A glance at my wandering thoughts

Santo Niño

Posted on January 19, 2016

Señor Santo Niño High-res version

 

We finally concluded last Sunday the Santo Niño celebration, a famous religious celebration in the Philippines about the Holy Child Jesus. This has been a worldwide practice among Filipino Catholics even in the US. The Vatican has set the 3rd Sunday of January as the liturgical feast day of Santo Niño as proclaimed by Pope Innocent XIII.

I’m glad that this tradition has been formed in the minds of future generation whose interest to their culture and devotion to the Child Jesus will never be forgotten through the help of parents, communities, and even schools that encourage cultural performances.

A few blogs ago, I posted my sewing comeback in reference to my daughters’ costumes as Singkil princess and my youngest as one of the maidens. I promised to post the finished dresses including the prince’s outfit. Here they are, done with their performance…

The most challenging for me is making the Prince’s pants and sleeves for the top. Basically, this is my first time to make men’s outfit. The sleeves were painstakingly difficult to assemble. Unlike normal sleeve patterns, this one calls for upper and lower cut two-pattern sleeves; thus, matching the notches was tedious. I had to re-do them twice which explain why the bottom of his top is different in color because I ran out of fabric material due to my mistake. I used the princess’s top fabric instead and I think the golds harmonize well with the blue hue. To make the wrong sleeves useful, I made a Kufi hat out of it as shown in the picture.IMG_0316-1

 

The hanging beaded bells added a chiming sound effect to the costume. The making of these hanging beads was time-consuming and so I let the girls do it. I secured them in a gold lace and hand-sewn at the base of her kebaya (blouse) for easy removal in time for hand-wash after use. I found an elastic necklace material at Michael’s and it was perfect to hold the ankle bells.

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The colorful combination of the maidens’ costumes complemented well with their magenta sash and striking fuchsia fans.  I took the color swatch from their striped skirt in deciding which fabric color to choose for their kebayas. This type of outfit is indigenous in the Southern part of the Philippines with Islāmic communities even today. History tells us that the Royal family of Rajas in Cebu were the first to accept the image of Santo Niño and eventually converted to Christianity. Santo Niño de Cebu has been a huge annual celebration ever since.

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Charcuterie

Posted on January 4, 2016


I still have one more day to enjoy before going back to work mode. Tomorrow, my snooze button will be useful again. The past weeks have been wonderful just because the atmosphere was the most anticipated time of the year. I accomplished many things on my list during the holiday break while several of them are yet to be crossed out. I just completed today some of the most time consuming tasks I need to get done…Happy me!

I’m still eating some of our New Year left-over food. Thankfully, there’s enough to suffice my girls who eat like birds. I did not actually cook any main dish on New Year’s Day.  Food is everywhere since Christmas time. I decided to prepare something light on day 1 of 2016. The hubs and I paid a trip to grocery store the day before and purchased our favorite brie with good finds on charcuteries.  Before heading to our trips as scheduled on New Year, I prepared cheese board and small bites to keep us going.

This cheese and charcuterie board reminds me when I was in Germany.  I’m used to eating hot foods in the morning.  I learned to eat cold cuts and artisanal breads early on the day during my stay in Frankfurt with a strong cup of coffee as the only hot item on the table.

Cheese Board and Charcuterie

Cheese Board and Charcuterie

 This combination of figs and olives are delicious. They are both sweet and tangy.

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 I’m used to the sweetness of brie but this one is both a bit salty and sweet. I’ve been looking for a triple cream and stores are usually available with double cream. I’m glad I found this. The texture is similar when you eat Lindor chocolate. Of course, how can I forget the Ancho chili jam that is almost like a tradition in the presence of a brie. The caramelized almonds complement well with the cheese.

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This is something that intrigued me when I saw this at the store. It is called Panforte di Siena. I googled it and I found that this can be eaten as a dessert or a breakfast. It has an acquired taste with strong spicy taste. This is good with coffee, just make sure you don’t put sugar because this is very sweet. I told my girls that when I ate it, I felt like I am in a different era, probably around the 1500s. I know it’s odd but I just felt like it. Well, that is something different for this new year. Never be afraid of something new!IMG_0153-1

Here’s the full brand name that I took photo while in the store

Panforte Di Sienna

Panforte Di Siena

 

 

