Monday, February 20, 2012

Something Has Changed

In the last two months, I kept telling my better half, a few close friends and those who cared to remember my musings that something has changed ever since the year started.

For one, I became a sleepyhead. Last year, I can stay awake until 1:00 to 2:00 in the morning for the entire week and still appear at 8:00 A.M. the next day at the office. Nowadays, I am hopelessly sleepy by 10:00 in the evening (like right now) and I have to drag myself off from the bed in the morning. Which means I am left with tons of unread emails the next day whereas I used to be able to clean them up in the evenings. It does have benefits for my health though because I am no longer lightheaded at work and the migraines are lesser now that I am able to sleep longer.

For the last twelve months I realized I got used to only having 2-3 meals a day, being lunch and dinner. I take breakfast when I am in the mood for it. I was accustomed to taking my breakfast at 8:30 in the morning at the Plant, usually after the early morning walk around the operations area. I'm not the type who can take in food so early in the morning and it's no fun to be eating breakfast in front of a laptop either once you are already at the office. But nowadays I try to grab something (healthy) at home.

I also started going back to my old routine of having an afternoon coffee or tea and some snack with friends whenever time allows us to do so. Lately, I felt the need more than ever, to break off my eyes from the computer screen, else my eyes starts to ache in the literal sense. You can probably imagine tired, strained eyes, but eyes that ache??? You better believe it.

Speaking of coffee, I still need to have my usual cup to get me started for the day. For some reason, halfway through, the coffee starts to taste either sour, metallic or just plain abominable lately. Whatever. So it ended up that my regular 2 cups a day has been technically cut down to just one.

At 8:00 in the evening or so, Kyla and I would stretch on the bed and we'll talk about our-day-so-far. I'll ask her about what she did in school. In turn, she also asks me about how my day was at work. Sometimes Kevin would join us and we'll ask him how his day went.

I have more random thoughts going on in my head and I wish I can keep up with all of them because they would make interesting anecdotes for a blog.

My friends told me that it is probably a sign.... of years taking it's toll and telling your physical being to slow down.

But I also know, during one honest-to-goodness moment of introspection, that something has changed. Beyond just physical.

I felt it when the year started. Or rather, after our vacation at our home country last December. Something happened. Something has changed. I can call it different shades and names. Turning point. Serendipity. A-ha moment. Realization. Surrender. Acceptance.

Something has changed. Irrevocably so.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Well, it's that time of the year again.

I'm not really big on birthdays, at least not my birthday -- it is usually a family affair. We choose to either have a dinner somewhere or if time permits, my hubby volunteers to cook something special for dinner at home.

I decided to celebrate it a little bit earlier this year by writing down my so-called "Splurge List." Nothing extravagant really, but a few of my favorite things that I'd like to get for myself.

I am quite pragmatic when it comes to perfumes because I get migraines with the wrong scents. But I like perfumes so I have to choose the fragrance carefully when buying. I like mild, lavender-vanilla scents. Benefit's Crescent Row line of fragrances caught my fancy immediately because of the fancy, pop-art packaging that Benefit is known for. The ultimate first moment of truth. I sampled the scents and was drawn to Carmella. Each scent was named after a lady and each has their unique style and personality. Carmella is the epitome of lady-like elegance and mystery. The scent hints of vanilla essence.

One of the challenges of walking everyday from home to office and viceversa is that one has to find the perfect shoes. Classy enough for the office, comfortable enough to not ruin your feet with blisters, sturdy enough to withstand all that walking. After my 4-year old Naturalizer wedgies retired last 2010, I have tried several shoes but none seem to pass the criteria. I stopped buying shoes for a while out of frustration because I ended up giving them away out of discomfort. I believe I found my soul shoes at last.
Got this from Studio Tangs.
The leather is soft so I am optimistic I wont get murdered feet in the process.
I found the book The Food Rules by Michael Pollan while browsing Daphne O's blog. I googled this book, read an excerpt and decided to hunt it down in my next strip to the bookstore. After picking it up, another book next to it caught my eye -- Classy by Derek Blasberg.  I'll tell you more about it when I'm done reading.

