short ribs for the adobo, which I never even considered. I've always been using chicken and little bit of pork liempo. But now that I have tasted the short ribs adobo, oh my gulay, I think I'm going to try that one this weekend.

We've been consciously trying to eat healthy, and adobo with all the sodium content of the soy sauce, not to mention all the fat of the meat, I don't know if I can indulge in adobo as much as I wanted to.

If you are a cook and have made adobo, is there any tip about cooking it that you'd like to share with me?

(I composed this post sometime in September, have yet to cook short rib adobo.)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

More Fall Shows

REVENGE: I must admit that I need to rewatch the premier because I was multitasking when I watched this on DVR. I did not fully grasp the meat of the show, although it was immediately known that Victoria Grayson is alive and somehow survived the plane crash from last season's finale. Now I still have to find out how that happened. It's also clear that Daniel still has feelings for Emily Thorne. Hopefully soon, Jack will find out that he is not the father of Amanda Clarke's child, that is my guess by the way. It looks like a fun season so far.

THE GOOD WIFE: The shows last season were well written, keeping me glued in. The same is true for this season's premier. My hope for this season is for Alicia and Peter to start working on "mending fences" and find out once and for all if it's a go or no. I don't want to see Alicia and Will rekindling their romance. And what the heck is Kalinda involved in now?

ONCE UPON A TIME: Now Mulan is in? Okay so I have heard of Mulan the animated movie. Other than that I have zero clue on who she is. But now I suppose I'll learn more about her because, well she's in the show. The premise when the show started is that the fairy tale characters are living ordinary lives in Storybrooke somewhere in New England without knowing their fairy tale past. This is shattered with the premier episode where the magic followed them in Storybrooke. Emma broke the curse, they regained their memory, but they remained in Storybrooke. How the fairy tale characters would return to their own world would be the theme of this season's shows.

UPDATE:

WAREHOUSE 13 is on mid season hiatus, what is that about? It only has a handful of new shows for the season and now it's taking another break? Why??????

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fall TV

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WAREHOUSE 13
The explosive season finale gave way to the story line this season, as Artie diligently goes to collect the artifacts lost. Two episodes into the new season and I'm enjoying it so far. I don't know how far into the season it will take for Artie to get all the artifacts in the warehouse.

ALPHAS
Its long hiatus made it difficult to pick up where the show ended last season. The actors' appearance have changed in a way, older. It's like watching a brand-new series. It's on DVR.

HAVEN
Finally, it's here. Haven is another one of those that seem to take forever to return. The premier was a great starter for the season. Explosive, with a hint of romance and a sprinkling of intrigue. We are getting to know more and more the origin of the leading character, Audrey Parker or whatever her real name is.

CASTLE
So they're hooked up and Beckett is no longer in the force, but they're still pursuing the case of her mother's death, which seems to be getting more and more complicated and involving more and more people in high places. She's getting her job back, I'm sure of that.

GREY'S ANATOMY
The storyline is getting tired, despite the interest the season finale garnered. Upon their return, they killed off Mark Sloane and amputated Arizona's legs. They have new sets of interns. Cristina Yang no longer works for Seattle Grace. Dr. Bailey is getting booty calls. Where is this show going from here? I suggest this be their last season. Go out with a bang. It's no use rehashing the same old tired story lines they used few seasons ago. I am getting weary of it as well. All last year, I watched it on ON DEMAND, whenever I had time to see.

BIG BANG THEORY
I enjoyed this show so much last year, when I discovered it. I voraciously watched it on syndication all through the winter, spring and summer months. My fear is that they might not find new and interesting direction for the characters to explore. They definitely have to find someone for Raj and maybe give a bigger role for Stewart as well. How about push the limit on Sheldon and have him "man up" to Amy?

PERSON OF INTEREST
Towards the end of last season, its first season, I discovered this show. It is a very interesting show, very techie but cool. At the finale last season, the main character was abducted, fooled into believing that he was saving this person, who was in trouble. Turned out she made the whole thing up so she can smoke out main character from hiding. The premier showed the continued search for him. Getting interesting. DVR this because it's in the same time slot as Grey's Anatomy.

*Still waiting for the premier of REVENGE, ONCE UPON A TIME, THE GOOD WIFE, and SMASH, the latter I learned will be making its appearance midseason.

*The three shows mentioned in the last paragraph had their premier last night and they are all awaiting on DVR for me to watch them.

