Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Weekend

I'm not really sure if I've mentioned it before or not, but the Christmas party last 12/15 was really the highlight of my Christmas season. We didn't really make any definite plans for Christmas eve and Christmas day but we did make plans for going out the weekend prior to that.

Friday night, we went out to Willowbrook mall to do some window shopping. This must be the first time Hubby & I are stepping into a mall ever since we got married and moved to NJ. :) We're not really mall-rats and would prefer to avoid the crowds but being cooped up alone at home for the past week has made me want to see more people. I wound up getting a pair of pants for myself and having dinner at TGIF's. We orderd the fried mac & cheese for an appetizer and were thrilled when 2 orders were delivered to us by mistake and the 2nd was just given to us for free.

We had also been talking about taking a trip to NYC and checking out the Macy's holiday window displays, we actually left for NYC last Sunday but decided to cancel the trip because it was raining heavily. Monday, 12/24, turned out to be a very nice and sunny day and we pushed through with the NY trip.

We drove to Journal Sq and took the Path train (we like this better now, compared to taking the bus or driving into the city) to 14th st and walked all the way down to Chinatown. It was quite a long walk but I didn't mind. There were a lot of street vendors along the streets and I had fun checking out their wares. Eventually, we got to Chinatown and did some shopping to stock up on Chinese herbs (for cooking). We gorged ourselves on fried dumplings, black sesame ice cream from the Chinatown Ice Cream factory and some taro milk boba tea.

While walking, we saw Washington Square and decided to take a photo of ourselves, this is our picture and a snapshop of the Gorillapod (& our old digicam) in action.

We then took the subway to 34th st and walked to Macy's Herald Square. The window displays were nice and there were a lot of parents with their children reading the text. Here are some pictures of the window displays.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Boy with a headache

My uncle babysat Lyle one afternoon while both my sister and brother-in-law were at work. My aunt had gone to a party and arrived home with bags full of gifts that she received from her friends. When the little boy saw her packages, he rushed over to help her carry them inside and asked to be allowed to open the presents. Aunt obliged him.

When all the packages were unwrapped, Lyle looked around and started tearing up. He was looking for his present - a Megasaur that he's asked Santa for. He started throwing a tantrum while my aunt and uncle tried to pacify him.

Eventually, my aunt gave up, she looked at Lyle accusingly and said, "hay, now I have a headache".

The little boy wiped off his tears with the back of his hand and replied, "Aunt Sally, you're giving me a headache too. Uncle Gary? water please."

Of course, instead of being annoyed, the adults are very much amused. This kind of makes me wonder how much longer he can get away with things because he's cute ? or because he says amusing things ?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Party 2007

We held our Christmas party at the Baculio's last weekend, everyone had loads of fun - most especially the kids who got bag loads of presents.

We had a white elephant gift exchange (also called the Yankee swap), we went home with a Joby GorillaPod from Aris. We're looking forward to using this. Hubby and I actually have a small tripod which we bring with us when we travel. The thing is, we've always had to rely on trash cans or tables whenever we want to snap a photograph of us. With this, we won't have to.

Other items that were exchanged included a wet/dry cordless vacuum cleaner, a touchscreen speaker phone, bluetooth headsets, board games, scented oil warmer, Homedics home massager, set of Pyrex bakeware, Rubbermaid containers.

Last but not the least, friends G & A announced that they are infanticipating, just another one of the blessings that we are thankful for this year. Kelan kaya kami ? :)

<-- Hubby & me, pic taken by Jacob (we're friends now, yey!)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Winter woes

Thursday, 12/13/07, was a bad day. We had 5 to 6 inches of snow forecasted, snow was supposed to start coming down midday and would eventually become a mixture of rain & sleet towards the evening.

The worst part of yesterday was that out of all the days in December, we had to pick that one day to go into NYC for a client-demonstration (this meeting got arranged a month ago). So by 12:30, I was already outside, trying to hail a cab. It was raining - a combination of rain & sleet actually - there was no sign of light fluffy snow at all.

Eventually, I got myself a cab and asked to be driven to the Port Authority so I could catch a bus to NJ. I stood in line at the bus gates for more than an hour (buses were supposed to run every 30 minutes) until eventually, a Port Authority staff came and told us that buses were running late due to the bad weather & road conditions.

*sigh* My first thought on hearing that announcement: "whew, was I glad that I peed before I ran to the gate". I actually had to think twice about going to the restroom because I was afraid I'd miss the bus and would have to wait for the next one.

The rain / sleet / snow combination went on till evening and by 10pm, we heard the snowplow contractor outside, they had started clearing up the walkways & parking slots around our (condo) building. Good, I thought. We could probably go out an hour later and move our car back into our already-cleared-up parking slot in front.

11pm, we went out, the guy was still driving around in his snow plow and our space is only plowed halfway (no idea why he didn't finish). We decided to go out on a "date" (either for coffee or get some groceries at a local shop that closes late) and hopefully, by the time we get back, our spot would've been plowed already.

We wound up getting some groceries and when we got back half an hour later, the snowplow men were gone and he had left our parking slot as is. We drove around the building and found a few more spots that were haphazardly plowed. Grabe, tamad talaga.

We ended up shoveling the ICE (yes, it had turned & hardened into ice by now) by ourselves. Ang hirap!

I took pictures and I'm filing a complaint with the building association. This guy is a new contractor and yesterday was his first day, the rest of the season isn't looking so good.

Check these pictures out, see how the plow had already pushed back part of the snow ? Why not push it all back ? Normally, the snowplow should push the snow all the way in till the spots are cleared. This is really shoddy work.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Action figure raw, o!

My 7 year old nephew, Lance, called me up the other day to let me know that he got his report card already and his grades were excellent. In fact, he was rated "advanced" (I forgot the exact terminology used in his report card) in a lot of his subjects.

We got to talking about Christmas and I asked him if he had already written Santa about his Christmas wishes.

I asked, "Did Mommy mail your letter to Santa already ?"

Lance: Yes.

Me: What did you ask for ?

Lance: a Master Yoga Toy, it's a character from Star Wars. It's so cool and it glows in the dark.

Me: (I knew what he was referring to and I already had this image of a plastic Yoda toy in my head.... but I couldn't find the right words to say) Ahh, it's a doll, right ?

Lance: No, A-i*, it's an AC-TION FI-GURE. (he just had to emphasize the words... haha!)

*laughs* okay, I stand corrected.

* A-i = chinese term for aunt

Monday, December 10, 2007

Lyle's birthday cupcakes

I mentioned that Lyle turned 4 in a previous post. My sister just sent me the photos and our aunt really outdid herself this time. She baked and decorated cupcakes for my nephew's entire class. Looks like my aunt let her imagination run wild.

When my aunt and sister came to their class for his birthday celebration, he stood out in front and - with a serious face because, after all, he is a big boy now - said to his mom "Mom, Aunt Sally, here are my friends". He then faced his classmates and said, "My birthday cupcakes are here, finish your lunch so we can have our party."

I'm told that my nephew's classmates were very excited about the different designs too.

I'm still ooh-ing, ahh-ing and drooling over these cupcakes. Too bad they're all the way in California so I can't taste any of these.

and last, but not the least, this is Lyle's own cupcake, designed to look like a birthday cake.