 I would like to add more gemstone pieces this year. I did not have to think twice when I saw this rose quartz drop earring with swarovski. It's easy to pair them off with my other necklaces and would be great for every day wear and special occasions.

So there! Ticked off the items in my "out-of-the-blue" checklist!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

You and I - A Collection of Candid Moments

I'll be another year older a few hours from now. I'd like to dedicate this blog to the three people in this world who are dearest to me. My family. Nothing else in this world defines me except my family. I have been a better person because of their unconditional love. As I celebrate another year, I am thankful to the Lord that we are together and for the memories in between here to eternity.

I'm always on the watch for those split second, candid moments caught on cam that tell stories that are larger than life... Accentuated by one of my favorite old song "You and I."

This was the 5-yr old Kevin and Kyla was 2.5 years old. It was company family day celebration in Subic Bay. This is the first picture I had of the two of them looking out to the sea. Apparently, the first among many others.

"You and I will travel far together...we'll pursue our little star together."

Subic Bay, Zambales

The first thing that they check out when we are on an outing is the sea (or the ocean).

"We'll be happy as we are together."

Caylabne Bay Resort, Cavite

Like me, they can stand here for hours and just stare at the sea, the sky and appreciate nature.

"You and I are going on forever."

Punta Fuego, Batangas

Our vacations, by default, has to be somewhere with a beach. Kevin and Kyla looks forward to going to the beach.

"Until the time we have is gone forever."

Panglao Island, Bohol

And has become their unique bonding ritual to stare at the overlooking sea.

"Watch the evening drawing on together...Growing older, growing closer."

Sentosa Island, Singapore

Or anything with water, for that matter.

"Making memories that light the sky..."

Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore

They also love these little strolls. Hand in hand with Daddy or Mommy.

"That only time can make..."

Punta Fuego, walking towards our cottage

And wishing time would slow down.

" That only love can make..."

Coral Beach of Punta Fuego

Don't grow up too soon, my dear little ones.

"That only we can make..."

Weathered Rocks at Punta Fuego.
We probably had hundreds of pictures from this vacation.

And even if you do, in my eyes... you will always be Mommy's dear babies.

"...You and I."

Home Sweet Home at Sta. Rosa, Laguna

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What Do You Want to be When You Grow Up?

I asked my then 7-year old, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

When she was 5, she said she wanted to be a dentist. For her artclass culmination week, her masterpiece was a huge drawing of herself as a dentist with her dental tools whom she named Mr. Shower (the noisy thing that sprays water) and Mr. Hotdog (the red suction tube). Sitting on an imaginary dental chair was Kevin who was her patient (she labelled the boy as Kevin). She told me that she will take care of her brother's teeth (Kevin has a perfect set of teeth). We never had problems going to the dentist when she was just 3 years old. She was her calm, brave self. No crying, shrieking and running to mommy.

When she was 6, she said she wanted to be an engineer "just like Mommy and Daddy." Whenever they have to fetch me from my work at the Plant, the view of the laundry twin towers would greet her and this amazes her. I used to manage this operation (the half of the twin tower) and one day she said she wanted to do the same. At my old work pod, I have a drawing from Kyla of the twin tower complete with the vast parking lot, the walkway to the employee entrance. She drew me standing on one of the floors, eyeglasses and all. Kimby the dog was also in the picture but she didn't explain why. She got accustomed to the line leaders calling me at home (obviously when something was wrong) and she would do a why-why analysis on me after the call. She knew my line leader's name. One time, when the phone rang on a weekend, she mutterred "o, sira na naman ang motor..." (translation: the motor has broken down again). True enough the motor did broke down.

After being exposed to the vet (whenever we took our pet Kimby to the doctor), she said she wanted to be an veterinarian. We ended up buying this toy veterinary medical kit and an IKEA wooden bed for dolls so that she can play doctor to her toy animals. I just humor on her whatever is her latest wannabe.

It is interesting to note and follow how her answer vacillate every now and then. We just have to nurture their dreams until the time comes for them to finally make that monumental decision.  I can understand that not everyone would know what they would like to be as a grown up, at seven years old or so.  Did you?