Friday, September 28, 2012

9 Down, Only 3 To Go

Oh what a fast year this has been, don't you agree? Here we are at the doorstep of October. The Holiday Season is upon us.

To recap September here's what happened:

• Went on a day trip to Capitola, 2 hours away, on Labor Day.

• Participated in a 2-day planning session for church called DREAM AND DINE. It was successful and so much fun.

• Attended the EL SOBRANTE STROLL, a street fair/festival.

• Attended the 4th annual (my third straight) EAT REAL festival at Jack London Square in Oakland.

• Found out I have another "disease".

Here's what I'm looking forward to in October:

• Decorate for Halloween/Fall.

• Split the cymbidiums into smaller pots. This would be a big job since there's nearly 30 pots of cymbidiums that needed to be split. Costly too, since the cost of the pots alone would be a big dent to the pocket book. I better go to the Dollar Store for this.

• Check out the quilt squares available at Michaels and/or Joann's Fabrics. I intend to make a little kitty quilt.

• Read another book or two.

• Transfer the hyacinths into pretty little pots so I can keep them indoors come spring when they bloom their scented flowers.

• Weed out my closet some more. I don't have as much clothes as I used to because I continually keep purging without buying replacements, however, I can't figure out why I still have so much clothes.

• Go for a fall drive.

• Go out with the Roberts.

• Hang out with the Manns.

• Eat out with my Dining Group.

• Weed the yard.

• Trim the roses and fertilize them.

• Find my loquat tree another home.

• Learn how to knit. This year I've been surrounded by people who knit. My
next door office at work knits; I attend meeting and the people are knitting; everyone seems to be knitting now since the weather is getting cooler. My friend's 13 year old daughter knits beanies (cap). She learned from You Tube. I hope I'll learn how to do that.

It seems I have more goals for this coming month. I hope that I can accomplish most of them despite my busy schedule and laziness (sometimes).

Here's to a brighter 4th quarter. Happy Fall Season. Happy Holiday Season. Cheers!!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Most Productive Weekend, Etc

I'm compelled to write about my weekend, just because it was productive. A far cry from my usual weekends.

This weekend I participated in a 2-part planning session for church we cleverly named Dream and Dine. It's actually a program that the leadership group of our church, of which I am a member, came up with to get the congregation involved in dreaming up projects that the church could undertake in order to foster relationship within the church congregation and the outside community in which we belong.

The Friday night session was aimed at family friendly activity. It was our Ice Cream social night. Ice cream of various flavors were served. As you know when sweets are involved, especially ice cream with nuts and sprinkles and chocolate syrup and whipped cream, people get more relaxed and more inspired to dream of activities that they would like to be personally involved in.

What I found really inspiring about this is that people I did not think would attend such events came. Of course the kids that we pumped with sugar in their system were loud and active, but very fun.

We were able to brainstorm a bit that night after the ice cream tubs were back in the freezer. It was a successful Friday session.

Session 2 was longer, on Saturday from 9 till 2. Breakfast and lunch was provided. As expected my eyes were bigger than my stomach as a piece of uneaten muffin was sitting on my table all throughout the brainstorming session.

Lunch consisted of Kinder's bbq, a feast. I have tried one of their sandwiches before, but not their bbq. The chicken was really good and juicy.

Anyway, the Saturday session was more into making concrete plans for our projects. The entire group chose about 4 projects to undertake. The people were asked to choose which project they would like to participate in and guess who chose parties/music and entertainment program for church and community? Me and hubby both chose to be involved in it.

What was very encouraging about this whole project was the very enthusiastic response we received from church members that came. I hope that the joy they felt at planning would continue to guide them/us throughout the year.

Also happening this weekend was the annual Eat Real festival, more popularly known as food truck fest in Oakland at Jack London Square. I've gone to three of these now. It's only in its fourth year.

Hubs and I went after our webinar on Sunday afternoon. There were quite a few logistical changes this year compared to the two previous years. For one, they kept the entrance to the festival by the hotel free of food trucks. All the food trucks were farther in.

