Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sayonara 2009! --

It's the last day of 2009!

5 Favorite Movies of the Year
1. Up
2. Star Trek
3. District 9 <-- I was determined not to like this movie and I didn't, at first, but it has a way of drawing you in and captivating you
4. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
5. Julie and Julia

This week, we received a package from my brother and he gave us a R2 copy of Nausicaa so my sister and I watched that and we also watched and re-watched Howl's Moving Castle (so, so beautiful!) and watched Ged's War Chronicle (Tales from Earthsea) and I just unearthed Neko no ongaeshi (The Cat's Return) and we're planning to watch that tonight. Notice a trend? ;-P

5 Movies I'm looking forward to
1. Sherlock Holmes
2. Iron Man 2
3. Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland
4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
5. Toy Story 3

5 Favorite TV Shows
1. Glee
2. Top Chef
3. Grey's Anatomy
4. Amazing Race
5. True Confections on QTV

... also Entourage, Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Battlestar Gallactica

5 Favorite Magazines
1. Yummy
2. Real Simple
3. Domino/Blueprint <-- too bad these are discontinued
4. Romantic Times
5. Dwell <-- though I don't buy this anymore

5 Favorite Books
1. Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barberry
2. Anna Godbersen's Luxe series (4 books: Luxe, Rumors, Envy, Splendor)
3. Nigella Lawson books (How to Be A Domestic Goddess, How to Eat, etc.)
4. A Hint of Wicked by Jennifer Haymore <-- romance novel. Her debut work.
5. Seducing an Angel by Mary Balogh <-- another romance novel. Made me cry. Made me stay up late.

<-- also Real Simple: Celebrations and Domino: The Art of Decorating ... and all of Anne Stuart's historical romances

5 Best Purchases for 2009
1. An iPod Touch (for my sister)
2. My Reisenthel Allrounder <-- a German brand which I discovered in Tokyo
3. Our Tokyo plane tickets (thank you to Philippine Airlines for the insanely affordable promo fare.)
4. Our Wii (Whee~)
5. 400-thread count beddings <-- My mom got them when she was in the US and I'm glad she did. Amazing! Now I'm spoiled...

5 Favorite Places in Iloilo
1. Booksale
2. Tinapayan at Atrium
3. Kopi Roti in Smallville
4. Iloilo Supermart at Atrium
5. Daily Buns <-- such a great place to buy bread

5 Discoveries for 2009
1. The Crispy Pata at Cafe Laguna
2. Having only two friends here in Iloilo (and always loving the lunches/dinners/conversation with them)
3. The Kopi Trio at Kopi Roti
4. Cebu <-- I was there twice this year and I love, love, love the place. I want to go back! >_<
5. The Korean Hair Salon inside Ledesco Village

<-- also Anne Stuart, the historical romance writer who is now writing mostly romantic suspense

5 Things that Made Me Go "Wow
1. San Miguel Brewery stock hitting 9.6 this month (when it was 8.9 at the start of the month)
2. Anna Godbersen's conclusion to the Luxe series (Splendor was amazing)
3. Tokyo and takoyaki
4. Uratex Senso-memory mattresses
5. The presidential candidates for 2010 (some were "wow" in a good way and others ...)

Happy Thoughts for 2009
1. My romance novel business <-- and hitting Power Seller status this month
2. Cebu and Tokyo <-- Tokyo deserves a blog entry of its own ... and I'm working on it
3. My children (and my entire family: parents, siblings and husband)
4. Two jars of peanut butter from The Peanut Butter & Co <-- thank you, thank you to Char who got them for me. Makes my mornings oh-so-bright and peanut-buttery wonderful ^_^
5. Life and all it's possibilities!!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

My thoughts exactly --

A noiseless patient spider,
I marked where on a promontory it stood isolated,
Marked how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launched forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be formed, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

- Walt Whitman

Am feeling a bit bleh this evening -- and this poem sums up what's going through my mind right now. (I hope I understand this poem correctly ...)

I'm so glad I had to chance to study lit in university and then getting to study it again for my (unfinished) M.A. --

I don't get to touch poetry much these days, but it is comforting to know that it is there ... and in its simplicity of form, it expresses in loudly and clearly the complexities of the human condition.

Thank you, thank you to Eric Torres for sharing Whitman with me.
Thank you, thank you to D.M. Reyes for Possession, which I will dig up tomorrow and will read and finish before the New Year.