Happy Birthday, Lyle!

car trouble :(

We almost didn't make it to church last Saturday.

We got on our car and all sorts of lights were turned on at the dashboard - frankly, I haven't driven around much since I started working from home a couple of months ago so I don't even remember which of those lights were supposed to come on and stay on until the car starts and which ones are supposed to be off.

Anyway, the battery light was on (hubby says it's supposed to be like that) and when he turned the key to start the car, there was this gad-awful grinding, choking, wheezing sound coming from the engine. He stopped what he was doing.

A few seconds later, he tried starting the engine again and this time, it did start but the entire front of the car was shaking and there were loud sounds coming from the engine. Our vehicle has a boxer engine, it's not supposed to shake/vibrate like that so when it did, it scared me. I wanted to get out of the car lest it blows up (dramatic ba ?).

We were parked away from our bldg (we thought it was going to snow so we parked away, as per our condo's policy, from the building the night before) so we decided to just move the car to our reserved spot in front of the building since it was brighter (more light). All this time, the car was still making that awful noise and vibrating like h*ll. I was so scared that it might die in the middle of the road and we'd have to push (btw, can you push a car with automatic transmission ? I know that you can't make kadyot, but you can still push no if it's in neutral ?).

When we got to our spot, we cut off the engine and I started looking for the roadside assistance number - in case we needed a jump start.

A minute later, hubby decided to try again and this time, the car started without any problems. Baka nalamigan lang ? But Saturday was WARM compared to the previous times we've used the car.

Hay. This got me thinking, my friends lease their cars because they want to be able to switch to a new vehicle every 2 or 3 years. As for me, I thought it was more cost-effective to just buy my car, which I did. I always thought that I'd keep my car and replace it after 5 years. But this car has always been in excellent condition, is underused (less than 30k mileage over 5 years) and still looks new so I changed my timeframe and plan to keep it for another 5 years.

Now, my car is 5 years and 1 month old. It's always been well-maintained by the dealership (casa) - I'm OC about that. Now, I'm wondering if it's time to sell or maybe that was just a fluke because of the cold ? and because we have not been using it daily ?

Ano kaya ? For now, our car is under observation.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

and my all-time favorite game is...


Hubby and I were out doing some last minute Christmas shopping in time for our group's party next week. We fell in love with this Vintage monopoly set. The case is shaped like a book and the front cover slides out.

It includes antique looking title deeds to the properties and bronze colored die cast tokens. The paper money isn't as good as the original ones, of course, pero pwede na. What I like best is its container. The fact that it's shaped and sized like a book - say, an encyclopedia - means that we can just keep this in the bookshelf along with our other books. No more boardgame boxes messing up the shelf. :)

The board folds in 6 panels and it looks like this:
So far, we've played 4 games, spending at least an hour in each game, and it's a tie. He won the first 2 games and I won the last 2.
My back kind of hurts now because we played on the floor. I'm getting too old for this :P

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Lyle does it again!

Remember this post ? Well, just when we thought we're ready for whatever this kid says, he does it again...

This morning, a cousin visits my sister's family at home and Lyle comes running out the door to greet her:

Lyle: Auntie Michelle! Auntie Michelle! Why do girls like to be naked ?

Aunt M: Huh ? What do you mean ?

Lyle: Girls only like to wear bra and panty so they can be sexy, why ?

What would you say ? :P

btw, it's Lyle's 4th birthday today :)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Honey Walnut Shrimp

I was cleaning out my desk when I came across a typewritten recipe for this dish. I remember getting this from my friend, Wena. I don't know where she got this from so if this looks familiar, please drop me a line so I can give credit to whoever put this recipe together :)

So anyway, we tried this out last night. I took care of the shrimp while hubby mixed the sauce. Btw, I had some leftover batter (egg white & cornstarch mixture) so I thawed out some squid rings and fried up some calamari on the side too :)

1 lb of large or medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup egg whites
1/2 cup oil

2 tbs honey
2 tbs mayonnaise
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
1/2 tbs condensed milk
1/2 cup walnuts (you can buy glazed walnuts from the grocery store)

  • Mix cornstarch and egg whites together to form a thick, sticky texture and mix well with the shrimp.

  • Mix honey, mayonnaise, lemon juice and condensed milk in a bowl until smooth.

  • Heat oil until boiling then deep try the shrimp until golden brown.

  • Drain shrimp then fold in honey mayonnaise mixture. Mix well and sprinkle with walnuts, arrange on a platter and serve.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I love...

... this man :)

Hubby usually favors oversized shirts, baggy pants and sneakers so it kinda sends my heart a-fluttering when he dresses up in business attire.

I just had to snap this picture when he left for a job interview.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Hubby's special day

It's hubby's birthday today and as we did on my birthday last month, we decided to eat in. Dinner was creamy shrimp alfredo flavored with turkey bacon (feeling healthy, heehee) and mushrooms. Hubby requested that we also prepare the bacon-wrapped filet mignon. We've been saving that for a special occasion and it can't get any more special than this - his first birthday that we get to spend together.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Snowfall #2

We got our 2nd snowfall of the season last Sunday with a 1 to 2 inch accumulation. It was just enough to cheer one up and wasn't bad enough for us to complain about having to clean up our car & parking space.

Look at all that powdered snow.. looking at that makes me want to go skiing already. Powder-like snow is always best for winter sports.

Hmmm, teka, this kinda reminds me of finely crushed ice. Margaritas ? Halo-halo, anyone ?

Monday, December 3, 2007

What motivates you to give to a charity?

Xanga, the other site where I maintain a blog, has this new featured question and it got me thinking. You see, just the other day, I was on the phone with my sister and somehow, we got to talking about our parishes.

I'm usually pretty easy to convince when it comes to giving donations & contributing to charity. All it takes is a woeful face or maybe just a mention of all the blessings that we enjoy in life and I'm a goner. Being thankful for what I have is a big motivator, it always makes me want to give back and help someone else out. However, I do need some sort of affirmation that whoever's asking for my help really needs it.

For example, a few years back, my church started this debt elimination campaign because it owed so much that all the money it got was just going towards the interest and was barely making a dent in the $300k principal that it owed. So they parish started this campaign. We were asked for pledges and extra envelopes were distributed so that we can give our contributions every week.

I didn't really get in the spirit of the campaign until a year later, when the new resident priest started implementing cost cutting measures. I didn't really see any need to donate my hard earned cash to the church when our airconditioning units were turned on full blast during the summer and the heater cranked so high during the winter. I also didn't see the need for all those halogen bulbs in the chandeliers. Where I came from, if it was hot ? We fanned ourselves in church. So anyway, the priest started replacing all the high energy bulbs with energy efficient ones. Then the heaters & air conditioning units were turned down to more reasonable levels. These actions showed me that they (the church staff) were committed to the campaign, so I started making an extra effort to contribute.

Last Sunday, a nun also came to speak to our church to collect gifts for the poor students in their school. They had these trees set up in the lobby and hung tags with kid's names, ages and preferences (clothing or toy). Some tags have the kid's preferences too. So we started looking around and some of them stood out, one asked for an xBox 360 game, one asked for a Wii controller, another asked for a PSP game, and yet another was asking for an iPOD case.