Sunday was the third day and so there wasn't as much people as the previous years. There were newcomers, but some old faithfuls were there. We tried braised pork belly slider and beef pho roll from RICE, PAPER AND SCISSORS. Both are very good, especially the pork belly. We also tried the mac and cheese, where they used garlic gouda cheese. Definitely adult flavor, it doesn't taste anything like it came from the blue box. There was this thing they call knish, which is a spinach potato filled light wrapper or light dough, I cannot determine, but it's definitely fried. It came with two sauces, one is garlic, parsley and green chili and the other is I think something like cilantro and roasted garlic. I preferred the former. It's not my fave.

Also we had the lamb poutine, which is okay. My first time to try a poutine. Anything with french fries is good.

We all washed these down with black currant kombucha.

We got full from eating those but still we wanted to try some so we opted to take the following home: a rice plate from Seoul on Wheels, Korean bbq with steamed rice and vegies with gotchujang, or Korean chili sauce, Argentinian chicken empanada, Acme bread grilled cheese panini. Those we had for dinner at home while we watched the Emmy Awards.

Speaking of Emmy Awards, I'm quite disappointed that the shows I follow didn't get any wins, I think. Well I was tuning in and out but I know that Big Bang Theory didn't get anything. It's all HBO that gets all the good stuff. Why?

Well, I've said too much. Hope all our work week goes well for everyone.



Thursday, September 20, 2012

I Barely Survived Survivor




Hey, it's Fall and that means TV season again. It used to be the big thing on tv viewing when the fall tv schedule is announced because to an avid viewer the summer months were full of reruns. Not anymore. Lately, the networks have cooked up a summer menu who turns out to be just as palatable as the fall menu. The only difference with these two sets of schedules is the big shows still air on the primetime season which is Fall.

I will write something about this at length in the coming days. Today I'll tackle SURVIVOR, the reality show.

Being a tv watcher I know and has heard of Survivor. Who hasn't? It's been on for quite a long time. I've seen snippets of it from magazine shows like Entertainment Tonight. Nothing about it tickles my curiousity to tune in and watch. I've not seen a single minute of the show.

Until last night's SURVIVOR PHILIPPINES first show. Okay so I didn't watch it on it's regular time. I DVR'd it, and watched it just after the 11 pm news.
My reason for watching it this season and setting the DVR to record all new shows are: a) Jeff Kent is playing. Jeff Kent is a retired Major Leaguer, he played professional baseball and he was very good at it. Especially when he donned the San Francisco Giants uniform, where I spotted him and since he came to my team, he became a favorite of mine. b) Philippines. The location alone to be honest would not make me watch the show, but the combination of Kent and PI was too great a pull to ignore.

However, despite the incredibly beautiful surroundings and the fun of seeing Jeff walk and talk, the show was not holding my attention. Alright, so I watched it late at night when sleep was calling, but still it was boring to me. In fact, I turned it off midway so I can get some sleep. I will need to get back to it when I can.
I'm not particularly excited about all these "alliances" and scheming and plotting that these people are doing. I'm not liking the show at all. And I'm quite sure that while I will continue to record the shows this season, I will not be back next season.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012

Happy Thoughts

Think happy thoughts. That is the advice many people give and receive in times of trouble. When one needs to change the situation one is in, it's think happy thoughts. When one is sick and needs all the help one can get from all aspect, it's think happy thoughts.

Because believe it or not, our frame of mind, our attitude can spell the difference between win or defeat, so to speak.

And why am I talking about happy thoughts right now? It's because I have been constantly reminding myself to think happy thoughts lately. There are so many ugly things that are happening around me. While I tend to hold on to my faith, sometimes I cannot help but let that sneaky little worry and his bestfriend fear enter my heart and mind.

I am finding it hard to think happy thoughts at times, especially when one is feeling some pain. And the news that come from every which way is that another one needs prayer of healing. It's ugly. I'm getting afraid.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Food Craving Wednesday

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The Eat Real Festival is coming in 2 weeks, but my schedule is full that weekend. I wonder if I can find a little break in my busy weekend to sample some food truck delights?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Ramblings

What is it about weekends that sap my energy and make me forget what I did when Monday comes calling? Such is the truth again today Monday as I tried to dig into my brain recesses for what transpired over the weekend, Saturday most specifically.

Sunday I know what I did. It was a busy day with church service and picnic with 3 other churches. This is our second annual picnic with the other 3 churches and the attendance was bigger this year. I took it as a good sign. Last week I was in total panic mode, because well, this is sorta our project. My husband and I are our church's representative to this coalition. So we were supposed to have a hand at everything minute detail of the picnic and service. Thankfully everything went smoothly.

