17 December 2012

book: gone girl

i have read rave reviews about this book this past few months and so decided to check it out. thanks to my officemate, grace, who directed me to a site for free book downloads, i was able to put this in my ipad. i finished the book in two days. it was that much of a page-turner for me. 


here's the blurb (source)

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick Dunne’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick Dunne isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but hearing from Amy through flashbacks in her diary reveal the perky perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister Margo at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was left in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet? 
i could not put the book down. there were some reviewers who said that the ending was too twisted and too dark, even sexist. but i think the author wanted you to feel trapped. at least i did. i kept thinking how i would resolve the issue. i thought of  a couple of ways, each one with pros and cons. until now, i'm still wondering how the protagonist(s) could get out of their situation.

try to read the book and let me know what you think. although, i don't really recommend to do it during this holiday season, it may spoil your mood. 

16 December 2012

our fairy tale party

how's your december so far? hectic for sure, right? mine certainly is. i am writing this entry from manila, since i'm on vacation here for more than a month. it's strange, really. i haven't stayed this long in the philippines ever since i started working overseas. i have a lot of things on my to-do list, that i'm sure i'm going to be busy as a bee for the next few weeks.

before i left singapore, i was in a mad rush to complete our shopping list for gifts. thankfully, i was able to do that with just enough time to prepare for our yearly christmas party with friends. we follow a certain theme, and this year it was all about fairy tales. two days before the event, i went to the rental place in north bridge road to look for our costume. it's worth a mention here that costume rental shops are quite busy in december, because a lot of companies also do themed-parties. luckily, one of the attendants at the shop was a filipina, so it was easy for me to describe and look for what i wanted to wear.

02 December 2012

afternoon hiking at macritchie

today is the day of the standard chartered marathon here in singapore. i actually signed up for it earlier in the year, thinking to join the full marathon (42.195 kms.). unfortunately, i didn't really get to train for it, so i decided to forego this year's run. but i do feel as if i just ran one yesterday, because we went hiking at the macritchie trails.

i've gone hiking here a couple of years ago with friends, but this is the first time i went with jp. i dragged him to the park in the afternoon. the first thing we saw were the monkeys loitering around the entrance of the park.

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06 November 2012

tuesday travel throwback:milwaukee

if you've seen the movie "bridesmaids", you would have seen this structure in one of the earlier scenes:

picture from the examiner

recently, i was going through my old pictures and realized i've been there before. way back in 2004, when i visited my sister in milwaukee. here it is from another angle. it's the milwaukee art museum. we didn't go inside. haha. 

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we went around downtown milwaukee instead, because it was a nice fall day.


more milwaukee pictures here

01 November 2012

jp meets the family

we took advantage of the long weekend to have jp meet my family before flying off to cebu to work on our wedding. this was jp's reaction. haha.

jp is meeting my dad this weekend..this is his reaction.haha!


we ate at abe's at the fort. that place has seriously good filipino food. here we are after lunch..

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so now, he is part of the family...

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22 October 2012

what are your 5 favorite books of all time?

i have talked many times about books in this space, but i realized i never really talked about my absolute favorites. you know, the type of book you'd read over and over and never get tired of. the ones  that, if you get stuck in an island for a week, you won't really mind because you have these to keep you company. they won't help you find food or lodging, but the books will keep you entertained. at worst, you can eat the pages. but you get my point, right? out of the endless number of books out there, you probably have a couple that you always go back to, no matter how many there are already in your collection. here's my top 5:

Love in the Time of Cholera -- if a guy never gives up on you and waits for you even if you get old and    have lost your beauty, that's love. but it's not to say he won't have affairs while waiting, but still. i sincerely hope that people get to read at least one gabriel garcia marquez book in their lifetime. even if it's not this one. his writing style is really something else. this is why i have read this book so many times. this was made into a movie, which was not really good. but javier bardem was in it. so that's a bit of consolation. 

Whitney, My Love -- my older sister and her friends were into reading these books way back in high school and were all gushing about this book (and other works by macnaught), so i went ahead and read it too. more than 15 years later, i bought a copy of the book here in singapore  and it became my go-to book for when i realized i was getting seriously jaded and cynical. 



