Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: A Breakdown


January – February – March

The first quarter of the year is a good time to travel when the weather is mild and the crowd is nowhere in sight. We were quick to avail of a Vegas vacation package on sale. While hassles arose due to scheduling conflicts and changes, the Vegas trip went as planned with the exception of how to get there. Initially we were to fly but we drove instead(long story) – road trip #1 for the year.

The trip was meant for photo walks. Finally got to see Zion National Park, although I always thought that we would hit the big 5 at one trip, this side trip to Zion was well anticipated and thoroughly enjoyed.

On the same trip, we returned to visit Valley of Fire State Park, a park that stole my heart at first sight, then stole it again on second sight.

While we didn’t get to see much of Vegas nor experience much of its allure, the trip was worth it. Vegas became our home base as we visited nearby parks for photo shoot. Death Valley was in the plans but we ran out of time, may be next time.

April – May – June

Road trip #2 to Lake Tahoe and Yosemite. Stayed in a cabin with Murphy’s bed (my first) in North Lake Tahoe (first time too) for two nights, drove around the lake stopping to enjoy the sights and took a lot of photos by Emerald Bay lookout. Took the scenic drive through Highway 395, stopped to admire the tufas in Mono Lake, entered Yosemite, took photos, drove through and rested for the night at the borrowed cabin of friends in Groveland.

The next day we set out to do a little hike at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite. Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is the supplier of drinking water for the city of San Francisco. The day was pleasant, quite warm for late May, but the scenery was fantastic and we engaged in photography.

This trip also made us see the devastating outcome of the rim fire a year ago that gutted a huge part of Yosemite. It made me sad to see a large portion of the forest burned, but likewise pleased that regrowth has been happening and nature started to heal itself. (In the summer, another fire came to Yosemite. I am not sure if it was in the same area as the year before.)


July – August – September

The summer months are my time to hibernate. I normally don’t schedule any trips around this time, because I know that this is the peak season of traveling. Kids are out of school so the sights are crowded, the hotel rooms are expensive, and the weather is super hot.

However, summer is perfect for a camping trip to nearby Samuel P. Taylor State Park, an hour’s drive from home. The camping trip was organized by my husband for our church group. We stayed for two nights, cooked our meals, sang songs around the campfire, roasted marshmallows, hiked, some went to nearby beach, played games, did yoga under a cathedral of tall redwood trees, and afterwards had a mass in the same site.

October – November – December

For three weeks in October – November, I was in 2 continents, 6 countries (7 if you include a layover in Germany), 4 islands, 7 cities.

The trip/s went like this:

Flew to Venice, stayed there for 2 days. Took a cruise for 7 days and visited the following Greek islands: Corfu, Mykonos, Santorini and Katakolon.

Cruise returned to Venice and stayed in Lido for one night.

Flew to Barcelona, stayed for 2.5 days. Took a cruise for 9 days and visited: Marseilles, Genoa, Malaga, Casablanca and Lisbon. Decided to leave cruise (was on the way back to BCN)and stayed in Lisbon for 2 days.

The flight back was long and exhausting. It went like this Lisbon – Barcelona – Munich – San Francisco. It felt like we were flying for a whole day.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Thank You 2014


A new year is in the horizon and the old one is fading into oblivion. Crazy how year after year it seems that 365 days just whizzed by. I'll try to attempt to do a reminiscing of what transpired in 2014, but I know that I barely was conscious for the majority of the year. I felt like this year I was running on "auto mode".

Many of my "goals" for the year remained unfulfilled. I failed to even make a semblance of an attempt to reach some of them, pity on me.

My heart was full this year. Full of joy. Full of hope. Full of sadness. It was full of one emotion after another.

I reached a point in my life where I feel like my goal is within reach and yet for unknown reason or fear I am paralyzed to extend my arms to grab it. I need courage for 2015.

I need focus. I need compassion. I need tolerance. I need faith.

I want to reach my goals this new year.

I want to become more than I am now. I want to grow as an individual.

I no longer want status quo. I'm sick of status quo.

I want to be more open to new experiences. To stop saying NO and start saying YES.

I want to just go out in the world.

I want a deeper relationship with my family, with my friends and with God.

Lastly I want to learn how to use my freaking DSLR before I get a new one :)

Happy New Year y'all.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Here We Go Again


I have to ‘fess up. Neglecting this blog is not intentional. The Holidays is a very busy time of the year and with everything that goes into the preparation for Christmas in one’s plate, at least one of the items in one’s tasks is to suffer. Unfortunately, it’s this blog.

I supposed that putting my thoughts into words require more time than I have right now. But here’s what’s been happening and what I’ve been thinking lately:

· The Christmas tree came up later than I wanted or planned. But it’s up and so far thankfully the cats show no interest at all in the glittery balls hanging and whatnots connected with the tree. As a matter of fact, when I was trimming the tree, Emma was sitting at the stairs landing content at snoopervising me from a distance, while Buster was nearby but aside from sniffing each and every ornament that got picked he was a model of good behavior. Moreover, we have not had any ornament casualty yet.

· We have had a series of storms, some carrying heavy downpour and packing strong winds. Scary. The cats, especially Buster, get spooked when the winds howled. He’s been sleeping close to his mama lately, sometimes even taking catpapa’s spot in the bed.

· I missed the Parol Festival or Parade again this year. I was reminded by a fellow blogger about it but the date coincided with our annual Tenderloin project. This would be the 3rd year in a row where we stuff Christmas sacks for the people at Open Cathedral. Open Cathedral is a project our reverend actively participates in. So every year we get together on a Saturday night, after collecting items to be put into the sacks all month long, to put together these gifts for the homeless of the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. Items collected are socks, scarves, mittens, toiletries, ponchos/umbrellas, etc. In addition we also make home-made Christmas cards, which I participated in this year. I usually just go around taking pictures and running around as a go-for girl. This year I sat on the craft table and found out that there was a little girl inside of me that still enjoyed making paper crafts. I thoroughly enjoyed it. On another table a group prepared sandwiches for bagged lunch that were also distributed the following Sunday after service. Then there’s another table that threaded cross for necklace. Since we have a large number of people who came to volunteer (the activity is advertised in the local magazine), we were able to finish quite early. Thus the fun singalong while our choir director tickled the ivory got underway earlier than usual and longer than normal. It was such a fun night. The remarkable thing about this is we have a Muslim family that is friends with the church and came for a second year in a row. It’s really nice to see Muslim family singing Christmas carols side by side with Christian brothers and sisters. A group of us, excluding the hubs and I, went to the Open Cathedral in the city on Sunday afternoon to attend mass and distribute the goodies. We were too tired to go to the city and had too many errands to run.

· In the midst of all the chaos of rain, shopping, and traffic, we managed to watch The Mockingjay Part 1. That just goes to show you that if there’s a will, there’s definitely a way. What can I say I’m already invested in this series and I love J. Law.

· So I was on Facebook one night and saw a posting by hubs ex-coworker and so I commented and the next thing I knew we were having dinner at a little hole in the wall in Albany, near Berkeley, at a burrito shop that sells burrito with Middle Eastern flavor. The Hot Shop in San Pablo Avenue corner Solano Avenue makes flavorful and reasonably priced burritos. They were so good. Talk about things moving fast, I think we’re going out of town together very soon, as we both bought a voucher for a cabin stay near Sequoia National Park.

· Last night I finished wrapping presents. Hopefully, that’s the end of it, although I know there’s a few that may or may not need wrapping.

· The Golden State Warriors, the local basketball team, is doing fantastic this season yet. We have been following them for years now and the excitement is rising exponentially this season.

· My goal before the Season ends is to get a decent Christmas/Holiday picture with the hubs and the cats, good enough to put on the cards next year.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

4th of December

Today is my father's death anniversary.

He's been gone a long time.

Nope. Correct that.

He's been gone a very long long time.

Three decades.

I asked myself, surprised.

How did we manage to go on without him?