I was amazed at all the wonderfully delicious and healthy salads that were brought by parishioners. We grilled hotdogs, but other than that people just brought salad. We brought our "famous" and often made couscous and three-bean salad. I really love this salad so easy to make and so yummy. Needless to say there were 3 or 4 other bean salads on the table, but each one is different so that was good. Of course there were different pasta dishes and the mandatory potato and macaroni salads.

Because I believed I ate healthy - not to mention skipping breakfast - I treated myself to a very small piece of strawberry cheesecake and an equally small piece of chocolate mocha cake.

The service was at 10 am and we have a webinar at 2 pm. Since it was our project, my hubby and I were in charge of cleaning up (which included hauling all the chairs from the park to the church - the church is across from the park btw). We joined other church officers for the webinar midway into the first hour. I was so tired from hauling the chairs. But I guess that was because I'm not in good shape. We were able to invite only one couple who doesn't belong to our church to join us for the picnic and they came, bringing a rice dish. It was the only rice dish so that was good. However, I had my hands full making sure that the children were occupied with games and the people were having food and enjoying themselves that I hardly had time to entertain them. We spoke on the phone when we got home that evening.

After the webinar, we have been toying with the idea of going out to eat. Sorta treat for each other. However, as I was getting really tired and I was looking forward to watching the baseball game (Dodgers vs Giants, Giants win yahoo!) I didn't pursue the plan. Hubby wasn't keen on going out to eat as well. We've been talking about eating out for the past week since I've been hankering for a little frozen mango margarita courtesy of Chevy's Happy Hour.

Anyway, we got home and fixed some food to eat. There were some left over salads from the picnic that one of the church members collected for me. I don't know why she thinks I should bring home the left overs (there wasn't too much anyway) but I was glad that she fixed me a plate while I was hauling the chairs back to the church. And instead of fixing myself a glass of margarita, I was sipping iced coffee from McDonalds. Not a bad combination.

Hubby suggested we complete the building of cat house, but I was too lazy to move and the baseball game just started. Who would have thought that I'd sit there for nine innings and watch the ballgame in its entirety. I thought my baseball game watching is a thing of the past. It appears like it's not. I thoroughly enjoyed the game, btw, of course who wouldn't when one's fave team is winning.

Well look at that I managed to ramble on and on again and my ramblings don't make sense. Don't mind me, I have a pounding headache and I'm just trying to get through Monday. Hope your Monday is going smoother than mine. Have a lovely week.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Lately...

In between catching up with work because of my time off and getting my body adjusted back to Pacific time these have been happening...

A friend vowed never to travel outside of our time zone again. He believes that after a certain age, the body is being punished for the constant change in time zones. I think he formulated this theory after we came back from our trip and complained how we suffered from jet lag the whole time we were in India and again a whole week after our return from Bangladesh. I'll have to wait and see if he keeps his vow.

My husband's wish for a day trip to Capitola became true this Labor Day. And what a perfect day to be there. The sun was out in full glory and the temperature was very mild. We even timed our visit to a Begonia Festival. Needless to say, with the combination of a Holiday, festival and wonderful weather the beach was jampacked with people. What a fun time for photo blogger and people watcher like me.

A whole month of Indian and Bangladeshi food got me into some serious food craving. Upon our return from vacation, we consciously cut down our food intake. Just salad and fruits for lunch, which we actually were doing before we went on vacation, and then a sensible dinner, which is less carb and fat. However, doing this has made me crave my Filipino dishes all the more. Last week I had some serious hankering for adobo. Nope did not indulge my craving. This week I'm thinking about grilled or fried fish with steamed rice and tomato/mango salsa. I have to go back to the Philippines to completely savor these flavors.

Finally got to see BOURNE LEGACY. Wanted to see this because I like the Bourne series and also because it was shot in the Philippines. Was a little disappointed that the part they chose to show the Philippines wasn't the part or parts I wanted to see. Plus the chase scene I thought was way too long. But shout out to Lou Veloso, I thought he was memorable in his bit part. In addition, I would have wanted to see more of Palawan too. But I thought the movie was good, Jeremy Renner was good, he's actually rubbing me the right way, and my husband and I both love Rachel Weisz since the first time we saw her. The story is okay too.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A page from my journal

July 22, 2012

Ben and Timmy took us to the airport. They arrived a little before 10 am. The drive to the airport was easy, it being a Sunday and all.

