Friday, October 30, 2009

3D U/S

We had our 3D & 4D ultrasound session last night, it took us a while to decide but we feel that it's worth it.

We got a whole bunch of pictures in a CD, all of them are taken from this angle because Swe-Cha was sort of folded in half at the waist and had his feet crossed near his face. He seemed like he was sleeping and he didn't move the whole time.

We also have a 20 minute DVD of the entire session - this would be boring for most people but we had fun watching Swe-Cha do nothing. Guess this is what being a parent does to you. *smile*

We saw a lot of yawning from both the 2D and the 3D perspective. Of course, we both thought that he was so cute.

We were also lucky enough to get a smile from him (check out the 2nd picture) and yes, he is a boy. No doubt about it as we got several good shots of his ... um... stuff.

Mom and Dad commented that Swe-Cha looks so round and has hubby's nose (haha, malaki siguro).

* cross posted in our pregnancy blog

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


While speaking with my sister on the phone yesterday, I remembered that Halloween was coming up this weekend and decided to ask what my nephews' costumes were.

"Ha ? Costume?" was my sister's response.

"Yes, costume.. for halloween,.. remember ? It's this Saturday."

and she says "Is it this Saturday already ???"

Okay. Guess that answers my question. My nephews still do not have costumes and I am actually wondering why they haven't even reminded their mom about it - the older one is 9 and the younger one is turning 6, kids that age still go trick-or-treating, right ?

58 days

58 days till Christmas and I'm starting to scramble around, trying to do some Christmas shopping done. I figure, with the baby coming in December, I better get a head start or I won't have anything to give other than goody bags filled with diapers and maybe, halloween candy. That wouldn't make me a popular person this Christmas.

Also checking out some promotional items such as pocket calendars for my Mom and Dad - for them to give out to dealers, customers and those who pass by our storefront. I always find these small calendars very useful and have been keeping them updated (one a year) since 2002.

Hopefully, the kids will be filling out their wish lists soon and that I could get to see them before I start getting busy with birth preparations.

Always late

What is it with me these days ? It seems like I (we) always decide at the very last minute and by the time we make up our minds, it's too late.

First was that seasonal flu shot. From the time that I got a go-signal from the OB, it took me a couple of weeks to decide to want to get it. I finally decided that I did want to do it when I realized that the supply was running low. By then, there were no mercury-free shots available - none that I could find anyway.

Now, it's the 3D / 4D ultrasound session. I called up a facility last week to inquire and they still had plenty of open slots for this week. Who's to know that when we finally decide to go with it, they are fully booked till the 2nd week of November! By then, it'll be too late for me since I'm already at 31 weeks now - ideal time frame is between 24 to 32 weeks.

Not wanting to let this go,... I called up different U/S facilities and by the 3rd try, I did get an appointment for tomorrow evening. So excited :D

* cross-posted to my pregnancy blog

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Temporary Wealth

I've been monitoring our finances more closely than usual recently, in anticipation of the expenses that we would be incurring when we start purchasing baby stuff - furniture, clothes, bottles, diapers, etc.

I found myself a little bit amazed that we seem to have extra cash, even after I start deducting the projected costs. Wow, I thought, we must have been really thrifty and good with savings these past few months.

Unfortunately, reality came knocking at our door last night. Well,.. it actually came in the mail. Property taxes are due again this Nov 1. *sigh* So... that was what the extra money was for and it sort of slipped my mind - wishful thinking, perhaps ?

I can almost imagine the city clerk smirking, "mwehehehe".

That's the problem with quarterly property tax payments. It's probably not as bad as paying annually in which case coming up with the entire amount may just cripple you financially. But then again, with a quarterly approach, you have just gotten over paying the previous one when you're suddenly handed a bill for the next one. It just never ends.

I know I shouldn't be complaining. After all, we are more fortunate than most in that we still have a home in this economy.

Oh yeah, and our washing machine ? It's still leaking and will have to either be fixed or replaced. And there's that broken dishwasher rack that we gave up on (gave up trying to fix it each time it breaks) and just replaced for $100.