The Things I Love About Christmas

Posted on December 28, 2015

Christmas Greeting Cards High-res version

I love Christmas Day. Sadly it’s over and it passed in the blink of an eye.  There are hundreds of things I love during the holiday season and one of them is not hitting the snooze button. I love it when I can enjoy few days of vacation. The anticipation of the big day has always been a race of thought in trying to recall the things I have completed in my to-do list. Yet, in spite of the hustle bustle, I still managed to enjoy the busyness of the Christmas season because after all, it is the most wonderful time of the year. We started the Christmas week with a handful of parties either with friends or at work.  I love it when my close circle of friends spends our annual Christmas group reunion together. As friends, we all agreed that we don’t need expensive gifts for each other. There are financially challenged families who would benefit the extra dollars we would spend for exchange gifts. So, we decided to reduce our price bracket and share the rest to them.  This year, one of our friends gave the idea of adopting a few families in one of the parishes in our diocese to be their secret Santas in the hope of uplifting the spirit of Christmas to those families.

That is not to say we’ll have a boring Christmas party; I love fun and to add excitement in our get-together, the ladies exchanged scarves and socks for the gents. We were able to enjoy the simple gift giving and a buffet brunch before heading to our Christmas caroling later that afternoon. It was a busy but rewarding day. I love it when mindfulness of the season through the gift of sharing has been accomplished.

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Go Warriors!

It was flooding with socks and scarves🙂

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You can never go wrong with a scarf. I never had any specific Christmas scarf and this one will surely be used for many years to come.

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Scarf, scarf!

Christmas day is for family; hence, the whole world generally celebrates with a big bang declaring it as an official holiday in most places since time immemorial. It is basically a break to spend time with your loved ones. Every year, my sister-in-law would invite my daughters with their cousins to spend a few days with her the day after Christmas. It has been her traditional annual bonding moments with them.

We have an empty nest for at least a couple of days while kids stay with their aunt. Last night, the hubs and I have had the opportunity to stroll in the mall to look for significant sale events. When we got home, I looked around my daughter’s bedroom and found a lonely Pooh bear with his Grinch hat…alone in the middle of the bed.  I wonder how it feels if we truly have an empty nest when kids have gone out to college. It must be really interesting.

Lonely Pooh Bear

Lonely Winnie the Pooh

I seldom go to my girls’ room and it made me smile when I saw this frame on the wall. It’s funny because I just heard this quote from a teen star in the TV show a few days ago, “A girl should be two things: Classy and fabulous” but then I couldn’t recall why it was familiar. Now I know why… Coco Chanel’s famous line is hanging on my daughter’s wall. I remember shopping in one of the thrift stores with my daughter over a year ago when she saw this frame and wouldn’t leave the store until I purchase it for her…and there it is in its glory🙂

Fab girls

Classy and Fabulous

In all things Christmas, I get really excited when I receive Christmas cards by mail. I can feel the effort and the love of the person who sent it, I guess because I love doing it too. Every year, I try to send greeting cards to friends and families in time for the holiday, a tradition that I want to pass on to my daughters. I admit for being guilty of procrastination but I love it when my girls gather around the table with me and take responsibility as to who would take care of writing to specific family and friends. It’s not easy to write and think of a holiday cheer, it needs a strategy. However, amid the Christmas music, to-do list that needs to be crossed out, and other things that occupy me, it is often a challenge to cherish the cards I received. I won’t deny that I often skim quickly and look who it’s from and set them aside. But, it’s very important to choose a day to gather them all and read again.

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Christmas Greeting Cards

 

“May the spirit of Christmas guide your heart just as the wise men were guided by the star”

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A Greeting from a friend

I like to re-read them over a cup of hot chocolate in front of the fireplace. Tranquility is the key to absorb the words of inspiration and encouragement from these greeting cards when all is calm and silent.  The old fashion hand-writings and smiley faces written on the card make the moment more nostalgic. Such moment is part of the essence of Christmas where love abounds. How do you manage reading your Christmas cards from friends and family?

 

 

 

“Goodbye boredom, Hello bowling”

Posted on September 4, 2015


It’s Friday, hubby and I finally have a date after years of my absence from reality. Being a grad student can make you invisible in many ways particularly if it has nothing to do with weekly school project and peer discussion. Gone are the sleepless nights where I had often wished to even use my sleep time just to complete a weekly paper worth 3,000 words; not to mention the days that even my driving time must be used for phone conferences with school peers to meet the week’s project deliverables for the course requirement. It’s time to forget those calculus exams and excel solver that can be nerve-wracking at some point. No more prowling of CEOs that I need to discourse in the assigned problematic case studies.