Checking in our luggage was easy as well. One of our carry-ons was found to be double the weight limit, so the guy at the check-in counter offered to have it checked in free of charge. We were only too happy to accept his offer. When we were walking away from the check-in counter we were having second thoughts about the contents of that bag, if there was something inside it that we might need asap during the long haul.

We had coffee with Timmie and Ben and chatted a bit to kill time. We were there early.

Then it was time to go in. We told them to wait for us to make sure we cleared customs. It was again not too bad. We easily got that thing done in the least amount of time.

When we cleared it and got our bags back, we phoned them to tell them they can leave.

Still there was time to kill because we were told at check in that the flight is delayed by an hour. We walked around, got a bite to eat at Fireside Café and watched a little Giants. The Giants and the Phillies were in extra innings when we left to head to our boarding gate.

Little wait at the gate before we were allowed to board. Our seats were in the back of the plane, the second to the last row, which is good because there’s enough room on the side to stand up and the seats are so close to the restrooms. Very convenient.

It was going to be a long 13 hours I thought. The meals served were sufficient, good enough. The wine also was good. I watched Hunger Games and several episodes of the Big Bang Theory, before I finally succumbed to sleep. I felt like I had enough sleep.

We arrived in rainy Hongkong. About 2 hours before arriving, the ride became a tad bumpy, which really scares me. But nothing really tough to swallow for seasoned air travelers.

In Hongkong, we had very little time to go from arrival area to the departure gate, because well our flight arrived late. 20 minutes late, for which the airline was very apologetic about.

I thought I had time for potty break when we arrived at the departure gate. However, it wasn’t to be. You see we were lining up in the wrong line earlier. I even asked the lady in the front and she said we were in the right line. When it was our turn to hand her the boarding passes, she said we’re on the wrong gate. It turned out that our gate was all the way to the end of the terminal. So we hurried and breathing heavily by the time we saw our destination.

When I was about to make a short potty run, I saw that the line had started to form for boarding. I knew I could have made it and back to the line in time, but I didn’t risk it. I wasn’t in a hurry to use the facilities. I only wanted to take my contact lenses out since I’ve been wearing them for many hours already and I’ve even taken a nap with them. I don’t wear contact lenses for napping or sleeping.

Thankfully, we got boarded and found out that we were not seated together. Thankfully the gentleman I was seated with agreed without a word to swap seats with my husband. I fell immediately asleep. The plane didn’t leave soon. It was sitting there for sometime and I have already fallen asleep. When I woke up, the plane was still sitting there. This plane was also a Cathay Pacific. This one had faulty entertainment device so no choice but to sleep during the entire flight.

The rain in Hongkong was falling hard. But I was sleeping so I didn’t feel it. The shaking I felt. The meal on this 5 hour ride was okay as well. I was expecting more since I heard that Cathay Pacific is one of the best airlines. The service I got on both the SF to HK and HK to DEL was adequate, more than okay, but definitely not outstanding or memorable.

We arrived at Indira Gandhi International Airport at midnight, 12:30 am. What little I saw of the airport, I was impressed. I would have loved to snap a lot of photos, too many spots are photo worthy, but it was midnight and we just got off a 20-hour plane ride with the last thing I wanted to do was take out my camera and start photographing. First things first. We have to go through immigration and then collect our luggage and then customs. Three of our luggage we found quickly. The keyboard took a long time to locate and if I didn’t ask an airport worker who asked a co-worker to check the other carousel, we wouldn’t be able to locate it. I don’t know what kind of system that is, if some of our luggage comes out of one carousel and another piece of luggage in another carousel.

While I was waiting for the luggage to show up, hubby went to call our travel agents. Thankfully we manage to find him. We also got some money changed and also get a SIM card.

It was about 3 pm when we got all settled in our hotel. Did I tell you how hot and humid it was at midnight? It was unreal. I could have sworn the temperature at 1 am was above 80 with very high humidity. Sweat was rolling down my spine and my neck. So uncomfortable.

Shower was wonderful as well as an air-conditioned room. We only had a few hours to sleep because our tour starts in the morning at 10 am.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

July and August - Recap

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I know I've neglected my monthly recap for July because I was travelling. And now that I'm about to do it, I can't seem to remember the earlier part of the month. What did I do before July 22, which was our travel date? I cannot recall, senior moment on my part.