What ? These kids were supposed to be poor ? Come on, if they could afford to buy (or has access to these gadgets) then maybe they can afford to buy (get access to) their own accessories. We looked around and found a more reasonable request for an MP3 player, we took that tag and have gotten the item for the child already.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Cirque rules!

I got a lucky break last Saturday when a friend who bought a ticket to watch Cirque du Soleil's Wintuk show couldn't make it . There was only 1 ticket so we weren't offered it at first. After asking the single friends, it turns out that everybody else had prior commitments so we finally got offered the chance.

Hubby graciously offered to stay home (we had a couple of appointments for buyers to come see our house) and just let me watch the show with friends. Libre pa! Woohoooo!

Wintuk is about a boy who was looking for snow. Winter na kasi and it wasn't snowing. He then went on a magical journey where he met people & other creatures. It's amazing how Cirque was able to incorporate these amazing feats & acts into the story.

Syempre, towards the end of the show, the boy was bound to get snow, right ? This was the best part... it started snowing... I kid you not. Lots and lots of paper snowflakes started raining down on the entire Madison Square Garden theater. Ang dami! It was so fun! I opened up my jacket and my bag and caught loads and loads of paper snowflakes. I thought I'd bring it home to the hubby and throw it at him and shout "Snow! Snow!" -- this turned out to be a bad idea, mahirap pala maglinis ng paper snowflakes sa bahay.

My idea to fill up my jacket & vest with snowflakes was kinda overkill too. I leaked snowflakes as I walked from 34th street (Madison Sq Garden) all the way to 42nd (bus station). LOL!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Kids Says The Darnedest things

I sent over some DVDs to my nephews a few weeks ago and the kids decided to watch X-Men one afternoon.

After the show, Lyle (the 3 year old) walks over to his Mom ...

Lyle: Mommy, I want to be a mutant.

Mommy: Why ?

Lyle: Because I want to be popular.

Mommy: Why would you want to be popular ?

Lyle: Because Iceman is a mutant and he's very popular and all the girls kiss him. They kiss him on the mouth!

Mommy: You shouldn't be thinking about kissing girls yet, only Mommy can kiss you, okay ?

Lyle: Okay.

He then starts to run off but comes back to his Mom

Lyle: Mommy, my classmate Olivia likes me because I'm cute.

Mommy: but no kissing, okay ?

Lyle: okay.

*laughs* something tells me that we should be more vigilant in checking out what the kids are watching nowadays. Especially this little one, he gets influenced too easily.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Rent a husband

Saw this sign along the road. Rent a husband ? Do I get to choose from a catalog ? *wink*.

I've taken a leave of absence from work for the rest of the week. We really really do need to tidy up the house and start packing up for our tentative open house this weekend (I say tentative because we have not gotten a confirmation from our realtor yet).

Our plan is to clear up the basement by getting rid of stuff that we don't need anymore, box up a few more unused items from the house and then move all these boxes to the basement. From the way things are looking, being the packrat that I am, we need an extra "husband" to help us out with the packing and the carrying. Heehee.

will blog for food ?

Inspired by several n@wies, so I've joined the bandwagon and signed up for sponsored blogging. Somehow, I feel like I should now put up a sign like those that I see on the streets saying, "will work for food".

In line with that, I am thinking about the things that I will blog for... gadgets, maybe ? accessories ?

We'll see where this goes. :)

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Our first thanksgiving

I wanted to make something special for our first thanksgiving. I couldn't decide what to prepare but I knew that:

1) we are not standard thanksgiving fare fans (i.e. turkey, yams, stuffing,...) ; and,
2) given that we'll probably be spending thanksgiving by ourselves, there's no sense in having too much food that we'll be eating as leftovers in the next few days.

Inspiration struck when we were wandered, quite accidentally, into the supermarket's seafood section. There were crabs, shrimp, fish and scallops. It was then that I decided to prepare an all-seafood meal. Given that we're usually red-meat eaters - aside from the occasional chicken - this would be unique. Special, even.

Found a great recipe on the web for Shrimp and Crab stuffed flounder by Linda Reir.

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
2 (4.5 ounce) cans small shrimp, drained
1 (4.5 ounce) can sliced mushrooms, drained
1/2 pound cooked crabmeat
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
8 (6 ounce) fillets flounder
2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/3 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons water
2/3 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish and set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and saute onion, shrimp, and mushrooms until onion is tender. Stir in crabmeat, salt, pepper, and paprika; heat through.

Spoon the shrimp and crab mixture onto each flounder filet. Roll the filet up and fasten with toothpicks. Place rolled filets in prepared baking dish.

(Note: Either the flounder filets I got were too small or I was trying to stuff too much of the crab mixture in so instead of rolling the fish, I just folded it over.)

In a small bowl, whisk together soup, chicken broth, and water until smooth. Pour over the filets. Sprinkle cheese over the top.

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and remove foil. Sprinkle the parsley over the top of the filets. Return the dish to the oven and bake uncovered for an additional 5 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

... and voila! Obviously, this dish is sorely lacking in presentation, but I swear, this is good!

We did make one concession in deference to turkey day, in addition to the stuffed fish, we had baked scallops wrapped in turkey bacon (hubby's idea). These turned out very good too. The scallops were huge - at least an inch and a half in diameter - and very very sweet, I just sprinked them with some seasoned salt and wrapped them in bacon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Stir fried noodles

Hubby and I decided to try our hand at preparing a Chinese egg-noodle dish. It didn't turn out so bad, considering that this is our first dab and neither of us had a clue.

Egg noodles
Straw mushrooms
Quail Eggs
Carrots (julienned)
Veggies (was supposed to put in some broccoli but I forgot)
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp lite soy sauce
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 cup water
minced garlic
2 tbsp oil

Given the above ingredients, this was what we did:
  1. We pre-boiled the egg noodles in some chicken stock left over from an earlier dish. Do not boil till noodles are completely cooked otherwise, they'll soften and become overcooked when you stir fry them.
  2. Combine the cornstarch, lite and dark soy sauce, oyster sauce and water in a small bowl.
  3. In a skillet, heat oil and saute garlic. Add the shrimp, carrots, straw mushrooms and broccoli. Saute until heated.
  4. Add the cornstarch & sauce mixture. Stir constantly until sauce thickens. Add a little broth as necessary.
  5. Add the noodles and mix.
  6. Serve.

We're still skeptical about the noodles. I believe that we shouldn't have pre-boiled it but should've just soaked it in water and cooked it during the stir fry process. Any thoughts on this?

Hubby thought the noodles came out bland and said that it could do with a dash of salt. I thought it was just right.

btw, when hubby was mixing the sauce (soy sauce, cornstarch, etc), I saw him tasting it... ganon pala magluto, dapat tinitikman ? *grin* I always just go by the color & texture, kaya yun, hit or miss :D

Monday, November 19, 2007

Lemon Chicken ala Popcorn

We got some boneless chicken breast halves during our last shopping trip and we decided to try our hand at preparing one of the hubby's favorite chicken dishes - Lemon Chicken.