This week is freeing…Yes, how wonderful it is to make plans on the spur of the moment! So I called hubby in his office today for a Friday night out. We decided to play bowling and the title of this blog entry was actually based on one of the monitor score screen’s catch phrase in which I found witty, it says: “Goodbye boredom, hello bowling.”

It’s really nice to have a diversion; but on the contrary, I felt a bit worried that I might get too comfortable. Being “easy” or feeling lazy is not a normal thing for me anymore. I told the hubby while we were in the car that I’m afraid I’ll love this laid-back moment but hopefully not too often. I enjoyed it nonetheless only because it was our closest moment having fun together in a very long time.

We bowled to our hearts’ content; about an hour and a half. It’s enough for him to sweat (he really played like a pro) and of course he won the game but my score was not bad either. It was a minute before 9pm when we reached our 300 and afterwards, we decided to have a small bite for the night since we both haven’t eaten dinner. I craved for a milk tea and there’s no other place to go than a Vietnamese soup joint with its tea shop which was 15 minutes away from where we were…’glad they are open late. We both get beef pho and for sure it was delish! If not for my work the next day, we would have watched a late movie in the theater but that would be an overkill since I have to wake up early for work. It’s just amazing how simple moments can give our lives a bliss. I can’t wait for the coming weeks🙂

Painted eggs

A New Beginning

Posted on April 6, 2015


When I was coming of age, I spent most of my days with siblings and close friends. We were very much engaged in our parish youth activities.  I grew up surrounded by people with solid belief and a family whose faith is anchored in Christ. The priest in our parish was instrumental in honing us with the foundation of Church’s teaching.

One of the most important lessons I learned is to remember that Easter is the greatest feast in the Christian calendar.  I always thought it was Christmas with all the festivities around both the faithful and secular world. Nevertheless, the given explanation to youngsters with simple minds was easy to comprehend; Christmas is when we celebrate the humanity of our savior, and on Easter, we celebrate his divinity.

My family spent our Holy Week as usual. We observed every sacred day that make up the Paschal Mystery. Hubby and kids were busy as participants in schools and parish activities. Yesterday was Easter Sunday and all of us woke up late since we went home close to midnight on Holy Saturday. Easter is always a new beginning. It is refreshing and exciting especially in this country where we always look forward to celebrating holidays. We did not plan on going out since most major establishments are closed on Easter. The girls think they are too old to Easter egg hunt…or so they thought. My youngest painted the egg shells after her sister fried some eggs. She also did a table game once we finished our brunch meal at home. It was funny in a way since she made the eggshells like fortune cookies with special message inside. Their dad was lucky to find treasure in one of the eggs. It was a simple celebration that brought us closer together as a family, yet it was a little more special than our usual Sunday mornings. I hope yours was a happy one as well.

Happy Easter to the Christendom!

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Hot Cross Buns complete the Easter meal.

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A refreshing lemonade with mint and sparkling apple juice.

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Brunch with the family at home.

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The tulips are pleasing to the eye. The girls creatively arranged the flowers using a tea pot as the vase.

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Fresh Kale and fruit salad. Spring is upon us.

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Mr. Peter Rabbit is quite a carrot teaser.

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My favorite Lindt bunnies…’wondered why my daughter secured them under the glass dome.

Painted eggs

Colorful Easter eggs

Tinker, Tinker, Little Stars

Posted on January 5, 2015


We had an opportunity to take our daughters with their younger cousins to visit Exploratorium in San Francisco during the holiday break. As usual in a place like this, children and the young minds are the stars of the museum. This museum is full of interactive exhibits that will absolutely piqué one’s mind. It’s hard to just stare and observe without exploring them with your own hands (hence the name “Exploratorium”).

I found out that the founder of this institution was Frank Oppenheimer. His last name definitely rings a bell. I’m talking about the Manhattan Project in the mid-40s during the 2nd world war era. He was the younger brother of Robert Oppenheimer, the father of Atomic Bomb. I’m sure you are all familiar with the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombing in the mid-40s (yeah, I love history).

The interior of the building is like a factory filled with machineries and tools. You will not enjoy if you are there for sightseeing alone. The possibilities to examine them with your hands and mind are practically infinite. It’s a joy for someone who is a hands-on person with inquisitive mind which fits the character of a youngster, ok, perhaps older people too!…  Part of my role was to keep an eye on these four minors. They were oblivious of each other as soon as they started tinkering into exhibits. I enjoyed watching them as well as playing with the exhibits.