The last week of July we were in India, hot humid India, where we enjoyed the sights and savored the food. To be honest, I think I have had my fill of Indian food for now. I'd be passing up any dinner invites for Indian food, thank you very much.

While in India, I expected the street chaos - traffic jams, no traffic rules, people everywhere. But what I didn't expect and totally surprised was that New Delhi, the capital, is very green. There are many open spaces with greenery and the gov't is keen on pursuing the program of tree planting with the goal of planting a million trees. Way to go Delhi!

New Delhi's subway is the best way to go around. Although the lines are also long and the station can get very confusing and chaotic.

I loved the long road trips from New Delhi to Agra and from Agra to Jaipur and then from Jaipur back to New Delhi. There are so many things to see and enjoy and photograph along the road.

If there is one thing I wish I regret about taking this India tour it's this: I should have travelled in wintertime when the weather is much cooler, even though I'd be risking more crowded sights.

August saw me in Bangladesh, my husband's birthplace. Dhaka surprised me. Coming from New Delhi, Dhaka looked so much more cleaner, I even remarked that while we were traveling from airport to my SIL's apartment.

So many changes in 4 years. Many apartment/housing buildings are up in my SIL's neighborhood. However, my favorite market is still the same as I remembered it, thank heavens.

I celebrated my birthday with my in-laws and friends. They got me cake and hubby's mentor ordered take-out. Hubs also made noodles, in keeping up with my Filipino traditions.

I saw a lot of Bangladesh on this trip. Long train ride to Chittagong offered countryside sights so bucolic and tranquil, it comforts the soul. Long bumpy drives to even deeper countryside showed more of the rural living that can only be seen on magazines nowadays.

Oh and I sweated buckets after buckets on a daily basis. I thought it was monsoon season but where was the rain, and why is it so hot?

It did rain a few times, not the monsoon rains I expected. I don't know what I expected, but definitely not this puny rainfall :)

A delightful bonus was meeting Peachy, a fellow blogger, who I met through blogging. She's currently based in Dhaka and soon to marry his Bangla prince charming, who I also met in person and would vouch that he is indeed pretty charming. Both of them are. I hope them all the best in their married life.

The picture above is from New Delhi, one of the mosques that I captured while driving along the big city for sightseeing.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Street Photography #16:

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Eureka, California (Old Town)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Three Days

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Three days since I got back home and I'm still jetlagged! I feel like a zombie at work.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Back From A Month-long Vacation

Here I am almost ready to head back to work. But ready or not, back to work I will be tomorrow.

Because I know that long time off work usually make me brainless, I have jotted down all my different user names and passwords for the different applications I use at work in a document. Now I hope I can remember the document name I saved them under :)

Anyway, let's leave work off the topic for now and concentrate on reminiscing about the just-concluded holiday. One month is the most time I've taken off and thankfully, I have enough in vacation bank to cover that. I think one month is just the right amount of time to use since we were going all the way to the other side of the globe.

INDIA

India was our first destination. Took a 7-day tour of New Delhi, Agra for Taj Mahal and the Pink City of Jaipur. Weather was horribly hot and humid, unbearable outdoors, especially in Delhi. The sights however were incredible.

BANGLADESH

Total bonding time with in-laws, family vacation to Cox's Bazar and some side trips to Teknaf and Barisal. Visited old friends, got invited to iftars and dinners. Weather was also horribly hot and humid. I looked like a wet rag the whole time.

HONGKONG

A short layover to HK that allowed for a short city bus tour (hop on hop off) and a stop for dimsum and beef noodle soup. Love what little I saw of HK, but weather was also hot and humid, although less than the two previous countries.

Will talk more about specific vacation topics next time. My brain is still foggy from lack of sleep and tired from the long haul travel.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Updates

Many experiences so far. Seen so many new things and photographed a lot of faces. Will have a hard time sorting all photos.

In the meantime, hope you all are enjoying your summer.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Oh Hi!

I forgot I have a blog!

Been quite busy as you may expect being on vacation. Here now in Dhaka, Bangladesh bonding with in-laws and friends I've met before and now getting reconnected with them.

Been eating too much as usual, but I think the heavy and constant sweating I do more than makes up for the overeating. Been introduced to many new varieties and types of vegetables and fruits.

Not going out too much. The weather has been brutal. Hot and humid to the max, although I must admit that the weather was worse in Delhi.

