Thursday, February 28, 2008

3 car accident

I've been scanning all my documents from the previous years so that I could get rid of all the paper (shred and throw them away). Of course, I am still keeping the more important documents. This personal project has been going on for quite a while now.

I'm now up to 2005 and came across the documentation that I still have for a car accident that I was involved in. It was the other drivers' fault (everybody claims this, I guess, heehee). We were stopped at a red light (for at least 10 seconds when the accident happened), my car was first in line, another car driven by an old lady was behind me. A van came hurtling through and just rammed into the lady behind me and the lady's car rammed into mind. The driver of the van didn't even stop. I'm not sure if he lost his brakes or whether dozed off and didn't notice the light but he sure lost control of his van.

Thankfully, I wasn't alone. My friends and I stepped out of our car and talked to the lady in the vehicle behind ours. She was extremely agitated and more so when she realized that her car had been damaged that she couldn't get her car door open anymore.

While we were making sure that the old lady was okay, the van driver tried to sneak away. Yeah, sneak.

My guy friend saw him go into reverse and maneuver his van so that he could drive away. My friend stepped in front of his van and stopped him. Friend kept an eye on him until the police officers arrived.

My car didn't suffer too much damage, just dents in my bumper but my friends and I were very much shaken. My back hurt for months after the accident. I wanted to sue the van driver and get some compensation but the process was too difficult. I remember playing phone tag with the driver's lawyer and his insurance company for the next several weeks. I also took a day off from work in order to look for the precint that covers the accident site to get an accident report. I had to track down witnesses... argh!

In retrospect, I should've gotten a lawyer to file my claim, after all there are groups such as Accident Claims UK that provide such accident compensation services.

I know better now. Not that I'm looking forward to getting an accident in the future, but it pays to be informed. The next time this happens (to me or someone I know), I'll make sure that the people involved are informed about their rights and take the necessary steps to make sure that their interests are protected.


Now, I've taken on the role of development manager (used to be developer + pre-sales on the side) and it seems like I've been taking more trips - a lot more than usual. Funny how things work out, huh ? To date, I've taken 4 trips in January and another 5 in February. Hay!

We've also started to feel the pain of juggling our schedules so that we can make do with 1 car. I work from home most of the time so it didn't use to be a problem. Of the 9 trips that I've made in 2008, 3 of those required me to drive to the site so we've had to wake up extra early, drop hubby off at work, drive to the client location, and when I come back, there's usually some sort of question on whether I should go home first or just drive straight to hubby's workplace so I can just wait for him to get off. Twice, I even pulled off the highway to a parking lot so that I could make a conference call - that was during times when I had to drive hubby to / from work. Thank goodness for cellphones and those modems that lets my laptop get online even when I'm out.

Looks like we're in the market for a 2nd car. The original plan was to get a used car with a budget of $5k. Turns out that for $5k, we'd only be able to get 10 year old cars with > 100k miles in it. So that was kind of a turnoff. And I keep thinking... if we get a really really old car ? Who knows what sorts of things have happened in there ? Never mind.

So we decided to look for the cheapest brand new car that we can buy. Found the chevy Aveo advertised at prices start at the $9k range, we checked and found out that the $9k base car didn't have airconditioning and no power doors/locks... no radio, it was really just a shell of a car that has an engine that runs.

Maarte pala kami :) We wanted to have power locks and windows, airconditioning and a cd deck + radio at the very least. Oh yeah, we also want power-adjustable side mirrors because we switch cars/drivers a lot. So we've upped the budget a little. Hubby suggests that we should just try our luck with The Price is Right, we might get our 2nd car there. Haha!

We're looking at the Rav4 or a Highlander now. We're making a purchase and plan to keep this a long time and given that we have a tiny Subaru Impreza now, space would be a huge consideration in our 2nd car.

Any comments ? thoughts ? suggestions ?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Halfway through our stash

A few weeks - or was it a month ? - ago, hubby and I stocked our freezer full of meat because we wanted to take advantage of some local grocery store coupons that were expiring that week. We had different cuts of chicken, pork and beef.