So there. The extra $$$ is gone. *sigh*

It would've been nice to go on a vacation and avail of Accor Hotels 3-Day Super Sale Asia Pacific, booking is between Oct 27 to 30 and you could schedule your vacation from Dec 2009 till April 2010 and with rates starting at $30 per night, I'm very very tempted to take advantage of this sale and fly back home with the baby & hubby in tow.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Unexpected guest

I just found out that Mom had invited a family friend's son to come over in December and spend a few days with us in NJ and this is causing me a lot of anxiety.

The friend's son had called me last weekend and asked if he can bring a friend with him when he comes to visit. He says that his best friend was due to go back to China and was planning to visit him in December and he can't leave her. I was puzzled by his question - mostly because I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about (vacation with us in December? Who invited him ?) and I didn't quite understand why he had to leave his friend behind.

Eventually, a few things got sorted out and I realized that he planned to visit us in NJ in December (no definite dates). I just sort of said that it's okay for him to bring his friend along but to make sure that he calls me first and checks w/ me because if I have given birth by then, then no. It'll be crazy here by then. He agreed.

Still puzzled, I mentioned it to mom over the phone this morning because I couldn't figure out how it got decided that he was going to visit NJ in December - I was sure I had not issued any invitations to him.

Turns out that Mom had already invited him. So in December, we'll have a new baby. My parents will be over for 10 days and we'll have this friend's son over for a few days during their visit. Wow, that sounds like a lot of fun *SARCASTIC TONE*.

Mom said, "I invited him but not the friend, just him" and when I asked Mom where I was supposed to put him while they're here (after all, we only have a 2 BR condo), Mom says "in the living room, of course". As if that was the most obvious thing in the world.

I do not know what it is with my Mom and her predilection for placing MY guests in the living room. She always puts me in that position and I don't like it. She did that with my sister & her kids before when she decided at the last minute to come at the same time as Achi - eventually, the kids and Achi decided to sleep in the same room as Mom while Dad had to sleep on the floor, diba kainis ?

My living room is not a sleeping area.

I hate asking people to sleep on the floor, especially not my Dad.

I don't feel comfy sleeping in the living room too, we had to do that when we visited my sister's place in CA while she was still living in her apartment. Our clothes (and our persons) all smelled of food and cooking oil and we didn't get enough sleep because:
- since we were in the living room, we were the last ones to sleep because we couldn't roll out our airbeds & sleep until everyone else has fallen asleep (otherwise, they'd still be watching TV)
- we would wake up at 2:30am because that's when my bro-in-law comes home from hospital duty
- we'd also be the first ones up because Mom wakes up early and starts cooking breakfast and watching her Korean telenovelas at 5:30am, even though the others aren't going to start waking up till around 7a.

So, no, I do not like the idea of asking guests to sleep in my living room... especially not those who plan to stay for more than a few days because I know how uncomfortable that is.

I don't have anything bad to say about this friend's son. He's very nice and I've known him since he was a little baby. I love his mom to bits too. It's just that the timing is very inconvenient.

As much as I love my Mom and how understanding she can be in certain situations, she can be very inconsiderate at times too.


Career Change ?

I've been waiting for the economy to start picking up for a long time. I'm waiting for stock prices, real estate and the job market to stabilize.

Stocks are starting to get on track, if I can trust what I see in my 401k statement, but we are nowhere near recouping the losses my account has suffered since late 2007. Unemployment rates, however, are still going up and there is no end in sight.

This got me thinking... is it time for a career change now ? A few years ago, there was a huge demand for nurses in the US, some friends and I have always kidded around that we might have entered the wrong industry and should probably have gone into the nursing field instead. Now, with rampant criminal acts all over the world, maybe online guard card training is the way to go ? After all, Security Consultants aren't limited to any one industry and can work anywhere!

If interested and if you're in the Los Angeles area, then you might want to check out and join firearms training in los angeles.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


It's been a while since hubby and I braved going to a mall. We're not really mallrats, obviously, and we don't exactly enjoy any of the following aspects:

- the crowds (as I've mentioned in a previous post, we have not gotten our flu shots yet)
- crowded parking lots
- long lines at the cashier

In any case, we had to go this afternoon to purchase some items for MIL and we figured that today was a good time as any to go get them as we might be busier in the next few weekends preparing for the baby's arrival.