A great find! (Or, when you're in Iloilo...) --

We discovered a lovely Korean Hair & Beauty Salon in a nearby subdivision!

My sister had her hair cut there yesterday and it looks amazing! (And very affordable! 250 for a haircut!)

My sister was a bit worried because she hates trying out new things and hates (even more) trying out a new salon -- her hair is a bit tricky to cut because it is sooo thick --

When we saw the Korean stylist make the first few cuts (she calls them "slice"), we knew my sister was in good hands.

The shop doesn't have a name but it's located along the main road of Ledesco Village and is a straight line from the entrance to the subdivision.

Store hours are from 10am to 9pm and, for appointments, call 3006559 or 3290602.

I'm planning to get my perm re-done there this January. Am excited! =^_^=

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Where is this year's wishlist? --

For the past how many years, I've published my Christmas wishlist earlier and earlier --

This year, I'm a bit surprised that I haven't posted one yet and even more surprised that I really don't have much on my list.

1. New pair of glasses <-- this is on my list every year. And I go to the optical shop every year but I could never find a pair that would convince me to give up my old pair of glasses.

2. The following Anne Stuart books: <-- yes, yes. Historical romances.
- Lady Fortune
- Prince of Magic
- Lord of Danger
- Shadow Dance
- A Rose at Midnight

3. Time to read books. ^_^

4. A new pair of shoes/Crocs <-- I really love my pink Primas but they are old and they are my only going-out shoes.

5. An afternoon at the newly-opened Dulcinea in SM City-Iloilo <-- but I'm getting this one early. We're meeting friends for dinner and then having dessert there. Yay for Churros and cream puffs!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Strange customer service --

I went to PLDT last week to inquire about how to apply for a new line and internet plan --

I was surprised when the lady who attended me informed me that it would take 3 weeks, at least, to process my application because they are in the process of changing systems.

I inquired about their latest offer -- the one where you take home the kit and you can install it yourself.

Her reply? "Ah, ma'am. Wala pa kami sina." (We don't have that yet.)

I was surprised (baffled at this point, actually) because PLDT has banners of said offer all over the city.

I asked for a pamphlet or any information and she gave me an outdated one that explains how an internet modem works.

When we arrived home, our helper handed me a flier. Apparently, PLDT had a roving caravan handing out fliers on their new offer. O_O

When I went to Globe, they told me that I could get the phone and the internet in 3 days. (Globe did it in 2 days.)

Yesterday, my husband and I went to the Smart Business Center in SM City. At the door, the guard asked us where we wanted to go. I told him, "Customer Service."

His reply? "Nga-a? Ano tani ang ubrahon mo didto?" (Why? What do you want to do there?)

I told him I wanted to inquire about Cignal TV.

He handed me a flier.

There wasn't anything more I could do or say except to say thank you for the flier and leave.

(There weren't a lot of people inside Smart, by the way and a whole row of Customer Service people were available.)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fun Contest for all of my Creative friends! --

I still have post backlogs but I've been busy with some home-related things for the past week --

But I thought I'd share this with everyone --

Design your own Lomo LC-A contest.

Contest ends January 2010.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tokyo: Day 6 & 7 --

September 30 was our last full day in Tokyo and my brother took us to the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka.

The weather forecasts were correct -- it drizzled the afternoon of the day we were supposed to go to Tokyo Disney and September 30 was also a wet (and cold) day for us.

We took the train from Ikebukuro to Mitaka -- we had to switch somewhere and got a bit confused but managed to make it to Mitaka where we had breakfast at Muffinari. (We were amused by my brother's text message, instructing us which trains to take and what time they arrive:

"Take train A. Arriving 9:42. Transfer to train B. Arriving 9:47."

The Japanese are very exact about time and can guesstimate how early or late (<-- a rare occurence) they will be for an appointment by catching/missing their scheduled train. Johann and I just decided to leave our hotel 30 minutes early to give ourselves some leeway.

Muffinari is an amazing muffin shop. They serve both sweet and savory muffins. Johann decided to try out their Lox (salmon and cream cheese on bagel) while I had a peanut butter and chocolate chunk muffin with hot chocolate.


<-- look at that gloriously crisp muffin top! (It reminded my of that Seinfeld episode - 'Top of the muffin, to you!' =^_^=)

It was a lovely light breakfast.

We then walked to the bus stop that would take us to the Ghibli Museum.