It makes me sad to think that he didn't enjoy his life.

When he was alive he spent most of his life working. And he was not earning a living sitting in a cubicle tapping on some keyboard. Nope. He was doing manual labor. He was a driver, a vendor and did many small jobs. It was a tough life.

He persevered. Did not even enjoy the fruits of his labor.

Makes me really sad each time I think about that.

Rest in peace Dad.



Monday, December 1, 2014

Three Weeks Later

It is three weeks since the last post and roughly 3 weeks since we got back from our vacation.

Lots of things got in the way. There were tons of tv binging. Catching up with the regular tv programs we follow took up a lot of time. Didn't realize that we watch so much tv, that we follow too many tv shows.

And because we were glued in to the tube, I have not completely tidied up my stuff from the vacation. I have yet to locate the earrings that I wore in Europe, minor issue for now.

Thanksgiving came and went. We don't normally do Thanksgiving as a family (my bros and I) so we do that separately. In the past few years we always do the traditional spread, well we try to keep it as true to the core as possible, and invite people who have no plans for Thanksgiving.

This year, a whole 16-lb turkey and all the fixings and there's just us and one friend who decided to share the day with us.

To add to the busyness of the season, hubby's birthday fell on Black Friday. We don't join in the shopping madness and if we ever are going to shop it would be either late Saturday or Sunday.

In the past we use Black Friday as a good day to go for a short drive and typically that drive leads to the wine country. We followed the same plan this year. However, much to our surprise we timed it with the annual Festival of Lights in Yountville. Unfortunately though we arrived late so much so that all the tasting tickets were sold out.

The single glass tastings however were still available so we had a beer for him and cider for me. We have been dying to have some sweets from Bouchon Bakery, but the line was tooooo long, naturally. As much as we hated to walk away from the line, we did. We wanted to catch a bit of the fading light so we could do our fall color photography. We managed to get a bit of shooting until twilight.

Still hankering for some sweets we found our way to one of our favorite stops in the valley, Dean and Deluca. While the sweets was what we came for, I fell in love with the onion and chives cheese that was out for sampling. Now I'm kicking myself for not buying a wedge of it. It truly was delish, very creamy.

On Saturday it was rainy and gloomy and we were driving to Yuba City to meet up people who could tell us about managing small business. That took longer than we expected and by the time we finished it was dark, no way that we could do any more shooting. We thought we'd talk to people then get out and drive to Grass Valley and shoot.

Plan B was to swing by Old Sacramento just to check if the Christmas lights are on. After all, it's been a few years since we were there. And another bonus to this side trip, they have Theater of Lights presentation. What a fun show for people of all ages. Of course it was cold and rainy, but didn't stop people from having fun. We saw a lot of kids (a few adults) wearing jammies, must be something going on that we didn't know about. After walking around, we stopped for a bite and a sip.

Sunday was shopping day and we mostly went to Costco for some necessities. Got a robe and hoodie for hubby and nada for moi. Oh and we were able to replace our tired but still working bedroom tv. I'm loving the new tv btw, plus it was on sale.

Right now I'm writing this with my two kitties cuddle up in bed with me. Take care.





Saturday, November 8, 2014

I'm back!

Wow, the last post here was September 16? Huh! I can't remember why I wasn't posting here before my vacation, but now that I'm back from that freaking awesome vacay, I'm here to blab about it.

On October 15, we left for Venice. We had a very short layover in Toronto Airport. What little I saw of the airport, I really liked. Very clean and shiny. Then there's the modern panini bar. Naturally we had to get us some sample. Thankfully the eatery was next to the gate, otherwise we'd missed our flight. We were busy eating and did not hear the boarding announcements.

We stayed in Venice until the 18th. The hotel we stayed in was outside of Venice, in Mestre. The bus to Venice stops a few feet from the hotel which was really convenient. The hotel was nice too, considering it was the cheapest we could find that wasn't a hostel with shared bathroom.

Venice is beautiful; there's nothing like it. We bought a Venezia Unica - a card that entitles you to ride the vaporetto or water taxi and the bus unlimited for 48 hours. They also have it in different increments like 24 hours. Oh boy we used up that card. We took the water taxi for our DIY tour. We walked the narrow alleys, surprised each time we came upon another church, or another charming bridge that begs to be photographed. The nearby islands of Murano, Burano and Lido (where we stayed after the cruise) are equally beautiful. Venice is the main attraction, but these other islands are worth visiting. Murano is famous for their blown glass creations, Burano for their lace and Lido for their beach. Although the beach cannot hold a candle to other beaches I've been and seen. But these other islands have their own charm. The shopping in both Murano and Burano is fantastic. Burano's beauty just blew us away.

Food in Venice was a bit of let down. Although we had tried a lot of good eats, but not one dish or panini stood out. The much ballyhooed spritz also didn't impress me.

On the 18th our friends who were touring the rest of Italy came to Venice to join us for the cruise. The cruise left on the 18th and lasted 7 days visiting 4 different Greek islands. What an enjoyable and exhausting cruise.

Corfu was our first port of call. The lush greenery of the island reminded me more of a tropical country (similar feel to Costa Rica) as we drove around the small island. We rented a car and we drove around. We first followed the tour buses and went where they went; afterwards we explored the small island (20 mi x 40 mi) stopping at different spots (including two different beaches) to photograph the sights. The people are incredibly friendly and very hospitable.

In Mykonos (second port of call) we rented ATVs and did our tour of the island that way. But seriously nobody told us that Mykonos is one windy island. One local told us later that even in the ancient times (during the times of the Greek gods and goddesses) it has been established that Mykonos is one windy island. The beach had huge waves and rough waters. But guess what, there were a lot of cats in Mykonos. They were everyhere. I was in cat heaven. The main town is full of shops and restaurants and charming houses with narrow alleys. After shopping and browsing, we stopped at a local joint where we had stuffed pepper and stuffed tomato with fried smelt. The food was very good. The island was dry, not much vegetation and like Santorini the houses are whitewashed with windows with blue (sometimes) green trim.

Santorini is as advertised. It does not disappoint. Like Venice there is nothing like Santorini. The white houses perched on the cliff in Oia are as beautiful as the photoshopped images on the internet with the Santorini blue of the sky as backdrop. Best explored on foot, Oia's main thoroughfare is lined with restaurants and souvenir shops. It's tough to take one's eye off the view to shop, though. We took the ferry to Oia then a bus to Fira. Besides more shopping and sunset watching, we ate in Fira. Arguably the best meal (stuffed squid) I've had in this trip was from this busy touristy spot where the donkeys passed while we ate and whose owner was a very very kind man.

In Katakolon, we again rented a car to get to Olympia (the birthplace of the Olympic games). The four of us explored the ruins of Olympia by ourselves and I wished we had a guide to tell us about what we were looking at and their significance. We went out to eat here but nothing to brag about. We had a tuna wrap and since this is Greece and restaurants seem to have a resident cat(s) and dog(s), the cat got most of the tuna. I made sure I picked out the tuna to feed the cute kitty. My companions were feeding the dog. We did our shopping at Katakolon because we felt like the shopping there was better since they were in one spot only. Also, the people here are unbelievably kind, honest and hospitable.

When the cruise docked back in Venice we spent the half day (our last) in Venice with our friends seeing the sights. Then we all took the vaporetto to Lido where our hotel was located. We had dinner in a local restaurant and had a lot of fun afterwards. The breakfast was incredible - champagne, cold cuts, bacon, eggs, many varieties of bread and even more varieties of pastries and cakes. Wow, the hotel room was very nice as well.

The following day we flew to Barcelona via Zurich. Our hotel in Barcelona is located near the Ramblas, the famous pedestrian thoroughfare full of shopping and dining and including the very famous La Boqueria market. Our hotel was about a block and 1/2 away from Ramblas. How convenient. As usual we had good eating here. Also went to see Montserrat, the one we missed when we came here first in 2009.