Did some searching and found a recipe on which listed ingredients that we already have at home. It turned out quite well, even with our revisions, and yeah, the picture that I took could do with some improvement (and better presentation) so this doesn't do the dish any justice.

The original recipe calls for 2 egg yolks for the chicken batter. I didn't want to waste the egg whites so I opted to just prepare the chicken cutlets Japanese style as we did last time - dredged in flour, dipped in egg and then coated with panko bread crumbs.

Lemon sauce:
2 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger (instead of minced, I grated)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

In medium saucepan, place 2 tablespoons cornstarch, brown sugar and ginger. Stir in 1/2 cup water and broth. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until thickens and comes to a boil, boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice.

Pour sauce over the chicken cutlets and serve.

* Note, we found the sauce to have a strong ginger taste, will lessen the ginger next time.

First Snowfall

I'm looking out the window and I see snow falling.

Wonder of wonders! It's our first snowfall of the season. Better get those skis out and get them conditioned for winter.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Grocery Shopping

I remember tagging along with my parents during their monthly grocery shopping trips when I was younger. It always puzzled me why they'd buy our supplies from two or three different stores. I also noticed that they would use one credit card at one store, a different card at another and pay cash at other stores (later, I'd find out that some credit cards have better promotional offers when you use them at certain stores).

I remember asking Mom about this and I'd get answers like "[Baby food brand] is cheaper at Parco while [laundry detergent brand] is cheaper at Ever Gotesco". Still, those answers didn't seem so sensible to me at the time because I thought that even if laundry detergent is cheaper at one place, surely the savings that we would get would not cover the gas that we'd burn getting to the other place, not to mention our time too.

Now that I have a home and a family of my own, my parents' way of buying groceries don't seem so odd anymore. When I was still single and living alone, paying an extra dollar or two didn't really seem that big a deal so I shopped where it was convenient or where it was fun (of course, I loved it when I'd get extra savings because of sales and coupons, right ?)

For the past few months, I've tried to keep track of the prices of our staple items in different stores. Unfortunately, I keep losing my list. Recently, Sammie found my old Sony Clie lying around and tried plugging it in. It still worked! Now seemed like a good time as any to get back to the electronic age (goodbye notebooks & post-its!). So I hunted up old receipts, old post-its, and price tag pictures that we've taken using our camera phones and started comparing. I was surprised by what I saw, here are a few samples:

Lactaid (lactose free milk) 64 oz - 4.49 at SR, 3.48 at FB
Broccoli - $1.50 / lb at SR, $0.98 per bunch at FB(each bunch is around 1.5 lbs)
Heavy Cream (1/2 pint) - 1.98 at SR, 1.28 at FB

The price difference, especially for the Lactaid milk, is astounding. One whole dollar ? This made me wonder how much we've overspent, given that we spend around $400-$500 on groceries each month.

This comparison just cemented my resolve to be a smart shopper. It wasn't a big deal for us to shop at different stores since they're all (including a Costco branch) within a 5 mile radius of our place.

Friday, November 16, 2007


My sister likes to give me updates about my nephews everyday. She tells me about their grades in school (syempre magagaling, am a proud aunt), their antics, and their activities.

The other day, she tells me that she and our uncle were talking and making kwento... the little one (Lyle) was sitting on the floor with his toys. So my uncle starts telling my sister about this lady that he saw, she was dressed inappropriately (too sexy) for her age and stuff. Basically, it was adult-talk and they didn't even know that the little boy was listening until he jumped up and shouted - with a grin and a knowing look - "hey! you said boob! you said boob!" and he started running and dancing around while chanting "you said boob!".

Hangkuhlet! *smile*

Kinda makes one wonder how kids have this radar for bad words. You could talk to them and use a thousand words and they'll focus, instinctively, on the one bad word that you said. Galing no ?

This reminds me of the time when Sammie visited me at home and I was so sleepy and had to take a nap. I gave Lance (my elder nephew), whom I was babysitting at the time, to Sammie and they went to watch a video. Later, I'd wake up to Lance shouting in my ear "A-i, I'm a man-horse!"

I was puzzled, of course, but didn't think much of it until I asked about the video that they watched. Apparently, they'd picked out Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo to watch and guess what ? Man-horse turned out to be a mispronounced man-whore. Haaay.

Just goes to show that we should always monitor what the kids (and babysitters) watch and we should always be careful of what we say or talk about when there are kids nearby - they have very big ears!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Belated Birthday Lunch with friends

Met up with the MOCPLG (M... Office Complex Pinoy Lunch Group, as we like to call ourselves) peeps at our local chinese buffet place for lunch this afternoon. They got me SpaFinder gift certificates and a new Wii game - Mario & Sonic Olympic Games. Can't wait to try these out :)

Thank you all!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

An hour with the dentist

Sometimes I wish that I had one of those dentists who has staff dedicated to calling up patients to remind them of appointments and whether or not we're already due for a cleaning. I was brushing my teeth the other day and happened to see the 2007 datebook that I got from my dentist during my previous visit.

That got me thinking, when was the last time that I visited ? I knew that it was before I got married... so I was long overdue. So I made our appointments and cajoled the hubby into going (he's terrified of dentists).

Turns out, we both have cavities. Argh! I haven't had cavities in a long time, kainis. Aside from that, the trip turned out well, we did get a lot of goodies today. Aside from the usual toothbrush and travel sized toothpaste, we got a packet of mouthwash and dental floss as well.

I read from another blog that Sonicare toothbrush works well in preventing cavities, can anyone else attest to this ?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Birthday shopping!

I filed for my birthday leave and took the day off today. We must have spent at least 9 hours outdoors - a rare occurence these days, considering that we don't go out anymore. Spent a good amount of $$ at DSW, we both got new shoes. Next stop was Bed, Bath and Beyond where we got that saucepan that I've been eyeing since last week and finally to Kohl's, where we got some pants and shirts.

Yep, we both got gifts for ourselves :) It was a fun, fun day.

Also, we got an email acknowledging the receipt of Sammie's RFE response (for his GC). The email that we got also said that processing will be resumed on his GC. *fingers crossed*

Thursday, November 8, 2007

My Birthday Dinner

I got another year older today. THIS birthday is special because this is the first one that we get to celebrate together. In the 7 (or 8?) years that we've been a couple, we have never been in the same country during any of our birthdays. So this year,.. this birthday... we wanted it to be all about us.

Friends have been asking us where and how we planned to celebrate my birthday and we couldn't give a definite answer. You see, all these questions put a lot of pressure on me. I felt that we had to go out in order to celebrate. Sammie and I are homebodies. We're perfectly happy just staying at home - curled up with a nice book, trash-talking each other over Guitar Hero 3 or just getting caught up on our recorded shows (Tivo). By now, you should already know where I'm going *smile*...

The thing is, we wanted this celebration to be so special that we couldn't decide where to go. It was almost 8pm and we were still home, wondering where to go. Eventually, it hit us. There isn't a better place to spend a special day than in our own home - our very first home - and besides, if we sell our house soon, this (and sammie's birthday in December) would be the last birthdays we get to spend in this house.