I was subscribed to the Pambata magazine (a monthly publication for elementary school children) during my primary school years. It's an educational magazine for grade schoolers. When I was in grade 2, they featured a comic rendition of the different types of scientists so that children can visualize them better. I still have a photographic memory of those specific pages. I was drawn to the chemist, looking like some mad scientists mixing potions into vials. Reminded me of my experiments at home, mixing my dad's shaving cream, my mom's perfume and our neighbor's soil (we lived in an apartment but the neighbor next to the apartment row, had a vast garden with fruit trees and all).

In my junior high school year, I learned about the careers in the field of chemistry and discovered chemical engineering. I thought that working in a plant is challenging so I took up ChE instead for college. When I was hired in my first job for my the one and only company I worked for, I worked in an office (headquarters). But my instincts told me that my future is connected to the Plant. In 2001, it came true. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Back to Kyla. Can you guess what shewanted to be now? Back to being the dentist.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Kyla Learned to Bake

 Kyla's school homework for the week involve baking or cooking. They were studying about measurements and procedures and for home learning, they were asked to come up with a procedure on how to cook or bake something with matching illustrations. So we chosed Choco Fudge Brownies. This recipe is quite simple and they will surely love to have something to munch later.

Kyla measured the ingredients while Mom helps and doubles as the photographer.

I asked her to mix the batter herself manually though I kept the mixer for the oil-egg mixture.
She also greased the pan with oil before pouring the batter.
Kyla was beaming with pride while she placed her brownie batch to cool on top of the cork plate. She even showed her this to her Dad and to Kuya Kevin.

All done!!! It was a success!!!

Since we were at it, I decided to also make Spiced Nuts for late night TV snacks. I saw this at Giada De Laurentiis' program at Food Network Asia. These are perfect to pair off with a glass of wine (or beer). Even kids love the sweet-mildly spicy-salty flavor. Kyla volunteered to mix the nuts after I finished dumping the array of spices with sugar and butter.

Then we placed this in a cookie sheet and baked it for about 15-20 minutes. After cooling, I stacked this in one of the glass cookie jars.

Cooking and baking is a great way for children to appreciate food! When I asked her what she learned, this is what Kyla had to say:
1. I learned to follow the instructions.
2. I learned how use the measuring cups.
3. I learned fractions -- you can use two of the 1/3 cup to make 2/3 cup.
4. You have to mix the chocolate in one direction only.

'Til the next bake date!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Requiem for the Bookstore

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”  ― Charles William Eliot

“Classic' - a book which people praise and don't read.” - Mark Twain

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! -- When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”  ― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

photo credit-- from Neil Gaiman's Journal (blogsite)

We were having our usual Sunday stroll at Vivocity when a big sign caught my eye. Page One is having a massive 70% discount on their books. Uh-oh. Not good. So I went closer and read this poster at the entrance confirming that Page One is bidding adieu.

This was the third bookstore that has closed down, in my last 16 months in SG. First there was MPH in Novena Square. Then the iconic Borders bookstore in Wheelock Place, just a few weeks after I swore I could live there. And now, Page One. I felt forlorn while reading their farewell poster.

Bookstores are businesses. Simple logic - for a business to thrive, it's must make it's bottomline. Else, cut the bleeding. Which means the sellout isn't that phenomenal. Which means people don't read books anymore. Maybe not as much as they used to. Maybe not at all.

Do people don't read anymore? Was it because the so-called more trendy and sophisticated e-books and reader tablets have replaced the familiar paperbacks? I did wonder.

And so the irony of it all is that when a bookstore is about to close, suddenly half the country decided they would like to read after all!   You can say I'm too prejudiced but I don't care.  We went inside to get more books for Kyla and some for myself but was met by a snake-like queue that goes around the bookstore. And every person has at least 2 bucketfuls each.  I hope they do intend to read those.  We balked at the idea of lining up for the rest of the afternoon.  I promised Kyla that we'll get her books from someplace else. There are also quite a number of children's book store nearby where we live. Quaint ones that reminds you of the Little Shop Around the Corner bookstore from the movie "You've Got Mail." I wish they won't die soon.

Here's a requiem to the bookstore. May their death cease.