Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Habit of Accomplishment

I thought Fifty Habits of Highly Successful People was a good read. It got a bit repetitive at the end, but that might just have been the writer's way of qualifying certain points. Anyway, even if you don't agree with all fifty, you can still pick up a few reminders to apply in your own life. I've never been into self-help books (give me a good story any day), but I can easily hack articles with bullets :) At the end of the day, it's really just all about positivity, something that doesn't come naturally to me, but, guess what, practice makes it easier. If you gotta form habits, then choose good ones.:)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

My Intro into Weaving

I've always been interested in learning how to weave. When I saw this craft idea over on the Crafty Crow, I immediately tried doing it. I have more of the same yarn colors, so I now either have lots of woven coasters or the makings of a mat. One day, we'll all find out what they're supposed to be.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

There Is a Reason for Everything

Even my hair. You know how I got a haircut a few weeks back? Anyway, I asked the stylist to save the chopped off part so I could donate it. I was hoping to find a local institution to accept it, but as yet, no charity organization here is creating wigs for people who suffered hair loss due to disease or treatment. I called the Philippine Cancer Society and they referred me to Reyes Haircutters. Upon calling Reyes, I was told that the hair donation campaign they had before was for the oil spill near Guimaras (hair adsorbs - yes, in this case, ADsorb and not ABsorb - oil) and that it was over. They would donate a peso to the Philippine Cancer Society for every business they got, but since I had already gotten my haircut elsewhere, too late for my one-peso contribution.
Anyway, I found out about Locks of Love and was really touched by it. I was actually thinking of cancer patients when I decided to save my hair, but this makes more sense. Hair grows back after chemotherapy, but alopecia areata is a long-term condition. I just hope my mutant hair is acceptable and that those dry, frizzy strands can actually help make a decent hairpiece.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Marguerite Out and About

While I may have sacrificed blogging to make way for working, entertaining (we've had house guests for a couple of weeks now), catching up on sleep (this one, in vain - who could sleep in the face of two deadlines, a wake, my beloved, but jetlagged aunts WITH booming voices - I seriously believe Marguerite got her voice from them- and a few issues thrown in just to make the party really happening), and trying to talk sense into people on the verge of a breakdown (this one really takes a lot out of you), Marguerite's fun remains a priority.:)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Blog Revival

I know it has been a week. These are highly irregular times around here however. I mentioned that my grandmother passed away more than a week ago. We chose to hold her wake here so it would be less stressful for the family. For starters, we wouldn't have to go back and forth the funeral chapel or assign manning shifts. However, the wake was also like a week-long party. It was just a stressful time on many levels. There were moments when I did give in to grief and had to go find a quiet place to just release pent-up sobs. They never lasted more than a minute. There was just always so much to do (and to deal with - gosh the drama and issues and whatnots - just things upon things upon things - a whole lot of unnecessary trivial hassles on top of an already very difficult situation - I will not go into it. I will NOT.).
Anyway, my grandmother died a Christian - that's a huge comfort. That's why it doesn't bother me so much that I wasn't able to grieve properly. I know that she is in a much better place and I am certain that I shall be seeing her again. I'm so happy that Marguerite got to spend time with her and I'm really glad that I've always been the kind of person who liked listening to the older generation's tales. I guess it coincides with being a history buff and a writer. Anyway, I've written some of my grandmother's reminiscences down - about the war, the occupation, her family, being a beauty queen (she became Miss Republic of the Philippines back in the '40s), being a tomboy, early Marikina (her clan was one of the pioneering families), etc. - and while I may end up publishing some of them, I'm just relieved that I have stored them in my mind and on paper so that I could pass them on to Marguerite's generation and other future ones. Then I have my own memories of her too and personal traits which I believe I had inherited from her somehow. I have this urge to go off on a philosophical vein and sic my pseudo-profound thoughts about life on you, but I think I'll spare you.:)
We buried her in the clan mausoleum last Tuesday and thankfully, Chip was able to go out and join us for that. There were so many people who showed up during the wake and for the interment. The flowers were overflowing and most of them ended up in the veranda since there was no more room in the parlor. The tricycle drivers' association on our street even sent a huge wreath. I suppose that they appreciate the fact that they get no trouble from us about them blocking our driveway and garage all the time (the other houses are not as tolerant). It's a minor hassle that we really don't mind. In return we got such good neighbors, men who knew each one of us well, who had a friendly greeting for us everyday, who looked out for the kids as they come and go, whom we could easily tap for help... They just turned out to be great neighbors even if they don't actually live on our street.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Two Things