The next cruise left Barcelona and visited the following cities/ports: Marseilles (France), Genoa (Italy), Malaga (Spain), Casablanca (Morocco) and Lisbon (Portugal). The port cities are very appealing to us that's why we went on this cruise. The first time we have been on MSC. While the cruise is not bad, we found out it's just not for us. We were bored to tears; literally bored. I even checked out a book from the library and finished it :)

The highlight of the cruise (not the ports, that's another story and not a disappointment) is when a group of Chinese actors came on board to shoot a reality show called Traveling with Parents. Chinese actors/singers (some couples) and their offsprings which I understand are also dabbling in showbiz were shooting a reality show about spending time with parents and find time to travel with them despite all of their busy schedules. So much fun to see these "famous" actors/actresses being followed by camera. If you have access to this I'm sure I'm in one or two shots, not intentionally, but I just come across them. On one shot I was one of the audience watching their "concert" and I was all smiles listening to the music that I don't understand, but the music was very catchy so I was enjoying myself and before I know it, there's a camera right in my face, catching my reaction.

The ports on this cruise are wonderful. We took the Hop On Hop Off bus tours in Marseilles and Genoa. We did a DIY in Malaga and had ample time to pound the pavement and sample the seafood and the wine. The shopping is excellent too. In Casablanca we got lucky to have a very friendly taxi driver for our DIY tour. We also had a tagine lunch and saw the sights.

Lisbon was our last port of call. On Lisbon day, we learned that there was a conflict between the arrival of the boat in Barcelona and our departure flight from Barcelona. Our flight out of Barcelona is 11:45 am and the boat was scheduled to arrive by 12 noon at the earliest. So we were rushed, stressed and conflicted. We knew we had to find our own way to Barcelona because we definitely could not miss our flight home.

I suggested to go to the airport and speak to Lufthansa people and see what our options are. Turned out we had only one option and that is to find our own way to Barcelona. We had to get off the boat and stay in Lisbon, which I was happy to do. Lisbon is too pretty and I was eager to explore it.

So we bought an extra plane ticket to Barcelona from Lisbon, which was not really bad, about E130/pp. While the husband was getting this done, I was sitting in the airport using free wifi to search for hotels. I had circled three. We got back to the boat with plenty of time before sailing time. I told the hubby to go to the boat's cyber cafe so he can book the hotel while I ran up to the cabin to pack. Holy moly! I packed 3 suitcases like the Tasmanian devil.

However, the good Lord was very kind to us. The hotel he picked (not any of the ones I chose) was perfect. It's a budget hotel in a pedestrian zone next to a plaza (square) and the street is lined with restaurants and hotels and souvenir shops. We had the room by the street and our small balcony was perfect for people watching.

So we ended up staying in Lisbon for two days, took the Hop On Hop Off bus tour, ate our way around the neighborhood, had some ginja, walked until my feet were going to fall off. The first day was raining, we were walking the streets and were getting wet, but didn't mind it. The second day it was all blue blue sky, but the breeze was cool.

Lisbon is so beautiful, the tiles are spectacular, the architecture impressive, the food could rival Barcelona. The people are super friendly. We had a great time here. We would go back and stay longer so we could visit outlying areas like Sintra.

On our last day, we had a long long day. Our flight from Lisbon left at 7 am Lisbon time, arrived in Barcelona at 10:00 am. At 11:45, the flight to Munich left. The SFO bound plane left Munich at 4:45 pm. We arrived in SFO at 7:00 pm. There were many time changes I could not completely tally the number of hours we flew or waited in the airport. Munich airport however is a nice one, there are free coffee (different varieties including the mochachinos) and hot tea and hot chocolate. Also there is a brewery inside which serves many varieties of beer. We naturally had beer here too.

So all in all it was a wonderfully tiring vacation. Owing to the fact that this is Europe, walking is pretty much expected. Except that we walked and walked and walked and walked. Never ending walking, I tell you.

Now this is one long post. I should have warned you beforehand.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What's in the water?

A few months ago, it was pregnancy. We have 5 people pregnant. Today there's like 5 people including me who have crazy bad headache.

No reason for this post, thought I'd write it down.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Postcards anyone?

We are expecting a house guest in a few days. She will be staying for a week so we are busy cleaning the house. We even installed a curtain rod in the guest room that becomes Emma's room the rest of the time. As part of cleaning, I have to just tidy up stuff and in the process of tidying up, I stumbled upon postcards that I collected on our travels. Oh my goodness I didn't realize I was such a maniac before when it comes to postcards. I don't buy anymore, when I do I usually limit it to 3 or 4 or a $1.00 worth. I also recognize that some of the postcards are not great quality that my photos are even better sometimes.

So anyone wants a postcard? I am happy to send you one.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Can I show you some pictures?

Really, may I? I have been lost for words lately and no inspiration pops in my brain lately. It must have been due to all the headaches I've been having lately, may be I'm developing migraine. I don't want to talk about headaches here now.

These pictures however relieves stress, cures headaches, and inspires me to look forward to some travel.

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

August 24

Let me tell you about my day:

About 2:00 am - finally got to sleep, been having stomach problems. There's stomach virus going around.

About 3:20 am - the whole house shook, quite long. shaken enough to open eye and hold husbands hands wherein we both declared rather loudly in a darkened and quiet room, EARTHQUAKE!!!! I was more asleep than awake so the length of the shaking and the strength didn't bother me. Thankful it happened that way because with a bad stomach I don't think I could handle lack of sleep.

About 8:00 am - went downstairs to check on the house. Nothing fell on the floor, the paintings and photos are still on the wall, the house looked intact. Outside is a different story. Driveway has three new cracks in the cement and backyard has a crack. Thankful for the very minor damage.

About 9:30 am - church.

About 12:00 nn - joined family at the park. Nephew's partner planned to propose to him via a mob flash. Their friends and colleagues organized the bbq, the dance, the proposal. I was happy to be there.

About 2:00 pm - trying out shoes at a shoe store in Berkeley and getting a bad customer service by a Filipino employee. If I was to shell out $200 for a pair, I'd like a little smile with my service and to be treated well.

About 3:00 pm - enjoying Ikea shopping. Went to get a side table for guest bedroom, went home with a lot of stuff and no side table. It's always like that isn't it?

About 5:30 pm - Macy's shoe shopping and clothes shopping. Nothing I liked in the shoe department and decided to leave the clothes I pick on the rack and went home.

I am thankful for this day.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Well....

Obviously nothing comes to mind lately if we're basing on the frequency of post here is concerned. I know it's been 2 weeks since the last entry and somehow days just went by and the appeal to put into paper thoughts have decreased tremendously this year. I checked earlier today and I was shocked. This year 2014 it's already mid August and the number of posts of I have is........23!!!!!

Two-wen-tee three!!!!!

That's right! A measly 23 posts. Around 3 posts a month!

I could not believe that. I'm quite surprised at my paltry output here. Was I too busy, too uninspired? Whatever it is, it's no use looking back. Best look forward to racking up posts in the coming days.

While I was on silent m ode, I celebrated my birthday. Birthdays are a blessing, but some more than other bring great joy to the celebrant. This isn't the case with me this year. Oh no, don't get me wrong. I am not feeling depressed, sad, or lonely. As a matter of fact, I feel extremely blessed.

Still this year I was not feeling the birthday vibe. Case in point, I went to work on my birthday. Surprised the hubby and co-workers who worked with me for a long time and know and expect not to see me around my birthday, but there I was at work. And it's not as bad as I feared it to be, especially this being the first time in so long I can't even remember the last time I was at work on my birthday.

I thanked God for another birthday and the shower of blessings I received throughout the year. Yet I was in no mood to whip it up. Maybe next year.

I got sushi for dinner on my birthday. We cannot let a birthday pass by without cake and dinner. Tried the new (to us but I believe it's relatively new) sushi place along San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito. Small place, intimate setting. My birthday fell on a Wednesday so I was pleased to see that people were eating out on weekdays too. Good for business. This is what we had: two special sushi rolls, grilled squid, takoyaki (sp) or squid balls and grilled bacon-wrapped okra. Looking at the items we ordered, I didn't think it would fill us up but it did. I was full to the gills when I walked out of the restaurant. I would go back there someday.