We got some Clinique products for MIL (to replenish her supply) and surprisingly, we had a pleasant experience. Department stores normally offer gift promotions for a minimum purchase. The current promotion gives a 7 piece gift package for a minimum purchase of $21.50 and is limited to one per customer.

Typically, hubby and I would be considered 2 customers because there are two of us. The last time that we went, the saleslady gave us a hard time about it because even though there were 2 of us, we were one family. Eh ? The small print only says one per customer, not one per family. She did give each one of us a gift but she made such a big deal of it and made it seem as if it were a huge favor that she was doing us.


Anyway, this afternoon's experience at the Clinique counter wasn't difficult at all. Probably because they had plenty of these giveaways in stock. The lady helped get our purchases together and even helped us separate and group the items together to get the optimal number of gift packs. Aliw. :)

Now, THAT is a saleslady. We bought even more than we intended because she was so nice about the whole thing. Haha!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Seasonal Flu Shots

I had just been given the go-ahead by my OB to get vaccinated so I've been busy looking for clinics and pharmacies that offer seasonal flu shots. Unfortunately, it seems like most pharmacies are out:

(1) Target pharmacies in my area no longer have this

(2) CVS pharmacies in my area are out. I found a few locations that are around 30 miles away, but I was told that there is at least an hour's wait and that (bummer!) they do not carry mercury free vaccines.

(3) Costco will not be giving any seasonal flu shots after today.

My only hope now is to get an appointment w/ my primary care physician tomorrow and hope that he still has it - their offices are closed today so I'm getting very anxious.

If you haven't gotten yours yet, do look for one. Supplies are running low and I read somewhere that even though there is still a huge demand for the seasonal flu vaccine, laboratories will be shifting their resources to producing the H1N1 vaccine instead.

In the meantime, I probably should start checking out Herbal Remedies Elite Store and stock up on supplements and remedies that could help boost our immune systems.

Cha Misua

My first try at cha-misua (fried rice noodles) turned out "eh?".

Taste-wise, it was surprisingly good, considering that I just winged it and used my taste buds which I seldom use as I often rely on hubby's. Texture-wise, the noodles were overcooked. I made a big mistake which I don't plan on repeating the next time I prepare this dish (I pre-soaked the Misua in hot water - DO NOT do this!).

Dried Chinese mushrooms
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp grated ginger
1 cup chicken broth
soy sauce to taste
julienned carrots

1. Soak chinese mushrooms in hot water and slice thinly when tender.
2. Slice fishballs (you can also use shrimp balls or cuttlefish balls)
3. Heat oil in a wok, saute garlic, ginger. Add the fishballs, shrimp, mushrooms and the carrots.
4. Add chicken broth and let boil, season with soy sauce.
5. Add the misua.

Oh no, you don't!

One night, I happened to walk behind hubby while he was sitting at the dining room table with his laptop and saw that he was checking out Harley Davidson accessories.

My first thought was "huh?" but it was immediately followed by "Oh no, you don't!"

Not when we're about to have a baby,... not when we're still paying for our 2nd vehicle,... not now and not ever! I've never been a fan of motorcycles, you see, and I've always thought that they were very dangerous playthings.

It turns out that he was checking out the site for a friend [insert sigh of relief here] because the prices look good and the site offers a lot of bargains on a lot of brand name items.

Again, *whew*.

Pork and Kuchay Dumplings

Whenever I think about preparing a quick snack or think about instant ulam, dumplings are usually one of my top choices because:

(1) they're easy to prepare - boiled, pan fried, and;
(2) they're versatile - can be eaten with rice, noodles, soup, or even just eaten alone.

My favorite dumplings will always be the vegetable dumplings that Mom used to buy from a small restaurant called Mien San along Gilmore Ave. It's been a while since I had them so I cannot really recall what's inside and it wasn't until recently that I found out that Kuchay (Chinese Chives or Korean Chives) is one of the main ingredients.

