Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Year Thought

The new year is a few hours away.

Grocery stores are buzzing with last minute shoppers as carts are filled with all new year celebration necessities. The new year rush is here. In Hawaii, tradition is strong. Since this state is blessed with a diverse population, each ethnicity prepares their own new year treats. It becomes the perfect home for the foodie.

Most Filipino families prepare their own holiday treats while others just order catered food. Filipino stores gear up for the new year by preparing ready made plates or boxes of well-known traditional treats from kutsinta, bibingka, puto bumbong, pansit and more. While the Japanese  prepare their mochi and special gift boxes, the Hawaiians wrap their delicious lau laus and fire up their huli huli chicken. What I'm trying to explain here is that although Hawaii has so many ethnic groups, holidays such as the new year bring everyone together. Although each ethnicity prepares their own traditional food according to their own beliefs and traditions, come midnight, we'll all be, at least here in the island of O'ahu, lighting up the firecrackers to ward off bad luck and welcome the new year with a clean slate and celebrate as one.

Hau'oli Makahiki Hou! Happy New Year! Naimbag nga baru nga tawen tayo amin!

Wherever you are, with family or far from home, may the new year bring you all the things that make you smile.

Friday, December 24, 2010


Dear All,

Merry Christmas

and a

Wonderful New Year!



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cuties Of Cavtat

Cats everywhere! Small cats, big cats, friendly cats, snobbish cats, and cute cats!

Strolling through the waterfront of Cavtat, you won't miss these cute, cuddly, friendly kitties; they seem to be roaming the area. I was busy taking photos when the first kitty approached me. Of course, I couldn't refuse taking photos and playing with these kitties.

Today, I present the cuties of Cavtat.

I badly wanted to take one of them home especially the one on the last photo.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Postcards: Boats Of Cavtat

Relaxed is the word.

As I gazed at the blue water, the distant floating yachts and the softly rocking, docked boats of all colors, shapes and sizes, I felt serenity and calm. Water has this effect on me and so did Cavtat.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

PEBA 2010 Blog Awards

Thank you! Agyamanak! Salamat!

To all who took the time to read, comment and vote for my entry "Outside Looking In," for the 3rd PEBA Blog Awards, I am happy, honored and humbled to announce that WE made Top 3 and that WE also got the Outstanding Blog By Region: Central America and Canada. This win is for my sister, Shiela, who also represented and received the award on my behalf. Sis, this is for you. You lived the tale, I only wrote your story.

My sincerest thanks to the hardworking PEBA Family! More power to you! More power to all the OFWs and their families! Congratulations to all the nominees!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Just Talk

Last week, I found out that my 1024 MB photo storage with Blogger has ran out. I guess I posted too many photos. I've been thinking of either opening another blog or continue with this one and just buy the extra storage from Blogger. I'm still looking for other options. I'll have to postpone thinking on how to resolve this since I have so many things in my mind with work and the holidays coming.

Fortunately, I am done with Christmas shopping, and the gifts are all wrapped and ready. Glad to say I managed to stay within budget. This year, Santa will be wearing a Hawaiian shirt, shorts, a big grin and a shaka sign (pinky and thumb salute - the other way of saying aloha).  I'm excited about going home to Hawaii for the holidays, and I can't wait to see my brother who arrived in the US a couple of months ago. And if you need some weather related reasons, I need a break from this frigid weather. It's been so cold and windy here that my heater has been going on non-stop for two weeks now. I'm worried about my next electric bill...sigh.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I Fell-In-Love With Cavtat, Croatia

If Dubrovnik is a chocolate box, then Cavtat is a paintbox. (The Independent)

After lunch, our bus took us to Cavtat. According to our guide, Cavtat is derived from the Latin Civitas Vetus or old city. Once I saw the clear, blue water, I didn't want to leave or rather I refused to leave. I found Cavtat so alluring and charming. Cavtat, formerly known as the Ancient Roman City of Epidaurus, is living up to its reputation as a seaside resort.

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I think this quote from The Independent truly embodies what I feel and think of Cavtat (full article here):
Cavtat perches on the saddle of a wooded peninsula set between two bays, so you're never more than moments from the water. The sea is as still as a mirror, a deep and brilliant blue with pools of green reflected from the pine forests beyond. A wide promenade, fringed with palm trees, runs along the harbour front.