Also, I am so busy right now prepping for the big vacation that's only 2 months away. How could that be so close? We booked this about a year and a half ago and here it is finally nearing. To say that I'm excited is an understatement. In addition, I look forward to separately meeting up with a blogger pal in Barcelona and a high school classmate also in Barcelona. My excitement is high up there I am so close to losing sleep over it.

Before I close let me say how much I enjoy getting snail mail from a blogger pal. It brings back a lot of memories of days gone by when waiting for mail occupied my days. I just received another snail mail today from her. So much fun I tell you.

Talk you all later.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I was thinking about curve balls and other things......

Well on Friday I was so keen on blogging here that I started to write the post in my head. It was about life throwing me another curve ball. But as usual before I can even put thoughts in paper or in this case in my draft folder, life righted itself and curve ball wasn't thrown at all. Again, it's just me reacting first before thinking. Heavens! When will I learn to read everything first before reacting violently and panicking for no reason.

If you want to know this is what happened. We are on the process of planning for our trip in the fall. We are actually doing 2 cruises, yes I know too much noh? The thing is though when you go to Europe it seems a waste to just stay there for a week, after all you paid that much for the plane fare and traveled all that way just to stay for a week? Or in this case cruise for a week?

The planning for a cruise involves mostly excursions or day trips during port days. This was what I was planning on doing, getting really serious about research and all. And THEN all of a sudden I looked up the dates of our second cruise and voila, I couldn't find the cruise anymore? Instead there is one for the cruise ship but with a different cruise date. Major panic button pressed and bells started to ring in my head.

By the time I had the hubby know of my concern, he said I must be mistaken because well, I'm always mistaken. I don't read everything well, I always skip paragraphs when I read, etc etc.

Turned out the husband was right, as usual I was wrong. Well, I was so relieved to find that I was wrong. Now back to normal programming of research and such.

Also this summer we have finally gotten the time and courage to enroll in swimming lesson at the local swim center. Aside from the husband there are two friends of ours who joined us to learn swimming. There were more people interested in getting lessons when we were talking about it, but in the end there are just the four of us. It comes as no surprise that of the four I am the one that is lagging in progress. I still have to master my courage and curb my fear. I'll get there. I told the college-aged instructor that my goal is to learn how to float and to kick. Simple right? Then my husband told him that it would be the instructor's major achievement if he can teach me how to swim. Yes, I admit I find it really really tough. One more week of lessons to go.

In addition to all these things, last weekend we had our church camping at Samuel P. Taylor State Park at the Madrone Group Campsite. Despite my apprehension of not enjoying it, I did. After all I like everyone who came to camp with us; they're my church family. Someone from church loaned us her bigger tent so there was plenty of room for the two of us, except that we were sleeping the wrong direction and I was rolling off to my side. Also by the second night the air mattress was losing air :)

Summer is nearly at its end but the weather around here is starting to get hot. OMG hot! I cannot stand heat. And by the way we had humidity here, not too much now, but last week I believe it was. Another thing I cannot stand.

Since I'm writing, yesterday to beat the heat we decided to watch a movie when it was the hottest time. We went to see Mark Wahlberg (love him)in the new Transformers movie. How can he be playing a dad to a 17-year-old hottie, he's far too young. Plus, how come he has no love interest in this movie?

Oh I spent today (Sunday) bingeing on tv via ON DEMAND. I've seen the first 3 episodes of the Halle Berry starrer EXTANT, really interesting and good casting. Also in my menu for today was THE STRAIN, watched 2 episodes. I was very interested in both shows which only mean that I am a big sci-fi nerdie now :)

Okay I think this is all for now. This blog is like an old friend that I wanted to share things/activities with.

Monday, July 7, 2014

6-month Review


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A 6-month look back is not something I've done in the past. At least I don't think so, or don't remember. But I'm compelled to do one this time because I have had an unproductive blogging record here the first half of the year. Perhaps doing a recap or review would compensate for the lack of regular posts lately.

So the first half of the year went this way:

A Vegas road trip in January was what the doctor ordered. The long road trip was enjoyable for the most part, where I indulged in wool gathering while soaking up all the roadside sights. However, it was very long and eventually at some point I got bored and just wanted to get there. While in Vegas, we took day trips to Zion and Valley of Fire SP. All in all, it was an enjoyable break from the daily routine.

Got the scare of my life when my wallet went missing and I scampered to replace all the credit cards and driver's license, only to find the missing wallet in my car a few days later. The same car that was thoroughly searched, not once or twice, but four times.

Baby sat our friends' kids overnight as our gift for their wedding anniversary. The younger kid was so excited because we have the video game he liked and he's enamored with my cats, especially Buster who he kept begging the cat sleep with him.

I won a Coach bag from a blogger that I read religiously. The blog is based in the Philippines. It is my first brand name bag and probably the last.

Hosted bbq for friends on two different occasions.

For our 7th wedding anniversary we took a road trip to Lake Tahoe, Yosemite and on our day 3 we stayed at our friend's cabin near Yosemite, in Groveland.

Had a house guest from Bangladesh. He's visiting here in the USA with his group, they are stage actors and their theater group was invited (with 13 other countries) to a conference in Tampa. He invited us to see his play, but it would be cost prohibitive for both the hubs and I to travel so we asked if he had time to come stay with us for a few days. Luckily he had so we took him to do a lot of touristy things in San Fran and Monterey. I like being a tourist guide.

That's how my first half went. Although sadly I've done a lot of procrastination during this period. Likewise there's too many things going on that bogs me down, probably why I was unable to blog here too, because this blog make me write about my life unlike this blog where I only recount my trips and day trips or this blog where I write about my cats.

Looking ahead I hope that I'll be able to blog more. In addition, I have a big trip coming up in the fall that will tie me up in research about places to see, food to try, souvenirs to buy.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Sports


Sports.

That's whats on my mind. Sports. Soccer to be specific. The World Cup. I'm not a soccer fan. But every time the World Cup comes around, I'm there watching. Talking futbol to people. A co-worker asked if I talk futbol too or I just talk baseball.

The fun thing about the World Cup is the passion that oozes out of the teams. The pride of representing their countries is palpable through the tv screen. I root for teams without knowing a single player. I root for teams who live and breathe futbol.

This is why despite the obvious reason to root for team USA at the back of my mind I thought they should not/could not be successful at this sport. A sport that the majority of its residents don't care for. That is why I was really torn when they beat Ghana. They deserve to win this year after being beaten by the same team for two consecutive World Cups. However, a win in this tournament means so much more to the Ghanians (?) than it does to the Americans.

I don't know the rules of soccer. I'm learning slowly. But even to a casual observer, I can appreciate all the drama of these games. It's fun!

In other topic, a few hours ago I was contemplating on writing here since I haven't been regular in posting lately. I remember the name of this blog - Whatever Comes To Mind - and thought why not write whatever comes to mind right there and then. That's what I would like to do with this blog. Of course I wouldn't completely dismiss writing recaps of my daily/weekly happenings.




Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I was going to post this on Monday, but I got lazy.


As the heat(wave) was descending upon the valley by the bay this weekend , I was having another whinefest. It did not help that days prior I learned for the first time that we were having another cook-out with the neighbors on Sunday afternoon. Not that I don't like the neighbors. In fact I like them very much. They have been very welcoming when we first moved in 5 years ago and we have maintained a very good neighborly relationship since then. It's not even the entertaining and the things one needs to do before the said day - like cleaning the house for instance - for the record it's the fact that I wasn't even consulted. Yes, not consulted. I overheard the phone conversation between my husband and the neighbor about what they're bringing and what my husband is grilling.