<-- we didn't get to ride the Ghibli bus because it was full. =( We had to wait for the next bus, which was a regular bus.


My brother told us that we weren't allowed to take pictures inside the Museum -- they do have some outdoor areas where it was permitted.





<-- it's a water pump -- apparently, it's a big hit with kids and teenagers who have never seen or used one before. ^_^

<-- outside of the children's section are these benches with little cranks on them.

The Ghibli Museum has a small theater where they show short films that they've made throughout the years. We were able to catch the first show and managed to get good seats. (The shows are about 10 minutes long and are shown 30 minutes apart.)

My brother has been to the Museum 5 times but has never tried the cafe -- so we lined up early.

<-- when the cafe opens, they hang a "welcome" sign around her neck

<-- the specials for the day

<-- while waiting, they have a box of storybooks and flipbooks (of animations that they have made)

<-- inside the cafe! (My brother was very happy that he finally got to try it out.)

Johann had their beef in gravy on rice while I had the pork croquette sandwich. We also shared a strawberry shortcake for dessert. ^_^

Outside, the line to the cafe was getting longer and there was no sign of anyone inside leaving -- it was a nice, cozy, comfy place and the food was delicious.

The pamphlet from the Museum begins with the words, "let's get lost together" and explains that the place isn't arranged in any logical way -- it was created to inspire people to go exploring into the lesser-known nooks and to discover Ghibli magic in those places. ^_^




I wondered why the Museum didn't allow one to take pictures of the inside -- but after walking around the place, I think I know why --

It's such a magical place and it's quite difficult to describe the place or the experience of going through the place. I grew up watching Miyazaki's works (way before I knew their significance) and visiting the Museum was a dream come true.

I noticed that I was smiling throughout the tour as well. ^_^

After the Museum, we walked through a Park that would lead us to the nearby city of Tachikawa. Where my brother brought me to Yurazawa, a hobby shop. This one had the biggest selection of cloth <-- more on this later

Then we took the train to his city -- Kunitachi, where he brought us to see his university and his small place "nearby" --

Hitotsubashi isn't as well-known as Sophia or Waseda or the University of Tokyo but, apparently, it's a very prestigious place that many students aspire to attend. (My brother *koff* is a student there. *koff* <-- proud sister mode)

When we were waiting for my brother, we saw a large group of high school students on tour of the school.





We then walked to my brother's place --

It was cute because the sidewalk had markers telling you how far/near you are to the university. (10m from the university. 20m from the university. etc.)

My brother's place was about 2km from the university -- it was a bit of a walk but we saw lots of interesting sites along the way.

<-- did I mention it was still raining?

<-- cute way to display your house number


<-- I thought this was really clever. You know how annoying rain sounds as it drips done your roof? The have these cute chain like things that slows down the dripping (and even makes a pleasant musical sound. ^_^)

After visiting my brother's place, we went to another city, where my brother treated us to dinner. (Our last dinner in Tokyo and our most memorable one!)

Yakiniku!!! Wagyu!!!




<-- scallop




Everything was so tasty! The meat was tender and insanely juicy!

I couldn't help but be amazed at the marbling of the meat. (We passed through a grocery in my brother's city of Kunitachi and standard meat looked like this -- the Japanese don't compromise on quality, which justifies the price of certain items there.)

The next day was our last day in Tokyo. Our flight was at 2 in the afternoon but we had decided to take the airport bus instead of a train. Because Tokyo traffic was very unpredictable, we chose to ride an early bus 9 am and our estimated travel time was 2 to 3 hours, depending on the traffic.

We arrived at the airport at around 11ish and went through all the check-in procedures.

We had lunch at a small restaurant inside the airport --


<-- glorious onion rings!


While we were waiting for our flight to board, I was already thinking about when I would be going back -- if I had my way, I'd go back there tomorrow. ^_^ (But I need to save up again.)

I had such a lovely time in Tokyo and I'm so happy I got a chance to go. (I think a big part of what made the trip so nice was that my brother was there to show us around. ... and to treat us to a glorious Yakiniku meal! >_<)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Things I should've done (and finished) yesterday --

1. Review my brother's Chapters 4 and 5 of his dissertation and send my comments.
2. Write my son's monthsary letter.
3. Tidy up my night table -- it is cluttered with books and my daughter's stuff.
4. Do the grocery. Get coffee. Buy bread.

What I ended up doing yesterday was go to our pulmonologist, get a prescription for my laryngitis and be cranky the rest of the day.

