Tuesday, October 28, 2008


A Memory: Halloween 2007

I wore face paint, striped ears and a long tail. I drew whiskers on my cheeks, and made sure orange stripes appeared on my forehead and neck. The paint on my face was so thick I felt unrecognizable. When I answered the door to trick or treaters, I jumped-out with a Tiger's roar and playfully scratched the kids with my pretend paws. They ran away screaming with fear while their pumpkin baskets dangled sideways spilling sweets everywhere. Some kids hid behind their parents' back, who were having a Halloween time at their children's expense.

That night, I became a monster. I found contentment in hearing the children's screams and delightfully fed on their fears. I seem to have forgotten who I was as I stayed awake to the wee hours of the night admiring my whiskers and my tail. To top all that, I felt no remorse when I made a little girl cry wearing a ladybug costume. "I'm so sorry," I told her dad with my sincerest voice. Deep inside, I was silently grinning and having an evil good time.

Of course I gave them candies afterwards.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2008

7 Random Facts About Me

I was tagged by Cheryle to post "7 Random Facts About Me." Here it goes:

  1. I have a merchant marine's license and used to work as a purser for American Cruise Lines. I had a wonderful experience sailing to all the Hawaiian islands except Ni'ihau.
  2. I was the regional impromptu speech champion but lost in the national level. I was devastated because the national champion represented the Philippines in Australia.
  3. I have a black belt in Taekwondo. I have started training when I was 15 until 25. I haven't trained in years so I am very rusty. Through Taekwondo, I learned so much about myself and a lot of my friends I met through training and demos. Yes, I can still break boards.
  4. A number of my family wanted me to go into the medical field, but I told them that it is not my interest. Besides, I've always believed that if you follow your interest, the money will come. I was right. I am happy I took History. I am now in the process of applying for grad school.
  5. I spent three years working in Dutch Harbor (part of the Aleutian Chain), Alaska. I started as a processor and moved on to become QC. I then went on to work for a hotel there and was provided housing and food privileges within the hotel. It was a sweet deal. Housekeeping and laundry were also included.
  6. I met Svetlana Boguinskaya in Alaska. She was known as the "Belarusian Swan," and she's a three-time Olympic champion. You can read more stuff about her here. Since Dutch Harbor was quite close to Russia, I think she was there to encourage children to get into gymnastics.
  7. I am the third and youngest child in the family. There's a nine-year gap between me and the second. I love being the youngest child.
* I am tagging Artemis, Kumareng Grace, Josiet, and Layad. Do it when you have the time gals, and don't forget to have fun. I did.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

After The Rain

While it was gray and rainy on Saturday, I woke-up to a sunny and bright Sunday. I guess what they say is true - After a storm, the sun will shine again. It may be a few minutes later, a few hours, or even a few days. But it will always happen.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Let It Rain

It's a rainy Saturday, so Mom and I decided to just stay at home and relax. We've spent most of the morning watching scary movies. For lunch, I whipped up some fried rice loaded with garlic and fried some Sweet Hamonado Longanisa. Truly, rainy days inspire me to hone my cooking skills.

And look at what the postman delivered today. I got a package from my friend, Lily, who lives in Alaska. My Halloween treats came early, as Lily filled the box with a variety of sweets. Lily was my former boss when I worked in Alaska. Lily and I have been friends for more than ten years; I am so lucky that she also considers me as her own daughter. When I was working in Alaska, she was my friend, my boss, and my mentor.

I know some of you were wondering how my fudge brownies came out, and here's a photo I took last night. I have a few more pieces left, but I don't think there'll be anything left for tonight.

For the rest of my afternoon, I'll sit by my window, enjoy my favorite red rose tea, write some letters, and be lulled by the sweet sound of rain tapping my window pane.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Freedom Friday

It's Friday evening, and it was a rough day at work. A number of my colleagues have gone bar drinking but joining the happy hour crowd isn't really my thing anymore. When I reached the age of 27, I seem to have unconsciously decided that I'm through drinking and mingling with the nocturnal crowd. I think my definition of fun has completely changed. At the end of every work day, I prefer coming home to my apartment and shutting societal demands outside my front door. It seems so ironic that I feel more freedom in my one-bedroom abode than on the clamorous streets of big DC. In my small home, I can do anything I want from slouching on the couch and eating unhealthy food.

After a stressful day at the office, I like to come home and bake cookies or cakes. I like baking sweets or anything with chocolate, as I find them comforting and friendly. At the moment, I have fudge baking in the oven, and the aroma of the almighty chocolate is nothing but heavenly and relaxing. This is the first time I've added chocolate syrup with the mixture, so I'm excited to see how this will turn out. So tonight, as I turn on my cable and watch "The A-Team" outwit the bad guys, I'll have warm fudge topped with vanilla ice cream. This is what I call - freedom Friday.