We listed what we had and posted them on our refrigerator so that we'd know what was inside without having to rummage into the freezer. When we started, our freezer was stocked to the limit, if one item was displaced, you won't be able to close the door. That was how *full* it was.

Today, we officially reached the halfway mark. I could actually see some space on the upper shelf of our freezer. If our freezer could, I bet it would've sighed with relief too.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

tired too

Poor hubby.

The dryer buzzer went off, signalling that the load is dry, so I ran to the laundry closet so I could get started on the sorting, folding and hanging of our clothes. I passed by our bedroom and saw that hubby had fallen asleep on this book. Kawawa naman. He didn't sleep much last night because he waited up for me and I didn't get home till 2am. To top it all off, he had to get up early this morning to get to work on time.

He looks so cute sleeping. *kilig*

Tired :(

It's 10:33p and I just stopped working. Deadlines are looming and these times, it seems like my days just aren't long enough. I'm still tired from all that travelling to and from Texas and haven't caught up on sleep yet. I've been yawning the whole day and I just realized that I only got up to drink water once - ONCE for the whole day! Argh. Ganon ka hectic.

Work ulit

I tell you, flying from NJ to Texas for an overnighter is no fun at all. I swear.

A colleague and I flew to Dallas Sunday afternoon and got back Monday night. We spent at least 10 hours in an airport and airplane just yesterday alone. Didn't get back home until 2am, didn't sleep till around 3am.

Mom calls me up super early in the morning to check and see if I got home safely, that wasn't so great either. Now, since I'm awake already, I can't just go back to sleep anymore. Hopefully I get to go to bed early tonight.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Broiled Flounder Parmesan

My family has always abstained on Fridays during the Lenten season. Having my own household didn't change anything, I still abstain and make my husband do the same thing :)

I haven't prepared anything yet when hubby got home from work. I figured we could just wing it with some buttered pasta and salmon flakes (like what we sampled at Costco last time). Hubby had something else in mind - the flounder fillets.

The last time we had flounder, I baked it with crab meat, shrimp and mushrooms mixture. I wanted something different this time and found a recipe for Broiled Flounder Parmesan from Diana's Kitchen.

* 2 pounds flounder fillets
* 2 tablespoons lemon juice
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
* 3 green onions, chopped
* 1 or 2 dashes of hot sauce, to taste
* thinly sliced lemon and parsley for garnish, optional

Place fillets in a single layer on a greased baking dish or broiler pan; brush with lemon juice.

Combine Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, salt, butter, and green onions, and hot sauce in a small bowl; set aside.

Broil flounder fillets 4 to 6 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Remove from oven; spread with cheese mixture.

Broil about 30 seconds longer, or until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly.

Garnish with sliced lemon and parsley if desired.

Broiled flounder recipe serves 6 to 8.

Our verdict: YUMMY!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday lunch

A friend once told me that he does feel guilty about abstaining from meat on Fridays during the lenten season because he loves seafood and veggies so much that it's not even a sacrifice anymore. He says that for him, he should probably do it the other way around and eat more meat instead because this then becomes a sacrifice.

I had canned Spanish-style sardines and garlic friend rice for lunch today, I usually only have this during this season and I find that I actually like this. We don't usually eat a lot of fish at home and during those times that we actually have it, it's usually the result of a conscious decision to eat fish for the nutrition (and not because we love it).

I'm gonna look for some canned Century tuna (spanish style). Hope I find some :)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Steamed Spareribs

We currently have a whole freezer fully stocked with meat - thanks to the Shoprite coupons that we were able to use last week. One of the meat packages that we got was pork spare ribs. I was planning to make some "Salt and Pepper pork ribs" but I didn't want to do more frying because of the lingering smell that always permeates the kitchen and living area after deep frying anything.

I decided to prepare our ribs ala dimsum style - steamed - and after some searching, I found this recipe by Weldon Russell posted on that I liked. I found myself missing a few ingredients so I ended up doing some substitutions and eliminating some altogether (I've noted those changes down in the recipe below).
Btw, the ribs were yummy! I really should stage my dishes nicely before taking any photographs. The photo above doesn't do this dish any justice.