My husband is wonderful but sometimes his timeline and time table don't coincide mine. Is it too much to ask for a quiet Sunday? The cook out turned out wonderful by the way. We ate slowly and savored every juicy bite of the chicken and the ribs and the sides and the chatter was continuous throughout the afternoon and evening. While that was really enjoyable, by the time the thing wrapped up it was nearly 8 pm. Yes I know there's plenty of light outside at that time still; however, my "chill" time on the weekend was considerably cut very very short.

The neighbors came after 3 pm. Before that I was at church having a meeting. I have probably mentioned once or twice that I am a member of the church "governing group" like a student body officer in school. Anyhow, it was one of those long quarterly meetings. One of the things that I took from that meeting was nothing to do with taking care of business at hand, but one of the sharings that happen before every meeting. Since yesterday was Pentecost Sunday and how the Holy Spirit inspires us, we were sharing our passions and inspirations to do what God calls us to do. I shared how this year I have been uninspired to do anything. I feel rushed, I feel burdened, burnt out. And so I have no inspiration to do anything. This by the way was seconded by a guy in the group, who felt that there's too many thing on the plates right now that taking on another thing is not doable. Cannot blame him, he got two kids under 13 years.

However what was inspiring to me was another lady who shared that while most of us are hellbent on helping other people (the needy, the hopeless, the homeless, the hungry), she doesn't care for all that. Her passion is calling her to help the birds. And so she volunteers to take care of birds.

I thought that's wonderful. I have a similar passion with cats, feral cats. Although unlike her my passion is limited to feeding those that frequent my backyard or those that once in a while find their way in my backyard. I hope I could do more and I vow to do more in the future.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Some random updates


How can I let this blog lay idle for three weeks? Was I that busy? That uninspired?

Anyway, some of the things that happen between the last post and today:

We had another bbq at home with friends from church. There were 12 people who came, 10 adults and 2 kids. We are getting so good at this, because at the end of the day there was only a little bit of food leftover. Usually we prepare way too much food for grilling and no matter how much people eat, we always end up with so much food to freeze. And I'm not one to enjoy eating leftovers from 6 months ago.

After months of toying with the idea of having girls night out, we finally did it. I organized a women's happy hour at Chevy's. Four of us gathered after work on a Friday and chatted our way through margaritas and chips and dips, quesadillas and tacos, chili rellenos and tamales. By 10:00 pm, my phone was ringing. The hubby was inquiring what's taking me so long. This was my first night out with the girls since I got married.....7 years ago!!!!

Speaking of 7 years, we celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary by taking a road trip to Lake Tahoe and Yosemite. Until this trip, I didn't realize that all I know of Lake Tahoe was the Southern part. This time we stayed in North Lake Tahoe and enjoyed the pleasant weather and blue skies. We stayed in a charming little cabin, watched sunset by the pier, walked the private beach, ate late dinner at a kitschy restaurant, grabbed snacks and beer at a local brewing company restaurant and drove around the lake stopping at different points. It was a wonderful vacation.

Two days in Lake Tahoe, then we retraced our 2008 road trip to scenic Highway 395. The difference this time we stopped at the south Mono Lake site where we saw the larger tufas, such a joy to see.

In addition, we took Tioga Pass to Yosemite. Compared to 2008 (we also visited on Memorial Day weekend)there was less snow on the mountaintops, which was quite disappointing but did not detract from the overall beauty of Yosemite. Took a day trip to Yosemite stopping at Toulumne River, Tuolumne Meadow, Olmstead Point, etc.

For the night we stayed at a friend's cabin in Groveland. They invited us to stay over so we can assess the cabin's rental worthiness. They are planning on putting it up for rental when they don't use it. According to them, they get plenty of usage, sometimes driving up there (3+ hours from bay area) 2 weekends a month. What we saw was more of a second home. It was set up as a home, not a cabin that is rarely used. It's big and the location is perfect, about 30 minutes from Yosemite. It has 2 br 2ba and a huge deck that is shaded by oak and pine trees. Deers roam around freely.

Lastly, I got to see the new X-men movie. I thought it was good, I enjoyed it fully.

So there, I think that's all that has happened since the last time I signed in here. Hopefully I will find something interesting to write about and share.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I love to watch them sleep.


I'm a cat mom who enjoys watching the cats sleep. They are so peaceful and angelic when asleep. I take a lot of pictures of them sleeping.

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..........and sleep.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

One month later.....


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Here I am nearly a month later. Honestly don't know how I was unable to post at all during that time when I was religiously and regularly posting in my other blogs.

I'm writing now and I still don't know what to write.

It's May now and April just flew by. The past month just seemed to be filled with activities, or you may call them chores :).

A few hours ago we just had our first bbq. Had a few friends over and had a wonderful day. The day turned out to be a bit breezy, but nothing like breezy like yesterday. I overate again, lamb skewers, kebab, steak, korean bbq-marinated chicken wings,grilled veggies, potato salad, etcetera etcetera.

Yesterday we were invited to Fundraiser for a choral group. A friend of ours is a member of the group, we saw their concert last month, and so he paid for the whole table and invited couple friends of theirs. When we got invited I asked what the dress code was and I was told it's Cinco de Mayo so anything Mexican. Idiot me, I borrowed my mom's Mayan traditional dress and wore it for the fundraiser. On the drive to the venue I was having second thoughts. I knew right then that I made a mistake of dressing up. But we were too far from home to turn back and change. Besides I thought no one knows me anyway.

Well I was right, no body dressed up in Mexican attire. Well there was one. Everyone else was wearing casual dress. Anyway, our friend said to me, "You were not kidding, you do have a Mexican dress!"

Since it was a fundraiser, there were both a silent auction and a loud (live) auction in addition to a raffle. One from our table won in the raffle, after she proclaims she never wins in raffle (that is aside from the one she won at our church fundraiser). The one item I bid on silent auction I won because no one else wanted it. It was a handmade earring. The hubby bid on several items, but won a set of bone china tea set made in India.

Well I guess this is all for now. I'm all too preoccupied with planning our fall travel. BTW when we mentioned about our plans for fall, a couple who were in the bbq with us seemed to be interested in joining us. I like the couple, so it should be fun.

Monday, April 7, 2014

If it's not blooming, it's budding!

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What an enjoyable weekend I had!

First off, my long-standing Saturday lunch date with mom that was uneventful. Then as I was driving her to her errands we passed by this little hillside that is covered in golden poppies. It simply took my breath away. Took mental note to take hubby here after church for little photo session.

The rest of Saturday afternoon I did NOTHING but watch the Giants beat the LA Dodgers on tv. I refused to do anything but concentrate on my Giants, selfish of me I know, but it worked out fine because the hubby has a "work date" with a couple of guys at church.

By the time he got back there was just enough time to still catch Costco open. Got a few items in Costco and was very focused on getting only what is on the list. I have a problem shopping at Costco because I seem to like everything they have - which is the exact opposite of going to the mall for me.

Sunday I remembered to pack both cameras when we drove out to church service. I told the hubby I was taking him for a photo shoot to a surprise location. However, he took me first to this empty land in a residential area where the lot is filled with golden poppies. How delightful to live next to this empty lot. My heart leapt for joy. Spring flowers and sunny skies give so much joy.

Next we drove out to the hillside and he's surprised that there's so much poppies this year. We lived in this neighborhood for years and this is the only year that poppies grow here, or any other spring wildflowers. Oh more joy!

Got home and made burgers for lunch then off to the garden I went. I planted two tomatoes, two peppers, an eggplant, a pot/container of mesculun greens, some catnip, cat grass, and made a few repotting of plants. The weather on Sunday was glorious, perfect for gardening. You should see the line at Home Depot Garden Center on Sunday. You know it's time to plant.

Ended the weekend with a dinner of home-made sushi and sashimi. Thankfully we have sushi-grade tuna at home. The hubs really know how to make good food.