Eat, Pray, Love -- i've written about this and its movie(not good). no matter what the reviews say, i personally think this is a good book, not mainly for the many quotable quotes you'll get (especially when you read this when you're depressed), but really for the vivid description of the places she went to. if you were stuck in an island and then you read this, you'll be transported to italy, india and bali. great escape, if you ask me. 

Tuesdays with Morrie -- this is my favorite line: "There is everything you know and there is everything that happens. When the two do not line up, you make a choice". Every student should read this book.

Like Water for Chocolate -- i love this book because of the connection to food and cooking. and the way the story's told runs along the lines of gabriel garcia marquez's style. i love how the are recipes included in the story. 

so these are my 5 all time favorite books. i know there's no "classics" there (i.e. jane austen, dickens, etc), but i hardly think i can handle reading those if i ever get stranded in an island. between you and me, i struggled to finish those kinds of books. haha. so, what about you, what are your five favorite books?

15 October 2012

our f1 weekend-in a slideshow

there was an episode in how i met your mother where marshall had a little too much fun making graphs and charts, his friends actually had to do an intervention. it'll probably be the same for me. ever since i moved from windows to mac, i've been planning to try out a couple of it's features, thinking of what to do with my pictures.

presenting..my first slideshow! i used the default settings on the iphoto application, so it's pretty basic. once i figure out more of the settings, i'll probably do some more slideshows with a bit of... pizazz! haha. so prepare yourselves for more of these in the blog. :)




31 August 2012

oh, bohol!

heads up, photo dump ahead :)

when i was in school, there was a subject called "civics and culture". we had this homework where we had to submit tourist sites in the philippines. i would cut out pictures from those "mabuhay" magazines my mom would take home from the office. one of those sites was the chocolate hills in bohol. for the longest time, i did not think that place really existed, because it just seemed so surreal.

well, this year, i saw it for myself. and well, all i can really say is...WOW! hundreds of these small hills as far as the eye can see. it's like God dropped a lot of chocolate kisses from his pocket and they all fell on this spot here in the philippines.

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24 August 2012

dear lord

dear lord,

i have travelled to a couple of places around the world (europe is still part of the to-go list though). and i have seen the most amazing things. i am the type of person who is easily awed by beautiful sights. the first time i saw the giant buddha in hong kong, i couldn't stop saying "wow"! that time i saw the taj mahal in india, i had tears in my eyes. and those centuries-old temples in myanmar rendered me speechless.

i have seen breathtaking volcanoes, green fields and explored beaches with the clearest waters i don't have to swim in to see the creatures underneath. natural and man-made, all these places make me think of how YOU are really are an amazing God.

i have been fortunate enough to travel with family and friends, people who mean a lot to me, that make every trip worthwhile. more so, when i get to travel with jp.

i'm not going to write much about him here, but suffice it to say, the guy is the best travel buddy ever. he doesn't like to go on long trips, he doesn't like to go on short ones either. haha. but somehow, he goes along when the travel bug hits me. i pull him along on my plans and get both of us to try new things. for his part, he pulls me back when he knows my overactive sense of adventure will put us both in danger. haha.

and on our recent trip to bohol, right there with a view of yet another one of your amazing creations, the chocolate hills, jp and i sealed the deal to be travel mates FOREVER.


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with permission from my fiancè. it's official,folks!

in the past, i have always questioned You when i was heartbroken. but now, i get it. You have your own plans for me, to be done in Your own time. this new chapter in my life more than makes up for the past heartaches and tears. and i am so grateful for the blessing that is my husband-to-be.

thank You, Lord so much! i hope you continue to bless us as we go on this new and lifetime adventure together.

ays

15 August 2012

a birthday surprise

success! i managed to round up our friends for jp's surprise birthday party. even if i sent the invitation only a couple of days before. i was conflicted about throwing the party because when i asked jp what he wanted to do for his birthday, he said he wanted it to be quiet. but i think he deserves a treat. the guy has been stressed at work for the past couple of months, i thought he needs a bit of fun.

his housemates helped to distract and get him out of the house in the afternoon so i can prepare their flat. and thankfully, our friends came on time, before he got home. it was so much fun seeing his reaction when he opened the door.


i think this is one of the few times i am thankful for facebook. the response to my invite was so fast. all i really had to do was order the food.

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a big thank you to all our friends. you really made jp's day. i'll have to think of a way to top this one. hmm..