When we go out and visit family and friends, it's always at nighttime, because that's how they do things around here. Visits are conducted after 7 pm. Mostly it's the time when the weather is a little pleasant. People expect that, don't worry. That is the norm here. I do have to adjust my body for that scheduling, because by the time 7 pm arrives my body normally wants to just sit in the couch in front of the tv and watch some funny shows or baseball on tv.

It's also Ramadan and I've had my share of iftar. More food. And all fried. So afraid to touch another iftar.

However, with all the good healthy food I've been eating (mostly veggies and fish), I've got a big hankering for a juicy In-N-Out cheeseburger with those fingerlicking french fries. It's the first thing I'm going to eat when I get back home.

Will be taking a short trip to the beach in a couple of days; a short break from city life and take in the sights and sounds and smells of Cox's Bazar. I've heard so many great things about this place. It is the longest natural sea beach in the whole wide world after all. I don't have the actual measurements at the moment.

In the meantime, I'm so glad for good internet connection. Happy summer.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

So far.....

Blogging here at our hotel in New Delhi India. Just finished dinner via room service, chicken biryani (way too spicy) and some vegetables. Also watching Olympics - weight lifting for women.  Tomorrow night we'd be flying to Bangladesh to visit my in-laws. 

Here's what happened so far:
  •  The flight here took 20 hours, uneventful and was a bit rough towards the end.  Watched Hunger Games on the plane.  
  • Arrived in New Delhi midnight and was happy to find a rep from the travel agency meeting us and taking us to our hotel.  
  • Our tour of New Delhi turned out to be more of a drive by tour.  It was too hot and humid, brutal.  So we decided to not go down and explore the sights, just sit in the airconditioned car and let the guide tell us what we were seeing.  We went down 2x but that was all we could muster.  Apparently, Delhi was having a drought year.
  • The Agra part of our tour was incredible.  I love everything we saw in Agra.  The food there was fabulous too.  Even the hotel.  I'll blog about all of this when I get back.
  • Jaipur is fabulous too.  Way exceeded my expectations.  Too hot here too.  The food is excellent and the hotel just great. 
  • Will see one more stop here in Delhi before we depart for Dhaka tomorrow.
  • In the meantime, I'm PMSing so I better end here :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Updates

What busy week this has been so far. One more day and it's weekend and for me it's the beginning of a month-long vacation. I know, I cannot remember taking a whole month's time for vacation before. I think 3 weeks is the longest time I've taken for vacation - once when we went to Bangladesh for MIL's funeral with side trip to Singapore and another time when we went to Barcelona and to Mediterranean cruise. This is going to be the longest vacation time I will be taking.

In preparation for this vacation, we had to take some malaria pills and typhoid shots. Fun, right? But these things are necessary. I've also got pills for diarrhea, sinus, cold, cough, etc. You name it I have it. It just makes sense to be prepared for things to come. You don't know.

I've always been "tough" when it comes to travelling. I've never had diarrhea or stomach trouble and I don't intend to start now.

Surely I'm starting to get excited. We'll be flying out of SFO in 3 days' time and I haven't pack one bit. Work sched is super busy that I feel tuckered out by the time I get home.

Tonight, I'd be tackling down the vacuuming. I want to clean the house before I leave. I'm sure it's going to be dirty again soon, but at least I've done a bit of tidying up.

I'm not taking many clothes, as they don't wear Western clothing in Bangladesh. I'd probably shop there and/or get something tailored for me.

Likewise, I'm excited to see the family and friends again. I've met them once, 4 years ago, when I first came to visit. I'm sure they are excited to see us again.

It feels weird travelling in summertime. We've never done it before. I'm also apprehensive that the monsoon season in both India and Bangladesh would put a little crimp on the vacation as a whole. But I'll try to enjoy the rain and everything that goes with this vacation.

We'll first go to India and have a little tour. 7 days of guided tour, sounds good right? I'm afraid I'd be missing some meat in my meals, since both countries are vegetarian heavy in their diets. Well, veggies are good to one's health anyway.

While my other blogs are taking a little hiatus because of my vacation, this one I intend to post whenever I can. I hope I can find more time to blog while away so I can share with you what I've been seeing and experiencing during this vacation.

Lately, I've seen some wonderful movies via Netflix, the last one was Ides of March.

So many things to do still.