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Teaism and Singleism

My friend, B, recommended the Teaism Restaurant for lunch today. I didn't expect her to feel the vibe of my recent weekend adventure searching for that elusive Barley tea. I was so excited going to this restaurant, as I was hoping to find my fave tea. To my dismay, they have all kinds of tea except for Barley. I guess the saga continues. I keep thinking it's like watching the Indiana Jones movies expecting that there are parts I, II, and III or more.

For lunch, I had a Salmon Bento with a pot of Gen Mai Cha. The Salmon was cooked perfectly tasty and juicy, complemented with pickled Ginger and a box of Edamame. It was a light and healthy meal. The warm tea was perfect to ward off the cold specially at this time of the year. B and I tried to catch up on anything to everything, but an hour and a half isn't enough. Obviously, she's got a busier social life than I do. These days, I enjoy being a homebody.

B and I usually have lunch once a week, but since she's been frequenting Geneva for work, we've missed a lot of lunches. Since we left college, both our lives evolved from carefree college students to responsible working women. Although work and age are catching up on us, when we're together, we still act as if we are in college. Our conversations are still peppered with boys and former relationships, and we still giggle at the sight of good-looking boys. Sorry, but we both think that most males are "boys" and only a few deserve to be called "men." B and I also touched on the topic of being "single," and we both agree that for now - we're completely comfortable being fulfilled, successful, single women.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Barley Tea Adventure

I have ran out of barley tea, and Mom and I scoured all possible Asian stores in the area and have been unable to find one. I'm so disappointed, and I've been trying to brainstorm if there are other tea stores I haven't checked. I hope I'll have better luck today because I am down to my last barley tea bag. Of course I'm still a coffee person in the morning, but the rest of the day, I drink tea. I only stick to my three favorites though - green, barley, and a specific brand of black tea. Green tea is everywhere and so is black tea, but I don't know why barley is so tough to find. Is it because it's not in demand compared to its more popular counterparts? Anyway, my tea adventure lead me to new and familiar places.

My search for the barley tea took me back to Lake Whetstone. The surrounding trees have started to change colors, and I can't wait to come back here when fall foliage is at its peak. It was so cold yesterday, that I think the ducks were reluctant to swim to keep us company. Mom and I have taken a liking to the lake, as we both find the lake park peaceful and relaxing.

Well, I was mistaken. There were three brave feathered friends who curiously came to meet us. We were happy to see them.

If you saw the movie , Flash of Genius, this is the area where Robert Kearns lived.

Peaceful lake.

It seems that our temperature has taken a sudden nosedive. It isn't cold enough to turn the heater on, but chilly enough to make your knees and hands shiver specially in the mornings and evenings. I have aired out my winter blankets, dry cleaned my coats, and brought out my winter clothes. I think I am quite ready for winter 2008.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Travel: Studying in Rome

These are the places where my university lectures took place. My subjects were Ancient Roman History and Roman Art and Architecture. The best part of studying in Rome was traveling to all these spots with your professor and classmates, having special access to restricted sites, and having your mind travel through time as your professor talks about the significance of the ground you're standing on.

This is where I lived, Borgo Pio, which was a block away from the Vatican.

A rainy day at the Piazza del Popolo (People's Plaza)

The dome of St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica

The ruins at the Palatine Hill (Remember the story of Romulus and Remus? The Palatine Hill is the believed location of the Lupercal, a cave, where they were taken cared and nursed by a female wolf.)

My classmate entering the underground House of Griffin. (The griffin is an ancient creature believed to have the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle.) I was actually scared going into this house: 1.) it was dark; 2.) it was old/ancient; and 3.) I was superstitious that the ghosts of the ancient dwellers were still there.

Inside the Vatican

The art ceiling of the Vatican Museum

The Colosseum

Inside the Colosseum

Roman Forum

Castel Sant'Angelo overlooking the Tiber River (I pass through here everyday to get to school.)

The Arch of Constantine

This last photo should give you an idea what our next feature album will be. Care to guess?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cookies and Sweets

I'm still soaking and enjoying my three day weekend. It's been rather relaxing, as Mom and I went out for walks, watched the migrating geese at Whetstone Lake, and to top it all, I've been enjoying these bunch of Ferrero collection. I've always been a fan of the Rocher (gold), but this month, Ferrero introduced the Garden Coco (silver) and the Rondnoir (dark brown). Seldom do I eat dark chocolate, so I immediately dismissed the Rondnoir, but the Garden Coco tasted heavenly and milky. I love it! Has anyone tried them yet?

Last night, I also tried my hand on baking. I've been looking for cookie recipes, and since the holidays are eagerly approaching, I want to try some recipes before I'd volunteer bringing them to parties. I found a really simple recipe for sugar cookies. I made these cookies from scratch and I'm very proud of the outcome. The cookies were crisp, sweet, buttery, and perfect for afternoon tea or coffee. Mom has taken a liking to them. As a treat, feel free to grab a cookie or two. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Blast From The Past

Today, I ran into my former landlord, Tim, as I exited the Metro station. I was surprised he recognized me first; I must have been a very good tenant. Tim and his family live in a single-family house in a very wealthy neighborhood in the area. During the school-year, he rents out his basement, which was converted into a one-bedroom apartment, to students who doesn't like living in dorms. My privacy is so important to me, so I opted to find my own housing. Their basement became my home while in college and indeed my first residence in the State of Maryland. I remember being so ecstatic about having my own place. I remember jumping on the bed several times.