With that, I decided to experiment. This came out good - not the same as Mien San's, but tasty nevertheless - and the best part is that since it's home made (except for the wrappers), it's not riddled with preservatives.

1 lb ground pork
4 pcs dried mushrooms, rehydrated and chopped
12 pcs chives (full stalks), chopped - could add more
1 egg
1 tbsp sesame oil
pepper to taste
2 tsp salt
dimsum wrapper (used Cantonese style)

To seal the dumplings - mixture of 1 tsp cornstarch, 2 tbsp water

Mix the ingredients together and form into dumplings. Dumplings could be steamed or pan fried. You could also store leftover dumplings in the freezer. Arrange them in a plate or container such that they do not touch each other, put the in the freezer - do not put them in a freezer bag or let them touch each other until they are frozen so that they do not stick together.

*This recipe made 46 dumplings which we devoured in a few sittings. Hubby declares that he loves this :)


I was sorting through my junk folders - scanning, shredding & throwing away any documents that I do not need anymore - and came across some printouts for SQL Server certification that I made earlier this year.

I had set myself a goal to get certified by June of this year and all the elation that I felt at the discovery that hubby and I are expecting pushed this out of my mind. Who knows when I will be able to review again ? Especially after our baby is born... Oh well :D In the meantime, I probably just have to learn about sql recovery solutions from Double Take.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I went to the library last night to drop off some books, DVDs and CDs that were due - fortunately, they're open till 8 or 9pm at night - and I saw a lot of parents with kids in their halloween costume. It looked like there was some sort of program or parade going on in the library.

It then occurred to me that with Swe-cha around, it wouldn't be long before we'll be joining in on the fun on Halloween. Wouldn't that be fun ? Putting on costumes, going trick or treating... oh.. and the sweets! (note that this is my gestational diabetes thinking about the chocolates right now...)

I still remember our first Halloween here (hubby & me) in the US. There are only a handful of kids in our condo bldg - and most of them are infants - so we never ever see trick or treaters around. That afternoon, I decided that I wanted to walk around to Dunkin Donuts' a few blocks down the street and hoped that we could see some costumed kids trick-or-treating. While walking, we passed by this house, the owner was in the porch and she shouted at hubby & me, "hello! You want trick or treat ?"

She must have thought we were kids.

and so I did :)

"Trick or treat!"

Hubby was too shy. He didn't take her up on the offer.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Looking ...

I've been terribly concerned about old friends and acquaintances since our country was battered by multiple typhoons one after the other recently. During those few weeks, social networking sites were a great help because it provided us with a way to keep in touch and get the latest news about friends and family - especially during those times when other means of communications went down.

Because of that, I've been uber-interested when I came across yet another social networking site, MyLife, this got me very excited as it gave me another option to search for other friends with whom I've lost touch. Learning about who has gotten married, who is dating whom, who has had how many kids, and which families are expecting babies - including hubby & me (and we're very eager to share the news of this blessing) - makes me excited and happy.

When I run out of "lost" friends that I'm trying to find, I might just start with ex-crushes *laughs*, ex-bfs, ex-gfs of the husband - oh, and probably those of my brother & sister's too. It would be interesting to find out where these people are nowadays and how they're doing. Who knows, if there aren't any lingering issues, we might just get back in touch and get acquainted with each other again.

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Chinese Style Steamed Spareribs

Tonight's dinner was supposed to be pork chops but I was craving some spare ribs so I went off to the store at the last minute to pick up some ribs. It's been more than a year since the first time that I prepared this dish, I used a different recipe then but I don't remember how it tasted.

This time, I found a recipe from SteamyKitchen that had fewer ingredients, was easier to prepare and hopefully, will be more memorable as hubby has already forgotten about the first steamed spareribs that I made but this, we love! I even scooped out the meat juices from the bowl and drenched my rice with it.