2 tbsp peanut oil (substituted olive oil)
2 tbsp fermented black beans, rinsed under cold water, drained and roughly chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp chicken broth
2 tsp rice wine or dry sherry (used cooking sherry)
1 lb pork spareribs, chopped through in sections between the ribs
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 fresh red chili peppers, chopped (did not use)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp chopped cilantro (did not use)

1. Heat the oil in a hot wok. Add the black beans, salt and sugar, and saute gently for 10 seconds. Add the chicken broth, rice wine and light soy sauce. Simmer together for 30 seconds. Remove the sauce to a mixing bowl. Add the spareribs and set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

2. Add the cornstarch and mix well to coat the spareribs. Place the ribs on a plate ready for steaming. Sprinkle on the red chili peppers, garlic and cilantro. Steam over boiling water for 45 minutes.

Denied again

MIL had her interview with the US Embassy this afternoon and as this post's title indicates, we did not get the results that we were hoping for.

She was asked 3 questions:
  1. Why are you going to the US ? To visit my son and daughter in law who are permanent residents.
  2. Where is your husband ? I am a widow, my husband passed away years ago.
  3. Where do you work ? I do not work, I'm a housewife.

And she got denied the visa. The reasons stated were that she does not have enough financial & economic ties to the Philippines. This was essentially a repeat of her earlier application (2 years ago) that also got denied for the same reasons. At that time, hubby was with her when they applied and we all thought that he was the reason for the rejection (he was single at the time).

None of her documents were even checked out by the consul. She had papers that document her source of income (shareholder in a restaurant but in her application, she indicated that she was a housewife) and she has property (both real estate and vehicles) and bank deposits.

Now, we are asking for advice, was there anything more that she could've done ? What could we have done differently ? Is there an appeal process for this ?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

How to cut a pineapple

Hubby and I got ourselves a pineapple as part of our lucky fruit plate for the recent lunar new year. Pineapple = ong lai (sounds like "prosperity comes" in Fookien)

When it came time to cut open the pineapple and eat it, we found ourselves in a quandary. How?

This post chronicles our first (and probably the only) attempt. We're thinking that this is too much effort to go through so we might just get canned pineapple next year. But in retrospect, given the laughs that we had while this was being photographed, it's all worth it.

Step 1: Prepare your pineapple, knife and chopping board. The chopping board in the picture is the one that we only use for fruits. (We have separate chopping boards for raw meat).

Step 2: Hold the pineapple by its crown and start slicing off the covering on the sides.

Step 3: If first knife is dull, replace with a sharper knife.
btw, this is a shoutout to my readers in the US, where do you have your knives sharpened ?

Step 4: Chop off the top & bottom. Cut the body in half.

Step 5: Slice off the "eyes" of the pineapple.

Step 6: Cut into serving-sized slices.
Rub w/ rock salt and rinse. (hubby did this, don't know why)

Thankfully, the pineapple that we got turned out to be very sweet. Sarap!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

(some of) My favorite things

These are just some of the favorite things in Boston. Whenever I find myself spending a weekend (or a free day) in Massachusetts, I make sure that a trip into Boston is in the works.

I love to drop by Fanueil Hall / Quincy Market and get these:

New England Clam Chowder
ranging from $4 (cup) - $7 (bread bowl)

Grilled scallops wrapped in bacon

I thought about getting the bigger scallops, but they cost so much more than these.

Free samples, sarap!

I have to hand it to Costco. Hubby and I went there to replenish our supply of bathroom tissue. That was it. Turns out that we went there on a good day, there were lots of stalls scattered in between the aisles offering free food samples.

I swear, I must have had a full meal with all the freebies. There's the sausage pasta, the buttered garlic bread, cottage cheese, brownies, etc. There were more but I've forgotten.

We also got these chocolate hearts on our way out :)

Of course, we didn't just take our fill and leave. We couldn't resist some samples and found ourselves filling our shopping cart with a whole lot more than just bathroom tissues.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Manang Bola

My Mom dabbles in fortune telling.

By "dabble", I mean experiment but her batting average is quite good actually.