10 July 2012

cooking: a simple pasta salad


this salad is simple to make and also very refreshing. i think this one will be good for picnics and beach parties. you'll need:

a can of tuna, some baby tomatoes, a can of kernel corn, one carrot and cucumber, and lemon.
of course, you'll need pasta (i used penne--cook according to package directions). you can add more of the ingredients depending on how many people you want to serve.

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mix everything in a pan or salad bowl.

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notice that there's no dressing for this one. all you need is salt, pepper and a bit of lemon juice.

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  before serving, i added some parmesan cheese. chill a bit and serve!

09 July 2012

a june wedding

it's always an honor when you get invited to be part of the entourage at a wedding. more so if the bride (or groom) is one of your closest friends. a little bit of back story:

serene is one of the first persons i met during freshman year in college. at first, we didn't really hang out a lot, but college tends to have you sift through people you meet and determine which ones you'll really have long friendships with. she's one of the handful i remain close with. and although we went on separate directions after graduation--she went to law school and i kickstarted my career, we managed to keep in touch and keep the friendship. 

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circa 2004

and i was so happy when she found her lovey-dove, ronald. to be honest, their love story is still a bit unclear to me, but that doesn't matter. we can talk about that later on. what is important is that my friend
married the love of her life and i got to be part of it.

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here she is before the wedding

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and since i'm part of the entourage, i got to see a little behind the scenes action. here's a picture of serene with her family.

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the san agustin church is still beautiful.

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and there she is, walking down the aisle.

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at the reception, they stopped by our table for the customary picture with the couple.

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i'm glad that my friend has found her lifetime partner -- someone to take care of her and go on adventures with. but whatever happens, we both know we're still going to be friends for a long time to come.

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our friend, chesa also wrote about the wedding. read about it here.

more pictures

cooking: lechon paksiw


on my trip to cebu last may, jp's mom had lechon packed for me to take back to singapore. now, all that talk about cebu's lechon being the best roasted pig you will taste is, to my mind, true! which is why i had a little anxiety over realizing that i cannot possibly finish all this lechon by myself.

i did a little bit of research online and found a couple of recipes for lechon paksiw. i think this one was very good.


Ingredients

  • 4 lbs leftover Lechon or Lechon kawali
  • 3 cups Lechon sauce (follow the link for our homemade authentic Lechon sauce recipe)
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorn
  • 8 pieces dried bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 3/4 cups vinegar
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • salt to taste

this is the lechon i had to work with. i cut then up into smaller pieces
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it doesn't look very pretty while its' cooking, but i promise this will turn out so yummy!

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well unfortunately, i wasn't able to take a photo of the finished product. but i can say it was delicious.i packed it in separate containers to give away to our friends who live at jp's building.

26 June 2012

fifty shades of...ugh!

i'm a sucker for hype. early this year, there was all this hoopla about the "fifty shades" series. curiosity killed the cat.. or in my case, curiosity killed a hundred brain cells (more or less). what can i say about these three books? don't expect a literary gem. 

the moment you hear whips and chains and a "red room of pain", the only thing you do is run away. but if you don't run away,  just don't expect to "fix" this broken, damaged man. girlfriend, he is crazy! only made attractive because he is a billionaire and can buy you a laptop, a car and gave you a job. if the lead weren't rich, the girl probably wouldn't have agreed to that arrangement. which is why most review sites call this "twilight fan ficition" and "mommy porn".the stituations are utterly impossible and the characters are just plain crazy, in my opinion.

i've read somewhere that they're gonna make it into a movie. really?! i was thinking most actors/actresses in hollywood would just laugh if offered a part in this movie, but some are actually saying they're interested. how are they going to make this movie without it being porn? because, really, that's what the book is.

i found this on youtube. these three lolas give the best review for the book.




09 June 2012

overcoming the oven


let me admit it here: i am afraid of ovens. simply because of the fact that we didn't have one when i was growing up. so i really don't understand when recipes say "pre-heat oven to 350 degrees". but i have mentioned earlier this year that i plan to overcome ignorance and finally take the plunge and use this nifty contraption.

a couple of weeks ago, i eased into using the oven when i prepared sunday lunch at jp's flat. on sundays, we usually have lunch with jp's housemates. this is very convenient, especially since the quantity of food we cook on sunday is quite huge. it seems such a waste to cook a lot and then only two people will eat. so we all share what we prepare.

i started the day with baking some muffins. don't get too excited. i did not prepare it by myself. i had a bit (well, a lot) of help from miss betty crocker



the recipe just said to add water and an egg. and so i did, and here is the result.