What interests me most was the social and behavioral impact of the exhibit. It helps the visitors figure out how things work yet at the same time, it gives information on the social aspect of why people behave the way they want to manipulate things. It reminds me of good ol’ days in my experimental psychology class back in college years.

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Prisoner’s Dilemma

Social dilemmas were featured.  One of the best examples was the prisoner’s dilemma where it involves two participants which create an outcome where they cannot cooperate in any decision due to distrust of each other. The result is often one person squirting water on his or her partner’s face or sometimes, no effect at all because of the fear that the other will do the same. It was fun because the participants cannot see each other’s move yet it teaches a lesson to ponder. The kids were confused at first until they tried doing it.

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The museum was packed with visitors and we were lucky to get a good parking spot. The downside however is the rip-off parking price tag. We were charged for $45 because our vehicle was considered “full-size”. On the plus is the cheaper admission ticket because we are from the bay area; ok fine, I call it quits!

Overall, the experience was fecund and it seems that the children enjoyed the museum where tinkering gave them new perspectives to remember, hopefully for a long time.

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Beautiful Yesterdays

Posted on January 2, 2015


Yesterday was the last day of 2014 and even though I had to work, it’s ok since I’m looking forward to an almost a week off after the New Year’s Eve. Holiday time off is always rewarding. It gives us a break from the humdrum of our life’s routine. I’m so glad that I’m able to sneak out a time to post an entry in my blog space today which has been a difficult task for me this past year.

As soon as I got out from work yesterday, I hurriedly drove home to start roasting a turkey that I’ll bring to a friend’s house for the eve’s party. After I set the oven for 3 hours and gave instructions to hubby and my girls, I hit the road again and look for a salon to have my nails done.  While driving, I had a chance to reflect on my day’s activities. It dawned on me that time is becoming a luxury. The lack of time I have for the things I want to accomplish daily is seemingly evident. I’m sure most of you will agree that rushing is inevitable even with a managed time at hand. It is getting difficult to juggle things around with so many things to do yet so little time. I guess it has been like that in my entire adult life or at least since I started a family. All these realities come to mind in moments of silence. When you know that time is slipping before your eyes, it’s good to stop and reminisce the past.

 

Christmas 2014

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Oh Christmas Tree!

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How lovely are your branches…

I can proudly say that the Christmas week was less stressful than I thought it would be. The trick is to finish all the “essentials” before delving into the trivial stuff. Being a Catholic, it’s hard not to reflect why we celebrate Christmas. It orders our mind to the right direction including how we treat others and brings out the Christian message to everyone and so the rest follows on smoothly.

I’m a great fan of holiday festivities and will do everything to excite the mood of the people around me. Christmas day is the best time for family gathering. Family is a gift just like how our Heavenly Father gifted us with his son and the son gifted us the holy mother Church. This is what we get from our Christian tradition, the value of family and the love that centers within.

I started trimming the tree a week before Christmas. I just love to see those beautiful ornaments that helps get on the Christmas spirit.

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6.5 lbs. Boneless Roasted Prime Rib

 

We have had our relatives celebrate with us on this special day. I decided I would roast a USDA prime rib. I was kind of intimidated to do it as I have never tried roasting a prime grade rib. It turned out well and was happy with the result. The next day, I re-roasted the leftover for 250° in the roaster oven and left there until we were ready to eat (perhaps a little more than an hour) it was actually better in my opinion. The texture was tender and very moist just like the first time I cooked it. I did not make a gravy from Au jus because there should not be any modification or enhancement that go with this beauty. The meat itself is extremely superb. Between USDA choice and USDA prime, always go with the latter although it can be costly but special celebration is always worth a try. I accompanied the meat with roasted fingerling potatoes which I marinated with olive oil and herbs. The aroma was excellent!

I didn’t forget to make a Christmas candy bar for children. It looks festive and makes them hyper too. The sugar rush is part of the excitement!

 

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Sees Lollipops and sour patch candies

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Assorted chocolates and Santa’s gummy worms

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We also had a birthday cake for baby Jesus

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Children are the happiest during Christmas season

 

Welcoming the New Year

 

2015 looks promising!

I think this is the best way to start, begin with a positive outlook.    This post is about the beauty of yesterdays, so first, it’s good to go back and reflect on 2014 and learn from the past, and hence we can be ready on what 2015 has to offer. Gratitude is a right attitude in recalling the things that happened to us. Here in US, the holiday mood starts on Thanksgiving Day until New Years. Reflecting on things both good and bad will always give us an insight to resolve our weaknesses and at the same time, be mindful to preserve our strengths.

 

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