Thank heavens for all these blessings. Spring, you're so much fun!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Last Day of March, First Day of Baseball Season

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Or a whole lot of randomness:

My mother had another milestone birthday last Saturday. A good number of the grandchildren were in attendance, even after her favorite grandchild commented, "Only grandma can invite a day before the event and expect everyone will show up." Well that was my fault, really. My mother wanted to celebrate her birthday with just her children, all five of us, but my brothers didn't know about this wish. Only I know what she really wanted for her birthday. However, I cannot let that happen. How can she have a birthday without her grandchildren and great grandchildren in attendance? After all we hardly get together in one place aside from Christmas day, so I sent out an email and facebook messaged grandchildren of the plans after I heard from my brother that he reserved a place for us at a local buffet. Mother wanted to eat at buffet. Well, that's her only vice and joy to eat out every week. Sometimes, twice when I happen to take her on a Saturday and bro #4 takes her out on one of the weekdays.

And so when we arrived at the restaurant after braving the strong downpour she saw her grandchildren at the entrance first. So I whispered to her, "Everyone is here."

It turned out to be really good day. The restaurant gave us two hours to eat and eat we did. Then we all came back home to have cake and one of the grandchildren brought ice cream. Then there were card games for the adults, card games and board games for the younger set, and a whole lot of running inside the house and chasing by the much younger set (great grandchildren).

I made tea three times and we put coffee on once. When only my brothers and one sister in law were left because they were still playing cards, I made pizza and heat up the meatballs I made the previous night so they can nibble while playing cards.

Moving on....there isn't much going on with me. Work is pretty busy so far. My tv shows are quite interesting. I have gained two new addictions - Crisis and Believe. But I'm catching them via On Demand on the weekends.

What is most anticipated is the start of the baseball season today. The Giants are playing the Diamondbacks tonight. Hopeful that they would be competing when September comes, isn't that what's first day of baseball is all about?

On the homefront, my dear Emma celebrated her fourth adoption day (GOTCHA DAY) on Sunday and of course she had treats and lots more treats whole day long. Now she's back on diet :)

It's been raining, so it's fun. At least it helps our very dry state. I wish there would be more storms coming up.

So until next time.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Of Corned Beef and Cabbage and WTH.....


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Every year on St. Patrick's Day our non-Irish household has adopted this tradition of eating an Irish dish, corned beef and cabbage. I love this dish. It's one of those dishes that can give you comfort, that one can make you happy. I look forward to St. Patty's because of this dish. It's also one of those once-a-year meal, like turkey is only for Thanksgiving.

Anyway, something happened to me. I don't know how to explain it. I don't know how it happened.

A couple of days ago on my commute home from work as I was nearing a Costco where I would gas up for the week, I suddenly found myself swerving left and right and my speed is higher than I would normally do.

I don't know what happened or how it happened. It seemed to me like all of a sudden I was trying to control the car from swerving the left and then to the right. It only happened a few seconds, but I felt like I was watching myself do it. It's pretty frightening on hindsight. But while it was happening and soon after I got the car in control again I was not scared. Fear wasn't what I felt. Confusion was. I was at a loss for explanation for what just happened. I was too shock to be scared. As a matter of fact, I felt my pulse and it's normal. My heart was beating normally, not jumping out of my chest as I expected after an experience like that. I am easily ruffled and get nervous quickly and so my "normal" reaction to what had transpired puzzled me. I told myself to take a few minutes longer to gas up so that I can compose myself, but when I got out of the car to put gas on, my legs weren't shaky. NO part of my body was stressed or agitated.

I pinched myself. Am I alive? I read and watch so many stories like this. Anyway when I got home (I made a conscious effort to drive slower than normal) I asked the husband to kiss to me. I then blurted out what happened.

Days later I am shaken, scared, but still very much baffled at what really happened.

One thing I know for sure....I'm lucky. I'm truly blessed. My guardian angel was with me the whole way.

Monday, March 10, 2014

First Time....x2


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2014 so far is turning out to be a year of firsts. It also is gearing towards a spontaneous kind of year. I'm loving it so far.

On Saturday our friends' kids stayed over for the night. We volunteered to look after the kids that day because our friends were celebrating a wedding anniversary. Having no close relatives nearby, we thought that it would be nice to let them have time for themselves. It is our belief that husband and wife must spend time alone together for the health of their relationship. I am so glad when I got a call on Friday night as the cats loafed on top of me as I vegetated on the couch watching some tv show asking if I could take in the kids for a few hours. I told him we're eager to take the kids for the rest of the night, handing the hubby the phone so that he could make more convincing. Our friend said he would discuss it with the wifey first and call us back. I knew the wife was willing to leave the kids with us, she was the first one I told that I was willing to get the kids off her hands for the night.

Thus, it happened. My first babysitting "job" overnight where the kids aren't related to me by blood. The kids are 12 and 6 and so it wasn't any trouble at all. The Xbox was a big help, pizza was welcomed and bacon was inhaled. I adore these kids, they've been to the house a few times with their parents and they know the ins and outs of the house. Plus the younger one loves our cats. At 6 years old, he proudly announced he's a cat person!

Their time at home went by smoothly. We brought them to church with us, the older one was doing acolyte duties that Sunday. Of course they got questioning looks when they showed up at church without their parents. So happy I could babysit for friends.

Later after church, the other "first" in my life happened.

A few days before we learned that the Wheel of Fortune mobile is going to conduct auditions in nearby North Bay, at the newly opened Graton Resort and Casino. Since it's only about an hour's drive away we thought it would be fun and totally atypical of us to go and audition. The experience alone would be memorable I thought.

And it was. The line on that Sunday afternoon wasn't nearly as bad. It wrapped around the casino floor, but it moved at a reasonable pace. New to the audition process, I found the whole experience to be fascinating. We were given a piece of paper, a form to fill out, waited in line and then asked to drop our form in a see-through bucket and ushered into a banquet hall. The travelling host was energetic and funny. Then he draw 30 names out of the bucket, 5 at a time and those 5 were to play a Wheel of Fortune game on the stage. The people whose names got called were not guaranteed a slot in the show. I believe they were looking for personality that would be good for tv. The hundreds of names that were not called will get another chance in 2 months when they would draw more names for auditions or chance to get to the show in Los Angeles.

Anyway, it was fun and people were having a good time. I realized that there are indeed so many people addicted and fanatic to the show. I felt out of place there. I am a casual watcher and an average puzzle solver, I had no business being there. As expected I did not get my name called, neither was husband, but we did have the best time.

After the show (another batch of auditioners were being led into the hall), we sat at a penny slot machine. Each of us had $10 to waste on the machine. I lost all of mine and husband's $10 became $55.00 in three spins. Already feeling like a winner we went home with our "winnings" and went searching for some Mexican food.

Fun and tiring weekend.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Randomness


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Scandal is back!!!! Why am I not very excited?

No one to be excited about in the new lineup of American idol.

Nothing is making me excited about spring. Is it because we hardly had a winter to speak of?

I won a coach bag from a blog I read religiously. I won it just by commenting on a post, which I regularly do. My first branded bag. Thanks.

On my other blog, my kitties also won a bag of treats from another kitty blog we read regularly.

Two wins, maybe I should buy a lottery ticket now!

Been eating out quite too much this first 2 months of the year. Not losing weight at all.

Looking forward to not wasting away my 2014.

Would love to take on more sewing projects. The first time I sew it was like riding a bike, once you learned you will never forget it. I love it.

Friday, February 28, 2014

One more thing


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I've seen it from different angles now, not once but a few times and my conclusion is this - it boils down to these 3 key elements:

First is forgiveness. You must learn to forgive your partner from what he/she has done or left undone. You must accept that you were hurt by his/her actions or words and that you are willing to bury the hatchet. Forgive your partner and yourself for all the hurtful things and words you gave and received.

Secondly is amnesia. You must be able to completely erase this painful episode from your memory. Nothing less than a complete surrender of one's being to amnesia is effective to make this relationship work.