My grandmother died on Friday morning and there's a wake in our compound.
Our internet connection has been off (fluctuating or no connectivity at all) since Thursday night.
All the details you probably don't want on my next post. Interesting time in my life, this.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Optimal Optical Option

And going back to prescription glasses, really does have amazing offers. Some of their glasses cost as low as $8. I mean, that’s a great deal even for people in the third world. You can even get several pairs to match your every mood. You know how people often pick prescription glasses that are plain so they go with everything? With these low prices, you do not have to limit your choice to the usual classic pair that can blend right in with any outfit.

Sign On

You know I practiced signing with Marguerite without ever having bought a baby signs DVD (except Baby Wordsworth, but that's not really an official signing DVD). I bought the book "Baby Signs" at a Books For Less, but I didn't get much from it because it didn't feature an official sign language and since I wanted us to learn something official, I resorted to my good chum, Google, which referred me to a couple of baby sign sites that feature ASL. I learned all the signs I know from clicking away at the visual dictionaries on them. Now that Marguerite is talking, she's beginning to lose the signs and I don't want that to happen. I always said that I'd like Marguerite to acquire ASL as one of her second languages, so we have to keep on learning. I know many moms recommend the Signing Time DVDs, but you know me, the purse strings are in knots! Until I go crazy and just spend without a second thought or I decide that the DVDs will really be useful to us, I'm settling for Signing Time's YouTube videos.:-D

Fashion for Better Vision

My husband has to wear prescription glasses. Since I’m not sure what the technical/medical term for it is, I’ll just say he has vision problems. With a curious toddler in the house, he’s become very careful about where he puts down his eyeglasses lest they get broken. They’re not the expensive designer kind, but our monthly budget would label them expensive if we’d have to replace them. Eyeglasses, quality ones, are just generally expensive. However, is able to offer them for low prices because they manufacture the frames themselves and sell them directly, so customers do not have to worry about middlemen profiting from the sale. The site offers a wide variety of prescription glasses with all sorts of fashionable frames and different kinds of lenses (photochromic, tinted, bifocal, progressive, etc.). Customers will have no trouble finding a pair that suits both their style and their optical requirements.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I-Spy with My Squinty Little Eye

So, I know it's not yet age-appropriate, but I got too excited to make one. Anyway, all the sides and the plastic window are several times reinforced, so it should present no choking hazard except that I got carried away and stitched little gold studs to frame the window, so I think we all agree that was a pretty brilliant move there. Note to self: I really should curb these urges to jazz perfectly fine things up. FYI, I added those beads with reinforcement in mind, heehee, the irony.
All the materials were scrap I had saved up, being the packrat that I am (hence the non-baby color). I didn't want to use poly pellets or styrofoam peanuts, but I couldn't use rice either since it would just be in bad taste with the rice shortage here and all, so I had to think of an alternative that would work. I considered paper confetti for a while and then read in one of my forums (fora?) that some used leaves and flowers. I remember that I had an almost full package of jasmine tea from Vietnam, which I had opened more than a year ago. Tea usually doesn't expire if it had been stored unopened in a cool dry place. The jasmine tea (which I didn't like) has definitely been exposed, so we really shouldn't brew it anymore after all this time. Anyway, the bag was not a problem, there was the tea, so the only thing left to do was hunt up little objects to add to the tea. I came up with:
a marble, a shell, a bobby pin, a yellow rubber band, a blue glass heart, a 10 HK cent coin, a green rhinestone, a pink button, a silver key, a gold pitcher charm, a white paper clip, a red shoe pendant, a gold sequin, a little white bow, and a buttefly clip with yellow glass studs.
Btw, if you're wondering about the Midge monogram, that's Marguerite's nickname.
It's a fun little game - for my 14 and 16 year-old cousins. Marguerite grabbed it when I gave it to her and started picking at the gold studs. I tried showing her how to shake it up to spot the hidden items, but she got mad that she couldn't get them through the plastic. Sigh. Maybe in a year or two. I thought I would store it as a sort of sachet in the closet, but it doesn't particularly smell like jasmine flowers, just like tea or something somebody might smoke. Anyway, I'm bringing it to church on Sunday, see if it will grow on Marguerite.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Party Planner Reading List

