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!