1-1/2 lbs pork sparerib (rib tips)
2 tablespoons black bean sauce (I used canned salted black beans)
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cooking oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar

  1. Cut the spareribs crosswise into 1″ – 2″ sections.
  2. Combine the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Transfer spareribs and sauce into a shallow, heatproof pan that will fit inside your wok (a pie plate or 9” cake pan works great.)
  4. Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  1. Set steaming rack inside of wok and fill with water almost up to height of rack.
  2. Turn heat to high and when water is boiling, turn heat to medium-high.
  3. Set pan with spareribs on top of a steaming rack in wok.
  4. Steam on med-high heat for 18-20 minutes until ribs are no longer pink.
  5. Make sure that when you are steaming that you don’t run out of water in the wok. Replenish with additional water, if needed.

Congratulations, Lance!

My sister called this afternoon to let me know that my nephew, Lance, just won 1st in Kata and 4th in weapons in his Karate competition this morning. Yay! I'm one proud Aunt.

I asked them to make sure that they post pictures so that the entire family can share in Lance's moment, but Achi was non-committal and said "Okay, we will try." Being a blogger since 2002, I've been so used to talking about events and photos (with a bit of security, of course) on the web for sharing. The rest of my family, however, are still not so web-savvy. That's why all my talk about them possibly putting up a family website or some sort of a brag blog (for proud parents, haha!) for their kids are kind of falling onto deaf ears - even if it's a simple site from an easy to use web site hosting provider.

I'm not giving up. After all, with security settings and customizations that are easier to control, this should be a breeze, right ? She wouldn't have to rely on free hosting sites that may or may not be dependable, or that may or may not allow her enough free space or may not even keep shared memories available for a long time.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Eggplant Parmigiana

I've been looking forward to having home made eggplant parmigiana for a few reasons:

a) because as much as I dislike veggies, eggplant just happens to be one of the ones that I love!

b) because my friend Kay, a very good chef/cook, had recently prepared this for her family and her pictures made me crave this. She kindly shared the recipe in her FB site.

And as a disclaimer, I would like to point out that I did deviate from the original recipe a little because the eggplant has been sitting in our refrigerator for a week now and I was still missing some ingredients. I also wasn't in the mood to fry because we didn't have enough cooking oil. And I had some frozen chopped spinach leaves in the freezer that I wanted to use up.

- Eggplant
- 2 eggs
- bread crumbs (orig recipe called for flour)
- Traditional pasta sauce (bottled)
- chopped spinach
- parmesan cheese
- mozzarella cheese

1. Peel and slice the eggplants, 1/2 cm thick. Sprinkle side with salt and layer it in between paper towels. Leave in the refrigerator overnight. Kay says that this will draw out the excess moisture and will draw out the bitterness of the eggplant.

2. Dip the eggplant slices in beaten egg and dip in breadcrumbs.

3. Oil a baking sheet and arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer. Bake in a 350 degree F oven till tender.

4. In a baking dish, pour a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish. Arrange a layer of eggplant slices, pour another thin layer of sauce, top with the chopped spinach leaves, parmesan and mozzarella.

Repeat step 4 (sauce, eggplant, sauce, spinach, cheeses) until all the eggplant slices are used up.

5. Pop into the oven and bake until the cheeses melt and begin to brown.

Oh, I would've paired this with pasta but I ran out of pasta sauce as well so we paired this with some freshly baked garlic bread instead. Yummy!

This post just reminded me to stock up our pantry again.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I went into sort of a panic last night when I bent down to pick up what looked like a piece of string from the floor of the laundry area and realized that the string was soaking wet!

Looking more closely, I discovered that the entire floor of the tiled laundry closet was soaking wet. I asked hubby to come over so that he could move the washing machine out and check where the water came from. Poor guy, I have been making him work extra hard at home these past few days.

After some heaving, pushing and shoving, he did manage to get the washer out and it looks like the laundry closet "flooding" wasn't so bad after all. The flooding was minor and was easily taken cared of by paper towels and all-purpose cleaner to scrub off hardened dirt.

It's still a mystery to us where the water came from but I thought I'd place a paper towel underneath the washer the next time I run it, I'll also tie paper towels around the drain hose and maybe another one around the water intake hose and hopefully, nothing leaks out again. I'm hoping that the leak, at the worst, is from something that's easily replaceable and inexpensive.