Thankfully, our fridge was fully stocked *grin*. Shabu-shabu beef, baby bok choy, mushrooms, japanese noodles, mini pork buns (xiao long pao) and potstickers cooked in chicken broth made a wonderful meal. Oh and let's not forget the custard bun (on the rack) that we had for dessert (nope, didn't like it).

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Phantom of the Opera

I'm enjoying a much-needed time off, it's about time that I use up this floating holiday that we're all entitled to in our company. I will be taking another day off again next week to use up my birthday leave. Fun, no ?

Hubby and I watched a broadway play (his first, my nth, but our first together) last night. We were lucky enough to be able to get affordable front orchestra seats for the Phantom of the Opera. I've been meaning to watch this show for the longest time but TKTS - the place where you can get discounted tickets for musicals - always seem to run out of seats for that show whenever I'm in line.

Anyhow, it was a wonderful evening which started off with a bus ride from NJ to NY, followed by a steak dinner at Tad's (cheap steaks!) and a walk in Times Square to pass the time. We thought it would be prudent to get to NYC early in case we hit traffic.

Of course, we couldn't resist having our picture taken with M&M over by the Hershey's store at Times Square.

The Phantom did not disappoint. We love :-)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Gallery 1

Lady Liberty

Old Central Railroad of New Jersey Train Station & ferry terminal at Liberty State Park

Ellis Island

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Real estate woes

Just got off a somewhat-heated conversation with my Foxtons agent. You see, we've been playing phone tag for a few weeks now. They went out of business last September and we've been very patient with them. They've only got 30 employees now dealing with the 4000+ listings that they're still holding on to and I can just imagine their volume of work.
However, being sympathetic to this company's troubles does not change the fact that I still need to sell my home. The phone-tag thing where I call them and get the voice mailbox and I get a call back and they get my voicemail is getting tiresome. It didn't use to be like this when we were starting out.

Since they "closed down" last September, I've also gotten 3 appointments setup for buyers to come in for a look. None ever showed up. I did, however, get a few calls from other realtors who claim that they could not show my home to their clients because they couldn't get an appointment set up.

The proverbial straw-that-broke-the-camel's-back came in the form of another realtor who dropped by last night. Again, she told me the same song and dance number about not being able to reach foxtons but thought she'd chance it and drop by anyway. With this, hubby and I decided to just call it quits and try to get out of our contract.
This morning, after a short game of phone-tag, I finally got through to an agent. I explained to her how I've been getting calls and visits from realtors who claim that they have not been able to get through to foxtons and her mood changed. She got all defensive and started raising her voice and told me what she thought I was trying to do. According to her, I was trying to turn things around and shift the blame on foxtons. They've gotten me 6 EXCELLENT offers since we got listed with them and I've refused every single one... so I can't go on blaming foxtons for the situation. It was my fault.

Huh ?

I corrected her. 3. We got 3 offers, all with prices lower than the price of the one bedroom that got sold recently - and I have a 2 bedroom. And MIND YOU, these offers were all from people who were putting 0 downpayment. 2 out of the 3 offers even had concessions - that means that the price they're offering for my house isn't the bottom line, they still need to get some $$$ out of that to pay for closing costs - and they blame me for not accepting those offers ???
So I'm not trying to put the blame on Foxtons and they shouldn't try and put the blame on me. What I am doing is stating facts. That's what these realtors (who have dropped by) have told me and I believe them, why wouldn't I ? I've been having a hard time getting in touch with Foxtons too.

Bottomline, I was told that the judge has signed the approval papers for their sale of our listings. There was no way for me to get out of the contract and for now, it's a waiting game. Our listing has been transferred to Maplewood (?) and Century 21. I googled this and found an article that says that sellers are allowed to opt out of these contracts but cannot list their houses with other agents until the date on the contract passes. Given then, it's probably better to just stay with the new realtor handling our account and hope for the best.
Hopefully, I get someone more courteous this time. I don't blame the lady I talked to for being borderline-rude. I'm upset and I'm sure she's upset too. After all, I'm sure she's been getting a lot of flack from other sellers too - not to mention the fact that her job may not be too secure right now.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Mid-Autumn Festival

Our group of friends decided to hold a belated celebration of the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. Traditionally, this is celebrated by Chinese people all over the world by eating (and gifting friends / family with) moon cakes.

We also reached a new milestone with Jacob (R's kid) that night. He started talking to me - finally! - and acknowledged that Sammie exists. Heehee. To those who know Jacob, you'll know that this is a big thing. The picture posted here was snapped by Aris when she saw the three of us together in a room.

Anyway, I digress. The best part about this time of the year is the dice game. There are 5 tiers of prices and 6 dice. Each person throws the dice into a bowl and they get a price depending on how many fours they throw. There are also other combinations that they can throw to get a prize (five of a kind, six of a kind, two trios, straight, etc).

This year's big winner (Riza) got a $70 gift certification to Second prizes were a UPS unit (battery backup) and noise cancelling headphones. There were a whole lot of other prizes up for grabs. By the end of the night, we found ourselves with an odd (but fun) assortment: 1 toothpaste, 1 can of spanish style sardine, 1 bowl, and 1 ResQMe (keychain version of the LifeHammer, the tool which can help save your life by breaking your car windows and slashing your seatbelt). It was really quite interesting.

Lastly, hubby and I decided (at the last minute) to try our hand at preparing Pancit Palabok. It didn't turn out too bad - or so they (our friends) say. Click here for the recipe posted on our food blog. Personally, I think it could still do with a bit more tweaking.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


What would it take to make you truly happy?

I thought long and hard and you know what ? Nothing. I couldn't come up with a single thing.

Yeah, I do have a few things on my wish/prayer list, but I wouldn't really classify anything as being critical to my happiness. We live a good life - me, my husband and our families - we're healthy and very close to our families. We have good friends.

Yeah, I could do with a raise and hubby could do with a good job. We sure would appreciate it if we receive our GCs soon and we could do with a nice vacation. We'd love to have kids some day. But if we don't get any of these soon, who cares ? We'll get it when we get it. We have simple needs and God has generously provided for us.

So yes, I am in a good place in my life. I am happy. Truly happy.

I just answered this Featured Question, you can answer it too!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Autumn Colors

I love everything about Fall - the changing colors of the leaves, the cooler temperatures, and yes, even the coming winter.

I had to go on a trip up North early this week for a few meetings at headquarters and at a couple of prospective clients and the view along the highway was just gorgeous. I couldn't resist taking a few shots but I was going too fast to get anything decent on my phone camera.

Nevertheless, don't just take my word for it, it's beautiful out there. Go out and enjoy the foliage, it will be gone pretty soon.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island

October 20, 2007
Liberty Island & Ellis Island with April

(click on photo to view album)

Joel hooked us up with April, an ex-officemate from SBI. She's currently based in Singapore but was sent to the US for a short project. We really enjoyed April's company and hope that she could've stayed a few more days (or that we could've heard about her trip earlier).

Anyway, these albums are pictures taken from our Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island tours. We then went to the Jersey Gardens outlet mall for some shopping - and boy, did she shop! *wink*

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A day in the life of ...