The Tims were warm and caring people, and I am so glad I met them. While tackling the demands of college life and work, I came down with a bad strain of flu, which reminds me that I should get my flu shot this year. I missed a whole week of schoolwork, and my condition was made worse by the cold and snowy weather. Maryland's winter can go from mild to icy. The sidewalks can become instant skating rinks, and you'd find yourself nervously slipping and sliding without purpose. Anyway, being sick and on your own isn't easy, but the Tims were constantly checking on me, bringing me hot soup and tea, and even picking up my groceries. In an instant, I had a family. I was deeply touched by their kindness, and I was reminded that even in the gloomiest places, human kindness is a beacon of light.

It's been a few years since I saw Tim, and seeing him just reminded me that no matter where we are, good people live amongst us, especially that he works in the building opposite to mine.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Travel: Siena Album

I left Pisa at about 4 PM, as I wanted to get to Siena before dark. I was spending the night at a medieval plantation house. From the Siena train station, I took a taxi to my hotel and passed through quaint, sleepy towns.

This is the town entrance where my hotel is located.

In the evening, I walked around the town and was impressed at how the brick houses were old but still functioning. It's interesting to know that when I spoke to the hotel manager, he said the houses were passed down from generation to generation, so the same family names have resided there for ages. The town's main source of livelihood is winemaking.

One of the vineyard plantations in the area. This is a common sight in Tuscany.

The next day, I took a bus back to Siena. Once I entered Siena, I was greeted by these dark and ancient buildings. I was amazed that people truly live in them. It felt like I walked into a different world, so far and removed from the modernity and world I knew.

Siena is a walking and friendly city. Here's how the streets look like, and I did took a couple of wrong turns. Getting lost in the town's maze like streets is a great part of the adventure because you get to know the city's secret nooks.
This is the Palazzo Pubblico (Town Hall). They said this is the best place to watch the Palio. (Palio is a horse race held twice each year, in which ten horses and riders, dressed in the appropriate colours, represent ten of the seventeen city wards [Contrade].) I heard that this competition can get very intense. I still have to watch my first Palio.

The Piazza del Campo, Siena's central square. It felt like a beach without the sea. I mean, people were sunbathing there. This is a famous place to meet, hang-out, and eat. I mingled with folks there with a plate of Spaghetti Carbonara and a 2 euro soda. The center was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
In Italy, a town or city's life revolves around its Duomo (cathedral). This is the Cathedral of Siena. I have no idea about architecture, but my guide book says this is an example of Italian romanesque architecture. The design is truly impressive.
This is a photo I took as I was approaching the Basilica of San Domenico. This church is quite simple and plain compared to the churches I've visited in Italy. What spooked me though, is that inside the cathedral, there's a chapel named after St. Catherine; and in the center, there's an altar housing the saint's head.
While in Siena, I met a number of Filipinos and it was a delight chatting with them. As we went our separate ways, we exchanged numbers and addresses. One of them, hoping that I'd marry his son in the Philippines. I just laughed and jokingly told her, "I'm not so sure about that." My visit to Siena was made memorable by the rich history of the city and wonderful people I met.

Our next trip will be Rome, The Eternal City.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fabulous Start To October???

I feel tired and sick today. Actually, I've been feeling sick the past four days now. It's rag weed season, so I'm thinking that's the culprit. I have been taking allergy medications, but it's helping minimally with the headache and stuffy nose. I have been forcing myself to come to work, as we're getting ready for the annual meeting. Since Monday, I have been toiling on my department's filings and reports. To my amazement, I was able to submit all necessary documents yesterday. So far, none was returned.

However, I have big tickets occupying my mind, and so here goes my list for October:

  • Renewing my apartment lease = I'm also thinking of finding a new place, but I cringe whenever I think of packing and unpacking. This one is stressing me out.
  • Bills = this list is endless...
  • Where to spend Thanksgiving = My parents live all the way in Hawaii, so for the past six years, I've been going to my ex's family gathering. Well, he's now an ex, so obviously I can't go and crash their party. So, I am quite looking at Thanksgiving on my own. If you're talking about friends, my two closest friends are currently overseas.
  • Where to spend Christmas = This is tough because I have first planned to go home to Hawaii, but when I started looking online for plane tickets, the prices were at $1300.00. For the past few years, I've never paid more than $800.00 to go there. I was sorely disappointed. I know some of you would say that I can't put a price on being with my family at Christmas time, but I'd have to argue that a $1300.00 ticket is not easy to cough out. I need some thoughts on this one. Or better yet, I need some info on "How to Spent Christmas Alone." It's also a good title for a book.
Any thoughts and opinions that would help illuminate my puny brain would be greatly appreciated. I hope you're all having a fabulous start to October.