This is the cosmopolitan centre of the town, where fishing and tourist boats jostle with gleaming jet-set yachts the size of battleships. In the same way, simple bars where locals crowd to watch football matches stand alongside restaurants gleaming with silverware and white linen. Ordinary pharmacies and hardware shops are likewise interspersed with hastily improvised souvenir outlets selling cheap shot-glasses and ashtrays sporting the Croatian flag.

If Dubrovnik is a chocolate box, then Cavtat is a paintbox. Cobbled streets with traditional red-roofed brownstone houses climb back from the blue of the waterfront. The narrow stairways between the opposite sides of each street are smothered in clouds of white, mauve and pink blossoms. In the fruit and vegetable market, by the bus station, crates of green and red peppers, purple aubergines and green figs are piled high beside trestle-tables laden with a golden blaze of fruits: bananas, papayas, enormous melons and the gorgeous knobbly lemons that also drip from the surrounding trees like blobs of yellow candlewax.

But most of all, Cavtat is about light. In the daytime, the town shimmers. In the evening, clouds in the night sky are outlined in a glow of copper and silver, looking for all the world like strange new countries on a mysterious old map. It's no wonder that the place has attracted so many artists.

Why Croatia's Cavtat is a pearl in its own right, The Independent, 28 April 2007,

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas At The National Harbor

Since the Gaylord Hotel is located at the National Harbor, we went on to explore the Christmas decorations at the marina. It was windy and freezing that night, but the banks of the Potomac glittered with Christmas warmth and cheer.
I said, "Wow!"
I love it when this one changes color
Lighting up the Harbor
A view underneath
The National Harbor Christmas tree
This is my favorite shot
Parol on top of the Christmas tree
Lighted trees

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas At Gaylord National Hotel

After experiencing ICE, we visited the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center, and I was in awe seeing how they have decorated for Christmas. I mean, the place was glittering, snowing (artificial of course), and absolutely Christmassy.

They look like glitter curtains and they'd change color from time to time.

Inside the hotel, there are trees covered in lights.

Eye catching whenever they change colors.

A hanging Christmas tree.

Trees, gardens and shops inside the hotel.

A huge gift underneath the hanging Christmas tree.

The "Cat in the Hat"

Christmas decorations everywhere.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Konavle Valley: Croatia

Time doesn't exist in the Konavle Valley.

Visiting Konavle made me feel that I was worlds away from my usual life. The place is so peaceful, serene and natural. Here, I was mesmerized by the crystal clear Ljuta River; it is by far the cleanest river I've ever seen.

This is the view from our table.
Restaurant servers wearing traditional Konavle dresses.
Ancient water mill.
Another view of the Ljuta River.
 Restaurant Konavoski Dvori is situated just beside the beautiful Ljuta River. I really enjoyed their cheese and smoked meats. 
 This Roman waterway stood the test of time.
Being here really made me listen to my thoughts.



Wednesday, December 8, 2010

First Cruise Stop: Croatia

After a day at sea, it was exciting to see land especially that it is my first time to visit Croatia. Our stop in Croatia included a wine and dine tour at Konavle, a relaxing afternoon stroll at Cavtat and a historical tour of the "Pearl of the Adriatic," the Old City of Dubrovnik.

Below are my first few shots of Croatia:

I found this place charming and refreshing. Although I still associate Croatia to the 1991-95 war for independence from Yugoslavia, I didn't see any traces of war, rather I saw a country full of life and hope. Through the genuine smiles of its people and to the full appreciation of their culture, Croatia is absolutely and truly beautiful.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

ICE! At The Potomac

On Saturday evening, PW and I got two tickets for a 7:00 PM entrance to see ICE! How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which is according to the Gaylord National website, an indoor wonderland where your family can explore 10 different holiday scenes created entirely of two-million pounds of ice, including thrilling ice slides that stand more than 2 stories tall. ICE! is hand-sculpted by 40 international artisans and kept at a chilling 9 degrees!

And yes, it was freezing inside the dome. Three rules apply when you're going to see ICE:  (1) no touching; (2) no sitting; and, (3) no licking of any of the ice sculptures.
All visitors are given a parka before entry.

That mischievous smile.

Impressive ICE!