(You should hear my voice right now -- I am croaking like an out-of-tune frog. The pulmonologist advised me to rest my throat but that is impossible.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tokyo: Day 5 --

Day 5 was a fairly light day for us -- we had intended to spend the whole day at Tokyo Disney but because of the weather forecast, we decided to go the day before.

The day began with an early lunch at a Kaiten Sushi place found on the top floor of a building. (Not sure about the name) --

It was an enjoyable experience and I took advantage of the cheap price of the the Tako sushi. (Octopus)

What was amazing was how particular they were about their tuna -- they had three different kinds -- the fatty part of the tuna (premium), the "medium" and the regular tuna, which was minced and mixed with spring onions. We splurged on a plate of snow crab legs, which was amazing.

My brother also insisted that I try the uni, which was buttery. I have a cousin who loves uni but I've never tried it -- I don't like the texture so much. I prefered the chewiness of the octopus.

My brother then decided to take us to ... Tokyo! The actual Tokyo, the one near Ginza -- my brother explained that, while places like Ikebukuro and even his city Kunitachi (which is far) are part of Tokyo, the real Tokyo is just another small dot on the subway map. (It is 8 stops from Ikebukuro on the Marunouchi line.)

There is one special thing found in Tokyo -- this is where the Meiji Chocolate Cafe is located. The cafe is located on the ground floor of the Meiji company building and, according to my brother, this place is usually packed.

For this one place, I would pay the Y230 (?) one-way subway fare again just to go back there.

<-- chocolate varieties kept in a temperature-controlled display

<-- 56 chocolate varieties


<-- the strangest one

We got there early and were able to get a table. Everything on their menu is chocolate-based. I ordered a hot chocolate (which was amazing).

Your order comes with a complimentary piece of chocolate, with the date of your visit and an explanation of the flavor/variety.



They had cakes and ice cream but I was feeling a bit full from the Kaiten sushi place so I passed on it. (When my brother first visited the place with his friends, they ordered 1 of everything on the menu. ^_^)

I ended up buying two pieces of chocolate to bring home to my sister:

<-- cheese and the commemorative 1926 edition

My brother then brought us to the swanky part of Shinjuku and left us at Kinokuniya, which was beside a Tokyu Hands. That's where Johann and I spent the rest of the day.

I love, love, love Kinokuniya. I love their Singapore store and enjoyed the small one we stumbled upon in Thailand.

I was able to find a really cute romance novel at the Kinokuniya we visited. <-- more on this later

We rested a bit at our hotel before going to Sunshine City for dinner.

Dinner that night was at Italian Tomato Cafe Jr. <-- it's a junior because it's a smaller branch

Johann had a seafood rice and I had a tomato cream pasta and we shared a French Onion soup -- and everything was delicious!




The Namco theme park is located inside Sunshine City and we wanted to check it out -- but we forgot the the mall closes at 8pm and we didn't have enough time anymore.

We ended up spending our time at the Disney store (where I found really cool Eric Carle Hungry Caterpillar merchandise) and at Toys R Us for last-minute toy shopping for Seth and Anya.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My vote for 2009 Philippine Blog Awards: Flavours of Iloilo

I'm very happy to see that one of my favorite blogstops: Flavours of Iloilo is a nominee for the Bloggers' Choice Special Award (Visayas category) --

I'm voting for this blog because it has helped me appreciate my city more -- I've discovered new loves -- Piazza, Panaderia de Iloilo cupcakes -- and rediscovered forgotten loves -- Love and Kisses Pizza, Carlos' Bakeshop, Roberto's meatballs, etc.

It's a great blog and deserves the recognition. ^_^

Tokyo: Day 4 (Theme Parks!) --

The day began with breakfast at Mos Burger -- Johann and I ordered their rice burgers (because we loved them when we were in Singapore and we wanted to taste the "original" --)

<-- beef

<-- seafood

Then we took the train to Asakusa to do the temple bit --


<-- Buddha's sandal (the other one was hanging on the other door)


We shook the fortune sticks to find out our fortune --


And I tied mine to the "tree" because my luck was so-so.


We walked around the gardens and my brother brought us to a little-known part of the complex -- way, way at the back -- where the parking lot is located, is the statue of a famous Kabuki actor --


I felt sad because he was relegated to the back and no one was there to visit him.

On our way out, we visited the market stalls outside of the temple --


<-- these are supposed to be charms. You buy the one that corresponds to the area of your life that you need the most luck/help with.