Backgrounder: My sister [aka Mommy] was trying to teach my 3 year old (going on 4) nephew [aka Lyle] the concept of opposites. Now, note that the older son is already 7 years old so Mommy doesn't really remember how she did it the first time.

Mommy & Lyle were looking at a picture with 2 tigers, one big and one small.

Mommy: Lyle, this is big *points to the big tiger*. So if it's not big, what is it ?

Lyle: That's a Daddy tiger and this is a baby tiger.

Mommy thinks that maybe it would be better to try different example, she flips the book to another picture, one with clouds in the middle, a mountain on the ground and a plane flying high above the clouds.

Mommy: How about this ? You see the airplane ? It's flying above the clouds, right ?

Lyle: Yes

Mommy: So what is below the clouds ? Do you see anything below the clouds ?

Lyle: *points directly on the cloud* On the cloud, Mommy ? Huh ? How about on the cloud ?

At this point, Mommy realizes that Lyle is not paying attention... so she decides to just let him do his thing. Baka ma high-blood pa. :-)


Shoutout: if any of you guys have pointers on how to introduce "opposites" to a 3/4 year old, drop me a line, am sure that my sister (and I) would appreciate your tips :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Paper cuts

<-- How cool is that ??? Check out Peter Callesen's artworks.

This puts a very different edge to the art of papercutting, doesn't it ?

Galeng, no ?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Are you smarter than a 5th grader ?

Hubby loves watching this show and the questions are quite intriguing too. Sometimes, this even kind of makes me want to go back to my old textbooks and go through them again.

Lately, I've realized that watching quiz shows has also helped me discover a few more things about my hubby - things about him that I didn't learn about in the 20 years that we've been friends and bf-gf. First of which was that he likes maps. Magaling pala si S sa geography and I didn't even know until I'd see him answer geography questions easily.

As for me, I can easily answer the grammar, English and Spelling question and while I'd consider myself to be good in math & measurements, I'm only realizing that I really am not. How many pints is in a quart again ? and how many milliliters are there in an ounce ?

This blog is really inspired by the show that I saw last night (we have Tivo so I have no idea when this was actually shown), the contestant was the girl whose grandfather invented mood rings. One question for 1st grade spelling asked how many consonants were in the word "vowel". So she talked through her thought process...

V-O-U-L, and I know that vowels are A-E-I-O and U and sometimes Y. So the O and U in "vowel" are not consonants, so there are 2 consonants in "vowel". My answer is 2 and I'm gonna lock that in. *pushes the button*

Wrong! Okay, how can anybody not know how to spell vowel ? Pwede ba yun ? And she was like " Ohh V-O-W-E-L, like as in Bowels!!!" Hay nako. *roll eyes* Where did she go to school again ? I am so avoiding that school like the plague.

Fortunately, she was saved by her classmate, a fifth grader.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dust allergies

I've been nursing a cough and a cold for more than 2 weeks now, it started off as a sore throat at first and later came out with the other symptoms.

My throat has gotten better after a week but my cough is still lingering. Every now and then I'd get a coughing fit that lasts for minutes and that scares the hubby - and frankly, it even scares me. I sound like somebody with TB or asthma.

We're thinking now that this might be an allergy. We keep cleaning and cleaning, but it still hasn't gone away, so hubby has taken apart our bed (and the bedframe) and is cleaning the nook & crannies of our bedroom. The thing with having wall to wall carpeting is that while it makes life more comfortable, it's also very attractive to dirt and dust. And how often do you clean under the bed, anyway ? We have this very cumbersome bedframe that is very difficult to move so the area under the bed very seldom gets vacuumed thoroughly. We do let our faithful Roomba go at it every so often, but unfortunately, Roomba - the tiny robot that it is - can only do so much. We've also thrown out dried flower arrangement we have hanging over our bed - while it was very nice, it was certainly a huge dust collector.

I'm also finding out that this dust mask that I picked up at the local dollar store is helping me breathe more comfortably. I've had this on for an hour now and I haven't coughed since. Hopefully, I get to shake off this cough when hubby is done with the fall-cleaning. I'm tired.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Salad = Freezer, not a match

Having been carnivorous for most of my life, I've been trying to incorporate more vegetables in our diets recently. We started buying these packaged, pre-washed salad greens from the grocery, we serve these with creamy Ceasar salad dressing, croutons and parmesan cheese.

The thing is, these packaged greens aren't really cheap and each pack lasts us 2 to 3 meals. So last Sunday night, we opened up a fresh pack and put the remains back in the refrigerator. On Monday afternoon, I saw the package again and decided to stick it in the freezer so that they'd last longer. Who knows when we'd get a hankering for salad again ? Right ?

Last night, we decided to eat the remainder of the salad,... ewww! Turns out that freezing salad greens wasn't such a good idea after all. I wish I'd taken a picture before we chucked it out to the trash. The veggies were all soggy and reddish - not all nice.

And now, we know. (... and knowing is half the battle, GI JOEEEE!)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Walking with Dinosaurs

Hubby and I got ourselves some tickets to the Walking with Dinosaurs show at the Continental Arena a few months ago. We were very excited, come on... dinosaurs walking around the stage ? Our tickets were for the 10:30a show so we had to wake up extra early last Saturday to make sure that we had time to grab breakfast and still make it in time.

Getting there was a breeze, given that we lived only 10 miles away from the arena, but we've had to pay $10 for parking. Inside, t-shirts were being sold for $25, programs for $15 - I wanted to get some souvenirs but these prices were outrageous! I was so glad that we had already had breakfast before leaving home. If we had to eat there, we'd have spent another $20 easily and still not be satisfied.

Anyway, as we got into our seats, we looked around and started cringing when we saw that allthe groups there had kids. Hubby & I were the only all-adult group that we could find. We probably should've gone with friends who had kids.

The show was around 2 hrs in length and had a 20 minute intermission in the middle. I dozed off for most of it, it was so so boring! There were some amusing moments - where there was a mother & baby T-Rex - but I expected a lot more action, maybe like those I saw in Jurassic Park (the movie). The kids did seem to enjoy it though as there were a lot of them growling, roaring and imitating dinosaur sounds as they were walking back to the parking area.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Seemed boneless ?

Hubby and I were grocery shopping when I saw this at the meat section:

Beef Round Eye Round Roast
Seemed Boneless

er.... I did not see any bones sticking out of the meat either. so yeah, it seemed boneless to me too. Needless to say, we didn't buy this because if the store weren't sure about this being boneless, I wasn't too sure either.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Looking back

Life assessments are usually done at around New Year's time - it's usually the time when one looks back at the things that were accomplished the past year and start planning goals for the following year. It seems too early to make one now but I can't help but feel that I'm due for one since a whole lot of events have transpired in my life since 2007 started.

2007 has been a roller coaster for me. Got married to hubby in early 2007, honeymooned - our very first trip as a couple (what can I say ? we're old-fashioned *smile*) - in Singapore, and flew off to New Jersey, USA to start our married life together.

Q2 2007 saw us getting the announcement from our company that they're closing the NJ offices and the request that we relocate to headquarters in MA. This time also showed us some advancement in our GC applications and gave us our EADs.