I watch David Tutera's Party Planner when I catch it on the Travel Channel and one episode I've seen a few times is the party for the launch of Carol Higgins Clark's new (at that time - 2004, I think) novel "Burned". I'd never read Carol Higgins Clark in the past although I had her mother, Mary Higgins Clark. Anyway, it was an interesting episode because Carol provided two young nephews of hers to assist in the party prep and they just mostly got in the way (at least, the way the show was edited, it seemed that way). So, since then I'd been wanting to read one of Carol's books, but never remembered to get hold of one when I had the chance - until last Sunday. I was at Book Nook and getting high at all the cheap secondhand books when the title just jumped out at me from the shelf. So, to stop me from putting in lots of uninteresting details, you should just know that I have a copy of "Burned" in my possession now.

I'm a big whodunit fan, but have mostly been following Sue Grafton's alphabet mysteries. When I started reading "Burned", I thought it was too light. I couldn't help but compare the two writers, of course, and I suppose I've just been so used to a more snarky style of narration with a protagonist who is harder, more complex, and have more personal issues. Many times while reading the first few chapters, I thought it felt too much like reading Nancy Drew, albeit the case files. But then, as I got deeper into the story and more characters were revealed, it really did get better. Regan Reilly even got edgier and snarky-ish, even if just in her thoughts. Anyway, the first chapters were mostly about her fiancé and family, so you can understand why Regan read like Elizabeth Wakefield. As soon as suspicious characters came along, she began producing snide little thought bubbles. Btw, I don't think I encountered a cuss word in the entire novel, which is nice. I remember reading somewhere that Mary Higgins Clark is religious, so perhaps her daughter is the same and this is the reason why dirty words don't figure into her stories, at least, this story. Um, I hope you're not expecting a rating. I don't give ratings or critiques because I don't know the first thing about it. I just write about how a book affects me and it doesn't have anything to do with anyone else. So, I think I would like to read some more Carol Higgins Clark is all I can say.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Kangkong Episodes

I. One time in Fresno, we were discussing the version of sinigang we just had. Abroad sometimes you have to improvise with regards to ingredients of Filipino dishes and I think the leaves we found floating in our sinigang were a little suspect. Chip and I discussed this with our young cousins.
Me: Those leaves weren't kangkong, right?
Chip: Nope. Don't you get kangkong anywhere here?
Tricia: What's kangkong?
Me: (long pause) Leaves.
Chip: Green leaves.
Me: Chinese green leaves.
Tricia: No, we don't.
Daniel: Yes, we do.
Tricia: What?
Daniel: We get green leaves here. I saw some at the Filipino store.
Me: Kangkong?
Daniel: Well, green leaves.

Just go up to the clerk and ask for a bundle of green leaves.
* I checked. Kangkong is Chinese Water Spinach in English.

II. Our house in Subic came with a drum half-filled with soil (does this mean I see the cup as half-full?) beside the patio. As soon as he could, Husband put some water in it and threw in a handful of kangkong stems. He called it his kangkong plantation (yesssss, delusions of grandeur); I called it dengue breeding ground. We enjoyed several harvests before we finally moved back to the city.