When I was around 10 years old, I'd remember several occasions when my aunts, her sisters-in-law, would cajole her into telling their fortunes. Mom would bring out her cards (regular playing cards that have not been used for playing games) and do her thing.

The only thing that she'd even try to predict in the future are pregnancies, she refused to see anything more. According to her, masama raw.

So anyway, she'd correctly tell my aunts things about their past that my Mom had no previous knowledge of - financial difficulties and huge personal issues during specific years, things of the sort. She also correctly predicted the conception and birth of 4 cousins. I remember my aunts protesting at the time, "ha ? Me ? pregnant again ? Nope. Never again." and sure enough, when the predicted time came, they were pregnant.

There are times when she'll miss the mark completely too. Mom predicted my labor certification approval correctly - now, the story behind that one was amusing - but she missed our Greencard approvals by months and she predicted that we'll get our house sold and will have already moved to Massachusetts by last October - uh, missed again.

She has an explanation though. The future, she says, isn't written in stone. Since we have free will, there are lots of possibilities that depend on the decision that we make at specific forks in our life. I kind of agree.

In case you're wondering what got me started on this topic, let me explain.

I was talking with Mom this morning and she wanted to confirm whether I was pregnant or not. She's sure raw that I would get be pregnant this month and if I'm not yet preggy now, next month. She rambled a bit about how lucky it would be if we conceived last month or this month. Ang gulo.

Come to think of it, I'm not really sure if this supposed-pregnancy was predicted or is only wishful thinking on her part.

Ano kaya ? I guess we'll know in a few weeks. Sana. *smile*

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

On fasting and abstinence

Today is Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting and abstinence. While the definition of fasting isn't really in my personal dictionary, I do try to abstain from meat on Friday during the Lenten season and of course, on Ash Wednesday.

Coincidentally, today is also the eve of the lunar new year and this is something that we celebrate. Hence, the dilemna. To abstain ? Celebrate ?

I'm checking out the fridge to see what we have, hopefully, we can whip up a seafood menu for tonight that will satisfy both events.

Chinese New Year 2008

Hubby and I made sure that we're able to go out for some grocery-shopping tonight so that we could prepare for the Chinese New Year's Eve celebration tomorrow. As we did last New Year's eve, we prepared fruits - oranges, apples, pineapple, banana, pears - to be displayed on our dining table when the new year comes.

I have not made any preparations as to what we will be having to dinner as tomorrow is also Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting and abstinence. All the dishes that hubby and I can prepare (or want to have for special occasions) all have meat as the main ingredient. I checked our freezer and turns out we only have a little shrimp left, probably not enough for two. Looks like we will have to make do with tofu and / or some fried eggplant chips (which I happen to love) for dinner tomorrow night. Let's see.

How about you ? Do you do anything special to greet the Chinese (Lunar) New Year ?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Super Bowl XLII

Super Bowl XLII is my 5th in the US but is the first one that I really watched for the game and not just for the commercials.

I wasn't really rooting for any team but I found myself jumping up and down in the last 2 minutes of the game. NY Giants were down 4 points and were working to score some points. I didn't think that they were going to make it - given that this is the first ever football game I've watched, I still have no idea how much time it takes to score a touchdown.

Tonight is my last night in Massachusetts and I am not looking forward to seeing the disappointment in people's faces tomorrow. Everybody out here was rooting for the New England Patriots - I see a lot of people & kids wearing Patriot Jerseys (most were Brady's #12, he's such a hunk!) and after church this morning, I overheard a few people commenting that they haven't seen their church this full since Christmas. Super Bowl fans probably made the extra effort to attend mass to pray for their teams.

It's an even bigger disappoint for the Patriots since this would be their 2nd perfect game in a row if they had won. Imagine ? They didn't have any losses until tonight. The NY Giants really played a good game as most people didn't expect them to win.

I have to commend the Giant's spirit too. They lagged behind in the first 2 quarters, got ahead in the 3rd quarter, lost the lead again in the 4th until they finally gained the lead in the last 2 minutes. It just goes to show that it's not over till it's over. There's always hope.

Anyway, I fly back home tomorrow, I bet the smiles on the faces of people in NY would be a welcome sight to see. One more night and I get to be with hubby again.