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for lunch, i made classic beef lasagna using the recipe here. before putting the dish into the oven, it smelled and looked pretty delicious already. and when it came out..

jp says it's one of the best lasagna he's ever tasted, and coming from him, that's quite a compliment. 

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i can say that i liked cooking from the oven. there's a certain quality and flavor to the food that comes out from there. i can honestly say that i want to do it more often. i'm thinking cakes and potpies for next time. 

a quick stop in cebu

jp and i spent a couple of days in his hometown, cebu. it wasn't really a vacation in the sense that we were going to the beach or seeing the sights. jp just wanted to visit his parents and chill out at home.

of course, being a "turista", i had to pester him to take me to a few places i wanted to see.

more after the jump..

08 June 2012

project lunchbox: mexican and italian


here is a quick round-up of my previous cooking sessions. just to give you an update, my sister has relocated to singapore, and i quickly recruited her to be part of project lunchbox. so i have been preparing meals for two.

i have been taking photos of the food using my phone, and posting it (mostly) on instagram.

below is a mexican-theme lunch. that's salsa (mix tomatoes, white onion, yellow bell pepper, salt, pepper, oregano and some hot sauce), plus chili con carne (sauté ground beef in oil, onions, and mix with canned red beans) with cheese and some tortilla.
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this one is a bit blurry, but its chicken, cheese and cream pasta.
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and this one is tuna in tomato sauce pasta


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well, i hope to continue on with the project. it has proved to be very challenging, what with work, and various commitments, plus the fact that my sister's tummy is easily upset, so i have to look up recipes that are tummy-friendly.

hopefully, i get to post more stuff about food soon.

the mind museum

i went on a short trip back home to attend my friend's wedding(more on that later). before that, i rounded up the gremlins to take them to the recently-opened mind museum at the fort. i figured it's a good way to end the summer and hopefully, get the kids excited for the incoming school year.

we were greeted by this robot.

robot greets you when you enter

more after the jump...

14 May 2012

saturday in the park

i've been living in singapore for six years and one of the places i haven't ever been to is the singapore botanic gardens. jp said he hasn't been either. so last saturday, we decided to visit and at the same time take out jp's gift for a test drive. this is jp's gift. say it with me: ooh!
well hello there,my new friend!


i was kind of planning a picnic, complete with a basket, wine and cheese, but i didn't have enough time to prepare all that, we just decided to walk around, sit for a bit and take a couple of pictures. we got there via the circle line and once inside, just followed the signs.

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i started playing with the camera. i love the art filters! i can make a picture with these effects.

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and with a couple of adjustments, i can make the color temperature warmer.

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we took a break and sat on the grass, watching other people in the park. and i got to read a few chapters in my kindle.

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but after couple of hours of walking around, mr. grumpy was emerging..

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so we called it a day, and decided to come back on another weekend. next time, i'll be bringing the whole picnic shebang. and maybe a tripod. we only got one couple shot.

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22 April 2012

my first run for 2012

my first run for this year was at the the jpmorgan corporate challenge last thursday. to be honest, i haven't done much running since last december's 21K. so i didn't really expect to have a personal best in this 5.6K race. the jpmc run is one of the runs i look forward to. the route is an easy course and it's always done on a weekday, after work hours in the city. but since you have to get to the course, meet up with your team and warm up, you get an excuse to leave the office a little bit early.
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i'm glad to say i finished at a respectable 47:04 minutes. really, my goal was to finish before the sun went down, because i had a conference call that night. haha.

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           finished the race while the sun's still up!
with every run, i look forward to the goody bags. along with the shirt and the free sunblock, i think this is the best give-away i've received so far. free stainless utensils!

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with this first run, i realize that i do miss running. hopefully, i make every effort to train for the next run that i signed up for in june.

usually, after runs like these, you can expect people to take a sick leave the next day. but since this course is short, you really can't make the same excuse. unless you got injured or it's your first run ever, chances are, you'll still be fit to be work. so yes, i was back at my desk the day after, thinking of my training strategy for my next run.
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