And lastly be able to communicate. This unfortunate incident has opened my eyes that you were not communicating with each. You must find a way to be open about your thoughts and feelings to each other without fear of rejection or ridicule. Honest and open should be the line of communication for a relationship to thrive and prosper.

That's all I have to say. And yes, this is my unsolicited advise. I'm done now!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Talking to Myself


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I'm struggling to be a friend right now. I found out that I'm not as patient with "friends" as I thought I am. I learned that my well of understanding is shallow and that my power of persuasion borders on the fringes of dictatorship.

I pride myself in having the best shoulders to cry on and the most patient ears in the friendship business, but this time my claims have been challenged and questioned and put into test every single time.

What happened to me? I need to meditate to find courage to help friends find their way back to their happy zone.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Winter, Olympics, AI and other projects


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It's been a weird winter. Drought in California and endless snowstorm in the East, Midwest and some parts of the South. I know the rest of the country can't wait for spring to come and snow on the ground to melt, but I'm a bit anxious of the arrival of both spring and summer. If the trend continues and we don't get any significant rainfall between now and summer, I'm pretty sure we will see water rationing. I never experienced having water rationing before, full time. I remember when my brother used to live in Makati, they get water from about 5 am to 9 am and then again from 6 pm to about 10 pm. They collect water in a large bin in the bathroom and more bins in the kitchen. They have the faucets continuously running during those hours and the pressure wasn't great but the household water needs were met. You learn to make do with the available resources I suppose.

In other news, I've been enjoying the Olympic Games so far, although I've been getting impatient with women's figure skating which is finally tonight. I'm not checking online for spoilers as I know the short program is completed earlier in the day.

Additionally, American Idol is back! I'm loving Harry Connick Jr as the moral fiber of the group, so to speak. I really really like him and this early I could see that the trio of judges gel together well, unlike the ragtag team of last year's judging panel. Really dislike Mariah and Nikki Minaj.

I went shopping crazy a few weeks ago. I went to my closet and found that my pants were one by one disintegrating. They have been used so many times that they were dying on me. No other choice but to shop. So I bought 5 pants and 3 tops. Now the pants need to be altered, I mean shortened. I usually buy pants labelled "short" but this time around they didn't have those. So the pants were sitting in my closet accummulating cat hair until I convinced the hubby to invest in a simple sewing machine. Great timing K-Mart was selling a "simple" sewing machine, yes that's what it's called, last week for $79. So we bought one. It's Wednesday now and the only action that the sewing machine had seen were scratches from the cats curious about the heavy box sitting at the foot of the bed. I can stitch two fabrics together, I know how to use a sewing machine. My mother did not teach me how to cook - although she was a great cook - but she taught me how to sew. So my project now is to shorten the pants. I am giving myself a week to complete this project.

In addition, I still have that cross stitch project that I agreed to do with my San Diego friend. She and I will do a cross stitch project at the same time and will check on each other's progress online. Unfortunately she had to go home to the homeland because her mother passed away. I think today is her arrival back stateside.

That's all for now. I'm getting lazy putting my thoughts and feelings on writing, so there's less and less stuff here.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Heart's Day


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There is this force that compels me to write today. Is it because today's Valentine's Day? Or despite of it? Whatever the occult reasoning behind this interest to jot down something and share I'm happy to do so.

I over ate today. Chinese food c/o supervisor at work who treated everyone in the staff lunch. Pretty nice move. Then one brought strawberries - sweet, succulent - and she handpicked 2 of the biggest ones for me. Again another one received a big box of Sampler's chocolates and I was encouraged to enjoy a piece or two. Naturally I helped myself to 2 pieces, are you kidding me?

Now I know the hubs has some special dinner at home. While we don't do the whole Valentine thing - dinner, roses, chocolates, gifts - we find a way to fix something special for dinner at home. We tried to go out to dinner on V-Day before and it was disastrous. The amount of people eating out today is incredible.

Anyway, since it's Valentine's Day I'd like to share what transpired at the bedroom last night. No it's not x-rated in nature. So here goes: We were watching Jimmy Kimmel as we always do and he has this segment where he had 2 couples in different cities and it's like a scavenger hunt sort of game. One of the things he asked the couples is this: Bring something that belongs to your partner that you hate but he/she loves.

I didn't think anything more about it. We tune in to Kimmel and then set the timer on the tv. We find that we easily could sleep when there's tv noise so we keep Kimmel on.

Long after I took off my glasses and the lights were put out, I noticed that he was still awake, which is off since he could easily drift to dreamland when head hits pillow.

So I asked if he's okay. He said he's thinking of something that he hates of mine that I truly love. Oh-em-gee! He's serious about this.

To give him a little help I volunteered my answer to Kimmel's question. I told him that I truly hate his brown shorts that he loved to wear everywhere. He's worn it overseas even, I cannot stand it.

My answer gave way to his answer. I have this long t-shirt that is worn inside the house either as a lounger or as a nightgown. He said he hated seeing that. It's full of holes and I'm still wearing it. Before tonight he didn't say anything about it, except noticing that it's full of holes. How would I know he didn't like it.

As much as I liked that shirt, it really is time to retire it.

Anyway, for those who are brave enough to go out and celebrate this holiday, hope you enjoy yourself and your company.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Some of my favorite.....


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....things in the world are friends and family and big big trees.

Monday, February 10, 2014

9 Days Later


9 days since the last post, my record at blogging this year is pathetic. Reason behind this sad fact is the busy offline life I'm having and of course a dose of laziness.

So the first week after getting back from vacation is always busy at work, because I'm always trying to catch up with workload that piled up while I was away.

Then I got lazy. Really lazy.

And we went out to eat with people. It seems that I'm eating out more this first 2 months of the year than I have the first 6 months of last year. Unbeknownst to me my husband made a date with his carpool buddies for dinner. The three of them brought their wives. I know one couple already since they came over for Thanksgiving at the house last year. When I met the other couple, I liked them immediately. We went to a Sichuan restaurant and ate spicy food, so spicy that it numbs the tongue and mouth. We had a fun time chatting and eating while the storm rages outside.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Back from Vegas


We just got back from a 4-day road trip to Vegas. A wonderful winter break. Stayed in Excalibur and one day drove 3 hours to Zion National Park in Utah where we hiked two different easy trails and ate Subway sandwiches for lunch under the beautiful sunny blue sky. We went crazy photographing the incredible red rocks. Another day we went to revisit one of our favorite places in the world, Valley of Fire State Park, where we went crazy with shooting everything in sight again. One day we hoped to get back there early and go hiking, to trails we never been.

Dining wise we were not planning on getting on any buffets. After driving 9 hours from home on the first day, our dinner consisted of Baja Fresh burito and salad. On the second day, I had reservation to a Brazilian churrascaria called Pampas located inside the Miracle Mile Mall at Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino. I was able to snag a deal from Travelzoo so that was good. On our third night we had dinner and a show at Excalibur's Tournament of Kings. A very good show, okay food. We were good with eating. We didn't go crazy with spending for dinner. We even got a breakfast buffet and the dinner and a show in exchange for sitting on a timeshare presentation. Haha, I know. We are curious about what's out there so we sign up. The freebies are not bad either.

All in all we had a good time. The long drive was both tiring and relaxing. On the drive to Vegas, I took the first shift and I probably drove 3.5 hours. We stopped for gas and subway somewhere in Tehachapi. Then hubs took over until we reached Vegas at about 7 pm.

On the drive back, he took the first shift of driving per my request. I find the city driving layout complex especially when trying to find the freeway exit. Good thing he took the first shift out of Vegas because it was extremely windy and blustery. The little compact that we were driving was unstable. I nearly got carsick, which I never do, ever.

All through the California desert area, the wind was blowing like crazy. There was dust spiraling in the distance, tumbleweeds dance from one side of the road to the other, but the passing scenery was truly relaxing for both of us. We had the radio on alternately on PBS, on a pop station (always trying to find a Pink tune) and on classical station.