Q3 2007 was pretty much spent entertaining potential buyers for our home and the occasional goodbye-but-we'll-see-each-other-again-dinners with friends and colleagues who, unfortunately, cannot relocate. A good friend from high school also came by and stayed with us while he toured NY / NJ - our very first houseguest. Oh yes, Q3 also gave us a bit of a shock when we heard that our real estate company was shutting down (and that our agent was among the 350 staff that were laid off). The best thing about Q3, however, was being able to work from home on a daily basis - a huge blessing!

We are now one week into Q4 of 2007 and I'm looking forward to receiving good news - did I mention how much of an optimist I am ? The way I see it, there's really no way for us to go but up, right ? And we do have a lot of things that we're waiting on - our GC, job for hubby, house on the market, relocation to MA - I'd be happy to get a few of these checked off of our list so we can go ahead and get started on the baby project.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Date at the movies

I found this one last AMC movie ticket in my wallet a few weeks ago and realized that it would be expiring on 9/30. I immediately made plans with hubby to watch a movie before the pre-paid ticket expires.

We made our way to our local cinema this afternoon to watch a movie. Unfortunately, the movie pass that we had doesn't allow us to get into a movie that's has not been showing for more than 2 weeks. This restriction and the time schedule forced us into a corner and we found ourselves with tickets to Dragon Wars.

Check out the reviews in Rotten Tomatoes, these people aren't lying. D-Wars is really really bad. So much so that we felt that we wasted 2 hrs of our time (and the travel time to the cinema) so we decided to watch another movie. This time, we got ourselves a good one, Resident Evil: Extinction. Compared to D-Wards, that was one heck of a movie.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A new me

I had my drivers' license renewed and got a new name in the process. You see, I have two first names - for example, Tina Rosario (not my real name) - and ever since I moved to NJ my license has always just said "Tina" as my name.

Apparently, NJ's MVC isn't ready for people like me who have multiple (or long) first names and up till recently, my SS ID even had to have a dash in between my first name "Tina-Rosario" because the agent who helped me get my SSN couldn't get the system to accept a space in the first name field. Fortunately, the SSA had already addressed this problem as I was able to get my name right when I applied for a name change after I got married.

... but going back to NJ MVC, the first time I got there, the agent helping me looked at my passport and told me that the 2nd part of my name should just be dropped. There was no way to put it in and since then, I was Tina. 5 years later, while renewing my license, somebody in MVC decided that my drivers' license name not matching my passport name was a huge problem and brought the matter up with the higher ups. Some discussions and phone calls (to immigrations) later, I was told that I have to use both names.

Now, the problem was, NJ's drivers' license application form only has space for 9 characters. The MVC-boss then jots down a new name and tells me that I have no choice.

So everyone, meet the new me - TinaRosar.

If you ask me ? I think it's kinda stupid to force me to use a put-together-truncated version of my name. I know a lot of people who only use one of their 2 (or more) first names. I am *not* liking my new license at all.


Edit: Just got off the phone with the DMV and was told that it's normal to have your name truncated on your license because there is no space. In fact, everybody in NJ whose name is Christopher, will only have CHRISTOPH on their license. Argh! Governments should start upgrading their systems.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Athenia Street Fair 2007

September 16, 2007
Clifton, NJ
(click photo to view album)

Our city sponsors a street fair every year. I've been looking forward to this year's because this time, I get to go with a date *smile*. There were a lot more stalls selling assorted items and toys, food & drink stalls, rides, and definitely a lot more attendees compared to last year. There was also a live band courtesy of our neighborhood bar, Dingo's Den.

Sammie and I had a lot of fun walking up and down the street and checking out the wares. We also walked through an exhibition of classic American cars. Before we walked home, we stopped by Wild Bill's Olde Fashioned Soda stall and got a $7 mug of rootbeer (we get to keep the mug). We also got ourselves some funnel cake - standard carnival fare - of course and sat down to enjoy the live music.

Among the day's loot were 2 canvas bags distributed by the city to promote recycling (I like using these instead of plastic bags), a frisbee & a refrigerator magnet / clip from a local bank and the stainless steel mug that we got from Wild Bill's.

Spinach Lasagna

Last month's attempt at making lasagna wasn't the success that it could've been. You see, I had the not-so-brilliant idea of adding slices of eggplant to our spinach lasagna, thinking that it was all we had to do - just add layers of eggplant. Unfortunately, if we only had taken the time to do the research, we'd find out that the eggplant had to be pre-cooked or grilled before being added to the lasagna layers.

This time, we decided to keep it simple and just stick with lasagna and cheese - you could never go wrong with that, right ?

  • 1 pack frozen chopped spinach
  • 15 oz pack of Ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 packs shredded mozarella cheese
  • no-boil lasagna
  • tomato sauce
  • ground beef
  • sliced onion
  • chopped garlic
  1. Prepare the sauce as you would normally prepare spaghetti sauce. Brown the garlic in hot oil, add the onions and caramelize. Add the ground beef, when the beef is brown, add the tomato sauce.
  2. Wrapped the chopped spinach in paper towels and squeeze the water out. Do this repeatedly.
  3. Mix the ricotta cheese, spinach and eggs in a container.
  4. In a baking dish, coat the bottom with a little sauce to prevent the pasta from sticking to the pan. Add a layer of pasta.
  5. From this point forward, we should be alternating the layers - pasta, sauce, ricotta cheese & spinach, mozzarella.
  6. Cover with foil and bake in a 375 degree oven for 35 - 40 minutes. Cook uncovered in the last 10 minutes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lechon Kawali

I've seen a lot of different recipes, the most common way of preparation calls for pre-boiling the pork belly in broth - some recipes even recommend using beer - and then freezing the meat before frying or broiling.

My aunt does hers differently, she skips the boiling altogether and just seasons her meat with salt, pepper and a little sugar and broils it - skin side down first.

Personally, I've found that pre-boiling the meat in broth ensures that the meat is cooked all the way through so when I'm broiling the meat I only have to worry about the browning of the meat and crisping of the skin and not about whether or not it's still raw.

  1. Boil the pork liempo in broth - any broth that you have on hand will do but I find that canned chicken broth is very convenient to use for this. I also reuse my broth a couple of times so after boiling, I let the remaining broth cool down and transfer it to the freezer in an airtight container.
  2. It usually takes a few hours, depending on the thickness of the meat, before the pork liempo is cooked through.
  3. When done, take out the meat and let it drip dry. You can place it on a colander, strainer, or a wire rack with a dish underneath to catch the drippings. Use a fork to poke holes through the skin, this will create the "bubbles" in the skin when you broil it.
  4. Freeze the pork belly.
  5. When you're ready to broil the pork belly, just take it straight from the freezer to the turbo broiler. Broil for around 50 minutes at 350 degrees, cooking time depends on the size of your pork. Start cooking your meat skin side down and then turn it to the other side halfway through the process.

You can serve your lechon kawali with Mang Tomas All Purpose Sauce but my personal favorite is the all time pinoy mix of chopped onions, soy sauce and vinegar.