Fortunately, I found this out this early and before any real damage was done. Otherwise, we might have to resort to specialists such as Able restoration for water damage Orange County repairs and control.

Decluttering 2

Remember that decluttering post a few weeks ago ?

Except for putting the items in bags and bins, not much has changed - specifically, nothing has been thrown or given away yet. Still not up to cataloging these items for Salvation Army (to get that tax deduction going). I'm setting a deadline for myself, if I do not catalog these by 11/7, they're going to our church's clothing drive that same weekend.

I do feel, however, that I deserve a little pat on the back for sorting through (and doing some speed reading) the stacks of magazines that I've amassed over the years. I've been steadily throwing away a several magazines a day (and I just have to point out that I do this outside of my working hrs, of course). At this rate, we might just be able to clear up Swe-Cha's room in time for his arrival.

*pat pat*

Hubby did a lot of grunt work over the weekend (*clap clap*). We got this Scotch Brite hardwood floor duster - which you can use dry or wet - over the weekend. It's similar to a floor swiffer, except that the pad is heavier and is held more firmly so you could apply more pressure when you wipe the floor. It's not really the pads that made us happy but the tool itself. Hubby likes to get down on his hands and knees and really scrub the floors but that is obviously hard on the back and the hands/knees.

Half a bottle of all-purpose cleaner, 2 microfiber pads and 2 makeshift floor pads* later, we have clean tile floors.


*Note that when we ran out of clean pads, I decided to channel my inner domestic-diva and with the help of of my el-cheapo sewing machine, a pair of ratty old jeans was turned into extra cleaning pads for the Scotch Brite cleaner.

I knew I was saving those jeans for a purpose.

Monday, October 5, 2009

After Ondoy

I've been touching base with friends and family over in Manila, trying to get a feel of how they're coping and how they're handling the post-Ondoy situation.

Some places are still flooded, evacuees are still in the evacuation centers, others have cleaner (but still damp) homes and some have yet to replace lost property. I've been talking this over with hubby and we are both seeing the trend - people are panic buying groceries, furniture shops are sure to rake in some dough... and most of all, repair shops, contractors and maybe even car dealerships.

I'm thinking that used cars dealerships that allow people to browser through a wide range of choices online would be a good place to start. At least, you wouldn't have to queue up with all the other buyers and that could take up all day!

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Photos and videos of Ondoy's victims have been circulating the net so I'm not even going to try and repost any of them. I've been monitoring the situation since last weekend and up till now, I cannot believe the devastation that Ondoy brought onto Manila. I've seen and experienced a lot of storms while I was growing up in Manila (and living and flood-prone areas) but none comes close to this.

Family-wise, we were one of the lucky ones as my immediate family got off relatively easy. Dad, Mom and my brother didn't even bother leaving the house that morning when they saw that the water in our street was already beginning to rise. The flood did reach our garage but no higher than a few inches. Our house stayed dry and the most that they suffered was the inconvenience of having no electricity.

Some cousins did have a hard time going home from work but given that we have family / relatives all over the place, they all were able to seek shelter and spend the night at a relative's house and didn't have to suffer being stuck in the road for hours and hours on end. An aunt and an uncle got stuck in the office and though they went hungry, they did have water to drink and got to stay warm & dry.

The worst was felt by an aunt and uncle who lives in Malabon, their house, a bungalow which was built on a lot that has been raised high above the street level, got submerged. Mom says that all their cars, furniture and appliances, except for a laptop and a television, were submerged and ruined. But the most nakakahinayang part for me was to hear that their fishes were lost too. They have these huge tropical aquariums with beautiful fishes and they also have this greater than 6 ft long aruwana - I forgot to ask Mom if the latter got lost too.

By the time that Ondoy left, we discovered that the family didn't exactly get off unscathed. We have substantial business losses. Mom keeps saying that she's just thankful that everybody is well but I get the impression that she's still trying to convince herself that all will be well.

It's scary out there.

I don't even know what to say or what to do to comfort my family. All I know is that I'm really thankful that we still have each other. Praise the Lord.