So the first vacation of the year is done and over with. We usually do a little overnighter around our anniversary (May) so that's one thing to look forward to. Until then, it's back to the salt mines for the both of us.

Oh we pray for rain. And snow in the Sierras. We badly need precipitation here in California. The gov't is already talking about mandatory water cuts and hopefully it won't get so bad that the water need to be rationed in the summer time.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Eating With Friends

I find that the best way to document something for me is to blog about it. Hence this year I told myself to blog about my dining out so that I can track down my expenses and easy to see where my money went at the end of the year.

On Saturday, we took our friends to a late lunch at Moonstar Buffet. I don't particularly like buffets, but when you take friends out for a meal I find that buffets are the best in saving money and making sure everyone has something that they like. Especially when you have friends whose palates have not been as adventurous as ours, buffets make it possible to try new dishes without paying a whole lot more.

With regards to buffets, Asian buffets, we prefer to go to Moonstar Buffet in Daly City despite the long drive and the extra expense of paying the bridge toll. For us the buffet serves enough food we like. It's a typical buffet with hot dishes (including sweet and sour pork and even lechon kawali), dimsun station, porridge and noodle cooking stations, desserts, soups, but their sushi and sashimi station is larger than most buffets including Tomi (in my estimation).

There is also a sprinkling of Filipino foods to be sampled.

The above image is my first plate. I had 2 more plates after this, but they were all less than what is in this image. I cannot handle so much food at one sitting, a pity when in buffet restaurant. I did not have crab, oyster, shrimps.

My favorite is their porridge, they would make it especially for you. Their sushis are good too.

Including taxes and tips, our bill was $90.00.

After eating, we went for a walk to Golden Gate Park hitting Queen Wilhelmina Garden, Ocean Beach and Land's End where we watched the sunset. This outing was for a new friend who went back home to Vietnam after completing her master's education in LA.

Monday, January 13, 2014

A week later

What a difference a week make, huh? Last post a week was telling how I was rushing to get all my cards replaced after I "lost" my wallet. Well, after that crazy Friday and the weekend, the rest of the week went by without the thought of the lost wallet crossing my mind, until about Thursday I believe when I realized that I had another bank card in the wallet. I knew that stressing about it that time was not productive so I just let it be. The account was the one I had when I was single, so there's hardly anything there. I just use it when I want to splurge on a cup of mochachino or something.

Anyway, the story about the lost wallet didn't end there. On Saturday, as we were leaving to go shopping, the hubby took the driver's seat, we were in my car. And the minute he opened the door the wallet was there. It was just there. On the side of the seat.

WE LOOKED throughout the whole car, on several occasions. The hubby LOOKED more than once and he's very thorough. So the only explanation left about the wallet is if it's hiding you won't find it until it's ready to show itself.

I let out a humongous laugh that went on for minutes it seemed. The sound of relief! Afterwards we spent the whole afternoon shopping. I finally got the piece that would complete my outfit for hubby's company's party in a couple of weeks.

And, we even got a good foot/neck/shoulder/back massage. What a great Saturday.

Now for Sunday.....

I've been teasing the husband about how he cannot do spontaneous. Trips are always planned way in advance, dining outs are well thought of and planned as well. So it was good to see that we began the year with a spontaneous trip to Pacific Grove, 2 hour's drive away. The Monarch butterfly sanctuary in Pacific Grove had some butterflies and are ready for sighting.

Up until yesterday, I had the impression that Monterey was about 4 hours drive. 2 hours drive is nothing on a day when everyone else seemed to be watching the hometown team, the 49ers on TV, so the roads were clear.

So we went to look at the butterflies, sipped organic coffee and ate yummy cookie at a coffee house cum bookstore, walked up and down the downtown area stopping at restaurant windows reading their menus, ended up taking rock fish quesadilla and thai spice wrap to go for a picnic on the waterfront where we were joined by birds and friendly squirrels while we chow down our delicious meal outdoors on a sunny day.

Then the spontaneity didn't end there. On the drive home, we stopped at Capitola, another fave spot, for a bit of sunset shooting.

What a gorgeous spontaneous day!

Twas a lovely weekend altogether.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Also Starting The Year With Some Headache


Oh man, in all the years I haven't had the unfortunate luck of losing my wallet, until this year. I don't recall, as much as I try to remember the previous days leading to my discovery of my lost wallet, having lost it, or it falling out of my purse. Anyway, I discovered it on Thursday evening when I left work for home I swung by the gas station to fill my tank. That's when I found out my wallet wasn't in my purse. I was still very calm because contents of my purse always fall out of it into my drawer at work.

Be that as it may husband and I still called the credit card companies (thankfully only 2) and my bank card to put on hold my card because I lost it. I called the bank to check if there is any curious charges on my account, thankfully nothing in the past 2 weeks which coincided when I last used my bank card for deposit.

You know it's a headache when your wallet goes missing. I got a headache just remembering all the places I've been. So the following day when my wallet didn't turn up in my drawer at work I had to ask my supervisor for a half day off to get a new driver's license.

But I'm okay. I didn't panic or went ballistic. I just can't remember when the last time I saw my wallet and when I didn't before I went to the gas station. I'm still hoping it's inside the house somehow.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Starting the new year with some curries.

Sa Wad Dee is one of those cliched hole in the wall restaurant that seemed to be there forever. A no-frills Thai restaurant that is centrally located in busy San Pablo Avenue in Richmond, a few blocks from the El Cerrito Del Norte BART.

For the first dining out experience of 2014, it was Thai for lunch. A New Year's Day dining tradition that we started a few years ago that was initially composed of 5 people. As the years went on, there had been additions and subtractions to the members of the group.

This year there were 5 of us for lunch this year. The hubs is the one assigned to select the restaurant this year. We've thought about it for a half day and the choices boiled down to Mexican cuisine versus Thai cuisine. I think the reason behind the loss of Mexican cuisine is that the hubs is tired of the cuisine and he's afraid I'd fill up on the chips and dips. Well he's right of course.

It makes me happy to see small restaurants stay in business for long. Not an easy feat considering the Bay Area is full of many good restaurants. So I reckon Sa Wad Dee (a Thai greeting) is doing something right.

AMBIANCE:

The small restaurant is split in two set ups. The right side is where the traditional Thai seating is located. People sit on the floor with cushion to sit on. The left side is a regular booth and tables set-up. We chose to sit on the floor in the traditional Thai setting. The interiors is decorated with a few items/statues of Thai culture. Nothing fancy.

SERVICE:

Personally I felt it was a tad slow considering the restaurant wasn't full at that time. In fact at one time there were about 4 tables of diners at most including us. However, the wait staff is friendly, but not too chatty as well.

FOOD:

Since there were 5 of us, we ordered 5 different items to be shared. The order size is large enough for two people, or three people with bird appetites. In addition to the 5 items, we also asked for a side order of steamed rice (then ordered a second one later on).

Fried Tofu - appetizer - served with sweet chili sauce and cucumber salad. The crispy tofu was so good. One order is big enough for five people.



Potak - soup - sour soup similar to the Filipino sinigang. It came with mixed seafood. The broth was very comforting, it's something that would be perfect on cold days. A hit with everybody, just like the fried tofu.



Pumpkin Red Curry with chicken - on the special's menu. A tad sweet but the otherwise very good. Except that personally, I am not fond of curries in general. I find them way too sweet for my taste buds. Also a hit with everyone else.



Tofu Green Curry - a hit with everyone, especially me. I enjoy the green curry better than the red or the yellow curry. Less sweet than the red curry in my opinion.



Mung Sa Virut - stir fried noodles with black mushrooms and vegetables. Very tasty and flavorful. Someone in the group thought it could use more mushrooms, which I seconded.



Fried Banana and coconut ice cream - a perfect dessert. We ordered only one because we were all too full from all the curries. This one was the bomb. I loved the coconut ice cream, really perfect with the fried banana.



Including tip, each diner's share of the bill was $16.00.

(Photos courtesy of cell phone.)