VOIP up and running

*lots of smiles and sighs of relief*

Nothing clears up one's tension the way a rant does. I'm glad to announce that after a total of 12 days of having no service, our JoiPhone line is now up and running - and in good time too, as I was about to send out an email request to terminate my account and was about to sign up for service with another provider. In fact, I had my email all typed out and decided to save it as a draft first while hubby makes a last-ditch attempt to try and get the adapter up and running. Surprisingly, whatever hubby did worked! Considering that we've been on and off the phone (and used up hours of our cellphone's air time) with service technicians and nobody has been able to help us, JoiPhone should hire my husband. Hmpft.

Now, I am on the phone (according to their automated phone system, I am "first in line" and have been for the past 22 minutes now) waiting to talk to the billing department, I am not going to let this pass without asking for credit for the days that we don't have service. On the plus side, at least am not burning my cellphone minutes doing this now.

Thank you guys for your comments in my previous rant post.

I did consider switching to Vonage, but didn't want to pay that much for phone service. Obviously, I got what I paid for. But then again, setup-woes aside, the service isn't bad at all and considering the $$ that I save on long-distance calls ? This might still be worth the (temporary) angst after all.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Chicken Cutlets with Mashed Potatoes

We wanted to get some chicken breast fillets the other day and bought some breast tenderloins by mistake. Not knowing what to do with them, we just decided to make chicken breast cutlets and serve them with Ikea gravy.

Chicken cutlets:

  1. Cover the chicken meat with plastic wrap and with a flat mallet (tenderizer), pound the chicken to tenderize and flatten it out.
  2. Coat the chicken fillets with flour.
  3. Dip in beaten egg and coat with panko flakes (Japanese bread crumbs).
  4. Fry in hot oil, approximately 2 minutes on each side or until cooked.

Mashed Potatoes:

  1. Boil potatoes in hot water for 15-20 minutes or until soft.
  2. In a bowl, peel off the skin (this should come off easily) - some people actually prefer to have bits of skin in the mashed potatoes.
  3. Mash the potatoes using a potato masher or a fork
  4. Add a dollop of butter.
  5. Add a little milk but not too much that the consistency becomes runny.
  6. Season with salt & pepper.
  7. If desired, top with bacon bits and melted cheese (top mashed potatoes with grated cheese and melt in the microwave).
Note that the unseasoned and unmarinated chicken cutlets are bland when eaten as is. Make sure to serve with gravy or some tonkatsu sauce to give it flavor.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

VOIP woes

I switched to VOIP 4 years ago and have always been a fan. The rates are cheaper (than regular phone lines) and I always have a cellphone with me so who cares if service isn't perfect - goes down w/ the internet connection, electricity, router, modem, ... ?

I was a Sunrocket customer for almost 2 years when they closed their business last July. I have been a happy and satisfied customer and have convinced several friends to subscribe with them. Sadly, they didn't last.

So I switched to JoiPhone. Why ? The rates are uber-low. I guess this is an obvious example of getting what you paid for. For starters, it took JoiPhone a while to get my account up and running, apparently, the adapter had to be placed BEFORE the router, otherwise you won't get to hear anything when you place outgoing calls. Unfortunately, placing the adapter before your router degrades our bandwidth so we wanted it placed behind our router. JoiPhone's technicians took 2 weeks to "tweak" their systems and support static IP.

Last August 30, I received a message that they were able to port (finally!) my old phone number to my JoiPhone account. Note that their website promised that they are able to port phone numbers from Sunrocket customers within 24-48 hours. It took them 6 weeks to port mine. I didn't complain.

Later, I'd find out that in the process of porting my old number to my account, they DESTROYED my account completely. Incoming calls are routed to voicemail and I cannot make any outgoing calls at all. Since Aug 30, I've had 4 tickets assigned to my problem. Each time, I'd get a call from a technician who'd walk me through a power-cycle process and each time, it won't work.

It's been 9 days since I lost my voip service and it's starting to hurt. I've been working at home for 2 weeks now and my cellphone minutes are dwindling down. Of course, I made the mistake of signing up and pre-paying a year's service. I locked myself into this jail cell and threw away the key.

and the most ironic part is that if you call them, an automated system picks up and says "Thank you for calling Joi Phone, we bring Joy into your life.." ---> f*ing joi. &*#!@^!&*(#^@!*&(#^!@*. Joy ? Yeah right.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Pork with Bell Peppers

(recipe from Shelby)

This dish was prepared and shown to me by an officemate during a project stint in NJ. Thanks Shelby!

  • Pork shoulder, cubed
  • Bell pepper, diced
  • Oyster sauce
  • cornstarch
  • salt
  • soy sauce
  • chopped garlic
  1. In a plastic container, mix cornstarch and a dash of salt. Place a few pieces of cubed pork, cover and shake to coat the pork pieces evenly. Do this until all the meat is evenly coated with the cornstarch mixture. Set aside
  2. In a wok / saucepan, heat some oil (put enough oil to deep fry the pork pieces).
  3. Deep fry the pork cubes and set aside to drain. If possible, drain the oil from the meat by using a metal mesh strainer rather than paper towels. This will help keep the meat crunchy. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, mix oyster sauce with a dash of soy sauce (to taste) . Mix just enough to coat the pieces of meat. Add a little water if the mixture is too thick.
  5. Saute garlic in a wok/saucepan, add the bell pepper. When bell pepper is cooked, add the deep fried pork and mix.
  6. Pour in the oyster sauce mixture and mix.
  7. Serve

Saturday, September 1, 2007


My cellphone just keeps on amazing me!

Hubby and I got our w810i cellphones last March for free when we signed up for Cingular's family plan. I started nursing this aversion for buying mobile phones since I moved to the US several years ago and realized that you could get mobile phone units for free - and sometimes, depending on the model and the plan that you sign up for, you even get cash back. So why pay ?

Keeping my strategy in mind, note that I don't usually get the latest in mobile technology whenever I sign up or renew my contract. I don't even bother getting exploring the features that my phone has to offer. To me, a mobile phone is what it is - a small phone that you can bring with you anywhere. So imagine my surprise when we got bored while waiting for a friend we were picking up at a bus stop.

Image stitching!
<-- This image was composed from 3 separate shots.

Picture templates
<-- I had to erase hubby's pic in this monkey template, he made me promise not to post this pic.

Friday, August 17, 2007

NYC with Edson

August 18, 2007
New York
American Museum of Natural History, Rose Center, Chinatown
(click photo to view album)

It was a Saturday so I get to join the boys' outing. We had planned to meet up with Steven for brunch at a dimsum place in Chinatown but we ran late (waiting for a realtor & her client) so we decided to cancel brunch and go straight to AMNH.

I don't even remember how many times I've been to the AMNH but I can definitely say that I only saw a few sections during each of my previous trips. After today, I remember why I never get to see the entire thing in one day. There really was a lot - too much for a day - and in fact, after a couple of hours going through 2 floors, we were pooped. We then just walked briskly through the rest of the exhibits and the Rose Center so that our entrance fee is sulit.

It was almost 6 when we got to Chinatown and I asked the boys to just hear mass first before having dinner. By 7, we were famished and our Hop Kee dinner tasted even better than usual. We got to see some sort of Festival in Little Italy. Apparently, the streets get barricaded and are off limits to vehicles on Saturday nights.