Walking around, we heard the sounds of screaming (joyous ones, not the panicked ones) and asked my brother about it -- he told me there's a theme park nearby. It was not on his itinerary but we outvoted him and went in.

It wasn't just any theme park -- it was the oldest theme park in Tokyo. The Hanayashiki has been around and entertaining kids since the early 1900s.


Entrance fee was 900 yen, which is a far cry from the entrance fee to Tokyo Disney and other theme parks.

Johann was very excited -- believe it or not, this is his very first theme park experience and he's always wanted to try out the thrill rides.

The Space Shot looked interesting enough so he lined up for it.



It was fun (and funny) watching him shoot up to the top and then go back down again. (He said he was screaming, but we couldn't hear him because my brother and I were laughing so hard.)

We walked around the whole park, which isn't very big --

<-- remember Hi-C? They have a vendo machine that dispenses it in bottle form pa!

<-- Japanese Dr. Pepper!

Hanayashiki is simple, as theme parks go, but it as it's own charms -- they have 2 haunted houses and one of them is simply called "Bikkuri House" (Surprise House) -- a far cry from the sophisticated ride names found in other theme parks.

It was fun to see kids get so excited over the rides -- (I'd love to bring Seth and Anya there when they're bigger. ^_^)

We were supposed to go somewhere else but, when my brother checked the weather forecast, it said that the next day was going to be rainy (and we were scheduled to go to Tokyo Disney for the day) --

We made the quick decision to cut our tourist-y bit short and just go to Tokyo Disneyland that afternoon.

We said goodbye to my brother and took the train to Tokyo Disney by ourselves! (At this point, we could understand a bit how the systems go and could figure out which train/line to take given a few minutes to pause and plan.)

The special thing about Tokyo is that they have 2 Disney Theme Parks -- Disneyland and Disney Sea. Our original intention was to go to Disneyland -- but my brother convinced us that it would be better for us to go to Disney Sea because it can only be found in Tokyo. (There are Disneylands everywhere else.)

We arrived at Maihama Station at around 2 in the afternoon and the first thing we did is have lunch -- outside Tokyo Disney -- turns out, this was a good idea because when we got in, there were lines EVERYWHERE! Not just for the rides, but for the food and popcorn and drinks!


My brother shared a very helpful tip with us -- go souvenir shopping first (there's a big Disney Store outside of the theme parks) so that we could focus on the rides and attractions when we are inside. He predicted that, if we left this off for last, we would be too tired to get it done.

We took the Disney train to Disney Sea and this is the welcoming area --


<-- Halloween!

We had already planned out which rides to line up for: the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea one and the Indiana Jones one.

Wait time was 2 hours for each ride, but it was worth it. (Especially the Indiana Jones one) -- we wanted to go to the Tower of Terror next but when we got there, the line was so long (and the wait time was more than 2 hours!) so we passed and decided to walk around instead.

<-- American Portside

The cute thing about Tokyo Disney (Land and Sea) is that they have popcorn stations in each area -- if you have the Disney Popcorn bucket, you get your popcorn at a discounted price. We bought a Tinkerbell one for Anya and were looking for a nice one for Seth.

We discovered later on that they have a different design for each quarter(?) and for the time that we were there, they only had the Minnie Mouse and Tinker Bell design.

We did enjoy the Black Pepper popcorn -- we also stumbled upon Curry Popcorn (which Johann wanted) and Caramel Popcorn (which I wanted) -- but we weren't able to get either because we couldn't resolve the impasse. (Plus, we still have some Black Pepper popcorn which we were planning to share with my brother the next day).

Tokyo Disney Sea has two areas that are meant for the younger crowds -- they have a Little Mermaid-inspired one and an Aladdin-inspired one. (Forgot the names -- sorry!)

It was almost 8 at that point and we hadn't had dinner yet -- only Black Pepper Popcorn -- so forgive the silliness of the next set of pictures:


<-- see the thing around my neck? That's the popcorn bucket. ^_^

We were so, so tired after this -- and we still had a long-ish train ride back to the hotel.

Dinner that night was instant ramen. ^_^

* * *

Best part of Day 4 --

The theme parks were amazing but nothing beats stumbling upon Donner Kebab!



I will ask my younger brother where we were when we found it. (They have roving branches that park in empty lots in major areas -- we found one in Ikebukuro the next night.)