III. Last saturday, MIL treated us to this All-you-can-eat place and Marguerite became a fan of crispy kangkong (or krispy kangkong for fans of the letter k). MIL turned to Husband and said, "You can quit your job now." If he does, we'll get Marguerite's food supply from a tub in the garden.
I can see the title of the piece: "IT Guy Quits Job to Be Kangkong King". It'll be our version of urban homesteading.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Biscuits? Scones? Tinapay?

Had the ingredients for cheese biscuits (recipe dug up from one of my mom's ancient Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks). I guess the oven develops magnetic fields or whatnot on rainy days because it pulls me to the kitchen for a baking spell. It seems lately all I do is write and cut up walnuts when I'm not "let's call it bonding because it essentially is - extreme bonding" with my daughter.
There was a discussion about the biscuits.
"These aren't biscuits." (Biscuits are crackers to them.)
"Yes, they are. American biscuits or scones to the British."
"What are they to Filipinos?"

"Um, uh, (long pause) oh just eat them!"

Friday, July 4, 2008

10-Second Post

Still swamped with work, the premature arrival of the terrific twos, as well as a raging blahness. So anyway, I really just wanted to point you to this page because the Vogels have started their journey and the fact moves me so that I get really wired to do something significant myself.
I'm still baking cookies though, which is significant only to the people here. My mom, who has lost about 40 lbs since Chip got sick, is gobbling them up. My cousin Luigi who doesn't need any more sugar is also gobbling them up and is virtually wild with them. Marguerite takes one bite and clutches the rest of the cookie in her hand the entire day or until you take it away.
Have you heard about dairy causing wild behavior while fish does the opposite? What am I supposed to give Marguerite for milk then? We don't have a lot of choices here. I think the only other option I have is soy and I'm leery about that too. We always have almonds, but... can anyone teach me how to milk a nut?
Fact: I need to get in shape to keep up with Marguerite, who is climbing everything and tumbling (just the roll and in bed, but I'm about to spit my heart out) and making non-stop raucous noises and while I can enjoy these, I think I'm also what you call a mass of jangling nerves.
Have a good one, people!:)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Church Anniversary and Blessings

The air at out church had positively been humming with activity over the past weeks and our anniversary which we celebrated last Sunday is finally over. It was fun despite the wetness of the weather. Members of our daughter churches in Laguna and Quezon were there to celebrate with us. It's always a blessing to get together with them. However, I've been in a strange mood lately and have had no desire to blog whatsoever (here's a clue *snort* to solve this baffling mystery *snort*: I've been deluged with deadlines since last week and except for one baking break - more cookies for the peeps here - I've been pounding away articles on this computer... therefore, I'm sick of coherent and thoughtful writing - note the subtle claim of coherence, cohesion, unity, emphasis, sobriety (lolz), etc. in previous posts).
Yeah, anyway, I just want to share a few wonderful blessings from God:
1. In prep for the anniversary, my dad fell off a ladder last week and landed on his head. Blessings: aside from a tiny scratch on his elbow, he was unscathed; instead of landing on concrete, his head hit loose earth (he's joking about his head leaving an imprint on the ground with small stones having been pushed to the sides just like the parting of the Red Sea; at 62, he is very healthy, is in amazing spirits, and is none the worse for wear after that experience.
2. During the pre-anniversary seminar on Saturday, my dad came home at midday with fever. He just sat quietly in the recliner for an hour or so and then returned to church. He didn't come home until almost midnight. Blessings: God made him better to resume his part in the lecture; God completely took away the fever as he remained fine the entire Sunday and ever since.
3. My sister (if you don't understand - pls look for posts about her under the health label, thank you) has been eating more and spent more than an hour chatting on YM and hunting down juicy gossip (oh you know what I mean) on this computer yesterday.
There have been more blessings, of course, but the above are the ones that stand out in my mind.
I'll post anniversary pics on here or on the church blog when I'm over my blogging blahness. May you all have a lovely day.:)